Editor’s Note – Home/Work
When we began reading for Home/Work we had no idea that it would become so relevant to everyone. We did not anticipate the outbreak of COVID-19 and the quarantines and school closings that have occurred all over the world that would blur the lines between work and home so drastically.
The division of realms into that of home and that of work is one of capitalism’s most notable products—where “home” usually describes labor without expectation of monetary compensation, and “work” usually describes labor that is done primarily for such compensation. More, of course, remains to be written about the power inequalities that result from this division. When we at the Ilanot Review originally proposed this theme, we had in mind the nexus of these two realms in their economic and spatial dimensions. We imagined the points at which they overlap—the tasks that students take away from the classroom to complete at home (homework), domestic labor, as well as the new opportunities for remote labor that move paid labor into the domestic realm for academics, translators, editors, freelancers, and consultants.
Our contributors exceeded our expectations, with a wide array of family and domiciles, including Katherine Russell’s depictions of foster parenting , and the labor of caring for bodies and mental health in public spaces. We received poems and photography about masonry, carpentry, interior design, and other activities that physically create a home, reminding us of the temporal and spatial dimensions of the terms. Brent House’s experimental sonnet of photosynthesis gestures toward the origins of the sonnet, as a song sun during harvest, reminding us of the long-standing relationship between art and labor, and making visible elements that are normally too small to be seen to the naked eye, or else too abstract. Money and air travel play with our sense of where home is located in time and in space. in Elaine Chiew’s flash fiction, “To the East of Me is the West of You,” about a relationship separated by the international date line.
We received work that examines what happens to human relationships when they are mediated monetarily—pieces such as Nicole Callihan’s flash about the speaker’s relationship with work colleagues, and the non-monetary rewards that signal rank and status. In Haolun Xu’s “Resignation of a Photographer”, the tools of work—camera and film—completely transform the relationship between subject and object, and the subject/object themselves.
Dorothy Chan’s two poems imagine notions of “home” and “family” through jello and white Russians, displaying the fluidity of identity involved in relationships and the floating realms these relationships inhabit. Karen Gornish-Wilchek’s essay “Repairing His World” examines the permeable membrane between the personal and political aspects of home, through the moving story of her son’s death, and Israel’s policies and practices of dispensing medicinal marijuana. We have been privileged to witness a courageous exchange between Natasha Marin, author of The Black Imagination, and Joy Katz, who spoke to her about her new book, and about the emotional labor of being present in a society dominated by Whiteness.
Our contributions come to us from such regions and countries as the Yucatan, China, Nigeria, Israel, America, Canada, India, and South Africa. We are thrilled to debut the work of Rabab Isa. We thank our guest editor, Meg Pokrass, located these days in England; we are grateful for her keen eye, which expanded the scope of our flash fiction section and brought us both emerging and well-established writers. And we are grateful, as well, to Rachel Twersky, our smart and indefatigable intern.
We hope this issues speaks to you, wherever you are, and that you remain safe and healthy.