Leditor (Juanita Asapokhai)

I have a secret: the theme for the Tufts Observer fall 2022 creative issue was developed totally by accident. Towards the end of a long night of layout—the labor of love through which editors, writers, artists, and designers collaborate to produce the magazine—William, Michelle, and I struggled through a half-serious brainstorm session to find an idea that would pique the interest of writers. We took turns tossing out SAT vocab words, esoteric synonyms for common colors, and abstract concepts in other languages. At some point, in the background of our conversation, I overheard Ruby say the word “collision” from the opposite end of the room. Her voice broke through the chatter of the MAB Lab, where section editors pored over article drafts in animated discussion. Her delivery of the word felt like a punch to the gut; we had time to hear the word and consider its magnitude. Collision. There was a brief moment of silence, followed by William’s and my immediate celebration. We had found our theme—or rather, it had crashed into us. 

Like most people, I am terrified of motor vehicle accidents. I fear sudden stops and hard taps on my car bumper. T-bone wrecks are as frightening to me as scary movie villains. This fear manifests off the road, too. I generally dread confrontation with others and have historically avoided tough conversations until I physically can’t anymore, afraid that the aftermath will be as bad as a vehicular collision. What I truly fear is the unpredictability of my response to conflict and the negative reactions of the people around me—that is, where the pieces will fall once a collision has occurred. More recently, though, as my frontal lobe develops and my early 20’s usher in an era of rapid self-growth and maturity, I have discovered that the initial contact is only the beginning of the story. What I do with these pieces is where lessons are learned, and relationships are built, strengthened, and preserved. 

Poetry has remained an explosive, disruptive power throughout my life. I remember being 13 years old and reading Trevor by Ocean Vuong for the first time (published on Buzzfeed, of all places) and not being able to sleep, gripped by awe, and surprised by what I was feeling. Poetry has often been the tool I use to assemble the pieces of significant life events, through writing or reading it. Poetry is everywhere. I encounter it in my favorite song lyrics, the pieces of prose I edit, and in my conversations with friends, casually narrating their lives. I am honored to have the opportunity to read the work of the writers included in this magazine. I’m especially grateful for the crashes of sounds, images, experiences, and reflections contained in these pages. I hope they crash into and stay with you, as you grow and navigate the collisions in your own lives. 

With love,