“You will never do anything in this world without courage. It is the greatest quality of the mind next to honor.” –Aristotle

The greats of Greek mythology have always held a special place in my heart as they have become a part of my identity. Both my MA and MFA theses shine a light on the beauty that is Greek mythology, especially when reinvented or reimagined for today’s world. As I finished the last semester for my MFA in Creative Writing, my focus has been divided among three sections: writing/editing, the classroom, and this journal. Every aspect of my life during the fall semester was surrounded in courage as I ventured into the unknown. 

For my writing, I wrapped up my novel and am currently preparing to send it out to agents. As I sat with my printed out draft and pen, I was not afraid to dive back into this world I created to add some areas while also ripping apart some questionable choices. However, being the writer is completely different from being the editor. As I sat in on our team’s discussions of pieces, I simply took notes, listened to genre editors discuss potential editing suggestions, and communicated with the writers whose stories and poems were accepted. Now being back in the writer’s shoes, the thought of exposing my precious child to the world scares me to no end, but I need to have courage in it and myself. 

Since I chose a teaching track in my MFA program, the next logical and final step was finding a classroom to call my own. I thought the only options were to be a TA or teach an online workshop. But, I was blown away when given the opportunity to teach an in-person college course. As an adjunct at Marywood University, where I teach first-year students Composition and Rhetoric, I questioned my place. The imposter syndrome sunk its claws into me until I met my students. Their enthusiasm for our class has made my first time teaching the best that I could have asked for. I am honored to have been their instructor and learned just as much from them as they did from me. 

My final part of the semester was being at the helm of this journal once again. Being my second time as managing editor, it is always an honor to work with this team and our amazing writers. Even though I had the experience of managing editor from last issue, I learned that every issue is different and you never know what fun craziness can end up in front of you. 

Epicurus said, “the greater the difficulty, the more the glory in surmounting it,” and that is what these writers have done. Bonnie Brewer-Kraus’s short story, “Percy the Lorikeet,” tackles the struggles of life after suffering the tremendous loss of a miscarriage; a badge of courage as this has been something that stayed in the dark. That string of courage continues to the poem, “Spring, Senior Year,” by Pat Daneman where we see what exactly hides in the beauty of youth in our schools. “My Mother’s Keeper” by Shian Sparks shows readers the courage of a child speaking up and sharing secrets. 

All of our writers had the courage to pen their work, submit to our journal, and ultimately open their stories and poems to judgment, which is the most difficult process of writing. For all writers that do this, please remember to never fear the unknown that writing is. 

While Pericles may say that the wisest of all counselors is time, I would say that time is second to Dawn Leas, our editorial advisor. Over the last two semesters, she has helped me navigate through the unknown of running this journal, managing all the behind-the-scenes work, and learning how to rebrand and elevate social media posts, for which I am eternally grateful. Our talented genre editors read each piece in their genres and then guided our discussions that led to the amazing prose and poetry you see in this issue. 

Thank you, Justin Ogline and Alexandra Thomas, co-poetry editors; Cassandra O’Sullivan Sachar, fiction editor; and Hillary Jarvis, creative nonfiction editor. Thank you to our production editor, Cynthia Kolanowski, for your attention to detail and patience with WordPress, and thank you to Cass Heid for being our fearless proofreader.

And to our group of readers–Drea Edwards, Judy Castleberry, Terrence Dwyer, Cathy Earnest, Maddie Hoy, Melanie McGehee, Jonathon Montemayor, Michael Kentz, Hess Stinson, and Alicia Williamson–thank you for your time reading every piece and your great discussions during meetings while you juggled your MA and MFA coursework and life responsibilities.

Finally, I would like to thank Dr. David Hicks, director of the Maslow Family Graduate Program in Creative Writing at Wilkes University, and Patti Naumann, the program’s administrative assistant. Without their support, this issue would not be possible.

It has been an honor and a privilege to work on River & South Review for the past two semesters as managing editor. As I step away, I hope you find courage and honor within our Winter 2024 issue (Issue 12).

Ashlee Harry

Managing Editor

River & South Review