December 21st, 2012 marks the end of the 13th and the start of the 14th b’ak’tun of the Mayan Long Count calendar, popularly known as the proposed date of the “2012 Apocalypse.” At the time of this writing (November, 2012), it remains to be seen what will happen come December. If you’re reading this, then you, at the very least, have made it.
Regardless of whether it also marks the final end-of-things, the end of the 13th and the start of the 14th b’ak’tun represents the end of an age, the closing of one great cycle and the beginning (one hopes) of another. In honor and anticipation of this shift, the poems in this feature all concern themselves in one way or another with “apocalypse” in the larger sense of that word, in the sense of the Greek ἀποκάλυψις or apokálypsis, mean- ing “uncovering” or “revelation.” These poems enact rebirth, beginnings, endings, uncoverings and revelations. They preside over the destruction of old orders and shepherd new orders into being, confronting not just the potential end of this world but also the end of individual worlds, of social, cultural or linguistic worlds. These are poems that enact personal as well as cosmic apocalypses, that “open” themselves and, in the process, open up the very world(s) out of which they arise.
Insofar as all good poetry is “apocalyptic” in this sense, to call these poems apocalyptic is simply to say that they achieve in full what poetry sets out to do: to reveal the wor(l)d and in revealing it, to change it. One only hopes that these little apocalypses will find a living audience on the other side of December 21st.
-Michael Joseph Walsh, Poetry Editor