spring / summer 2021

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a disease or an ailment / "an incurable malady"

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dear readers,


this issue not only commemorates the opening of NECTAR’s own website, but our one year anniversary as well. when we started out we didn’t know what to expect. after sending a daily poetry listserv for a couple of weeks, we were offered space to publish new poetry with our friends at hummingbird mag, who were also just getting started. 


we received 20 or so responses to our very first call for submissions, and they were all wonderful. it was so exciting. we thought we would end up just reading the poetry of a few college friends, but here we were reading talented poets from around the world. we really couldn’t imagine the growth we’d see over the next year.


so here we are now: issue 4, and with our own beautiful (BEAUTIFUL — a million and more shout outs from the editors to our designers) website. 

the theme of this issue is MALADY. when picking themes, we try to think of a word that can be interpreted broadly and in unexpected ways. a “malady” is “a disease or ailment,” or “any undesirable or disordered condition.” Jonathan’s mind had been on chronic illnesses of big and small scales. Rayn had been thinking of the ways our minds can distort our individual worlds. we thought of maladies like climate change. we thought of broader societal maladies. we hoped that with “malady,” we were casting a wide net. and our contributors delivered.

to poets, “malady” seems to evoke rumination. in what dark corners does our mind linger? for some poets, they find the light in those dark corners, find joy in the malady. in this issue, poets approach ideas like sexuality, chronic illness, lovesickness, ancestry, and even midwestern-ness. 


each poem is coupled by the work of our featured artist, Cy X. Cy used machine-learning to generate images based off the text and themes of each poem. Their art is stunning, and we encourage you to take your time to “oo” and “ah,” as well as consider what in the poem may have spawned such an image. 


many of our contributors elected to donate the compensation for their work, so we are returning all of the money we have raised on ko-fi to organizations like TWOCC, the Trevor Project, Black & Pink, and more. 


thank you to everyone who has supported us for the past year. we hope you enjoy the work in this issue as much as we do.


so much love,

NECTAR editors, Jonathan and Rayn

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We'd also like to extend a big thank you to our guest readers for this issue! Learn a bit more about them below:

Julianna Drew Björkstén is a New York–based writer and editor. She is currently the associate editor at Off Assignment and an editorial fellow at Narratively, Inc. Julianna holds a B.A. in Media Studies and English Literature from NYU, and she has written about art, books, and theatre for a variety of publications. 

Lady Red Ego is a Chinese/British lesbian writer concerned with intimacies. Her first pamphlet, The Red Ego, was published in 2019 with Wild Pressed Books and her second pamphlet, Natural Sugars, was published in 2020 by Broken Sleep Books. Her work has also featured in two videos on BBC The Social.

Prerana Kumar is an Indian poet completing her MA in Creative Writing at UEA. Her spoken-word achievements include Verve Poet of the Slam prize (2019), BBC WordsFirst Finalist (2019) and Asia House Poetry Slam Finalist 2019. She has recently contributed to English Heritage’s ‘Untold Stories’ project and has work published in Inkwell, Verve Poetry Press’ Community and Diversity Anthologies, Use Words First, and Ink Sweat & Tears. In her free time, you will find her brewing a fresh pot of chai, communing with dragons, or consorting with the moon.