Letter From the Editor

Nikki Gonzalez

This. This right here? This is the All-Stars issue of The Parliament Literary Journal. And know that if I were standing next to you at this moment, presenting you with a copy, I’d add one of those noises that goes something like “oooh wee”, all long and drawn out. And I’d be holding the issue in my hands like the pages are on fire. I’d have to help you understand, you see, that is no ordinary issue you’re embarking on.

Two years ago, I started The Parliament Literary Journal on my laptop from my back porch in my little town as a desperate attempt during the first aching months of pandemic, quarantine, and isolation to connect with people. Two years in now and I’ve had the indescribable honor of meeting people from nearly every continent on our planet and sharing in their deepest, most intimate creations. To celebrate this special anniversary, I knew I wanted to spend it with THE ALL STARS -- the writers and artists who, over the past 7 issues have left a particularly indelible impact on readers and on me. I didn’t just want to highlight them in the issue as a demonstration of my gratitude and awe for their talents that they have shared with me and for the people that they are. I wanted to GIVE them the issue. No directions. No edits. The pages were theirs to express themselves in their diverse artistries as they chose. The only thematic thread that binds them together is WHO they are. They are the All-Stars. They are the SUPER-stars. They are the writers and artists whose works I have returned to again and again to cozy up with and feel a firework show of emotions -- a gamut that runs far deeper than laughter and tears. They bewilder me at times; I have certainly cringed once or twice; often I ache; and most often, I sit in stupefied awe that I have had the mad fortune to be in the orbit of these works AND the people behind them.


BUT! You won’t find the pages decked out in gold stars and glitter for these All-Stars. They deserve better than gaudy triteness. Instead, I give them the apocalypse. I give them crossbows and kitana. I give them desolation.

Let me explain.


Ever see the show Lost from the early 2000s? Or the series that followed years later, The Walking Dead? Both shows feature survivors of disastrous or cataclysmic events. The personalities, skills, and backgrounds of each person determines their success in living. Some not only survive, but thrive. Ever since I watched these shows, I study people, especially when I am traveling. While I’m waiting at my departing gate, I’ll look at the people around me and think: Who would I want to survive alongside of on an island or form an alliance with to battle the undead? Who would be kind? Who would be knowledgeable? Who would be our leader? The same (rather crude) question I ask myself at the airport, I asked in compiling this issue: If shit goes down, who do I want with me? The writers and artists on the pages that follow are my answer.


And because there were no rules for this issue, I joined the All-Stars on the page with a story of my own. Not with ego. Not because I fancy myself an All-Star. But because I want to be part of the team. I want them to know that, wielding my Oxford comma, I’d do battle for them unhesitatingly.

This issue, too, as all our past issues have, features an Art-Inspired Contest. The artist, Jennifer  Weigel, is, of course, an All-Star, herself. Fittingly, her photography was featured in our very  first issue and it’s only absolute perfection that she inspired a new batch of future All-Stars.  Her photo, “Heading Home” amassed varied interpretations -- everything from ancient Greek mythology to the contemporary war on women’s reproductive rights. Three new talents  are added to our Parliament family because Jennifer couldn’t decide between two and, well, rules shmules. Congratulations -- and welcome! -- to Remy Chartier, Don Sandeen, and Alex  Huynh whose poems took the very risks that I admire of all the creators in this issue.

So, journey through the lands ahead across these pages, where the air is still, the infrastructure buzzes, expending its last energy or stands defiant, albeit with cracks, and the people you encounter are the thrivers of it all.


Thank you for the past two wonderful, empowering years.


Nikki Gonzalez

Alex Huynh
Ecclesia and Synagoga

Rachel Stempel
Considerations, Predictions, & Manifestations for Chewing-Gum Jezebels