What is love? Love is a battlefield, a drug, an open door. Love is a gamble, a gift, a game. Love is kind, king, knocking outside my door. It’s all around, and it’s all you need. The more you give, the more you get because love knows no bounds. But love also bites, hurts, wounds, scars, will tear us apart. Love is killing me. Love is a dangerous thing. Dangerous and strange and sweet. Love is a four letter word, but it is only a word. Love is complicated and despite this—because of this—it can also be uncomplicated, universal, unconditional, true.

What is love? We ask this question knowing that behind the cheesy lyrics and tired expressions, there is a polyphony of lived experience to listen to. A territory deserving of its many maps—so many in fact, it’s easy to get lost. On an eighteenth century engraving by the German mapmaker Matthäus Seutter depicting the allegorical attaques de L’AMOUR (“attacks of love”) on the Rocher de la Raison (“Rock of Reason”), a note appears in the bottom right-hand corner, beneath Le Palais de L’amour. “Entering is easy,” it reads, “but leaving is impossible.”

For our eighth issue, Love, we are seeking work that gets lost in this complicated space and its many maps. Consider the many types of love: at first sight, blind, calf, cupboard, free, of the game, poly, star-crossed, tough, true, unconditional, Greek: familial (storge), friendly (philia), romantic (eros), and divine (agape), Chinese: benevolent (ren, 仁) and universal (jiān'ài, 兼愛). Consider the places and spaces of love: altars, bedrooms, bordellos, cruising spots, dating apps, erogenous zones, grottos, key parties, motels, public, Valentine’s Day, Lover’s Lane, The Tunnel of Love, The Love Ranch. The temporalities of love: everlasting, fleeting, til death; affairs, anniversaries, date nights, shotgun weddings, singles nights, speed dating. The art and industry of love: erotica, love letters, odes, palinodes, romance paperbacks, serenades, sex toys, slow jams; Kama Sutra, Loveline, The Love Boat, The Love of a Good Woman. The people: Aphrodite/Venus, Casanova, Dr Terri, The Love Doctor®, Eros/Cupid, Kāmadeva, Min, St. Valentine.

And above all else, consider what, whom, and how you love, even if there is no why.

Issue VIII will be published June 2018. To learn how to contribute, read our submissions guidelines.