States of Play

In this age of digital. editions (which I support enthusiastically) I somehow received two copies of the latest issue of Conjunctions. Perhaps I should donate one copy to a novice reader who has not yet discovered the excellent writing represented in Conjunctions each quarter.

Conjunctions 77

States of Play: The Games Issue
Fall 2021
Bradford Morrow

Win, lose, draw. Whether playing by the rules, bending and breaking them, or simply tossing fate to the fickle winds of chance, games are an inescapable part of our lives. Knowingly or not, we are often engaged in zero-sum games with others—or else ourselves—celebrating our victories as we pile up our losses. While it’s true that games are “played,” they sometimes represent lethal danger to the loser. In the world of fables, lives, fortunes, whole kingdoms are forfeited over a risky gamble gone south. And is it so different in our workaday world, where the simplest bad gamble wagered at just the wrong time can result in disaster?

Daily, we find ourselves caught up in vortices of every imaginable kind of game. Word games and war games. Shell games and waiting games.

Schoolyard games, mind games, shadow games, games of chance. There are game theories, confidence games, and those who would try to game the system, which is, to some, fair game. One can beat another at her, his, or their own game, or give the game away. And as for love, the old torch-song standard reminds us, Many a tear has to fall, but it’s all in the game.

Conjunctions:77, States of Play, will explore the myriad games we engage in, the games that rule our lives, and the spectrum of results, from joyous to tragic, that they yield.

Ranjit Hoskote — Six Poems
Joanna Scott — The Temptation of Eve
Shelley Jackson — Easy Games without Toys
John Darcy — Junior
Heather Altfeld — The Origin Stories
James Morrow — Casino Macabre
Kyoko Mori — Dressed to Kill, Dressed to Live: On Sartorial Games
Charles Bernstein, Tracie Morris — Omnipresence
Catherine Imbriglio — Game Theory
Pierre Reverdy, Louis Cancelmi — Logbook: Selections
David Shields — Games
Robin Hemley — Cooties
Joyce Carol Oates — Zero-Sum
Nathaniel Mackey — Song of the Andoumboulou: 310
Anelise Chen — Prime of Life
S. P. Tenhoff — RPG
Lowry Pressly — Eyes. Gate. Gad. Going. Gold.
Cole Swensen — A Play of Light on the Windowsill
Rae Armantrout — Five Poems
Lucas Southworth — We Could Have Been Kids Together
Kelsey Peterson — Double Faults
Arthur Sze — Two Poems
John Dimitroff — A Disturbance of Memory
Alyssa Pelish — The Presenting Problem
Nam Le — Two Poems
Tim Raymond — Show
Justin Noga — Crab and Frog and Scissorman
Kate Colby — Pareidolia
Brian Evenson — The Sequence

Everything I read refers to an actually Cootie game but I remember playing Cootie with pencil and paper, much like the game Hangman. My Dad would fashion a die out of a sugar cube and we would play on the back-side of a gum wrapper. Bonus: Remember when Mr. Potato Head required the use of a real potato?

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