Try this: Fill a glass with water, up to the brim. Throw in a quarter, or several. Watch the water attempt to keep its skin (see: surface tension) before breaking, spilling onto the table.
This basic science experiment was my first experience with matter and space. See how the water is pushed out by the volume of the coins? That’s called displacement.
In an era of massive migrations due to economic violence, war, and sociopolitical oppression, among other reasons, people are being displaced—that is, being deprived of a place—every day. They are pushed out from their homes, the surface tension holding them together (see: community; culture) is broken, and they are forced into new spaces. “Belting,” “Being Those People,” “Seeker of Bones,” “The Bridge” and “A Train Platform in Bicske, Hungary” all speak to this removal of people from their houses and homelands.
Existing as an oppressed member of your own neighborhood, country, or society can be another, less tangible form of displacement. “Afro-Seattleite Fragment #12: South End Conditioning” and “Recovery: from Black” speak to the marginalization of racial minorities in America, as “The Bat Woman” does with people, and animals, of alternate abilities, and “Pink” does with the LGBTQ community in WWII-era France. Deirdre Fagan’s “An American Christmas Story, 1991” addresses her feeling of being out-of-place socioeconomically, within her own community.
Being displaced from time as a condition of existing within one’s own memory appears in “Solstice,” and in the experience of Alzheimer’s in “Meditations on an Altered State.” Dave Iasevoli writes of those pushed to the peripherals of society in “El Chucharro,” and Jeff Tigchelaar explores the literal displacement of language in “(In Which I Have Substituted) ‘Poets’ for ‘Stones.’” Cassandra Clarke’s “Displacement Behavior” brings us back to scientific definitions of the theme in exploring how different species practice displacement as a coping mechanism.
Elementary school students are taught the theory of displacement as a concept that exists in the realm of science, but for many people around the world, it’s an unavoidable part of living inside, or outside, contemporary society. Here, in this issue, we hope to at least give their stories a place.
—Sarah Cadorette, Editor-in-Chief, March 2016