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TO FORGIVE TAKES POWER—judgment, sentence, and pardon are each implied in the act. We imagine that power divine and yet also claim it for ourselves. Forgive us our . . . what? debts, trespasses, sins? as we forgive . . . the sins of others. In the loose weave of Christian tradition, transgression is the red thread, and human history begins with the first taste of good and evil. Assuming that, as the story goes, all are sinners, then the extension of forgiveness to others is the necessary step that binds community together again. Religion, from the Latin, re-ligare, to bind again....

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By Michael Taussig

For Rosella Biscotti

Bryon Gysin was a painter who after a decade in Morocco running a night-club called the “Thousand and One Nights” discovered the “cut-up” while cutting something on top of a pile of magazines in his room in a cheap hotel on the left bank of Paris in 1959. The debris fell on the floor. He looked down, marveling at the mash-up on the floor.

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ON APRIL 6, 2023, AT 6:00, in the University of Massachusetts Amherst’s Old Chapel, the Massachusetts Review hosted a celebration of the launch of its Spring issue. The Colombian writer and storyteller Amalialú Posso Figueroa began the festivities, along with one of her English translators, poet Shanta Lee. A story by the Nigerian novelist Chuma Nwokolo was then read by UMass Ph.D candidate in Afro-American Studies and actor, Kym Newberry. The program closed with a reading by the University’s own Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize winner, Martín Espada.

“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


The Road Towards Home

- By Helen McColpin

The Road Towards Home, a new novel by Corinne Demas, is just in time for beach reads and languid summer days. This novel, largely set on Cape Cod, is a breezy read with a literary bent, ideal for throwing in a beach bag. Demas is a prolific writer and while she has written many novels for children and young adults, this novel focuses on the trials and joys of aging, following Noah, a prickly retired English professor, and vivacious entomologist Cassandra in their problematic retirement community.

Cassandra, with her giant Newfoundland, Melville, and various insect pets, finds that without her children or husband (of which...


10 Questions for Cherry Lou Sy

- By Edward Clifford

Maria slinked in corners and stood next to objects that did not move, pretending that she was an object. She held on to her growing belly. It wouldn't stop moving, wriggling like a worm exposed to the sun. She tried to wear bigger clothes, pretending that nothing was happening in the area of her stomach, but still, it would not stop.
—from "The Nameless," Vol. 64, Issue 1 (Spring 2023)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
One of my earliest memories of writing a piece of fiction was in fifth grade. I was a student in a small school in the Philippines where the principal was also my fifth grade English teacher. I don’t recall now what the prompt was, but I remember writing about the travels of an old galleon...


10 Questions for Shanta Lee

- By Edward Clifford

The nanny Fidelia Córdoba kept her rhythm in her tetas. She'd been born on the banks of the River Sipí and she had bulging tetas, small and round like a pair of corozos, with retractile nipples that also had a sense of direction. They were all at once compass-sextant-weather-vane-plumb-line-quadrant-astrolabe-point-you-left-point-you-right, or wherever you need to go but never get you lost kinda nipples.
—from "Fidelia Córdoba" by Amalialú Posso Figueroa, Translated by Jeffrey Diteman and Shanta Lee, Volume 64, Issue 1 (Spring 2023)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated.
When I was in Cuba in December 2017, I did a bit of a dive into the work of Nicolás Guillén and tried my hand at translating one of his poems...


Intimate Love and Tremulous Loss

- By Elisa Rowe

A Review of Standing in the Forest of Being Alive by Katie Farris. (Alice James Books, 2023)

Why write love poetry in a burning world?
To train myself in the midst of a burning world
to offer poems of love to a burning world.
   —Katie Farris, “Why Write Love Poetry in a Burning World”

In the face of medical vulnerabilities and the march of sudden illness, Standing in the Forest of Being Alive (Katie Farris’ full-length debut) embraces grief and wit, counters beauty with cruelty, and pairs eroticism with nostalgia. Farris is a poet, translator, fiction writer, and...


10 Questions for Chris Campanioni

- By Edward Clifford

Whenever my mom and dad were at the dinner table (the place of memorial and celebration, the place of conversation), I'd ask them about their days. I wanted to imagine their lives without me, their movements and rhythms when I was not there. What I was getting at, though I didn't know it then, was a desire to know what came before me, how I got here.
—from "Magic Marker," Volume 64, Issue 1 (Spring 2023)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
I’m often drawn to the task of accounting for “firsts,” which is a lot like asking how we might imbue the everyday with the charge of memory, the significance and ceremony of reproduction. I like to take inventory, imagining them assembled for some...

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