We’ve often thought the opening verses from the Book of Ezekiel are the best example of what we’re looking for: “Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, in the fifth day of the month, as I was among the captives by the river of Chebar, that the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God.”
The directness of this is astonishing: there is no background material, no anxiety over seeming ridiculous or pretentious, no worry about alienating the reader. There is simply the arresting inspiration of something so important and meaningful and full of emotion and intensity that it needs to be said.
We were dismayed to find one recent critic, in a book about T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, say that for Eliot and his contemporaries “it was axiomatic that a poem communicated ‘emotion’ … [while] for us today, a poem is an artifact of language.” S4N Books exists partly under the assumption that, on the contrary, powerful writing in general isn’t just an artifact of language, but is as good a way as any of expressing emotion, of creating and conveying meaning.
Not to condemn most modern writing for seeming distant and theoretical, or simply happy to wallow in irony, or happy to merely shock with its contents, or terribly worried at how little words can really mean, but it’s not what we’re looking for. We want some stab at Divine Vision, and inevitably look back to much older works to find this—the Ancient Near Eastern authors of Gilgamesh, the earliest Egyptian burial rituals, or Jewish scripture; the Hindu Rig Veda and Upanishads; Greek tragedy, Roman historians, Virgil and Dante and the Norse Eddas. But writers of recent memory also come to mind—Whitman, Jeffers, Kafka, Eliot and Stevens.
In this way we aren’t too particular on what you send us. While we tend more toward long poems or sequences, we’re simply looking for any writing at all that has the spirit of the works we’ve mentioned—poems, novels, nonfiction, etc.
It’s best to send any submissions or correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org, but it can also be sent by regular mail to:
P. O. Box 312
Glenshaw, PA 15116