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Volume 59, Issue 2

FRONT COVER by Panteha Abareshi, Roses and Thorns 2017. INDIA INK, PEN, PENCIL, WATERCOLOR, WHITE INK, BRUSH MARKER. Courtesy of the artist.

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ON RARE OCCASIONS, academic conferences turn out as they should, and pilgrims making the journey find what they seek. The trek to the American Comparative Literature Association’s annual meeting is one I’ve made more times than I can count, in part because its seminar format—where participants assemble around a theme and meet as a group for two or three days running—favors such an outcome. This year, I fled to Los Angeles for the ACLA, during a week of so-called spring in New England, and found there a panel on poetry and public feeling, convened by Tristam Wolff and Lily Gurton-Wachter—one site where the call was answered.

On the second day of this seminar, the latter session leader began with a rumination on Blake’s second chimney sweeper poem, that song of experience where “a poor black thing . . . taught to sing the notes of woe” comments: “And because I am happy and dance and sing, / They think they have done me no...

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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 for Panteha Abareshi

- By Edward Clifford

LEFT: A new piece, which is a bit of a "redraw" on the "intimacy is hell" piece (featured in Summer 2018, Volume 59, Issue 2). Every year Abareshi chooses a piece from the previous year to reimagine, "just to sort of see my own changes."

Tell us about one of the first pieces you created.
It’s interesting looking back on my early work because I become weary of distinguishing my amateurish drawings from my artistic pieces. The earliest “piece” I can firmly recall is a small, 40-page sketchbook that I filled completely. I consider the entire book one piece because it is more meaningful as an accumulation of my early works when I was still figuring out the basics of drawing faces. It’s an archive of my...


10 Questions for Peter LaBerge

- By Edward Clifford

Des Plaines, Illinois: Acre of river. River
of silver un-grief. River
who alibied out. Who is
not talking. Of methodical defrost.
from “Bruise Music,” Spring 2018 (Vol.59, Issue 1)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
The first...

Favorite Things

Favorite Things: Robbins at 100

- By Mark Franko

Ballet, Gesture, and the Vernacular

Jerome Robbins is a legendary dance artist—not least because he succeeded as a choreographer in two quite antithetical domains: the Broadway musical and classical ballet. One might conclude that he was an innovator of dance theater (as opposed to theater dance), yet this would not do justice to the hybridity of his work. Like Agnes De Mille he revolutionized the American musical by tapping into the savoir-faire of the professional concert dancer and making dance do the work of story. Yet, starting in the 1940s, he also undertook to update ballet by introducing vernacular dance vocabulary into the classical lexicon. While these two are related projects, they are also distinctly different. Robbins’s career...


10 Questions for DeWitt Henry

- By Edward Clifford

“Curses are different from cusses or swears, though they often merge. A curse calls down evil on someone, circumstance, or thing: “God damn you/it!” A swear is an insult, comparing someone or thing to an ani­mal in regard to stupidity, loveless sex, and lack of spirit or reason, or to a body part or product (usually from the reproductive or excretory systems); or to a socially despised, feared, or “different” group (in race, nationality, class, gender, hygiene, and/or sexual preferences and acts).”from “On Cursing,” Spring 2018 (Vol. 59, Issue1)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.


10 Questions for Susannah Mandel

- By Abby MacGregor

The goddess Bensaiten appeared to me in a tree. I was in the city park, eating meat on a stick, and then there was a noise like doves and when I looked up to see what was touching my head she was there.

She looked down at me from among the white and pink blossoms and said, “You don’t belong here.”
from “Kenning Season,” published in Spring 2018 (Volume 59, Issue 1)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
My earliest pieces are all unfinished—or, at least, they don’t have satisfying linear movement, in terms of beginnings and ends. When I was young I yearned to put stories together out of fragments of images and resonant symbols, but what I wound up with was chunks of prose poetry...

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