Women writers from the Central American nations of Costa Rica and Panama have distinguished themselves in the fields of short fiction and poetry during recent years. Their triumph mirrors their countries' struggles to overcome poverty and political violence. The quality and sheer number of their stories testify to their ongoing pursuit of artistic perfection. The women whose stories have been especially translated into English for this special issue have found the key to effective communication by searching their hearts and minds, and by exploring the intricately textured web of life that surrounds them. Costa Rica and Panama are linked by culture, geographical location and political history. A recent earthquake that struck sections of both countries at once underlined their similar vulnerability to natural disaster. A deep and continuous theme running through these writings is a note of hope for a calmer future.