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FRONT COVER by Barry Moser Macbeth from Tales from Shakespeare 2003, WOOD ENGRAVING, Courtesy of the artist

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Volume 58, Issue 4

ALETHEA 
 
THIS IS NOT a special issue. We did not send out a call for submissions, we hadn’t settled on any particular theme, chosen any single burning question, field, or village, we hadn’t even agreed as yet on our line of response. Last November, we did launch a blog series, #OurAmerica, though we realized it was at best a bucket brigade. As many as we could, as fast as we could, and perhaps the flames wouldn’t spread. Then @POTUS decided to follow us on Twitter and we thought, “the pump don’t work, ’cause the vandals took the handles.” As the man said, you don’t need a weatherman. 
 
Truth is not a special issue. In recent years the posterkiddies for posteverything have been generally and widely lambasted for relativism, nihilism, and all sorts of indecorous behavior. I, for one, have never believed it. I don’t think anyone ever writes anything worthy or serious without believing it’s true, or without wanting others to believe it. Fiction imagines a possible world—if it didn’t make the author believe, who else ever would? Poetry excavates language, eliminating the dross. Nonfiction is an index, not a mode. In a word, at some level, art itself—including all fiction, all poetry, every essay—is realist. 
 
It should surprise no one that, as we began to select, organize, and categorize the work selected by us for publication, we rather quickly realized we had a themed issue in the making. At this point in time, the people who we care to publish care about one thing more than anything else. Truth. It’s as simple as that. 
 
So let’s start with god. Why not, right? Isn’t that what they always do? In this issue, Giacomo Sartori’s first-person declamation, omnipotently rendered by Frederika Randall, shows the divinity as voyeur, inexplicably fixated on a “tall girl with two purple pigtails who at every opportunity is shoving her arm up a cow’s ass.” Who can’t see the truth in that? After ruminating on this artifice of insemination, we should probably cut to the chase. When Noam Chomsky came to UMass and students came out in the thousands, he asked us, following the biologist Ernst Mayr, to ponder whether intelligence is a lethal mutation, dooming us to early extinction: the actions of this country, most pointedly its climate denial and nuclear warmongering, appear hell-bent on proving Mayr correct. Our point, and Chomsky’s, is that intelligence may yet win out. Or not. 
 
Elsewhere, yet no less bleakly, stories by Lauren Marie Schmidt and Kwame Opoku-Duku come down to voice, or, to say it straight, those voices we fail to hear in this society that kills black men and rapes young women. We have the Italian writers Fabio Deotto and Giorgio Fontana to thank for their reminder that ninety years have now passed since this country, and this state, executed Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti. And the question Deotto and Fontana pose concerns our future: who will this country decide it must kill tomorrow? Perhaps only the sense and sensibility of Martín Espada, in a poem placed as coda, can manage to mirror our infernal, apparently eternal, present. 
 
BEAUTY, TRUTH 
 
If you’re having trouble figuring out this section, start with the conversations between Contributing Editor Ilan Stavans and Barry Moser, whose stunning illustration for the Scottish Play graces our cover. Or dive into the Patrick Thomas Henry essay (of which we bring you here part one, then keep you hanging until spring) and from there, work your way out, back and forth. Read Rivas’s apophatic elegy, Djebar’s Camus, and everything else. Artists and critics—truthtellers—all. The beautifully expansive entanglements of Tracey Physioc Brockett will be suggestive of such relations, as of the current state of the cosmos. 
 
PARABLES
 
More bend in the road than hermeneutic circle, here expression has both focus and directrix. The arc is left open. As such, let me wind up this introductory rumination with a word or two about the essay that both opens and closes our issue. Readers of this magazine will recall what happened up at Middlebury College in March earlier this year, when a coauthor of The Bell Curve—a book that speaks of, but not with, intelligence—did not lecture. In the brilliant, passionate, elegant (and to my mind persuasive) essay that bookends this issue, nonfiction editor and legal scholar Adam Sitze responds—less to the specific events of that day than to the sort of discourse that time and again springs up everywhere at such moments. 
 
Like most lit mags, our editorial default mode is to talk authors out of paratexual paraphernalia—those needless introductions, overly explanatory asides, and above all footnotes. The text itself! we cry. In scholarship on law, however, notes are never optional, they are the midrash, the ahadith, the critical legal studies making dead languages speak, going to hell and back. We trust our readers will be sympathetic to Adam’s politics, though his argument may anger some of you. We share our editor’s sense that gadflies are in short supply on our campuses, so we hope to help breed an additional few. 
 
One last word, then I’ll leave you to your reading. Truth is, after all, at issue, so I must end by saying that I myself don’t agree with everything said within these pages. (Hell, some of it I don’t even like.) In addition to its function as storehouse, as ammo dump, a magazine is also voiced by a collective. There are, to be sure, editors with ironclad aesthetics and little tolerance for work that doesn’t match up. You know them, you’ve read their pages, perhaps you’ve even worked with them. I certainly have. Having already alluded to Keats once, I must here invoke that conceptfor-all-seasons, negative capability. You see, I frequently say that whatever talent I have for this job stems from whatever capacity I have for thinking I may be wrong. To my mind, any magazine that fully managed to incorporate negative capability into its politics and into its pages would be, well, a second Shakespeare. The alternative, again to my mind, is all too clear. Writing that never questions itself, that never pauses, that sometimes hasn’t got a clue, is the opposite of truth. Writing like that you only find in a tweet. By a twit.
 
Jim Hicks
for the editors

Entries

Table of Contents

Alethea

   Academic Unfreedom, Unacademic Freedom,
     part one of an esssay by Adam Sitze


   The Sacrament of Penance and Actual Rapture,
     poems by Marty McConnell

   from Players, stories by Lauren Marie Schmidt

   Song about Another Man’s Kids,
     a story by Kwame Opoku-Duku


   Human Pageant, a poem by Mark Irwin

   Prospects for Survival, an essay by Noam Chomsky

   Sagittarius A*, a novel excerpt by Giacomo Sartori,
    
translated by Frederika Randall

   The Lords of Time, Ministry, and Education,
     poems by Katie Farris

   Just a Minute, a story by Monica Pareschi,
     translated by Elizabeth Harris


   The Future (of) Sacco and Vanzetti,
    
an essay by Fabio Deotto and Giorgio Fontana

   I Now Pronounce You Dead,
      a poem by Martín Espada

   Like Horses Asleep on Their Feet,
     nonfiction by Paolo Rumiz, 
    translated by Gregory Conti


   The Purity Instinct, a poem by Joanne Diaz

   A Conversation between Ilan Stavans and Barry Moser

 Beauty, Truth

   The Day I Met the Hanged Man, a poem by Henry Israeli

   To the Nicaraguan Poet Francisco Valle . . . ,
   
  a poem by Carlos Martínez Rivas,
     translated by Carlos F. Grigsby


   Camus, The First Man, the Last Book,
      an essay by Assia Djebar,
     translated by Kathryn Lachman


   A Defense of the Artist-Critic,
     part one of an essay by Patrick Thomas Henry

   Sonnet with Ghost Writer and Syringe,
     a poem by Robert Thomas

   The United States: An Introduction,
    a poem by Maya Pindyck

   You Are the Phenomenology,
​     an essay by Timothy O’Keefe

   Daily Tangles, art byTracey Physioc Brockett

 Parables
 
   What We Never Were,
​     a story by Margarita García Robayo,
     translated by Will Morningstar


   Suppose the Function Is Praise,
​     a poem by Cate Lycurgus

   The Orphanage in Kabul, an essay by Robin Fasano

   Reincarnations of Rabia Balkhi,
​     a poem by Elizabeth Lemieux

   A crumbling infrastructure and Clichés are clichés
     for a reason, poems by John Emil Vincent

   The Disaster March, a story by Matthew Fiander

   Why Write About It, a poem by Susannah Sheffer

   Academic Unfreedom, Unacademic Freedom,
     part two of an essay by Adam Sitze


   Notes on Contributors

   Volume Index

Contributors

TRACEY PHYSIOC BROCKETT studied at the University of Toronto, received a BA from Mount Holyoke College, and continued her studies at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. She has been in residence at the Vermont Studio Center and the Cummington Community for the Arts; has received Massachusetts Arts Lottery grants; and was recently awarded the Adolph and Esther Gottlieb Individual Artist Grant.

Considered the founder of modern linguistics, NOAM CHOMSKY is one of the most cited scholars in modern history. He has written more than one hundred books, his most recent being Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power. He has received many awards, including the Kyoto Prize in Basic Sciences, the Helmholtz Medal, and the Ben Franklin Medal in Computer and Cognitive Science.

Born and raised in Pittsburgh, GREGORY CONTI has lived in Perugia since 1985, where he teaches English at the city’s public university. In addition to Paolo Rumiz, he has translated work by Rosetta Loy, Emilio Lussu, Sebastiano Vassalli, and Giuseppe Berto.

FABIO DEOTTO is an Italian writer, essayist, and translator. He published his first novel, Condominio R39, in 2014, and contributes to several newspapers and magazines, focusing on politics and the relationship between science and culture. His next novel, Un attimo prima, was published in November 2017.

JOANNE DIAZ received fellowships from the Illinois Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, and the Sustainable Arts Foundation. She is the author of My Favorite Tyrants and The Lessons, and with Ian Morris, she is the coeditor of The Little Magazine in Contemporary America. She is an associate professor of English at Illinois Wesleyan University.

ASSIA DJEBAR (born Fatima-Zohra Imalayen, 1936–2015) is among the most significant Algerian writers of the twentieth century. She published her first novel, La soif (The Thirst) at the age of twenty, just after the onset of the Algerian War for Independence and then wrote more than fourteen novels as well as poems, essays, and short stories. In 2005, Djebar became the first North African woman—and the first woman of color—elected to the Academie Française. She received the Neustadt International Prize for Literature, the Yourcenar Prize, and the Peace Prize of the German Book Trade, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature.

MARTIN ESPADA'S latest collection of poems is called Vivas to Those Who Have Failed. Other books of poems include The Trouble Ball, The Republic of Poetry, and Alabanza. He has received the Shelley Memorial Award and a Guggenheim Fellowship. His book of essays, Zapata’s Disciple, was banned in Tucson as part of the Mexican-American Studies Program outlawed by the State of Arizona. Espada teaches English at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

KATIE FARRIS is the author of Thirteen Intimacies, forthcoming from Fivehundred Places, and boysgirls. She has cotranslated several books of poetry from French, Chinese, and Russian. Her work has appeared in anthologies and Virginia Quarterly Review, Verse, Western Humanities Review, and Massachusetts Review. She is an associate professor in the MFA program at San Diego State University.

ROBIN FASANO has written for Spirituality & Health, Ode, and Berkshire Living, among others. She worked in philanthropy and spearheaded cause-driven campaigns for more than fifteen years. She’s lived in ten states and traveled throughout the Middle East and Africa. Most recently, she worked and lived in Kabul.

MATTHEW FIANDER received his MFA from UNC-Greensboro. His work has appeared in the Yalobusha Review, Waccamaw Journal, Exposition Review, SmokeLong Quarterly, Prime Number Magazine, and elsewhere. He currently teaches English at High Point University in North Carolina.

GIORGIO FONTANA is an Italian writer, freelance journalist, and essayist. He has written seven books and contributes to several newspapers and magazines. His novel Morte di un uomo felicewon the Campiello Award in 2014. He writes comics and teaches creative writing at the NABA and Scuola Holden.

CARLOS F. GRIGSBY is a poet and a translator. He published the poetry collection Una oscuridad brillando en la claridad que la claridad no logra comprender. He is completing a doctorate in literary translation and Spanish American literature at the University of Oxford.

ELIZABETH HARRIS'S recent translations include Giulio Mozzi’s This Is the Garden, and Antonio Tabucchi’s Tristano Dies and For Isabel: A Mandala. She received a PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant and the National Translation Award for prose, both for Tabucchi’s Tristano Dies. She is now translating Tabucchi’s Stories with Pictures (Racconti con figure) for Archipelago Books.

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.

MARK IRWIN is the author of nine collections of poetry, including A Passion According to G reen; American Urn (Selected Poems 1987–2014); Tall If; and Bright Hunger. His collection of essays, Monster: Distortion, Abstraction, and Originality in Contemporary American Poetry, was published in 2017. He teaches in the Creative Writing and Literature program at the University of Southern California.

HENRY ISRAELI'S poetry collections are god’s breath hovering across the waters, Praying to the Black Cat, and New Messiahs. He translated three books by Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku. Israeli is also the founder and editor of Saturnalia Books. He is associate professor of English and director of the Drexel Writing Festival at Drexel University.

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. Her other publications include an edited volume, Feasting on Words: Maryse Condé, Cannibalism and the Caribbean Text, articles in Research in African Studies and Music, Sound, and the Moving Image, and numerous book chapters on African and Francophone literatures.

ELIZABETH LEMIEUX comes from a small town in Maine, where churches outnumber traffic lights. Her work has appeared in The Adroit Journal, Rookie Mag, The Best Teen Writing of 2015, and The Best Teen Writing of 2016. She attends the University of Pennsylvania.

CATE LYCURGUS'S poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in American Poetry Review, Third Coast, Tin House, and elsewhere. A 2014 Ruth Lilly Fellowship finalist, she has received scholarships from Bread Loaf and Sewanee Writers’ Conferences, and was recently named one of Narrative’s 30 Under 30 Featured Writers. She edits interviews for 32 Poems and teaches professional writing.

MARTY MCCONNELL received her MFA from Sarah Lawrence College. Her work has appeared in Best American Poetry, Vinyl, Southern Humanities Review, and Mid-American Review. Her first full-length collection, wine for a shotgun, was published by EM Press, and her nonfiction book, Gathering Voices: Creating a Community-Based Poetry Workshop, is forthcoming in 2018 from YesYes Books.

WILL MORNINGSTAR is a translator and editor from Boston. His translation work has been published in Latin American Literature Today and ReVista: The Harvard Review of Latin America.

BARRY MOSER is Irwin and Pauline Alper Glass Professor of Art at Smith College. He has illustrated more than 250 books, including The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and The Divine Comedy, as well as the celebrated Pennyroyal Caxton edition of the Bible.

TIMOTHY O'KEEFE is the author of You Are the Phenomenology, winner of the 2017 Juniper Prize for Poetry, and The Goodbye Town, winner of the 2010 FIELD Poetry Prize. His work has appeared in American Poetry Review, The Best American Poetry, Boston Review, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, Seneca Review, VOLT, and others. He teaches writing and literature at Piedmont College, where he directs the creative writing program.

KWAME OPOKU-DUKU is a poet, fiction writer, and filmmaker. His work is featured or forthcoming in Booth, Gigantic Sequins, Perigee, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Flock, and elsewhere. His fiction piece "Stay Up" was recently nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Kwame was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and lives in New York City, where he attends Columbia University. Alongside the poet Karisma Price, Kwame is a founding member of the Unbnd Collective, and he tweets @kwamethethird.

MONICA PARESCHI, along with writing fiction is a freelance editor and Italian literary translator, who has translated Doris Lessing, Bernard Malamud, Alice McDermott, and the Brontë sisters. “Just a Minute” (“Solo un momento”) is from her collection This Air of Glass (E’ di vetro quest’aria). Pareschi's collection is her first published book of original fiction, for which she won the 2014 Premio Renato Fucini. “Just a Minute” is Pareschi's first story translated into English.

MAYA PINDYCK is a poet and interdisciplinary artist. Her latest collection, Emoticoncert, was published by Four Way Books in 2016. Currently a doctoral candidate in the English Education program at Columbia University’s Teachers College, she lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Born in Pittsburgh, writer and translator FREDERIKA RANDALL has lived in Italy for thirty years. She has translated Helena Janeczek, Giacomo Sartori, Igiaba Scego, and Ottavio Cappellani, as well as Luigi Meneghello‘s Deliver Us, Guido Morselli’s The Communist, Ippolito Nievo’s Confessions of an Italian, and three books by Sergio Luzzatto. Her awards include the Cundill Prize for Historical Literature, the ALTA Italian Prose in Translation Award shortlist, the PEN Heim translation fund award, and a Bogliasco fellowship.

CARLOS MARTINEZ RIVAS (1924–1998) is a poet from Nicaragua and considered one of its most important writers of the twentieth century. His work, with the exception of one collection published in Mexico in 1953, La insurrección solitaria, remained unpublished until recently. This poem is from Poesía Reunida, a collection edited by Pablo Centeno-Gómez and published in 2007 by Anamá Ediciones in Managua.

MARGARITA GARCIA ROBAYO was born in Colombia and lives in Buenos Aires. She is the author of the novels Tiempo muerto, Lo que no aprendí, and Hasta que pase un huracán, as well as numerous books of short stories, including Cosas peores, winner of the prestigious Casa de las Américas prize in 2014. Her work has been published in Colombia, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Chile, the US, Italy, France, and Spain, and has been translated into various languages.

PAOLO RUMIZ is Italy’s most prolific and best-selling travel writer. The author of fifteen books in sixteen years, Rumiz has bicycled in the Balkans; boated on the Po; walked the trail of Hannibal’s invasion; and traveled from northern Finland to Odessa. This last journey was chronicled in Faultline:Traveling the Other Europe from Finland to the Ukraine.

GIACOMO SARTORI was born in 1958 in Trento, in the Alpine northeast of Italy. He has a dozen volumes to his credit, including the novels Tritolo (TNT), Sacrificio (Sacrifice), and Rogo(At the Stake). His most recent novel is Sono Dio (Sagittarius A*). Sartori has won numerous prizes, and three novels have been translated into French. He lives in Paris.

LAUREN MARIE SCHMIDT is the author of four books. Her new collection of poems from Curbstone/Northwestern University Press is called Filthy Labors. Other collections include The Voodoo Doll Parade, Psalms of the Dining Room, and Two Black Eyes and a Patch of Hair Missing. Her awards include the Vilcek Prize for Poetry from the Bellevue Literary Review. She received her MFA from Antioch University and teaches English at Bay State Academy in Springfield, MA.

SUSANNAH SHEFFER is the author of the chapbook This Kind of Knowing, and her poems have appeared in Barrow Street, The Examined Life, and Bear River Review. She works with people who have experienced trauma, and her book Fighting for Their Lives: Inside the Experience of Capital Defense Attorneys was published by Vanderbilt University Press.

ADAM SITZE is an associate professor of law, jurisprudence, and social thought at Amherst College, and author of The Impossible Machine: A Genealogy of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

ILAN STAVANS is Lewis-Sebring Professor in the Humanities, Latin American, and Latino Culture at Amherst College, and publisher of Restless Books. His books include Quixote: The Novel and the World, I Love My Selfie, and Pablo Neruda: All the Odes.

ROBERT THOMAS'S most recent book, Bridge, is a lyrical novella published by BOA Editions. It received the 2015 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Fiction. His first book, Door to Door, was selected by Yusef Komunyakaa for the Poets Out Loud Prize and published by Fordham, and his second book, Dragging the Lake,was published by Carnegie Mellon. He has received a poetry fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts and a Pushcart Prize.

JOHN EMIL VINCENT lives in Montreal. His first book of poems, Excitement Tax, drops soon from DC Books.

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