A prefatory note

Dear readers, 

Though diverse in linguistic origins and literary movements, the ten selections in “Estranged” share estrangement in both context and perspective. In this issue, narrators, characters, and lyric speakers find themselves divided from self, family, city, country—even sense and time. They set out on uncertain journeys in search of future self and future; they dream of the freedom to love and sacrifice themselves for it; they grow inured to absurdity even while daring to resist it; they resolve to return home for the first time in decades, only to be led abroad again. Our table of contents spans one hundred and forty years across three centuries, from the posthumous publication of Charles Baudelaire’s Spleen de Paris in 1869, to a swath of contemporary work published within the last five years. Taken together, these pieces testify to the timeless attempt for human connection despite divisive forces and changing worlds.

The second in our Iowa artists series, “Estranged” features the vivid brushstrokes of Emma Steinkraus, an MFA student in painting at the university. Learn more about her and her work below, and visit her website to see the entirety of Summer Storm, a few of whose details are the face of this issue.

With thanks to our gifted authors, their devoted translators, and you, our readers,

The editors


Artist's statement:

Using fabricated landscapes and interiors pieced together from personal photographs, Google images, and 15th-century Netherlandish paintings, I render scenes that narrativize internal debates over, for example, the rewards and limitations of domesticity, or the desire for contact with a natural world I take part in destroying.

Most fundamentally, I attempt to diagram the tensions within intimacy to reveal the complex ways a relationship oscillates between closeness and inward loneliness, division and reconciliation. I try hard to understand how closeness is created, sustained, and, sometimes, undermined or lost—in the hope that I may learn how not to lose it. 

Summer Storm
Acrylic and Drawing Materials
19.5" x 27.5"


About the artist:

Emma Steinkraus is a current MFA candidate and Iowa Arts Fellow at the University of Iowa. Previously, she studied painting at the Maryland Institute College of Art and at Williams College where she graduated with Highest Honors. She's been awarded a Hubbard Hutchinson Fellowship, a Frederick Peyser Prize, and worked as a Steamboat Scholar in Contemporary Curation at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston. Before moving to Iowa she completed residencies at the Henry Luce III Center for Arts and Religion and at Pyramid Atlantic.