from the editor
on the page began with a thought paper while drinking my morning coffee on the stoop of a San Francisco Victorian. I had just quit my job and left New York City after living on the East Coast for several years. I had a vision of collecting words and art on outsiders and community in some kind of publication.
Some five years later, we have published twelve issues, including over one hundred essays, short stories, and poems, dozens of photographs and reviews, and assorted ephemera. We have published first-time writers and Pushcart winners, and talked to many interesting folks, from radio host Ira Glass and journalist Barbara Ehrenreich to Harrod Blank, the Art Car Guy, and writer Pam Houston. And 10,000 people a month visit www.onthepage.org.
Often I am asked what makes On the Page different, special? I guess it comes down to nudge-worthy selections. Even before publication, I find myself wanting to share the issue with my friends and say, “Hey read this, and let’s talk about it.” Abstract or personal, fiction or essay, poem or picture, interview or review, we look for truth, moments of joy, a bit of grace, some humor, and much compassion. We search ultimately for understanding, like that in Linda Wojtowick’s poem: “He felt humbled, afraid. But then his neighbors might save him, revive him with their kind thoughts.… Why he is no stranger, no sadder than I am.”
It is fitting that, with the growth of our nonprofit magazine—fiscally sponsored by another literary magazine—our first full print edition is on shared spaces. In keeping with this theme, we selected a few of the best from our archives along with new works. We talk with Michael Pollan about the economic and cultural impact of the demise of the family dinner and present creative nonfiction by Brenda Miller on the after-effects of a night of intimacy. We bring back a short story on sex and nostalgia by John Shaw, currently celebrating his ninetieth birthday.
An excerpt from a new novel looks at changes in city architecture, and our poetry depicts moments of isolation and connection in suburban, urban, and domestic landscapes. In complementary essays, husband and wife John and Jennifer Lehr share their marital fears and fantasies. A memoir takes us hunting with an old man, and a review offers a peek into Jonathan Franzen’s pajama-party world.
We also share perspectives on parenthood, from an adult forced by economics to relocate to her parents’ basement and a single mother adapting to dirty dishes and a weekend father. And there’s more, including photos of San Francisco’s best dive bars, where the drinks are always cold and the bartender may still know your name.
If you’re new, welcome. And if you’ve been in our ‘hood before, it’s nice to have you back.