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Volume 59, Issue 2

FRONT COVER by Panteha Abareshi, Roses and Thorns 2017. INDIA INK, PEN, PENCIL, WATERCOLOR, WHITE INK, BRUSH MARKER. Courtesy of the artist.

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ON RARE OCCASIONS, academic conferences turn out as they should, and pilgrims making the journey find what they seek. The trek to the American Comparative Literature Association’s annual meeting is one I’ve made more times than I can count, in part because its seminar format—where participants assemble around a theme and meet as a group for two or three days running—favors such an outcome. This year, I fled to Los Angeles for the ACLA, during a week of so-called spring in New England, and found there a panel on poetry and public feeling, convened by Tristam Wolff and Lily Gurton-Wachter—one site where the call was answered.

On the second day of this seminar, the latter session leader began with a rumination on Blake’s second chimney sweeper poem, that song of experience where “a poor black thing . . . taught to sing the notes of woe” comments: “And because I am happy and dance and sing, / They think they have done me no...

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“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


10 Questions for Mirfet Piccolo

- By Sarah Lofstrom

 It’s almost four o’clock and the hour hand quivers.

They told Mr. Ignazio Coppola to sit here and be a good boy now, and wait. And Mr. Ignazio sits waiting sedately as he was told to, his back straight and his hands spread on his knees. Every now and then he looks at the wall clock: it’s almost four o’clock, Arturo and little Camilla will be there at any moment. 

-From “If I Don’t Come Back, Don’t Come Looking For Me,” Summer 2018 (Vol. 59, Issue 2)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
One of the first pieces I wrote was a small collection of short stories for kids that I wrote for my nephew. It was in 1996. I thought it would have been fun to play with him by reading...


10 Questions for Elizabeth Knapp

- By Edward Clifford

"After a heated debate about the nature
of inspiration (poetry versus prose),
with you arguing that idea begets word,
and not vice versa, as I believe is the case

with verse (always the music first),
which was prompted by a discussion
of Dickinson's envelope poems,
and whether she wrote the poem"
from “Sixth Year: Iron,” Summer 2018 (Vol. 59, Issu2)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
In the summer between ninth and tenth grade, I read Cry the Beloved Country by Alan Paton, which prompted me to read more about the history of South Africa. At some point later that year, I read a biography of Stephen Biko and wrote an elegy for him in my creative writing...

Working Titles Excerpts

On the Quay at Smyrna (Working Title 3.2)

- By Margot Demopoulos

The Massachusetts Review presents the latest Working Titles e-book: ON THE QUAY AT SMYRNA by Margot Demopoulos—available this week!


“Look for color in the shadows!” Madame La Fleur fanned herself with a workbook on natural light. “...


10 Questions for Clayton Adam Clark

- By Sarah Lofstrom

"Trees on the bluff, its layered limestone

               and the plants grown into rockface,

                             down to the river road and in

across two pontoons and the water

              you stand in. Try to make the image

                            wash you out. You take on the sun's halo,"

from “Self-portrait with Asian...


Kempowski Sounds Out the Second World War

- By Nil Santiáñez

I am posting this blog entry on 6 August 2018. At 8:15 a.m. local time, exactly seventy-three years ago, a Boeing B-29 Superfortress piloted by Colonel Paul W. Tibbets dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. This is a fact. In three days we are going to commemorate the seventy-third anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki—yet another fact. There are many other indisputable facts about the Second World War: the German invasion of Poland, the siege of Leningrad, the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the Allied landing in Normandy, the Warsaw uprising, the Battle of the Ardennes, and so on. And yet, in order to make sense of such facts, one must put them together within a narrative. And as soon as we attempt to do that, problems arise. The most basic of those problems could be...

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