SIGMUND FREUD ONCE offered an outline of the relations between poets and their dream-worlds. Unlike much of his work, his words on this subject still seem as rich and insightful as they must have appeared in December of 1907. For this issue, which celebrates our magazine’s sixtieth year of publication, the psychoanalyst’s observations are particularly relevant. The influence of history on the poetic imagination, Freud comments, “hovers, as it were, between three times—the three moments of time which our ideation involves.” First, the imagination encounters “some current impression, some provoking occasion in the present”; from there, he notes, “it harks back to a memory of an earlier experience”; and finally, “it now creates a situation relating to the future.” He concludes, “Thus past, present, and future are strung together, as it were, along the thread of the wish that runs through them.”
I’m fairly sure our founding editors never anticipated that their magazine would live to salute the third decade of this third millennium. I happen to have achieved the same age as our publication (a sum of years neither of my parents exceeded), and I certainly never expected to be around this long. And yet, for sixty years, the “thread of the wish” this magazine represents has never wavered: we promote social justice and equality, along with great art. We aim to provoke debate, inspire action, and expand understanding of the world around us.
That’s why, to celebrate our sixtieth anniversary, we decided to take Freud’s words literally. We begin this issue with a “provoking occasion”: major voices from two of the world’s many hot spots. Looking across the globe today, one might well wonder where fires are not burning; in any case, Serhiy Zhadan’s poetic dispatch from Ukraine, brought to us by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin, much like Xu Xi’s reflections on Hong Kong past and present, are surely not to be missed.
After that, we’ve put together, not simply “the memory of an earlier experience,” but a full, complex series of reflections on how we engage with memory and history, even in our most traumatic moments. Over the past half century or more, groundbreaking work on this subject has been done under the aegis of Holocaust Studies, and in this issue we bring you not only contributions from Laura Levitt and James Young, two key theorists of Holocaust and Jewish Studies, but also an essay by Ghislaine Dunant, Charlotte Delbo’s biographer, which discusses the unique contribution of the Auschwitz survivor’s writing. To conclude this section, Patricia Chu applies the work of Holocaust studies to post–World War II literature by Asian American writers, and Peter Chametzky describes the implicit redefinition of citizenship that immigrant artists are bringing to contemporary Germany. The art of Anna Schuleit Haber resonates with each of the preceding arguments, capping this section perfectly.
To complete its work, Freud notes, the poetic imagination must also “create a situation relating to the future”; in planning this issue, our editors realized that if we looked only to the past, our celebration would remain incomplete. Instead we invited a cohort of favorite writers from our past decade—winners of our Halley Prize for poetry as well as the authors of some of our favorite stories—to nominate emerging writers we hadn’t yet published, authors whose work they felt belonged in our pages. Our friends, old and new, responded to our call, and we quickly faced an embarrassment of riches. As a result, the bulk of this anniversary issue—some eighteen poets and five writers of prose—looks out on the future, welcoming it here and now.
We end our sixtieth year, and our sixtieth volume year, by reprinting a selection of work that first appeared online in a blog series launched in November 2016. For reasons obvious to all, during that moment of political crisis, we offered space to writers who would confront the racism, xenophobia, and misogyny, the catastrophic social and environmental policies that, though the roots are surely deeper, have so thoroughly infested our public sphere during these past two years. From this series, called “Our America” to honor José Martí and to challenge more narrow definitions of populism, we chose a representative sample: work, like that of Michael Rothberg, addressing historical precedents, and essays, like those of Jacob Paul, Michel Moushabeck, and Katherine Silver, decrying ongoing crises — immigrant suffering, minority rights, and environmental devastation — throughout our country and the world it shares.
In the final days of 2019, we will surely all, as did Eduardo Halfon, in looking down at the face of his infant son in November 2016, wonder what kind of world our children will inherit. Yet we must, in spite of the incessant noise streaming from the currently occupied District of Columbia, like James Janko, continue to look “for the gaps between certain words,” for “the skinny silences—cracks where truth still fits.”
—Jim Hicks, for the editors
Serhiy Zhadan, translated by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin
Kristina Kay Robinson
Charlotte Delbo, Writing the Deportation
Ghislaine Dunant, Translated by Kathryn Lachman
Charlotte Delbo, Writing the Deportation
Ghislaine Dunant, Translated by Kathryn Lachman
Memorial Arts by Horst Hoheisel and Andreas Knitz
James E. Young
The Allure of Material Objects
"Truth as Accessible as Looking Out a Window"
Patricia P. Chu
Two Site-Specific Installations
Anna Shuleit Haber
Learning to Eat the Dead: Juba
Maria Hamilton Abegunde
Poem After an Iteration of a Painting by Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Destroyed by the Artist Herself
Basho muses that poets make poems like woodcutters swiftly fell trees
Rebecca Hart Olander
Mallika Reflects on the Events of Discount Monday
A Brief History of American Labor
Matt W. Miller
The Electric Girls
Corey Van Landingham
April Blevins Pejic
Friday Night Fights
Fending Nothing Off
Beneath Our Skin
from adaptation portraits (strange cartographies)
Letter for Elena Ferrante: Devotional
Lindsay Remee Ahl
What Kind of World?
The Anthem and the Angels
Get Up, Stand Up
Notes on Historical Comparison in the Age of Trump (and Erdogan)
What is Nakba Day?
Table of Contents
(You led the regiments and liberated cities),
a poem by Serhiy Zhadan, translated
by John Hennessy and Ostap Kin
The View from 2010, an essay by Xu Xi
The Future of Memory
Charlotte Delbo, Writing the Deportation
an essay by Ghislaine Dunant,
translated by Kathryn Lachman
Memorial Arts by Horst Hoheisel and
Andreas Knitz, an essay by James E. Young
The Allure of Material Objects,
an essay by Laura Levitt
Turks, Jews, and Other Germans in Contemporary Art,
an essay by Peter Chametzky
“Truth as Accessible as Looking Out a Window,”
an essay by Patricia P. Chu
Two Site-Specific Installations,
art by Anna Schuleit Haber
. . . with a little help from our friends
Learning to Eat the Dead: Juba,
a poem by Maria Hamilton Abegunde
Polako, a poem by Caleb Gill
Aleppo, a poem by Anika Potluri
Per Capita, a story by Kristina Kay Robinson
Poem After an Iteration of a Painting by
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, Destroyed by
the Artist Herself, a poem by Ama Codjoe
Photograph, a poem by Jenny George
Basho muses that poets make poems like
woodcutters swiftly fell trees,
a poem by Rebecca Hart Olander
Mallika Reflects on the Events of Discount Monday,
a story by Annie Zaidi
A Brief History of American Labor,
a poem by Matt W. Miller
Liability, a poem by Constance Merritt
The Electric Girls, a poem by Corey Van Landingham
Genetic Driftwood, an essay by April Blevins Pejic
Aporia, a poem by Robert Whitehead
Friday Night Fights, a poem by David Torneo
Fending Nothing Off, a poem by Jane Zwart
Tent Cinema, a story Anita Felicelli
Love, or Grieving a Beast, a poem by Clare Welsh
Beneath Our Skin, a poem by Richie Hofmann
Mailbox, a poem by Sarah Stickney
Fin, or A Thing Like Music, a story by Danley Romero
from adaptation portraits (strange cartographies),
a poem by George Abraham
Letter for Elena Ferrante: Devotional,
a poem by Tina Cane
Mythographic Shorthand, a poem by Lindsay Remee Ahl
What Kind of World?, an essay by Eduardo Halfon
The Women and Children of Dilley,
an essay by Katherine Silver
The Anthem and the Angels, an essay by James Janko
Get Up, Stand Up, an essay by Jacob Paul
Notes on Historical Comparison in the
Age of Trump (and Erdogan),
an essay by Michael Rothberg
What is Nakba Day?,
an essay by Michel Moushabeck
Notes on Contributors
MARIA HAMILTON ABEGUNDE is an ancestral priest, memory keeper, healing facilitator, poet, writer, and Black Studies practitioner-scholar who focuses on memory, trauma, and healing in black communities. She is a fellow of Cave Canem, Ragdale, Sacatar, Flight of the Mind, Barbara Deming, and the NEH summer institute. She is the founding director of the Graduate Mentoring Center and a faculty member in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University, Bloomington. “Learning to Eat the Dead: Juba” is from a manuscript-in-progress.
GEORGE ABRAHAM is a Palestinian American poet and bioengineering PhD candidate at Harvard University. They are the author of Birthright, and the chapbooks the specimen's apology, and al youm. They are a Kundiman and Watering Hole fellow, and recipient of the College Union Poetry Slam International’s Best Poet title. Their work has been published in the Paris Review, American Poetry Review, LitHub, Poem-A-Day, and Bettering American Poetry.
LINDSAY REMEE AHL has had work published in the Georgia Review, Southern Review, Hotel Amerika, Barrow Street, BOMB Magazine, The Offing, and many others. She was a Fletcher Fellow at Bread Loaf for her novel, Desire. She holds an MFA from Warren Wilson in Poetry.
TINA CANE serves as the poet laureate of Rhode Island, where she is the founder and director of Writers-in-the-Schools, RI, and an instructor with the writing community, Frequency Providence. Her poems and translations have appeared in numerous publications, including the Literary Review, Two Serious Ladies, Tupelo Quarterly, Jubliat and The Common. She also co-produces, with Atticus Allen, the podcast Poetry Dose. Cane is the author of The Fifth Thought, Dear Elena: Letters for Elena Ferrante, poems with art by Esther Solondz, Once More with Feeling, and Body of Work. In 2016, she received the Fellowship Merit Award in Poetry from the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts.
PETER CHAMETZKY is Professor of Art History in the School of Visual Art and Design at the University of South Carolina. He is the author of Objects as History in Twentieth-Century Germany Art: Beckmann to Beuys. His most recent publication is “From Anti-Nazi Postcards to Anti-Trump Social Media: Laughter as Resistance, Opposition, or Cold Comfort?” in Art and Resistance in Germany, eds. Deborah Ascher Barnstone and Elizabeth Otto. He has previously published in the MR issues of May 2009, Winter 1997/98, and Fall 1995.
PATRICIA P. CHU is associate professor and deputy chair of English at George Washington University. She recently served as Global Humanities Visiting Scholar at the University of Macau. She is the author of Where I Have Never Been: Migration, Melancholia, and Memory in Asian American Narratives of Return and Assimilating Asians: Gendered Strategies of Authorship in Asian America, a study of the Asian American bildungsroman.Her articles have appeared in Diaspora, Arizona Quarterly, Literary Gestures: The Aesthetic in Asian American Literary Discourse, The Cambridge History of Asian American Literature, The Routledge Companion to Asian American and Asian Pacific Islander Literature, and elsewhere.
AMA CODJOE is the author of Blood of the Air, winner of the eighth annual Drinking Gourd Chapbook Poetry Prize, forthcoming from Northwestern University Press. She received support from the Cave Canem, Jerome, Robert Rauschenberg, and Saltonstall foundations, as well as from Callaloo Creative Writing Workshop, Crosstown Arts, Hedgebrook, and the MacDowell Colony. Her recent poems have appeared in Adroit Journal, Tin House Online, Southern Indiana Review and elsewhere. She won a 2017 Rona Jaffe Writers’ Award, The Georgia Review’s Loraine Williams Poetry Prize, a DISQUIET Literary Prize, and an NEA Literature Fellowship.
GHISLAINE DUNANT is a writer living in Paris. Her major works have been published by Gallimard and Grasset. Her first novel, L’impudeur (Brazen), was also published in the U.S., and was a Book of the Month Club selection. She received the Prix Femina/Essai for her latest book, Charlotte Delbo, La vie retrouvée. Her previous book, Un effondrement, won a prestigious Swiss literary award. The primary themes of her work are desire, transgression, and the power of literature to render the inconceiveable.
ANITA FELICELLI is the author of the novel Chimera, and the short story collection Love Songs for a Lost Continent. Her essays and criticism have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Review of Books, Slate, Salon, Catapult, New York Times, and elsewhere. Love Songs for a Lost Continent won the 2016 Mary Roberts Rinehart award. She lives in the Bay Area.
JENNY GEORGE is the author of The Dream of Reason. She is also a winner of the “Discovery”/Boston Review Poetry Prize and a recipient of fellowships from The Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, Lannan Foundation, the MacDowell Colony, and Yaddo. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times, Ploughshares, Narrative, Granta, Iowa Review, FIELD, Los Angeles Review of Books, and elsewhere.
CALEB GILL was born in Louisville, KY, and attended Kent State University. Currently an MFA candidate at Chatham University, he lives in Pittsburgh. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Poet Lore, Appalachian Heritage, Cardinal Sins, and elsewhere. He is the co-founding editor of Ironworks Press.
ANNA SCHULEIT HABER'S works range from museum installations made with paint, to large-scale projects in forests, on uninhabited islands, and in psychiatric institutions, using extensive sound systems, live sod, thousands of flowers, mirrors, antique telephones, bodies of water, and neuroscience technologies. She studied painting at RISD, creative writing at Dartmouth and was named a MacArthur Fellow for work that has “conceptual clarity, compassion, and beauty.” Anna was recently embedded in a small-town newsroom where she staged a serial ‘take-over’ of 26 front pages. Upcoming works revolve around seriality and memory, and include commissions in Copenhagen (DK) and Cincinnati
EDUARDO HALFON was born in Guatemala City, moved to the United States at the age of ten, went to school in south Florida, studied industrial engineering at North Carolina State University, and then returned to Guatemala to teach literature for eight years. Named one of the best young Latin American writers by the Hay Festival of Bogotá, he is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, Roger Caillois Prize, José María de Pereda Prize for the Short Novel, and Guatemalan National Prize in Literature. He is the author of fourteen books published in Spanish and three novels published in English. Halfon frequently travels to Guatemala and is currently a visiting professor in creative writing at the University of Iowa.
JOHN HENNESSEY is the author of two collections, Coney Island Pilgrims and Bridge and Tunnel, and his poems appear in The Believer, Best American Poetry, Harvard Review, The Huffington Post, Jacket, The New Republic, Poetry, Poetry Northwest, The Poetry Review (UK), Poetry at Sangam (India), Poetry Ireland Review and the Yale Review. Hennessy is the poetry editor of The Common and teaches at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.
RICHIE HOFMANN is the author of a collection of poems, Second Empire, and his poems appear in the New Yorker, Poetry, New York Times Style Magazine, and other magazines. He is the recipient of a Ruth Lilly Fellowship and the Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University, where he is now Jones Lecturer in Poetry.
JAMES JANKO'S novel, The Clubhouse Thief, won the Association of Writers and Writing Programs (AWP) Award for the Novel and an Independent Publishers Book Award for Great Lakes Fiction. An earlier novel, Buffalo Boy and Geronimo, received the Association of Asian American Studies Book Award and the Northern California Book Award. Janko served in Vietnam as a medic in an infantry battalion commanded by Colonel George Armstrong Custer III.
OSTAP KIN is the editor of New York Elegies: Ukrainian Poems on the City. He is translator, with Vitaly Chernetsky, of Songs for a Dead Rooster by Yuri Andrukhovych, and, with Ali Kinsella, of The Maidan After Hours by Vasyl Lozynsky. His translations have appeared in Modern Poetry in
Translation, Poetry International, The Common, and elsewhere.
KATHRYN LACHMAN teaches comparative literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She is the author of Borrowed Forms: The Music and Ethics of Transnational Fiction. Among her other publications are the co-edited volume Feasting on Words: Maryse Condé, Cannibalism and the Caribbean Text, and numerous articles and book chapters on African and Francophone literature. She is currently translating Ghislaine Dunant’s acclaimed biography of Charlotte Delbo, Une vie retrouvée.
LAURA LEVITT is professor of Religion, Jewish Studies and Gender at Temple University, where she has directed both the Jewish studies and the Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies programs. Her forthcoming book is The Afterlives of Objects: Holocaust Evidence and Criminal Archives. She is the author of American Jewish Loss after the Holocaust and Jews and Feminism: The Ambivalent Search for Home. Levitt is an editor of Impossible Images: Contemporary Art After the Holocaust, and Judaism Since Gender. She is an editor with Tracy Fessenden and David Harrington Watt of NYU Press’s North American Religions Series.
CONSTANCE MERRITT'S fourth collection of poems, Blind Girl Grunt: The Selected Blues Lyrics and Other Poems, was a Nebraska Center for the Book honor book and a Lambda Literary Foundation Award finalist in lesbian poetry. She lives in Louisville, KY.
MATT W. MILLER is author of The Wounded for the Water, Club Icarus, selected by Major Jackson as the winner of the 2012 Vassar Miller Poetry Prize, and Cameo Diner: Poems. He has published poems and essays in Harvard Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Southwest Review, Narrative, Crazyhorse, 32 Poems, Adroit Journal, The Rumpus, and other journals. He is a winner of Nimrod International’s Pablo Neruda Prize for Poetry, River Styx’s Microfiction Prize, Iron Horse Review’s Trifecta Poetry Prize, and The Poetry by the Sea Conference’s Sonnet Crown Contest.
MICHEL MOUSHABECK is a writer, editor, publisher, and musician of Palestinian descent. He is the founder of Interlink Publishing, a thirty-three-year-old, Massachusetts-based independent publishing house, and the author of several books, including Kilimanjaro: A Photographic Journey to the Roof of Africa. Most recently, he co-edited the winter issue of the Massachusetts Review focusing on Mediterranean literature and contributed a piece to Being Palestinian: Personal Reflections on Palestinian Identity in the Diaspora. He is the recipient of NYU’s Founder’s Day Award for outstanding scholarship, the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee’s Alex Odeh Award, and the Palestinian Heritage Foundation Achievement Award. He is a founding member and director of the Boston-based Layaali Arabic Music Ensemble.
REBECCA HART OLANDER'S poetry has appeared recently in Crab Creek Review, Radar Poetry, and Yemassee Journal, among others. Her first chapbook, Dressing the Wounds, was published in 2019 by dancing girl press, and her debut full-length collection, Uncertain Acrobats, is forthcoming from CavanKerry Press in 2021. Rebecca teaches writing at Westfield State University and is editor/director of Perugia Press.
JACOB PAUL is the author of the novels Last Tower to Heaven (forthcoming from C&R Press), A Song of Ilan, and Sarah/Sara. His most recent performance-based collaboration was showcased at LadyFest CLT. His shorter work has also appeared widely in print and online. He currently teaches creative writing at High Point University.
APRIL BLEVINS PEJIC is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of New Orleans. Her essay “A History We Can Live With” was noted in the Best American Essays 2015. Her work has appeared in the Cimarron Review, Green Briar Review, and Arcadia Magazine, among others. She teaches English at Nicholls State University and is a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance.
ANIKA POTLURI is originally from Atlanta, GA. She is currently a sophomore studying English and creative writing at Cornell University.
KRISTINA KAY ROBINSON is a writer, curator, and visual artist born and raised in New Orleans. Her writing in various genres has appeared in Guernica, The Baffler, The Nation, and Elle, among other outlets. She is a 2019 recipient of the Rabkin Prize for Visual Arts Journalism.
DANLEY ROMERO is a recent graduate of Loyola University in New Orleans, where he studied cello performance and English. He has interned with the New Orleans Review and is beginning his MFA in fiction writing at the University of New Hampshire.
MICHAEL ROTHBERG is the 1939 Society Samuel Goetz Chair in Holocaust Studies and professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of The Implicated Subject: Beyond Victims and Perpetrators; Multidirectional Memory: Remembering the Holocaust in the Age of Decolonization; and Traumatic Realism: The Demands of Holocaust Representation.
KATHERINE SILVER is an award-winning literary translator. Her most recent and forthcoming publications include works by María Sonia Cristoff, Daniel Sada, César Aira, Julio Cortázar, Juan Carlos Onetti, and Julio Ramón Ribeyro. She is the former director of the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC) and the author of Echo Under Story. She interprets for asylum seekers in Northern California.
SARAH STICKNEY'S poems have appeared in journals such as Forklift Ohio, Painted Bride Quarterly, Rhino, Mudlark, Bateau, BODY, and others. Her manuscript Portico was selected by Thomas Lux as 2016 winner of Emrys Press’s annual chapbook competition. Stickney also translates Italian poetry and holds an MFA from the University of New Hampshire.
DAVID TORNEO has had poems published in Another Chicago Magazine, The Café Review, Mudfish, Limestone Post Magazine (online), and Monster House (online). Monster House Press printed his poem “Intimations of Happiness Deferred” in the Monster House Press pamphlet series. He is a co-founder of Ledge Mule Press and the editor of Pickpocket Books, all based in Bloomington, IN.
COREY VAN LANDINGHAM is the author of Antidote, winner of the Ohio State University Press/The Journal Award in Poetry, and Love Letter to Who Owns the Heavens, forthcoming from Tupelo Press. She is a recipient of an NEA fellowship and a Wallace Stegner Fellowship from Stanford University. Her poems have appeared in Best American Poetry, Georgia Review, Kenyon Review, and The New Yorker. She teaches in the MFA program at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
CLARE WELSH is a writer and photographer based in Pittsburgh. A graduate of the University of New Orleans Writing Workshop, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Puerto Del Sol, The New Delta Review, Midwest Review, Peauxdunque Review, and elsewhere in print and online. Her chapbook Chimeras, is available through Finishing Line Press.
ROBERT WHITEHEAD received his MFA in Writing from Washington University in St. Louis in 2013, and has been a fellow at the Bucknell Seminar for Younger Poets, Ashbery Home School, and Vermont Studio Center. His work has appeared or is forthcoming from Gulf Coast, Verse Daily, JERRY, Denver Quarterly, The Collagist, and elsewhere. He lives in Philadelphia, where he works as a writer and designer for a university hospital and is the managing editor for NightBlock.
XU XI 許素細 is author of fourteen books of fiction and nonfiction, most recently This Fish is Fowl: Essays of Being and editor of four anthologies of Hong Kong writing in English. She is currently faculty co-director of the International MFA in Creative Writing and Literary Translation at Vermont College of Fine Arts and has been faculty at graduate creative writing programs since 2002. Previously she had an eighteen-year career in marketing and management for multinationals in the U.S. and Asia. An Indonesian-Chinese-American diehard transnational, she now splits her life, unevenly, between the state of New York and the rest of the world.
JAMES E. YOUNG is Distinguished University Professor Emeritus at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and founding director of the Institute for Holocaust, Genocide, and Memory Studies there. He is the author, most recently, of The Stages of Memory: Reflections on Memorial Art, Loss, and the Spaces Between, among other titles, including At Memory’s Edge: After-images of the Holocaust in Contemporary Art and Architecture and The Texture of Memory. He served as a juror on the memorial design competitions for both Germany’s Denkmal for the Murdered Jews of Europe (2005) and the National September 11 Memorial in New York City (2011).
ANNIE ZAIDI writes across several genres including reportage, fiction, drama, and comics. She is the author of Prelude to a Riot, Gulab, Love Stories # 1 to 14, and Known Turf: Bantering with Bandits and Other True Tales, and the editor of Unbound: 2000 Years of Indian Women’s Writing. She is also the winner of the Nine Dots Prize for 2019 and The Hindu Playwright Award for 2018.
SERHIY ZHADAN is a leading Ukrainian poet, writer, essayist, and translator. His books have been translated into more than a dozen languages. He has received the 2015 Angelus Central European Literary Award (Poland), the 2014 Jan Michalski Prize for Literature (Switzerland), the 2009 Joseph Conrad-Korzeniowski Literary Award (Ukraine), the 2006 Hubert Burda Prize for young Eastern European poets (Austria), and the BBC Ukrainian Book of the Year award in 2006, 2010, and 2014. He lives in Kharkiv.
JANE ZWIRT teaches English at Calvin University, where she also co-directs the Calvin Center for Faith & Writing. Her poems have previously appeared in Poetry, Rattle, North American Review, Boston Review, and TriQuarterly, as well as other journals and little magazines.