FRONT COVER by Amy Johnquest, Percy Lightfoot, Star Pupil, Trent School, 2017. ALTERED CABINET CARD, CASEIN, ACRYLIC. Courtesy of the artist.Order a copy now
Volume 59, Issue 1
The title of the first volume of Charlotte Delbo’s masterwork, Auschwitz and After, is straightforward: Aucun de nous ne reviendra. None of us will return. And yet, of course, some did. Scholars tell us that “Auschwitz”—the cultural symbol, synecdoche for the Holocaust—is in large part a result of the work and writings of those survivors. (What we know of Treblinka II, in contrast, depends largely on the testimony of perpetrators.) And yet, we know what Delbo means. In some sense, no survivor ever returns. The calendar of their life, whatever their future holds, dates from that single moment, that crossroads experience where they “lost the path that does not stray.” Whatever was there before has been lost forever.
In this issue, we have the honor of offering our readers a one-act play by Charlotte Delbo (previously untranslated into English), precisely forty-five years after this magazine published her “Phantoms, My Companions,” translated by the inimitable Rosette Lamont. This short play stages what was for Delbo that single moment: her final meeting, in a Nazi prison, with her husband and fellow Resistance fighter Georges Dudach, on the morning of his execution. Delbo herself was sent to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbrück. As Michael Rothberg and others have noted, Charlotte Delbo’s experiences during World War II fueled her writing and social activism; for her, the lesson of Auschwitz was a lens used to examine the world and burn off its dross. We are grateful to Dr. Cynthia Haft for her work in translating the play, and even more for her ongoing dedication to the legacy of her godmother, Charlotte Delbo.
We all, I assume, share the oft-repeated sentiments of Elie Wiesel, that “Nothing, anywhere, can be compared to Auschwitz.” And yet, this issue also brings to you a searing short story by Benjamin Abtan, founder and president of EGAM (European Grassroots Antiracist Movement). It will be hard not to measure the acquiescence of Abtan’s Rwandan narrator—a mother and génocidaire on her deathbed, confessing her truth at last to her daughter—against the portrait of resistance shown by Delbo. Could there be a starker contrast to Delbo’s “those who chose”?
And on a third front, we bring you eight new poems from Ilya Kaminsky, from his stunning new work-in-progress, Deaf Republic. One hardly needs to wonder why, for a poet born in Soviet Odessa, the ravages of history form warp and weft of the experience he brings to the page. Kaminsky’s poem sequence sketches a tale of love and war, in a jolting mix of marvels and brute realism. Not to be missed.
For those of us not cursed to live through interesting times (an ever-shinking category), life still reserves more than one crossroads to bear. Poems by Emily Fragos, Mary Morris, Jona Colson, and Lori Schainuck each commemorate loss, the catalyst to many a crossroad. Is there ever an age beyond which the loss of our parents doesn’t orphan us?
In most lives, perhaps, the crossroads may be personal—and the essence of what individuates us. And, at times, inscrutable to others. Take Lara Ehrlich’s portrait of a working mom’s breakdown, which closes this issue, or, more precisely, rips it wide open. Or Jacinto Lucas Pires’s “Gardener in a Swimsuit,” translated with meticulous clarity by Dean Thomas Ellis, where another protagonist finds his crossroads on an actual road, in hitting an animal on the highway. Elsewhere, readers may find the beast sought after in Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer’s “Mr. Roderigo’s Identification Company” somewhat less sympathetic than that in Pires—or, for that matter, than the animal in Marilia Arnaud’s “Miss Bruna” (translated by Ilze Duarte). In all three, nonetheless, it is the animal that defines the human, as is so often the case. Whether we are, in fact, all that human is the question posed by the great Argentine narrative portraitist Roberto Arlt—contemporary and peer-in-narrative to New York’s Ashcan School. We have Sergio Waisman to thank for bringing him into English, and into our pages. Arlt’s work is complemented by Amy Johnquest’s reworked nineteenth-century cabinet cards, proving it’s never too late to adopt an ancestor.
For us, people of the book, many of life’s most profound experiences are held in language itself. We love to read, and we can all point to some crossroads encounter with an author who changed our life’s course. Erri De Luca’s Dissenting Word describes Homage to Catalonia in just such terms. For the Italian activist and storyteller, Orwell was that “writer . . . whose pages got mixed up with nascent feelings about social justice and formed the character of a young citizen.”
To promise a similar experience for you in these pages would be presumptuous. As De Luca comments, “You can’t book such appointments in advance, nor can you recommend them to others.” On the other hand, the minute we stop believing it possible, namely, that your crossroads might indeed be found right here, will be the day we close up shop.
—Jim Hicks, for the editors
Charlotte Delbo, translated by Cynthia Haft
Jacinto Lucas Pires, translated by Dean Thomas Ellis
Table of Contents
Dire Pinnacle, a poem by Lee Yuk Sa,
translated by Sekyo Nam Haines
Fox Under Ice, a poem by Ingmar Heytze,
translated by Joel Thomas Katz and Robert Perry
The Beasts, a story by Roberto Arlt, translated by Sergio Waisman
Bruise Music, a poem by Peter LaBerge
Shelter, a story by Chris Poole
Soma, a story by Kenan Orhan
On Cursing, an essay by DeWitt Henry
Adopted Ancestors, a Family Album, art by Amy Johnquest
The Mouth’s Ability, a poem by Josh Rathkamp
Miss Bruna, a story by Marilia Arnaud, translated by Ilze Duarte
The Man from the Zoo, a story by Dariel Suarez
Mr. Rodrigo’s Identification Company,
a story by Ruvanee Pietersz Vilhauer
A Defense of the Artist-Critic,
part two of an essay by Patrick Thomas Henry
Kenning Season, a story by Susannah Mandel
Vespers, a poem by Mary Morris
At the Open House, a poem by Jona Colson
Like Jesus He Rises from His Hospice Bed,
a poem by Lori Schainuck
Notes on Contributors
BENJAMIN ABTAN is the founder and the president of the European Grassroots Antiracist Movement, and founder and coordinator of the Elie Wiesel Network of Parliamentarians of Europe for the prevention of mass atrocities and genocide. He teaches Genocide Studies, and holds engineering and international business degrees, as well as a certificate of graduate studies in genocide prevention from Stockton University. His editorials have been published in Le Monde, The Guardian, El Pais, and others. This is his first published work of fiction.
The Argentine writer ROBERTO ARLT (1900–1942) is the author of the novels El juguete rabioso (The Rabid Toy), Los siete locos (The Seven Madmen), and Los lanzallamas (The Flamethrowers). One of Latin America’s earliest and most important urban writers, Arlt’s stories are gripping city tales filled with marginal, alienated characters, crimes and cruelties, and tense existentialist plots. “Las fieras” ("The Beasts") is from Arlt’s 1933 collection El jorobadito y otros cuentos (The Little Hunchback and Other Stories).
MARILIA ARNAUD is an attorney and award-winning writer living in João Pessoa, Brazil. She is the author of two novels, one children’s book, and several short story collections. “Miss Bruna” (“Senhorita Bruna”) is her first short story published in translation.
JONA COLSON'S poems appear or are forthcoming in the Southern Review, Ploughshares, Subtropics, Prairie Schooner, and elsewhere. He teaches at Montgomery College in Maryland and lives in Washington, DC.
CHARLOTTE DELBO (1913–1985) was well known in France for her role as secretary to Louis Jouvet, director of the Théâtre de l’Athénée, and for her resistance against the German occupation during World War II. She and her husband, fellow resistance fighter Georges Dudach, were caught in their home by the German police in 1943. He was guillotined and she went to Auschwitz-Birkenau and Ravensbrück. Her writings about her husband, her comrades, and her time in Auschwitz are widely known. Her later work turned toward her disillusionment with Russia and the Communist Party after 1959, and she was active in many political struggles, including the Algerian war against French occupation.
ILZE DUARTE translates works from contemporary Brazilian writers. Her translation of João Anzanello Carrascoza’s Sea (Mar) appeared in the summer 2016 issue of Your Impossible Voice. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Milpitas, CA.
DEAN THOMAS ELLIS is a writer and translator living in New Orleans. His work has appeared in Bloodroot, Guernica, Cosmonauts Avenue, New Orleans Review, The Puritan, Maple Leaf Rag, Working Stiff (PBS.org), St. Petersburg Review, and the KGB Bar Lit Magazine. His translation (with Jaime Braz) of Jacinto Lucas Pires’s novel The True Actor was published by Dzanc Books. He hosts the radio programs Tudo Bem and The Dean’s List in New Orleans.
LARA EHRLICH'S writing appears in the Columbia Review, The Normal School, Minnesota Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, River Styx, and Paper Darts, among others, and she is working on a short story collection. She lives in Boston, MA.
EMILY FRAGOS is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship in Poetry, the Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts & Letters, and the national Witter Bynner Poetry Prize from the Library of Congress. Her newest book of poems is Saint Torch. She teaches at New York University and Columbia University.
GREGORY FRASER is the author of three poetry collections: Strange Pietà, Answering the Ruins, and Designed for Flight. He is coauthor, with Chad Davidson, of the textbooks Writing Poetry and Analyze Anything. His poems have appeared in the Paris Review, Southern Review, and Gettysburg Review, among others. The recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation, Fraser is a professor of English at the University of West Georgia.
CYNTHIA HAFTt was born in Brooklyn, and has written on Judaica, Jewish law, and subjects pertaining to Holocaust commemoration, history, and compensation for victims. She is the author of The Bargain and the Bridle: The General Union of the Israelites in France, 1941–1944, and currently works to gain compensation for Jewish victims of the Holocaust in Hungary. She met Charlotte Delbo while in her teens, and became her goddaughter. Haft has translated many of Delbo’s works, including the play Who Will Carry the Word? She currently lives in Jerusalem.
SEKYO NAM HAINES, born and raised in South Korea, immigrated to the US in 1973 as a registered nurse. Her poems have appeared in the anthologies Do Not Give Me Things Unbroken, Unlocking the Poem, and Beyond Words, and in the poetry journal Off the Coast. Her translations of Korean poetry have appeared in The Brooklyn Rail: InTranslation, Harvard Review, and Seventh Quarry Poetry Magazine. She lives in Cambridge, MA, with her family.
DEWITT HENRY was the founding editor of Ploughshares. He has published a novel, two memoirs, a story collection, and several anthologies. He is a professor emeritus at Emerson College, and is a contributing editor to Woven Tale Press and Science magazine. Plume Editions will publish a collection of his lyrical essays later this year.
PATRICK THOMAS HENRY is associate editor for fiction and poetry at Modern Language Studies. His fiction and poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Fiction Southeast, Souvenir Lit, Duende, and Sugar House Review. His scholarship and reviews appear in European Romantic Review, Response: The Digital Journal of Popular Culture Scholarship, South Asian Review, and Necessary Fiction. He teaches creative writing at the University of North Dakota.
INGMAR HEYTZE was born and raised in Utrecht, The Netherlands, where he is a recognized and honored poet, journalist, literary organizer, musician, and performer. In 2008, he was awarded the C.C.S. Cronerprijs for his entire oeuvre. In 2009, the city council of Utrecht unanimously appointed him the first official City Poet, through 2011. After that, the Utrecht Poets Guild collectively took the post, with Heytze as a member.
AMY JOHNQUEST, a.k.a. the BannerQueen has been creating and showing mixed media art and design in the Pioneer Valley since 1993. Her work has been exhibited regionally and nationally. Her storefront studio “Spot 22” presents ongoing gallery and window installations in Easthampton, MA. She is director of the Taber Art Gallery at Holyoke Community College.
ILYA KAMINSKY lives in San Diego, CA. His new book, Deaf Republic, is forthcoming from Graywolf Press in 2019.
Poet and translator JOEL THOMAS KATZ has worked in Silicon Valley as a business software specialist. His poems have appeared in Sand Hill Review, Montserrat Review, Disquieting Muses Quarterly, Spillway, and Red Wheelbarrow. He is the author of the chapbook Away and the poetry blog Poem-Pairs. Together with Robert Perry, he has translated the work of Dutch poets Ingmar Heytze and Saskia Stehouwer.
PETER LABERGE is the author of the chapbooks Makeshift Cathedral and Hook. His recent work appears in Best New Poets, Crazyhorse, Harvard Review, Iowa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Pleiades, Tin House, and elsewhere. He is the founder and editor-in-chief of the Adroit Journal, and recently graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in English.
SUSANNAH MANDEL is from San Francisco, Boston, and Philadelphia, in that order. She has worked in northern France, central Japan, and the Middle East, and her writing has appeared in Shimmer, Phantom Drift, and Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet. She follows the weather and the gods.
MARY MORRIS has published or has forthcoming poems in Poetry, Boulevard, and Prairie Schooner. Her forthcoming book, Enter Water, Swimmer, will be published by Texas Review Press. She lives in Santa Fe, NM.
KENAN ORHAN is a Turkish-American writer living in Colorado. His stories have appeared in McNeese Review, Cosmonauts Avenue, and others.
ROBERT PERRY is a poet, translator, graphic designer, and book artist, who recently established Dutch Poet Press, where he designs and publishes poetry art as print and electronic books, letterpress editions, and artist books. In 2015, the press published The Comfort of Potatoes by poet Janice Dabney, and will release a collection of Perry’s poetry, The Art of Painting, in 2018.
JACINTO LUCAS PIRES is the author of three novels, including O Verdadeiro Ator, which won the 2013 Domingos da Silva Teixeira Distinguished Literature Award for the best book published in Portugal in the past two years. It was translated into English (The True Actor) by Dean Thomas Ellis and Jaime Braz, and released in 2013 by Dzanc Books. He has written a novella, a travel guide, and four collections of short stories. Pires wrote and directed two short films, Cinemaamor and BD, and several plays. He is a lyricist and singer for the band Os Quais, and writes the blog O que eu gosto de bombas de gasolina. His soccer column appears in O Jogo, and he comments on political issues at Renascença Radio.
CHRIS POOLE is from Harrison, TN. He received an MFA in fiction from Emerson College, and he teaches in the Boston area. His stories have appeared in the Gettysburg Review, Apt, Waccamaw, and elsewhere.
JOSH RATHKAMP has published two collections of poems, A Storm to Close the Door (2016 Georgetown Review Poetry Prize winner) and Some Nights No Cars At All. His work has appeared in numerous literary journals and public art projects, including American Poetry Review, Southern Review, and Rattle. He directs the Creative Writing Program at Mesa Community College.
Born in Andong, Korea, LEE YUK SA (1904 –1944) is one of the first generation of Korean modern poets. He became a poet in his late twenties, coinciding with his political activism as a freedom fighter against Japan’s rule. He was sent to prison seventeen times, eventually dying in a Japanese jail in Beijing at age thirty-nine, in 1944. Though he left only thirty-six poems, he is considered one of the major modern poets in Korea. His poems attest to his resilience of spirit against hardship and his deep faith in aesthetics.
LORI SCHAINUCK lives and writes in Miami, FL. Her work has appeared in Cold Mountain Review.
DARIEL SUAREZ is a Cuban-born writer and educator. He holds an MFA in fiction from Boston University and is currently the head of faculty and curriculum at Grubstreet. He has recently completed a novel and short-story collection, both set in his native country, and his stories have appeared or are forthcoming in numerous publications.
RUVANEE PIETERSZ VILHAUER'S short stories have been broadcast on BBC Radio 4, and have appeared in Saranac Review, Massachusetts Review, Kenyon Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Notre Dame Review, Summerset Review, Quiddity, Hawai’i Pacific Review, Bluestem, Epiphany, and other venues. She teaches at New York University.
SERGIO WAISMAN is professor of Spanish and Latin American Literatures, and affiliated faculty of Judaic Studies at George Washington University. He has translated, among others, The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution by Mariano Azuela, three books by Ricardo Piglia, and three titles for Oxford’s Library of Latin America series. His book Borges and Translation: The Irreverence of the Periphery has been published in English, Spanish, and Italian. He is author of the novel Leaving, and is currently translating El limonero real (The Regal Lemon Tree) by Juan José Saer, and co-translating, with Denise Kripper, Buenos, limpios & lindos (Good, Clean & Fun) by Vera Fogwill.