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Making Queer Worlds

- By Subhalakshmi Gooptu

The World That Belongs To Us: An Anthology of Queer Poetry from South Asia, edited by Aditi Angiras and Akhil Katyal (Harper Collins, 2020)

"They say This world isn’t for you
Why then was I born into it, if it wasn’t for me."

These lines hit you like a gust of unforgiving wind. Almost two-thirds through the book, editors Aditi Angiras and Akhil Katyal have tricked you. Lulled with poems of joy, resistance, freedom, love and escape, you flip through pages quickly, looking for more. But some poems stop you in your track. To startle you. Phurbu Tashi’s “This World Isn’t For You”...


"The Past Hovers Like Smoke": John Balaban's Empire

- By Lorrie Goldensohn

Empires by John Balaban (Copper Canyon Press 2019)

In a John Balaban poem, random acts of both kindness and destruction happen in profusion, but what they fall upon is never nameless. A resourceful diction—plus a wry, casual mastery of metaphor—nail the scene. From “Cibolero”: “the rain, dropping its dark curtains…” From the poem “At Nora’s House,” herring run “inside the green lung of the recoiling wave.” But in “Christmas Eve at Washington’s Crossing,” the poet needed as much nerve and determination to lift this old warhorse of a subject into fresh poetry as the general took in crossing...


A Gaucho Novel for the Twenty-First Century

- By Manuela Borzone

The Adventures of China Iron by  Gabriela Cabezón Cámara, Translated by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre (Charco Press, 2020)

Back in February, the International Booker Prize, which recognizes the best novel translated into English published in the UK or Ireland, announced its longlist of novels competing for this year’s award. The list included The Adventures of China Iron, written by the Argentinian Gabriela Cabezón Cámara in 2016 and translated by Fiona Mackintosh and Iona Macintyre. In April, as the world came to a grinding halt, The Adventures made it onto...


Back to Basics: Whitman's Brew du Monde

- By Marsha Bryant

A lager is a lager is a lager. Unless it’s a Lager+. And that’s what I deem the sixth beer in the Leaves of Grass tribute series from Bell’s Brewery: Salut au Monde! Bell’s dubs it an Unfiltered Rustic Lager, their version of a Kellerbier. Rustic and unfiltered can also describe the persona that Walt Whitman cultivated in “Salut au Monde!” and other poems from Leaves of Grass. As I mentioned in my review of beer I in this series, the poet frequented...


The World, Not the Mirror

- By Cornelia Gräbner

What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance and In the Lateness of the World by Carolyn Forché (Penguin 2019 and 2020)

"I entered the small, mud-walled room, where she offered me a stool and a metal cup of water, smiling, her hair tied back, her eyes bathed in a light that had no source other than within her." —Carolyn Forché, from What You Have Heard Is True

Look at the world, not at the mirror.” This is Leonel Gómez Vides’ constant exhortation to poet Carolyn Forché, as he guides her journey of coming-to-consciousness in 1978 and 1979 El Salvador, which resulted...

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