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Date: 07/20/2017
Blogger:
Michael Thurston

“Forest bathing.”

You’ve heard of it. It’s been in the news, a few paragraphs in the Times, a feature on NPR. It’s what we used to call “going for a walk in the woods,” and research suggests that the practice has some health benefits. Whether from the way trees cool and oxygenate the air or from some compounds they give off from bark or bole, or whether it’s just the way the woods offer sights, sounds, and smells different from those that surround us on the streets of cities or suburbs, “forest bathing” seems to be good for us. I’m not one to gainsay any of this; I take a mile-long walk in the woods...

Date: 07/18/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“In the Maltese Church the American kisses
her dark groom and the priest watches
before he grants the blessing
why did the choice land on Prague why on this rainy day
white veils belie nothing
but the girl in the wheelchair wants to make it
over the bridge before the lightning gets going”
—from “Rainy Sun” by Ilma Rakusa, translated by Francesca Bell for the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)


Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated.
One of the first pieces I translated is a poem, originally in Arabic, by Bissan Abu Khaled, called “The Orbit of a Possibility.” Because I have no Arabic, I worked with a co-translator, Noor Nader Al A’bed, and this poem was the first very difficult poem we worked on. Through this poem, I fell in love with translating, with its possibilities and even with its...

Date: 07/17/2017
Blogger:
Beth Derr

". . . as the sea commits to its mutability, and when rain
strikes the earth, commitment,
as one commits to breathe."
-From "The Commitment of Rain" which appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2).

 

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
Although I have been writing and publishing in earnest since undergrad, I remember that my writing started to truly take shape after the death of my mother, when I was 22. I cannot remember those poems’ exact titles, but I remember trying very hard to articulate what that loss meant, and really, I haven’t stopped writing about death, in some way, since that time.

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
I have always been a scattershot reader, across genres, but I learned early it’s best to understand there’s always something to learn from a...

Date: 07/13/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“It’s my party and I’ll cry if I want to,

says my son at his bris, though it’s my party

and I carry the weight of a hundred generations

on the tip of my penis might be more apt.

Or: It’s my party. Let us pray.”

--from “Meditation in the Key of an Exhale” which  appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

 

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.

Writing poems lends itself to many “firsts”. “Meditation in the Key of an Exhale” is actually a first poem in that it was the first one I wrote about my son. Composed during that first sleepless, delirious month of his life, the poem feels very much like a product of that particular moment.

 

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?

There are so many to name. Robert Lowell,...

Date: 07/11/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“In the enormous, moldy bathroom with damp, flaking walls leprous with saltpeter and black-speckled marble tiles that make each step and splash resonate, as in ancient Roman thermal baths, Rehvana climbed into the tall, dark green serpentine bathtub; she sank into the colossal lion’s claw-footed tub. Suppressing her shivering which could barely be helped, face to face with huge mares frozen in a furious gallop, nostrils flared, forelegs raised, urged on by a bronze-covered Neptune turning green, pock-marked by marine salts, brandishing a truncated trident, Re­hvana luxuriated in a long bath, thoroughly enjoying the pleasantly tepid water that flows from the cistern at day’s end, in the company of tiny, transparent frogs with large and protruding eyes.”

—from “The Dancing Other” which  appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

Tell us...

Date: 07/07/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“Lena smiles and bounces a little bit. I don’t have a particularly bouncy bed and it looks silly that she is trying to bounce on it. Her cheeks flush.
‘Have you seen Girls?’
‘Yes.’
‘I’m in it.’
‘Yes, I know,’ I say. ‘You’re everywhere.’”
—from “Lena Dunham Is Everywhere” which appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
The first professional piece I completed was a full-length play, By The Master’s Hand, about a real historical figure known only as The Spanish Forger. I was living in Chicago at the time and thought it would be fun to write a play because Chicago was (and still is) such a great theatre town. With embarrassing levels of naiveté and overconfidence, I was convinced that once I finished it, I’d send the play to the...

Date: 07/05/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

Amin didn’t see him. The brake pads clenched, lifting Amin out of his seat, and then he saw the child.

Since dashing into the path of danger, the little boy hadn’t moved. He was seized by a question, and the force and authority of its asking was the closest he would come to being touched with revelation. And though the child understood the question and its implications with terrific clarity, his was an understanding received through feeling rather than thought, through the vertigo of his frame of reference collapsing, its grounding assumptions giving way. In fact, his mind barely managed a few failing words. Could this happen? was only a partial, and utterly inadequate, interpretation of the question that gripped the boy.

—from “Turn, Struggle” which appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

Tell us about one of the first...

Date: 06/30/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“Say, white girl,” Liana could hear the brown-skinned girl behind her whispering in the middle of Pre-algebra. She knew she was calling for her, even though Liana wasn’t white. At the old school, everybody knew Liana’s daddy was Creole, that her mother was light-skinned black. Also, at her old school, there had been other girls like her, girls whose hair touched their butts and swung back and forth when they jumped rope. But when her daddy moved out, her mama had to transfer her to Eleanor McMain Magnet, and she was the lightest girl here by a long shot.

--from “White Girl,” which appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.
The first piece I ever wrote was a poem. I was in the 4th grade at a Catholic school so I suspect the piece was of a spiritual...

Date: 06/26/2017
Blogger:
Beth Derr

-- from “REDACTED” which appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.

A CO[O]L CAT
(My mama tells me I used numbers as decoration.)

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?

Solmaz Sharif for form as tactic. Ross Gay for his ecosystem of life and loss contoured by gratitude and wonder. Kaveh Akbar who lifts as he climbs. Aracelis Girmay for the coil of her “&” and the buoy of her syntax. jayy dodd for their rigor and recklessness and holy, holy desire. Simone Weil for the prayer of her attention. The Talmud for the beautiful cacophony. Elizabeth Alexander for the...

Date: 06/22/2017
Blogger:
Geneviève Piron


III

Adding to the Archive

In the Alexandrov Museum, they’re getting ready for the evening’s festivities. A young woman from here who married a top chef from France and lives in Paris was passing through town yesterday evening, and she promised to help with filing the documents. She speaks French perfectly, laughing as she tells us about her streak of bad luck with French bureaucracy. She is at home here: we’re in the provinces, but the world is here too. We are served some very bad alcohol, but the mood is already very relaxed behind the table where our partners welcome us. The table is covered with a waxed tablecloth, and Butterbroten with ham are piled generously on the plates that circulate around us. The building still is in need of restoration, but the female museum volunteers...