Production Notes by Jeffrey F. Barken, Light Design by Wesley Burdett  


Wes calls. 

“Happy Birthday,” he says. “Wasn’t it a few weeks ago?”

“Yes. Did I miss yours too?” 

“Not yet.”

“Right. October. Anyway, good job. Only true friends forget my birthday,”

Old jests 
laugh always
Smiles photograph. 

I tell Wes I’m working on the intro to this year’s edition of Monologging. 

“Ok. Let’s hear,” he says.

Process yields the proof we’re real, if only abstract and so brief…  I recite from my first murky draft. Through a turbulent year I’ve learned that laughter springs the purest form of wildness. We should seek laughter first and cackling. Laughter loud as hell. Bubbles air nostalgia, reveries tempt thrills. Punctuation must be joking, paragraphs are cheats….

Wes agrees with all my theories. “I feel like you need to end this essay; LOL,” he says…. “Look up this song,” He adds, sending me a YouTube link to Charlotte Adigery’s “HAHA“. 

We listen together. 

“That’s kind of haunting,” I say. “The bursts remind me of that Jelly Roll we found on vinyl years ago… Hyena Stomp?” 

Again we listen to a link. 

Presenting Monologging, Winter ’24. Herein twists our toil, memoirs, fictions, grief. Poems off-pure yet probing, voices awash, and colors sworn—figures incomplete—our monologues reprieves. I read another excerpt from the essay, but we’re still laughing… 

“How’s business?” I ask. 

Wes sends me links to recent projects, hotels and bars in Brooklyn and Chicago.

“You know I can’t tell stories,” he reiterates his approach. “But I like to stage their start.”

New plan. This is the year. We’re finally going to design a light together. I text Wes some of my latest poems on X.  A few days later he sends me a picture incorporating them into his design. He call’s the fixture “Fortune Teller” and promises he’ll build it in time so that we can feature the piece in next year’s edition of Monologging.

Good friends have helped me thread this letter; scenes of ours through works we’ve shared. It’s hard to believe only seven months ago I was still an elected official presiding over city affairs. Rewilding can be as simple as turning on and off the lights, a sudden epiphany like the weather wielding stings, or a fresh encounter. More arduous is the struggle to accept the fact you’ve strayed, or to admit you’ve lived an entire chapter and must either open doors for change or stale away …. For me, this year, rewilding meant leaving home. 

As we settle in to Maine, I hear the tail-end of a radio interview with a retiring English professor. I didn’t catch her name, but after decades teaching Shakespeare she proclaims the biggest lesson she has taken from the legendary poet’s plays and sonnets is that one should “always return to what they love.”

A cherished highlight of that trying and pivotal year-and-half I spent in politics were my monthly meetings with Angela, Ann, David and Val, all of whom have pieces featured in this issue. We’d formed a neighborhood writer’s group as the lockdowns lifted and COVID waned. I think of how our midday meetups, good eats and wine, honest criticism and heartened support helped me return to what I love when the political discourse I was drowning in felt full of hate. The wholesomeness of their homes, the richness of their life-experiences and perspectives, the openness we achieved, were emblematic of the Ithaca I remembered from my childhood. Yes, I could stay and raise my family there; we’d be happy and inspired, and yet the urge to take a risk, leap and leave was burning fierce like taunting laughter—some urge rewilded that I could no longer contain. 

To leave was bittersweet, but to leap has meant renewal. Perhaps more than any other issue we’ve published, this edition of Monologging honors the bonds we test with distance, and our capacity to collaborate across cultures and languages. We nurture curiosity by providing diverse entry points, and establishing a culture of patience. In this way, ideological boundaries are challenged, circumnavigated, accepted or dissolved altogether. Monologging is a quest for nuance that remains a celebration of artistic processes worldwide as we individually and collectively chronicle a year in the course of letters. Together we are also developing educational tools to empower collaborative instincts and projects locally. 

Grounded yet roving, wildly genuine, our magazine offers a hearty laugh at life when we are being tested, and at critical junctures, a place to anchor somber reflections. The commitments we make to each other through this venture have created both the opportunity and the reason to carry on impassioned. Let Wes tell you: “the stage is set, fortune is yours.” Rewilded light is the chorus of all who’ve returned to loves and LOL. 





Jeffrey F. Barken is an author, photographer, and the creator of Follow his “open journal” on Twitter and Instagram for a window into his creative process and to join in collaborative ventures. A list of his recent publications is available here.



“Good lighting means connecting with people.  Understanding what atmosphere to create before they even realize they needed it.”

Wesley Burdett has an engineering degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.  He was drawn to lighting as a way to blend a sense of humanity with the objective world of science. His career has taken him all over the world, from luxury hotels in Asia to high-end residences in Los Angeles. Wesley’s projects have been featured in such publications as Architectural Digest and Interior Design Magazine. His technical knowledge and artistry in working with light and shadow allow his projects to be both functional and dynamic. Wesley takes a holistic approach to lighting design, from the overall user experience down to the development of custom decorative lighting fixtures.