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Letter from the Editor

Ryan H. Smith

Issue 1

Before we had even begun considering layouts in my final year at my last literary outfit, I was planning Midnight Chem. The name didn’t exist. I had no team in place. My master’s degree in creative writing wasn’t even complete. Everything felt suspended in the air: visible, but not graspable. Nevertheless, my team came on board (enthusiastically, as always), and we set out with the barest of skeleton plans.

We began with a question: the four standard genres (poetry, fiction, nonfiction, and art) are the bread and butter of lit mags the world over, but where’s all the weird shit at? We hear you talking about it at events and online. And while we’re certainly nowhere near the first lit mag to want to publish the inventive, we were hard-pressed to find much in the way of destinations for that work. We wanted to level the playing field and give equal weight to the writers who experiment—those who blend genres and sit outside of traditional forms. So we gave them more space. The kind of space we’d want our own work to be featured in.

Y’all don’t disappoint either. You filled the space cram-jam full of goodies. Creativity abounds in the works you’ll see in Issue 1. We’ve got a jigsaw-puzzle word portrait, a newmade tarot card, a political-linguistic exploration of ignorance and cruelty, an unpunctuated tale from the crypt, studio art staged to foreground process, and a poem that tears apart structure itself. It’s a wild bunch, friends.

Making art, creating something from nothing, can feel like a daunting process, whether you’re constructing a story, a painting, or a brand-new literary journal. The expectations that are thrust upon us (yes, even by ourselves) can get in the way. Even so, I am always reminded, eventually, that creation is worth the struggle. Seeing this inaugural issue go from bare-bones draft to finished product has made every hiccup worthwhile. The experience of building Midnight Chem has reminded me that having the right people by your side is key. I want to thank my teammates and our contributors, whose collective faith, work, and enthusiasm have brought our original concept brilliantly to life.  

Being part of a literary journal means laying tracks while the train is moving, and this train is only making its first stop. Here’s hoping we see you down the line for the next one, wherever the tracks may lead.


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Ryan H. Smith [he/him]


October 2023

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