How can the literary imagination bring us closer to a better world?
The world is always changing. But there are also inflection points in history when the world feels changed. Art has the prophetic power to imagine where we are going. It is perhaps no surprise, then, that in a world-historical moment of global upheaval and transformation, speculative literature and other futurist arts are enjoying a renaissance.
Boston Review believes that the arts must have a voice in the conversation about how we heal. In this new anthology of poetry, fiction, and essays from renowned writers and newcomers, contributors share with readers their feats of imagining the past and future that help us better understand what it means to be present in the world.
Speculation can lead us to collectively imagine better futures, or better ways of understanding our past. Abolition, civil rights, and Black Lives Matter all speculate about a future free of racial violence, just as #MeToo imagines one free of gendered violence. In some of our most joyful private moments, we speculate about what will be delicious and pleasurable, about what notes will sound good played together on an instrument, about spirits and the afterlife, about what we wish a lover would say to us, about what aliens might be like if we ever met them. Such works of the speculative imagination are, thankfully, almost boundless, though we imagine them within the bounds of who we are and what we assume to be true about the world.
Where will speculation lead us next?
Ed Pavlić is the author of Live at the Bitter End; Who Can Afford to Improvise? James Baldwin and Black Music, the Lyric and the Listener; Let's Let That Are Not Yet: Inferno; and other books. He is Distinguished Research Professor in the English Department and in the Institute for African American Studies at the University of Georgia and a Boston Review Arts Contributing Editor.
Ivelisse Rodriguez's short story collection, Love War Stories, was a 2019 PEN/Faulkner finalist and a 2018 Foreword Reviews INDIES finalist. She is founder and editor of an interview series published in Centro Voices, the e-magazine of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College. She is a Boston Review Arts Contributing Editor.