On the Nature of Foxing

an Introduction

Dear Reader,

 

      It is with great joy and gratitude that I welcome you to the newly furred and fanged edition of Boyfriend Village: The Fox Boyfriend. I hope you find the boyfriends in this issue creaturely and darling. I hope you find a home among their burrows. I hope most of all that you find yourself foxed, foxing.

      The pieces in this issue have been selected based on the simple belief that there exists within each of us our very own fox; we are never not foxing. How could it be otherwise when to fox means cunning, when cunning is code for survival, when survival is not just the escape from disaster but the journey and traumas accrued therein. To survive like a fox is to push against boundaries, to make the impossible real and claim a future that both remembers origin, the weight of the past, its violence, and also envisions space for new, thriving selves.

       The works included in The Fox Boyfriend enact this both formally and in spirit, defying the expectation and limits of genre to surprise and captivate. Elana Lev Friedland’s “((Let This Be The Verse))” slyly asserts the world-building of fiction, the raw intimacy of essay, and the emotional landscape of poetry, using screen shots and excerpts of historical texts to immerse us in the ephemera and fixations of the speaker’s mind as they reconcile with the trauma of surviving. In “how to move states,” Kinsey Cantrell reminds us that sometimes we fox to survive ourselves, bodies of overlain text culminating in a rallying cry of accumulation: “deny the self as territory. pulsate beyond the flesh; reject the interiority. you weren’t born / to be a bodily anomaly.” Sharanya Sharma’s “Sounds” emphasizes with brutal imagistic clarity survival’s trauma as it spans generations. When she writes “if we cock our ears just right we snag my / mother’s tongue spilling over,” we are reminded of the importance of narrative, of listening to its survivors. We are reminded to listen to our foxes, and in doing so, we overcome.

      From this listening, we discover that to fox also means loving fiercely, with teeth, with claw. Helen Armstrong employs this directly in “Tender Grapes” where the narrator ends up foxing desperately amidst a loving yet volatile relationship with a literal fox boyfriend. In “Take My Hand for The Wild Hunt,” Kathryn MacMahon depicts her foxed love as a deep and delicate intimacy while the protagonist of Uma Dwivedi’s “Lucinda” foxes through a dark, forbidden, and consuming love, revealing that the real challenge of loving like a fox is turning inward to love oneself, no matter how arduous or uncertain the outcome.

      Sometimes we vixen when we fox, which is to say we subvert gendered expectations and interrogate definitions of femininity. The voices in this issue yip and yowl in this dismantling. “Shut the porch when I go out and ruin another fucking dress,” writes Caroline Rayner, “What does magnolia have to do with it. What / does mimosa.” Rage Hezekiah resists matriarchal lineage, declaring “Mother / what freedom / I feel / to not be / yours.” Sometimes this resistance is quiet but haunting as in K.B. Carle’s fairytale-esque “Soba” which declares, “Why else would a woman, surrounded by heat and steam, not sweat unless she were made of fire.” The authors in this issue teach us how to vixen, how to claim girlhood and womanhood and pain and triumph. They teach us to inhabit the intersectional and claim a body without limits. As Erin Slaughter writes, “You and I—people, women—stake our stories in the grass, try to chip away at the self. But the body is a living text, and always has something new to say.” They teach us to transform.

      Above all, this issue foxes to fulfill the singular goal of Boyfriend Village: to honor the memory of former Black Warrior Review Editor and friend Zach Doss. I have a personal connection to this goal as I first started working with the journal as an intern and assistant editor during Zach’s term. In that capacity, Zach dazzled. He read with fierce intention and never settled for work that didn’t dance and bewitch. But I admired Zach as a person even more. He lived and wrote deeply, with an honesty and sense of humor that gave me courage and hope whenever I doubted myself or my writing. In short, Zach foxed, in every imaginable and fantastic way. I know I’m only one of many who hold tightly to memories like these, which is why when the residents of Boyfriend Village shift form and focus, they are still—and always—thinking of Zach.

      Perhaps, Dear Reader, you will view The Fox Boyfriend through a different lens than the one envisioned here. I encourage you to spend your time in the village however you please. But consider the fox, your fox, and the hearts of the foxes around you. May you move magnetic and fearless through this issue. May you leave hungry for more.

 

Happy Hunting,

 

Sammi Bryan
Editor, Boyfriend Village 

Dear Reader,

 

      It is with great joy and gratitude that I welcome you to the newly furred and fanged edition of Boyfriend Village: The Fox Boyfriend. I hope you find the boyfriends in this issue creaturely and darling. I hope you find a home among their burrows. I hope most of all that you find yourself foxed, foxing.

      The pieces in this issue have been selected based on the simple belief that there exists within each of us our very own fox; we are never not foxing. How could it be otherwise when to fox means cunning, when cunning is code for survival, when survival is not just the escape from disaster but the journey and traumas accrued therein. To survive like a fox is to push against boundaries, to make the impossible real and claim a future that both remembers origin, the weight of the past, its violence, and also envisions space for new, thriving selves.

       The works included in The Fox Boyfriend enact this both formally and in spirit, defying the expectation and limits of genre to surprise and captivate. Elana Lev Friedland’s “((Let This Be The Verse))” slyly asserts the world-building of fiction, the raw intimacy of essay, and the emotional landscape of poetry, using screen shots and excerpts of historical texts to immerse us in the ephemera and fixations of the speaker’s mind as they reconcile with the trauma of surviving. In “how to move states,” Kinsey Cantrell reminds us that sometimes we fox to survive ourselves, bodies of overlain text culminating in a rallying cry of accumulation: “deny the self as territory. pulsate beyond the flesh; reject the interiority. you weren’t born / to be a bodily anomaly.” Sharanya Sharma’s “Sounds” emphasizes with brutal imagistic clarity survival’s trauma as it spans generations. When she writes “if we cock our ears just right we snag my / mother’s tongue spilling over,” we are reminded of the importance of narrative, of listening to its survivors. We are reminded to listen to our foxes, and in doing so, we overcome.

      From this listening, we discover that to fox also means loving fiercely, with teeth, with claw. Helen Armstrong employs this directly in “Tender Grapes” where the narrator ends up foxing desperately amidst a loving yet volatile relationship with a literal fox boyfriend. In “Take My Hand for The Wild Hunt,” Kathryn MacMahon depicts her foxed love as a deep and delicate intimacy while the protagonist of Uma Dwivedi’s “Lucinda” foxes through a dark, forbidden, and consuming love, revealing that the real challenge of loving like a fox is turning inward to love oneself, no matter how arduous or uncertain the outcome.

      Sometimes we vixen when we fox, which is to say we subvert gendered expectations and interrogate definitions of femininity. The voices in this issue yip and yowl in this dismantling. “Shut the porch when I go out and ruin another fucking dress,” writes Caroline Rayner, “What does magnolia have to do with it. What / does mimosa.” Rage Hezekiah resists matriarchal lineage, declaring “Mother / what freedom / I feel / to not be / yours.” Sometimes this resistance is quiet but haunting as in K.B. Carle’s fairytale-esque “Soba” which declares, “Why else would a woman, surrounded by heat and steam, not sweat unless she were made of fire.” The authors in this issue teach us how to vixen, how to claim girlhood and womanhood and pain and triumph. They teach us to inhabit the intersectional and claim a body without limits. As Erin Slaughter writes, “You and I—people, women—stake our stories in the grass, try to chip away at the self. But the body is a living text, and always has something new to say.” They teach us to transform.

      Above all, this issue foxes to fulfill the singular goal of Boyfriend Village: to honor the memory of former Black Warrior Review Editor and friend Zach Doss. I have a personal connection to this goal as I first started working with the journal as an intern and assistant editor during Zach’s term. In that capacity, Zach dazzled. He read with fierce intention and never settled for work that didn’t dance and bewitch. But I admired Zach as a person even more. He lived and wrote deeply, with an honesty and sense of humor that gave me courage and hope whenever I doubted myself or my writing. In short, Zach foxed, in every imaginable and fantastic way. I know I’m only one of many who hold tightly to memories like these, which is why when the residents of Boyfriend Village shift form and focus, they are still—and always—thinking of Zach.

      Perhaps, Dear Reader, you will view The Fox Boyfriend through a different lens than the one envisioned here. I encourage you to spend your time in the village however you please. But consider the fox, your fox, and the hearts of the foxes around you. May you move magnetic and fearless through this issue. May you leave hungry for more.

 

Happy Hunting,

 

Sammi Bryan
Editor, Boyfriend Village