Front Cover by Paul Shoul
Northampton, Massachusetts, May, 2020. PHOTOGRAPH.
Volume 61, Issue 3
I’VE SAID THIS BEFORE, but it bears repeating. You probably know that neurologists have a term, proprioception, to describe our sense of ourselves and our body, its position and movement in space. What they haven’t yet named, so far as I know, is the cultural equivalent to proprioception: our sense of the world, of history, of our place in it and our ability to move and act, within and on it. Yet such an equivalent does exist: we believe our bodies to be whole and immortal, the world to be solid beneath our feet, we know our family loves us, as does God, and we assume that our nation (race, tribe, clan, call it what you will) is where we belong — to it we pledge allegiance. Until, that is, we don’t. Locke wasn’t off-base when he named solidity as the first of his simple ideas, the corner or keystone for all of the rest. He had less to say about those moments when the earth moves, a family splits, gods die, or our nation declares war on itself. One day it happens. We wake up and find ourselves amputees. Or else we look back and realize too late the border has been crossed, we won’t be going back. On that day, a new calendar begins. And sometimes, someday, we also find ourselves anew, someplace else.
The work of imagination inscribes both sides of this dark, backward abysm — and in our Fall issue, that’s what you’re in for. We offer you expressions of pure love, anticipated, as in a poem from C. P. Cavafy, in Alex de Voogt’s translation, or actualized, as in Gwen Thompkins’s exuberant tale of two young lovers on their way to a new life in New Orleans, or remembered, as in Karen Henry’s reflections on the afterlife of Shakespeare’s sonnets, translated to screen and stage. We sense the solidity of stone in Pablo Neruda’s XXIII, translated by Karen Hilberg, and also in an excerpt from Giacomo Sartori’s novel Bug, translated by a dearly lamented friend, Frederika Randall — yet in both pieces violence is present as well. No surprise, I suppose, that poets today are tracking cataclysm, both in Steven Duong’s “Anatomy” and in a series of dangerous swims, with poems from Emily Van Kley, Marcela Sulak, and Emily Schulten. Elsewhere Margaret Lloyd instructs us on how, in the life of poet Jack Gilbert, home was built, not bought; in an essay on the painstaking work of repair, Philip Metres shows us how lives like Alistair McBride’s are forced to seek a possible future, after a promised past is taken from them. Cody Kommers rethinks the unthinkable, meditating on the motivations of génocidaires in Rwanda, with lessons for our time as well. What it’s like to leave one life behind, and perhaps find another, is explored in fiction by Alanna Schubach and retraced in memoir by Ammiel Alcalay. With “The Color of Death” and “Song of Parting,” we give you two stories as dark and lyrical as their titles, the former a translation of Selina Hossain from Bengali by Mohammad Shafiqul Islam, the latter of Lu Min from Chinese by Michael Day. As objective correlative, we offer the photos of Paul Shoul, marking and measuring the divisions present here in our home, Western Mass., and unmistakable everywhere else.
By the time you finish this issue, we reckon, you’ll already be asking yourself the question we close with, as posed by the title of Marianne Boruch’s poem: “Is the Past What’s Left in the Glove Compartment”? Could be, but remember, that car was totaled, then towed away. As the man said, all that is solid melts into air . . .
By Sonya Chyu
By Gwen Thompkins
By Pablo Neruda, Translated by Karen Hilberg
By Philip Metres
By Marianne Boruch
By Ammiel Alcalay
By Giacomo Sartori, Translated by Frederika Randall
Table of Contents
For Them to Arrive, a poem by C. P. Cavafy,
translated by Alex de Voogt
Of Crooked Eclipses, an essay by Karen S. Henry
Anatomy, a poem by Steven Duong
Wood and Wire, a poem by Ryler Dustin
Unsafe Haven, a story by Amanda Kabak
Local Lockdown, photography by Paul Shoul
When he said Sell a book, I heard Sail, a poem by Julia Thacker
Iris, a story by Alanna Schubach
Double Antonia, a story by Andrea Maturana,
translated by Allison Braden
Opossum Problems, a story by Kathleen Hawes
Effluvium, a poem by Emily Van Kley
Breaking, a poem by Marcela Sulak
Ice Diving, a poem by Emily Schulten
On The Way to Jack’s House, an essay by Margaret Lloyd
Dark Harbor, a poem by Lance Larsen
“As with a Harvest”, an essay by Cody Kommers
For My Father the West Begins in Africa,
a poem by Esther Lin
Birds of the Land, a story by Annie Lampman
The Color of Death, a story by Selina Hossain,
translated by Mohammad Shafiqul Islam
Song of Parting, a story by Lu Min,
translated by Michael Day
G-d, a Portrait, a poem by Brooke Sahni
Notes on Contributors
Poet, novelist, translator, critic, and scholar AMMIEL ALCALAY teaches at Queens College and The Graduate Center, CUNY. His books include After Jews and Arabs, Memories of Our Future, Islanders, and neither wit nor gold: from then. A 10th anniversary edition of from the warring factions, and new essays, a little history, came out in 2013 from re:public / UpSet. Ghost Talk is due out in 2020 from Pinsapo Press. He is the General Editor of Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative, a series of student and guest edited archival texts emerging from the New American Poetry, and was the recipient of a 2017 Before Columbus Foundation American Book Award for this work.
MARIANNE BORUCH's ten books of poetry include The Anti-Grief (Copper Canyon, 2019). She's written three essay collections, most recently The Little Death of Self (Michigan, 2017), and a memoir, The Glimpse Traveler (Indiana, 2011). Her honors include the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award, fellowships/residencies from the Guggenheim Foundation, the NEA, the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Center, and two national parks (Denali and Isle Royale). On a 2019 Fulbright in Australia, she observed its astonishing wildlife to write a neo-ancient/medieval bestiary of poems. Going rogue and emeritus in 2018 from Purdue University, Boruch continues to teach in the Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
ALLISON BRADEN is a writer and Spanish translator based in the North Carolina Piedmont. She is a contributing editor for Charlotte magazine, and editor-at-large for Asymptote Journal, and an editorial assistant at the academic journal Translation and Interpreting Studies. Her journalism has appeared in Outside, Columbia Journalism Review, and The Daily Beast, among others, while her work in and adjacent to literary translation has appeared in Asymptote and Spanish and Portuguese Review. Allison was a Fullbright scholar to Bangladesh, and her translation work focuses on fiction by women from the Southern Cone.
The Greek poet CONSTANTINE P. CAVAFY (1863–1933) lived most of his life in Alexandria, Egypt. He is regarded as one of the most influential and original Greek poets of the twentieth century. His poems have homoerotic, philosophical, and political themes, often set in (late) antiquity and written with a great aesthetic perfectionism and near absence of metaphor. In a series of eighteen poems written from 1915 until 1929 he explored a new verse form that consists of a series of half-lines of six or seven syllables each. "For Them to Arrive" is the sixth in this series.
SONYA CHYU is a Taiwanese American writer whose work has won the Arthur Lynn Andrews Award, and was a finalist for the George Harmon Coxe Award and Glimmer Train’s Short Story Award for New Writers. Her short fiction has appeared in World Literature Today, Louisville Review, and elsewhere. By day, she is an account executive at the world’s largest consumer goods company. A presidential scholar graduate of Cornell University, she is at work on her first novel.
MICHAEL DAY is a traveler, writer, and translator from Chinese and Japanese. He splits his time between California and Latin America. His work has previously appeared in the Los Angeles Review of Books, China Channel, Words Without Borders, Chicago Quarterly Review, Structo, and the anthology That We May Live from Two Lines Press, among other publications. He won the 2015 Bai Meigui Award for Chinese to English literary translation.
ALEX DE VOOGT is an associate professor at Drew University and a candidate in their Poetry-in-Translation MFA program. He was trained as a linguist and translates poetry from a variety of languages to English and Dutch. At present, he has taken a particular interest in Constantine Cavafy’s innovations in poetic form.
STEVEN DUONG is an American writer and poet. A Thomas J. Watson Fellow, he is currently conducting a yearlong writing project titled “Freshwater Fish and the Poetry of Containment,” which has, so far, taken him to Malawi, China, and Thailand. His poems appear in venues including Pleiades, Passages North, Salt Hill Journal, and The Shallow Ends. He grew up in San Diego, California and studied things in Grinnell, Iowa.
RYLER DUSTIN is the author of Heavy Lead Birdsong (Write Bloody Publishing). His poems appear in places like American Life in Poetry, Gulf Coast, The Southern Review, and The Best of Iron Horse, and he was a finalist in the Individual World Poetry Slam.
KATHLEEN HAWES is a creative writer currently conducting field research on the language and barbarism of the ten-year-old Southern Vermont male. Areas of close study include: Pig Latin, arm-pit farts, the removal of gravel from fleshy areas, how not to get shot in the butt with a Nerf Gun. Once, somebody accused Kathleen’s authorial voice of having “a knack for utter unflinching cruelty.” It was the best compliment she ever got.
KAREN S. HENRY collaborated with director Herbert Blau and the theater company KRAKEN in writing Elsinore, based on Hamlet, and Crooked Eclipses: A Theatrical Essay on Shakespeare’s Sonnets. With her husband, Tom Henry, she co-founded the Boston Theater Group, whose major works include The Burrow, based on Kafka’s story; Metamorphoses, a reflection on Ovid; The Beloved: The Story of Ruth; and The Long Light: Voices of Aging. The group also produced two operas with composer W. Newell Hendricks, The Cell and Ascona, for which she and Hendricks received two NEA librettist/composer fellowships. Henry currently works with Row Twelve Contemporary Music Ensemble. Her poems have recently appeared in BoomerLitMag, Crosswinds, The Literary Whip podcast of the Zoetic Press, and Stoneboat. Her chapbook All Will Fall Away is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.
KAREN HILBERG has worked as a education and literacy advocate in Chicago and Mexico. Her poetry is forthcoming in Spoon River Poetry Review. She suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2012 that left her struggling to speak and write. She returned to writing poetry and translation that she started in undergrad to help relearn to write and to practice searching for lost words.
SELINA HOSSAIN, an eminent storyteller of Bengali literature, has about forty novels and more than a dozen short story collections to her credit. Hossain is among the best-known writers of contemporary Bengali literature. She is also an editor and founder of the Fareea Lara Foundation. Her books have been translated into English, Russian, French, and many Indian languages. The notable works translated into English include Life is Beautiful , River of My Blood, Waiting for Russel, and Charcoal Portrait. Rabinda Bharati University, India, awarded her a D.Lit in 2010. Hossain received the SAARC Literary Award in 2015 for her contribution to South Asian literature.
MOHAMMAD SHAFIQUL ISLAM, poetry editor of Reckoning, is the author of two poetry collections, most recently Inner State (Daily Star Books, 2020), and the translator of Humayun Ahmed: Selected Short Stories and Aphorisms of Humayun Azad. In February 2017, he was a poet-in-residence at the Anuvad Arts Festival, India, and his poetry and translations have appeared in Journal of Postcolonial Writing, Poem: International English Language Quarterly, Critical Survey, Stag Hill Literary Journal, SNReview, Reckoning, Dibur Literary Journal, Lunch Ticket, Bengal Lights, Armarolla, and elsewhere. His work has been anthologized in a number of books, including The Book of Dhaka: A City in Short Fiction, Of the Nation Born, Poems from the SAARC Region, and Monsoon Letters: Collection of Poems. Dr. Islam is Associate Professor of English at Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh.
AMANDA KABAK is the author of the novels The Mathematics of Change and Upended (forthcoming in 2021), and her stories have been published in Tahoma Literary Review, Midwestern Gothic, Sequestrum, The Laurel Review, and other print and online periodicals. She has been awarded the Lascaux Review fiction award, Arcturus Review’s Al-Simāk award for fiction, the Betty Gabehart prize from the Kentucky Women Writer’s Conference, and multiple Pushcart Prize nominations. She holds an MFA from Pacific University.
CODY KOMMERS is a PhD student in experimental psychology at the University of Oxford. He is the host of the Cognitive Revolution podcast, in which he interviews scientists, writers, and creatives about the personal side of their intellectual journey. He was born in Seattle, Washington, and currently lives in Oxford, England.
ANNIE LAMPMAN is the author of the novel Sins of the Bees (Pegasus/Simon & Schuster, September 2020) and the limited-edition letter-press-printed poetry chapbook BURNING TIME (Limberlost Press, September 2020). Her narrative essays, poetry, and short fiction have been published or are forthcoming in The Normal School, Orion, and Women Writing the West. She has been awarded the Dogwood Literary Award in Fiction, the Everybody Writes Award in Poetry, a Best American Essays “Notable,” a Pushcart Prize Special Mention, a Literature Fellowship from the Idaho Commission on the Arts, and a national Bureau of Land Management artist’s residency in the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness. She is an Associate Professor of Honors Creative Writing at the Washington State University Honors College and lives in Moscow, Idaho.
LANCE LARSEN is the author of five poetry collections, most recently What the Body Knows (Tampa 2018). He has received a Pushcart Prize and fellowships from Ragdale, Sewanee, and the NEA. He teaches at BYU, where he serves as department chair and fools around with aphorisms: “A woman needs a man the way a manatee needs a glockenspiel.” In 2017 he completed a five-year appointment as Utah’s poet laureate.
ESTHER LIN was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and lived in the United States as an undocumented immigrant for 21 years. She is a 2020 Writing Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, and author of The Ghost Wife (Poetry Society of America 2017), and winner of Crab Orchard Review’s 2018 Richard Peterson Prize. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Gulf Coast, Hyperallergic, New England Review, Pleiades, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. A 2017–19 Wallace Stegner Fellow, she currently organizes for the Undocupoets, which promotes the work of undocumented poets and raises consciousness about the structural barriers they face in the literary community.
MARGARET LLOYD has published four poetry collections, most recently Travelling on My Own Errands: Voices of Women from the Mabinogi (Gwasg Carreg Gwalch, Wales). Fairleigh Dickinson University Press published William Carlos Williams’s Paterson: A Critical Reappraisal. Lloyd has also published widely in literary journals such as AGNI, Poetry East, Willow Springs, New England Review, Planet: The Welsh Internationalist, and Poetry Wales. She lives in Florence, Massachusetts.
ANDREA MATURANA is an award-winning Chilean writer. She is author of two collections of short stories for adults—(Des)encuentros (des)esperados and No decir—and one novel, El daño. More recently, she has won acclaim for her children's literature. She has written six story collections for young readers, which have been recognized by the Chilean National Council of Art and Culture and the International Board on Books for Young People, among others. Double Antonia appears in (Des)encuentros (des)esperados, her 1992 fiction debut.
AERIEL MERILLAT (she/her) is a fiction writer and MFA candidate at the University of Pittsburgh. She’s currently working on a collection of short stories that grapple with the weird and the surreal. She graduated from the University of Mary Washington with a BA in Creative Writing. When she’s not writing stories, she's usually listening to a true-crime podcast and drinking tea with her cat, Bagel.
PHILIP METRES has written ten books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon 2020), Sand Opera, and The Sound of Listening. Awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, the Lannan Fellowship, three Arab American Book Awards, and two NEAs, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University.
LU MIN's best-known works include Dinner for Six and This Love Could Not Be Delivered. She has received the People's Literature Award, the Chinese Writers Award, the Biennial Chinese Literary Award, the Zhuang Zhong Wen Literary Award, the Xiao Shuo Xuan Kan Readers' Choice Award, the Fiction Monthly Hundred Flowers Award, and the 2007 Young Chinese Writers Award. In 2009, she won China's foremost literary award, the Lu Xun Literary Prize. Her novel This Love Could Not Be Delivered has been published in English translation by Simon & Schuster, and her short stories have been translated into German, French, Japanese, Russian, English, Spanish, Italian, Arabic, and Korean. She lives in Beijing.
PABLO NERUDA published Las Piedras del Cielo in 1970, a year before he won the Noble Prize for literature and three years before he succumbed to cancer. Translated as Stones of the Sky, it is a tightly written thirty poems about stones, each titled by a simple numeral.
FREDERIKA RANDALL grew up in Pittsburgh and has lived in Italy for more than thirty years. A journalist and translator from Italian, she has written cultural reportage for numerous US and Italian publications. Along with Giacomo Sartori’s I Am God, she has translated Ippolito Nievo’s Confessions of An Italian, and fiction by Guido Morselli, Luigi Meneghello, Ottavio Cappellani, Helena Janeczek, Igiaba Scego and Davide Orecchio, as well as three volumes of nonfiction by the historian Sergio Luzzatto. Her awards include a Pen Heim grant, and with Luzzatto, the Cundill Prize for Historical Literature. Frederika passed away in May 2020.
BROOKE SAHNI’s poetry and prose have appeared or are forthcoming in magazines such as Missouri Review, Nimrod, Denver Quarterly, 32 Poems, Prairie Schooner, Cimarron Review and elsewhere. Her poetry chapbook, Divining, is the inaugural winner of the Orison Chapbook Prize and is forthcoming in 2020.
GIACOMO SARTORI is the author of I Am God (Restless, 2019) along with six other novels and several collections of short stories and poetry in Italian. Baco (Bug) his most recent work of fiction, will be published in translation by Restless Books in 2021. By training, Sartori is an agronomist. Born in Trento, he lives in Paris.
ALANNA SCHUBACH is a fiction writer, freelance journalist, and writing teacher. She was an Emerging Writer Fellow with the Center for Fiction in 2019 and a Fellow in Fiction with the New York Foundation for the Arts in 2015. Her short stories have previously appeared in Juked, Electric Literature, The Lifted Brow, Post Road, and more. She is at work on a story collection and a novel.
EMILY SCHULTEN is the author of Rest in Black Haw. Her work appears or is forthcoming in Ploughshares, Prairie Schooner, Colorado Review, Missouri Review, and Tin House, among others. She is a professor of English and creative writing at The College of the Florida Keys.
PAUL SHOUL, an editorial, travel, and documentary photographer lives in Western Massachusetts. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, The Boston Globe, and Popular Science. He has been featured in the United Airways and Air Greenland inflight magazines. A staff photographer for Gonomad.com he is a longtime presenter on photography at the New York Times Travel Show. His documentary work includes At the Altar of the Bottom Line: Degradation of Work in the 21st Century and The Future of Work in Massachusetts in collaboration with Professor Tom Juravich. Shoul's photography for the recent exhibits Single Room Occupancy: Portraits & Stories from Northampton Lodging, 1976-2016 and Making it on Main Street are part of the permanent collection at the Historic Northampton Museum and Education Center.
MARCELA SULAK’s third poetry collection, City of Sky Papers, is forthcoming, as is her first memoir, Mouth Full of Seeds. She’s co-edited Family Resemblance: An Anthology and Exploration of 8 Hybrid Literary Genres. Her fourth book-length poetry translation, Twenty Girls to Envy Me. The Selected Poems of Orit Gidali, was longlisted for the 2017 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation, and her current project has received a 2019 NEA translation fellowship. Sulak is associate professor of Literature at Bar-Ilan University.
Twice a fellow of the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, JULIA THACKER has also held fellowships from The Bunting Institute at Radcliffe and The National Endowment for the Arts. Her poems and stories have appeared in AGNI, The Boston Globe Magazine, Little Star, Missouri Review (as poem of the week), New Directions, The Pushcart Prize anthology, and others.
GWEN THOMPKINS is a journalist, writer, and native of New Orleans. She was senior editor of NPR’s Weekend Edition with Scott Simon (1996-2006) and later NPR’s East Africa bureau chief, based in Nairobi, Kenya (2006-2010). Following a fellowship at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, she returned to New Orleans full-time. She is the executive producer and host of the public radio program Music Inside Out with Gwen Thompkins, (available online) which showcases the unusually varied musical landscape of Louisiana. Thompkins has written for The New Yorker online and continues to file for NPR news magazines and NPR Music and is the New Orleans correspondent for WXPN’s World Café.
EMILY VAN KLEY's collection, The Cold and the Rust, was awarded the Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize from Persea Books. Her work has appeared in Best New Poets, Best American Poetry, and numerous other publications. Also the recipient of the Iowa Review Award, the Florida Review Editor's Award, the Loraine Williams Poetry Prize, and a fellowship from the Civitella Ranieri Foundation, Emily lives with her partner in Olympia, Washington, where she teaches and performs aerial acrobatics.