There is a term in visual art called chiaroscuro, which, in Italian, can translate to a compound phrase: lightdark. In this year’s series for Portland Review, two of the oldest artistic tropes— shadow and light—meet another profoundly finicky duality: work and play. You can’t have one without the other. Or can you?
Everyday, some work at dawn, some the graveyard shift; kids play at recess during the day, older folks play at night. Some creatures live only in shadow, others cannot survive without light. Whether in cities, suburbs, or backcountry roads and fields—wherever work exists, it’s in the interplay between light and dark. As such, Shadowplay and Lightwork exist within and outside of the natural, the artificial, the supernatural, the sociopolitical, the everyday, the uncanny.
We’re looking for submissions—stories, essays, poems, multi/anti-genre hybrid work of any kind—that riff, explode, refine, subvert, or recast these seemingly bounded and boundless categories. Shadowplay and Lightwork opens up itself to reinterpretation of what creative work and play can be, what light and shadow mean to different folks. We welcome work from all walks of life— whether you dwell in dimness or shine bright, or anywhere in between, we see writers and artists’ work/play as critical as the day-night cycle itself. Show us what it means to play in shadows and work with light. This submission window is open September 18th, 2022, and closes October 23rd, 2022.
Image Credit: jessamyn duckwall, 2022