From the Editor

Photograph by George E. Curtis (1841-1910), in the collection of the Niagara Falls Public Library,
reproduced in "Maria Spelterini Celebrated American Independence Week Walking Tightropes
across Niagara Falls while Wearing Peach Baskets,” Racing Nelly Bly , July 1, 2018

On Balance

Dear Readers,


Recently I read about the only woman ever to walk a tightrope across Niagara Falls — a daring feat that I would never dream of undertaking, no matter how well-balanced I thought I was. But in July 1876 Maria Spelterini (1853-1912) was determined to celebrate the United States Centennial in spectacular fashion. Thus, with steely nerves and admirable balance, she inched over the roaring cascade along a two-and-a-quarter-inch wire. She repeated the feat three more times that month.

“What a circus act we women perform every day of our lives,” Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote in Gift from the Sea some 80 years later. “We run a tightrope daily. . . .” Lindbergh’s tightrope is metaphorical, of course, but it’s a metaphor that rings true. Achieving and maintaining balance may be important for all people, but for women it has always been a particular challenge as we move through life battered by the winds of conflicting positive/negative expectations. (This fact of women’s lives is pointedly addressed in the much-discussed monologue delivered by actress America Ferrera, as the character Gloria, in the recent movie Barbie. )

As is true of all issues of our magazine, the prose, poetry, art, and music in the summer 2024 Persimmon Tree are creative works reflecting our many contributors’ decades of tightrope-walking experience.

The essays and poems on “Pockets of Joy” in Short Takes are potent reminders of how balance can be maintained and/or restored by joyful moments and memories — reminders that, publisher Jean Zorn notes in her introduction, “give us joy as well.”

Introduced by poetry editor Cynthia Hogue and guest poetry editor Andrea Carter Brown, Poets of the Western States sing, per the title of Brown’s introductory essay, of “The Gifts of Age and Nature.”

A bizarre wedding and its aftermath, tragic dilemmas, and the recovery of proper balance in a marriage are among the Fiction Section’s well-told tales.

Judith Fetterley’s absorbing article “A Case of the Blues” (its contents not what you’d expect) is the first in a roster of Nonfiction that ranges from an unexpectedly harrowing dental visit to the report of a shocking discovery in a writer’s family tree.

Art editor Greta Berman revisits the work of Howardena Pindell, “An Intersectional Artist before the Fact.” And music editor Gena Raps introduces readers to pianist and “teacher extraordinaire” Miyoko Nakaya Lotto.

A bonus section, The Winner’s Circle, features two stories and an essay by the winners of the Persimmon Tree Readers’ Survey drawing.

Finally, this issue’s Forum addresses forces that threaten the always precarious balance on which a democratic society depends. As this presidential election year wends toward its early November climax, we asked our readers for their comments and advice on “Discerning Truth in this Age of Disinformation.” Persimmon Tree is a magazine of the arts. But the arts — and those who create works of art — do not exist in individual vacuums. Events well beyond our front doors affect us and our creations. My colleagues and I appreciate the wisdom, experience, and creativity reflected in the Forum — and throughout this summer issue.

I urge you to share this issue with your friends and acquaintances and celebrate our magazine on social media via the icons located on the top righthand side and the bottom of our website. Then return to the issue yourself again and again to contemplate and enjoy its rich content.

Peggy Wagner



Merry Song is an amateur photographer who enthusiastically captures faces.  She lives in Eugene, Oregon where she teaches writing and spirituality. In this issue, her photographs are featured on the Home page and in Short Takes.

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