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Volume 60, Issue 2

Front Cover by Kate Durbin, Unfriend Me Now!, 2018. STILL FROM 3-CHANNEL VERSION OF UNFRIEND ME NOW! (c) Kate Durbin.
Courtesy of the artist.

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NOT LONG AGO, a friend from my school days shared a photo with me, a junior high yearbook snapshot taken during art class, apparently. Remember, he posted. Not a bad question (though it may not have been one, since it wasn’t marked as such). As exhortation, it echoes that of Hamlet’s father and seems similarly unnecessary. Faced with such an image, a scrap of time some forty-five years old, life’s Rolodex can’t help but spin, doing its circular best to sort and assemble, identify and classify, until the intrusion is either resolved or left indefinitely suspended, nagging somewhere until it doesn’t, forgotten once more. This particular photo shows seven of us: long-haired, adolescent boys in bell-bottoms and tight sweaters or florid, wide-collared shirts or flannel, five in chairs and two on the floor. Of the four in the foreground, I identified three instantly, myself and two friends. The rest all looked familiar, but without prompting I doubt I’...

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Two Stories

Antonio Tabucchi, translated from Italian by Anne Milano Appel

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“We are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest [...] the teachings of Thoreau are alive today, indeed, they are more alive today than ever before.”

—REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (MR 4.1, Autumn 1962)

From the Blog

10 Questions

10 Questions for Tabish Khair

- By Emma Kemp

“Despite the superficial tinkering [of the revisions in the Norton English], which, as suggested, is justified by a marketing rationale rather than a literary one, what lingers on is the general incapacity of the Norton English to really step out of mainstream Anglo-American critical paradigms.” – From “The Nortoning of Nagra,” Summer 2019 (Vol. 60, Issue 2)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
I think it was a poem, roughly metered and rhymed of course, about plane-crash survivors drifting out in sea. And similar poems, heavy on empathy, influenced by the British Romantics and Victorian poets read in school, because they were written in secondary school. These poems my doctor-father...



- By Erri De Luca, translated by Jim Hicks

One summer after another, I come back to swim in the Mediterranean. I throw my arms over my head, swimming backstoke, my face to the air. I push with my feet and I’m off.

I come back to rinse off my tongue, teeth, and gums with a sip or two. I breathe some water in through my nose and smell its odor, down in my throat.

It's not the same sea, no longer itself. It’s not the sea that shipwrecked Jonah, Ulysses, Aeneas, Paul the Apostle, and Shelley. Back then the sea would warn sailors, who heard its message and sought shelter.

Now it’s a sea that drowns without tempests. It can’t warn with clouds or the flight of seagulls. Now ships pass by the shipwrecked and, impassive, continue their journey. Never before has cowardice shown itself so...


Massachusetts Reviews: The Book of Delights

- By Brad Crenshaw

The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay (Algonquin Books, 2019)

The 2019 Conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs concluded this spring, after nearly six hundred panels, readings and celebrations, and over eight hundred vendors and literary presses on display at the book fair—all crammed into three days and three nights. The Massachusetts Review was there, celebrating its 60th anniversary by organizing an excellent, memorable panel, and establishing its presence at the book fair. This conference for writers is, of course, not the only one held this year, but it is the largest, and its organizers were visibly committed to representing as wide a range of...

10 Questions

10 Questions for James Smethurst

- By Abby MacGregor

“If Amiri Baraka had never published anything but Blues People, he would still be an important cultural critic. The appearance of the book in 1963 is a plausible beginning for when and where cul­tural studies began in the United States, a starting point that, in fact, antedates the founding of the Centre for Cultural Studies by Richard Hoggart in Birmingham, England.” —from “‘Formal Renditions’: Revisiting the Baraka-Ellison Debate”, Spring 2019 (Vol. 60, Issue 1)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.
Though I am sometimes thought of as a scholar of literature, one of the first shorter pieces I published was "How I Got to Memphis: The Blues and the...

10 Questions

10 Questions for Geoffrey Brock

- By Emily Wojcik

Having risen from a branch of the Ni River
during a lull in the Battle of Spotsylvania,
she settled on the blue upper lip of a dead
Confederate corporal, weary. . . .
from “The Mayfly: May 12, 1864,” Volume 60, Issue 1 (Spring 2019)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
The first “serious” poem I ever wrote...

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