From the Editor

I welcome your submissions to Hourglass Journal

Please reach out to me with ideas about nonfiction, poetry, fiction, short documentary films, podcasts, artwork, or any other creative endeavor. Our team will support your project throughout the publishing process.

Kathryn Higinbotham,

Letters from the Editor

Summer 2022: Influence

This issue, Hourglass Journal centers on our influences. The four authors—Michael Clark, Dominique Harris, Janine Solursh, and, new to Hourglass, Tawanna Jackson—intimately understand that our influences are multifaceted, nuanced, and often difficult to reconcile. We are influenced by those who seek to elevate us as well as by our trauma, our environments, and our mistakes. The authors write with courage and vulnerability, attuning us to our own influences as we move through the world. 

Michael’s “Still, the Temptation” captures the arc of disregarding the influence of an older, wiser mentor, then becoming that mentor to a younger person on the verge of making analogous mistakes.

In “Autonomy of Motivation,” Dominique traces how both the poet’s own mother and our collective “Mother” influence him—and yet how he remains completely his own self, too. 

Janine’s “One Touch of Nature” renders the influence of a professor into a metaphor of a garden, writing with her characteristically lovely rhythm, calm energy, clear voice, and abundant heart.  

Within the lines of “Pieces of Me,” Tawanna reflects on her traumatic experiences in both Desert Storm and prison through the lens of a painting, using innovative line breaks, bold color imagery, and powerful charisma. 

I wish to thank Tawanna, Janine, Michael, and Dominique for their mighty pieces, which have been running through my mind for the last few months of submission and editing.  Thank you also to Joe Boris, who donates his time and talent to create the Hourglass author portraits, and to Jihad Uhuru for inspiring this issue’s theme.

And I end by thanking you, reader.  Thank you for reading, for influencing, and receiving the influence of our authors.  

Kathryn Higinbotham

Fall 2021: Hip Hop

In this issue of Hourglass Journal, three writers consider the theme of hip hop: the culture, the music, the assumptions, and the changes through time. The results are a study both in cultural unity and experiential diversity.

Each writer, Dominique Harris, Michael Clark, and Mufasa Ajanaku, approach their subject through a different lens, from a different life experience, and with a different goal, and yet their ultimate conclusions ring in harmony with one another.

Dominique rejects the mainstream, white assumptions about hip hop and Blackness, narrowing in on Fox News personality Geraldo Rivera’s claim that “hip hop has done more damage to young African-Americans than racism.” Rather than an oversimplified – even exotified – view of hip hop from the outside, Dominque tells an insider perspective that shows the nuance and contradictions of hip hop culture in a way that is fundamentally incompatible with all of the stereotypes.

Michael tells the story of his proximity with hip hop music from his childhood and an early love for Eminem, through his incarceration and relationships with artists behind bars, to reflections on his changing understanding of what hip hop means after his reentry. This is a story of entering and understanding the culture of hip hop, from liking it for its edginess to living and understanding the experiences in the lyrics.

Mufasa’s manifesto is part poetry, part stream-of-consciousness essay, reminiscent of a Big Rube interlude from an OutKast album in his native Southwest Atlanta dialect combined with philosophy, vulnerability, and critique. A lifetime of experience in and love for hip hop drives Mufasa’s criticism of its current state in the mainstream, a state that lacks the spirit in the music of his youth.

Dominique, Michael, and Mufasa offer the readers of Hourglass an education.

An education in the ways that music can influence a culture, tell its stories, and stand as an archival narrative of struggle and loss, love and connection. According to these writers, hip hop is of the people, by the people, and for the people – an implicit and explicit indictment of how it’s discredited by those who, in Dominique’s words, respond before they understand.

As much as this issue has been an education for me (not least of all in that it is my first issue as editor), I hope these writers’ work is an education for each of their Hourglass readers as well. At the very least, you may find the songs and artists they reference making their way into your Spotify queue before long.

I want to thank the three writers featured in this issue for their hard work, thoughtful writing, and patience with their newbie editor. I also want to thank Jonathan Shelley for his assistance at our Hourglass writing studio and Joe Boris for his spectacular work on the author’s portraits. And a final thank you to you, Hourglass reader; may you learn and grow with us this issue, and return for the next.

Kathryn Higinbotham