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Editor’s letter: 7/3/19

It’s seven minutes before midnight on the 182nd day of the year—the eve, Google tells me, of Second Half of the Year Day. Of all the bogus holidays, I like this one for its practical effect. It spurs reflection on the days behind and the days ahead. How have we lived, Second Half of the Year Day asks, and how can we live better? 

I scattered my mom’s ashes on a beach in Alabama a few days ago. In the true spirit of a death-related milestone, I thought about time: the months, 28 and counting, since hers ran out. Earlier that night, I saw my oldest niece order a beer for the first time while the youngest danced to “Old Town Road” with toothless, ecstatic abandon.

A grief counselor might tell you that death gives our lives a sort of value, nudging us to honor the preciousness of our time on Earth. I guess that’s probably true, but it sucks. 

On this Second Half of the Year Day, precious as it is, we’re celebrating the bounty of the season with a road trip itinerary to some of the best fresh fruit festivals in Oklahoma. We’ve also got your guide to the restaurants that have opened their doors in Tulsa over these last 182 days, alongside those that have stood the test of time.  

You’ll also find the past repeating itself, with a dispatch from the recent protest at the Ft. Sill army installation in southwestern Oklahoma, where 1,400 migrant children are scheduled to be jailed at the same military base where Native and Japanese Americans were once incarcerated. We’ve also got a look ahead at the new initiative to put Medicaid expansion on the 2020 ballot; a rundown on the second annual Circle Cinema Festival, celebrating the 91st birthday of the iconic theater—including interviews with Seinfeld writer Larry Charles, Tulsa’s own Sterlin Harjo, and a Jenks High School graduate and emerging filmmaker, Crystal Kayiza.  

This issue also features a Q&A with Joy Harjo, recently named the 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States—the first Native person to ever receive the honor. She talked to Mason Whitehorn Powell about where she was when she heard the news, how the accomplishment brings honor to her Muscogee (Creek) ancestors, and the past, present and future of Indigineous poetry in America today. We’re grateful to the Library of Congress, Tulsa Artist Fellowship, and Joy above all for talking to a hometown rag like us while media outlets across the globe knock down her door.

I don’t know how I’ve lived for the first half of 2019. Not great, probably. But my hope for all of us, to borrow from Dickens, is that we honor Second Half of the Year Day in our hearts, and try to keep it all the year.

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