The ancient Greeks thought of the labyrinth as a source of terror and confusion. In their mythology, the master architect Daedalus built a labyrinth in the city of Crete to contain the flesh-eating Minotaur. Human tributes would perish yearly in his labyrinth. Every corner they turned in Daedalus’ labyrinth might lead to the Minotaur, yet staying in place was akin to waiting for the Minotaur’s hulking shadow to haunt the walls.

In Christian cultures, the maze later became a popular symbol of hell and redemption. Its winding branches and single exit were the physical structure for a metaphor of spiritual enlightenment in the face of trials and being “lead astray.”

The maze of today holds many meanings. It is a source of the fear and excitement of being lost, a metaphor for life’s twists and turns, and a web of our inner worlds. The maze has come to represent a search for meaning as we question our own paths through a world that often seems more complex and uncertain than ever.

In our 2023 American Heritage Literary and Art Fair, many young people embarking on diverse paths have carved out their own mazes and meanings through the stories they offer in these pages. You’ll encounter poetry, prose, and artwork depicting students’ perspectives on the personal search for meaning, conflicts and resolutions, complex webworks of emotions, and various other twists and turns.

We invite you in this year’s issue to lose yourself in your own maze and appreciate the beauty of being lost and finding a way out.

written by the staff of expressions