‘Witness’ Good Literature

South China Sea

In the personal essay “Shadow Texts,” Mike Smith begins by admitting “one odd thing” he has done: “For six years now, I have kept alive my late wife’s Yahoo account.” The piece, published in the online summer edition of Witness magazine, goes on to chronicle how the widower seeks to preserve his wife’s voice by tending to her emails. It’s both quirky and gently tragic—expertly revealing how we grieve in our technology-drenched era.

The poetry and prose journal Witness—published thrice annually by UNLV’s Black Mountain Institute—seeks to feature modern writers whose work “contextualizes the American experience by highlighting issues of global concern.” “Shadow Texts” is a natural fit, as are these highlights in this season’s edition:

“Jack Armstrong,” a short story by Lindsay Sproul, features an anthropology major who sleeps with other people in order to study them and avoid the harder work of self-reflection.

Aimée Baker’s poem, “Go, Roam,” delves into a continent’s bloody history to lend explanation and empathy to the unsolved case of an unidentified Native American woman found, murdered and scalped, alongside a highway in Glasgow, Kentucky, in 2011. Baker’s heart-wrenching piece is part of an entire series on missing and unidentified women. And that’s what Witness does: It introduces readers to a world of important, if still somewhat obscure, literature. Read it for free at Witness.BlackMountainInstitute.org.

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