Pacifica Literary Review: Editorial Statement

By Rachael Armstrong & Matt Muth, Editors-in-Chief

Pacifica Literary Review is a poetry, prose, and visual art journal based in Seattle. Visit them online at The word “Pacific” that graces our ocean comes from the Latin pax, peace, and facere, to make. When Magellan sailed into the Pacific in the 1500s attempting to complete the first circumnavigation of the globe, he gave it the name Pacificus to distinguish it from the stormy and tumultuous Atlantic waters. Occean Atlantyke, the Atlantic Ocean, signified the sea off of the west coast of Africa, named so for Mount Atlas in Mauritania. And Atlas, of course, bore up the heavens as punishment for making war on the Olympian gods. So legend tells us that celestial order was cemented through conflict, and that the land doesn’t meet the sky only because a cataclysmic confrontation ensured it. With that fundamental understanding of the natural order in place, what choice did Atlantians have but to obey their violent and mythic inheritance?

Perhaps it’s through this story of the European Atlantic that our own ocean get its name. Waters that had never seen Roman galleons, Viking longships, British privateers, or Ottoman corsairs. Waters that had never seen people abducted and sold into slavery. An ocean that knew no kings or queens, no Caesars or Popes or sultans, no flags. The world’s largest body of water, lapping at the shores of five of the world’s seven continents, yet removed from the entire memory of European history. And perhaps when Magellan passed through the strait (now named after him) on All Saints’ Day, the tranquil waters of this boundless entity inspired a sense of absolution. A blank slate, a place unbound by any recorded narrative, or politics; a place for civilization to escape the Olympian war and to write a new origin in those virgin waters.

We like to believe we share something with Magellan in that sense. The Pacific presents us with the ability to rewrite who we are again and again, to begin anew every day we wake, to forgive who we were. Contrary to popular belief, the frontier is not closed: we remake the boundaries each day and with each act of ourselves. We expand and contract like tides; we cannot border ourselves with hand-me-down myth because we are new, borderless, the creators of our own order. When we sat down to create this magazine it was these qualities we had in mind. We did not simply want to bring a new literary magazine to the Northwest, we wanted to loose the remaking these waters permit into magazine form.

Here is storytelling, things that are new, things that are blue, and the hymn-like old, the ancestral. Here are migrating whales and ferry rides, fishing boats, masses of land, fresh victuals, the sound of rain, secrets, rants, electric sunlight, coffee. Comings and goings and comings again. A buzzing sound; the Pacific taste. We humbly present page-space for this constant metamorphosis of self and soul, for the imprinting of the ocean, for the printing of ourselves.