Front cover by Damali Abrams
Meditate & Sip 2019
Southeast Queens, NY, photo by Kyle Jackson
Courtesy of the artistOrder a copy now
Front cover by Damali Abrams
Meditate & Sip 2019
Southeast Queens, NY, photo by Kyle Jackson
Courtesy of the artistOrder a copy now
BACK IN 2012, THE FAULKNER estate attempted to sue Sony Pictures Classics over the use of what a CNN article called “one of the most-quoted lines in American literature.” The verdict was, unsurprisingly, that size matters. After all, the quote in question—actually two lines, and cited incorrectly in the Woody Allen script—consists of only nine words from a novel. You have to hope that the fig leaf of fair use still covers that. Plus, as I always say, plagiarism is the sincerest form of flattery.
That the film paraphrased rather than quoted isn’t surprising; after all, Obama was similarly sloppy just a few years before. What both Woody and Barack did get right is more revealing: from Faulkner’s bon mot, everyone apparently remembers the clever repetition and apparent paradox—that the word “past” is “not even past.” Though I’m not a linguist, I suspect the reason we remember Faulkner’s words stems from the signal, not the signification: this use of the word “past,” to my ear, echoes its history as a variant of the participle “passed,” for which it is a near-homonym. In other words, one layer under Faulkner’s sentence lies a more active observation, that the past hasn’t yet passed—that it still haunts us, in the present.
The presence of pastness is this issue’s guiding spirit. Reflecting on her country’s years of military dictatorship, an Argentine friend once told me that the so-called disappeared haven’t been the biggest problem for fans of the junta. It’s the ones they didn’t kill—the reappeared—that the militant right really worries about. So perhaps we shouldn’t be overly surprised, then, that Nixon apparently did try to have Daniel Ellsberg killed—though that is by no means the central revelation, nor the “Nixon Doctrine” that the Ellsberg piece in this issue names. The US war in Vietnam still haunts the poets John Balaban and Bob Dow as well; here be contributions that invite readers to walk in their shoes. Two poems by Matt Donovan tread different, though not unrelated paths of violence, and Dianne Seuss adds three others, weaving together personal history and craft meditation. Two stories in translation—from Simone Baldelli, translated by Oonagh Stransky and Enrica Maria Ferrara, and from Katrin Schmidt, in the English of Sue Vickerman—show how apparently distant conflict may erupt or return to the surface, a somewhat separate form of haunting. The legendary French editor and novelist Philippe Sollers, as rendered by Armine Kotin Mortimer, retraces here the history of the Louvre under its original director, Dominque Vivant. In his speculative fable, Len Berkman listens to the voice of a teenage Cordelia; elsewhere, in a work of speculative fiction, Jessi Lewis explores a very different form of female subjugation. Both Carol Moldaw, in a narrative poem, and Anamyn Turowski, in a poetic narrative, explore instances where what is past continues to return, overwhelming our present.
All of which is not to say that action in the present won't be the past/not past for each of our tomorrows. Surely Damali Abram's healing and reparative art is present action. Elsewhere, Ah Zi offers a truly chilling tale of digital surveillance and punishment, where a single message may have unending repercussions. Finally, in a mediation equal parts hope and fear, Eduardo Halfon reflects on why, and whether, fatherhood in the Abrahamic tradition begins with a knife.
In our Summer issue, surely any or all of these, and others as well, will keep you glued to your perch. Definitely not dead. Not yet. Not even sleeping.
for the editors
In This Small Place, a poem by Akhim Alexis
The Writing Life, a essay by John Balaban
Dissent, the Nixon Doctrine, and Our Covert Empire,
an interview with Daniel Ellsberg
Mass Shootings Are Actually Pretty Rare, But Here’s
What To Do If You’re Ever in One and Planet Fitness, poems by Matt Donovan
Sometimes It Seemed We Were Walking
in a Kind of Waking Dream, a story by Robert Dow
Twilight Hour, a story by Kathrin Schmidt,
translated by Sue Vickerman
Cordelia Lear, A Fable, a story by Len Berkman
Tidal, a story by Anamyn Turowski
on Survivor’s Guilt, ending with “Ruff Ryders’
Anthem” by DMX, a poem by Anthony Thomas Lombardi
Art by Damali Abrams, a conversation with Mario Ontiveros
My Education, Simile, and Villanelle, poems by Diane Seuss
Vampire, a story by Matthew Denton-Edmundson
Chiaroscuro after Caravaggio’s Paul and Wild Swans, poems by Megan Pinto
The Milkmaid, a story by Jessi Lewis
Factories at Clichy, a poem by Heather Treseler
Skin Walking, a lyric essay by Ryan Habermeyer
Any Given Son, a story by Eduardo Halfon
Down Deep, a poem by Luís Miguel Nava,
translated by Alexis Levitin and Ricardo Vasconcelos
If You Love Me, You Have Nothing to Fear, a story by Ah Zi
Stuttgart Revisited, a poem by Carol Moldaw
Evelina and the Fairies, a story by Simona Baldelli,
translated by Oonagh Stransky and Enrica Maria Ferrara
Diary Entry #5: Self-Portrait As Revelations and
A Hundred And Then None, poems by Diannely Antigua
City of Strangers, a story by Matthew Raymond
Middle-Aged Sonnet, a poem by Rebecca Hazelton
The Masked Baron’s Louvre, an essay by Philippe Sollers,
translated by Armine Kotin Mortimer
The Scavengers, a poem by Amanda Auchter
Notes on Contributors
AKHIM ALEXIS is a writer from Trinidad and Tobago who holds an MA in Literatures in English from the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine. He is the winner of the Brooklyn Caribbean Lit Fest Elizabeth Nunez Award for Writers in the Caribbean. He was also a finalist for the Barry Hannah Prize in Fiction and the Johnson and Amoy Achong Caribbean Writers Prize. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in The Rumpus, Transition Magazine, Chestnut Review, Juked, Obsidian: Literature and Arts in the African Diaspora, The Caribbean Writer, and elsewhere.
DIANNELY ANTIGUA is a Dominican American poet and educator, born and raised in Massachusetts. Her debut collection Ugly Music (YesYes Books) was the winner of the Pamet River Prize and a 2020 Whiting Award. She received her MFA at NYU and is the recipient of fellowships from Canto-Mundo, Community of Writers, and the Fine Arts Work Center Summer Program. Her poems can be found in Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Washington Square Review, and elsewhere.
AMANDA AUCHTER is the author of The Wishing Tomb, winner of the 2013 PEN Center USA Literary Award for Poetry and the 2012 Perugia Press Book Award, and The Glass Crib, winner of the 2010 Zone 3 Press First Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming at The Huffington Post, CNN, American Poetry Review, North American Review, Shenandoah, Tahoma Review, and the Academy of American Poets Poem-a-Day project, among others. She holds an MFA in creative writing from Bennington College.
JOHN BALABAN is the author of thirteen books of poetry and prose, including four volumes that together have won The Academy of American Poets’ Lamont prize, a National Poetry Series Selection. His Locusts at the Edge of Summer: New and Selected Poems won the 1998 William Carlos Williams Award from the Poetry Society of America. Remembering Heaven’s Face is his memoir of serving in Vietnam as a conscientious objector. His new book of poetry is Empires (Copper Canyon Press). He is a translator of Vietnamese poetry.
In 1999, with two Vietnamese friends, he founded the Vietnamese Nôm Preservation Foundation. In 2008, he was awarded a medal from the Ministry of Culture of Vietnam for his leadership in the preservation of the ancient text collection at the National Library.
SIMONA BALDELLI was born in Pesaro and lives in Rome. She has worked for many years in the performing arts field as an actress, director, playwright, and cultural events manager. Her debut novel, Evelina e le fate (Giunti), set in the countryside of the Marche region during World War II, was shortlisted for the Calvino Prize and was awarded the John Fante Literary Prize in 2013. Her subsequent novels are Il tempo bambino (Giunti, shortlisted for the Onor d’Agobbio Literary Prize); La vita a rovescio (Giunti, Città di Cave Literary Prize); L’ultimo spartito di Rossini (Piemme); Vicolo dell’ immaginario (Sellerio); Fiaba di Natale (Sellerio); Alfonsina e la strada (Sellerio, “Memo Geremia” Prize); La neve finché cade (Giunti).
LEN BERKMAN is the Anne Hesseltine Hoyt Professor of Theatre at Smith College, where he has taught since 1969. His plays include These Are Not My Breasts, Missing Children, ’til The Beatles Reunite, Oh, the Undoing, and Adultery Without Touch. As dramaturg, he has assisted new play development at Sundance Institute, South Coast Rep’s Hispanic Playwrights Festival, Epic Theatre Center, People’s Light, CTG/Los Angeles, Red Mountain/Alabama, Iowa Play Festival, and NY Stage & Film Co.
MATTHEW DENTON-EDMUNDSON lives in Virginia and is working on a novel set in rural Appalachia.
MATT DONOVAN is the author most recently of The Dug-Up Gun Museum (forthcoming from BOA Editions) and the collection of lyric essays, A Cloud of Unusual Size and Shape: Meditations on Ruin and Redemption (Trinity University Press). He is the recipient of a Whiting Award, a Rome Prize in Literature, a Creative Capital Grant, and an NEA Fellowship in Literature. He is director of the Boutelle-Day Poetry Center at Smith College.
ROBERT DOW is a senior lecturer at the Commonwealth Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he has taught for twenty-one years. He is a contributing editor for MR.
DANIEL ELLSBERG graduated from Harvard in 1952 with a BA summa cum laude in economics and studied for a year at King’s College, Cambridge University. Between 1954 and 1957, Ellsberg spent three years in the U.S. Marine Corps. After working for both the RAND Corporation and the State Department, in 1967, Ellsberg worked on the top-secret McNamara study, U.S. Decision-making in Vietnam, 1945–68, which later came to be known as the Pentagon Papers. In 1969, he photocopied the 7,000-page study and gave it to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. In 1971, he gave it to the New York Times, the Washington Post, and seventeen other newspapers. Ellsberg’s subsequent trial on twelve felony counts was dismissed in 1973 on grounds of governmental misconduct against him, leading to the convictions of several White House aides and figuring in the impeachment proceedings against President Nixon. Ellsberg is the author of: The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner; Secrets: A Memoir of Vietnam and the Pentagon Papers; Risk, Ambiguity and Decision; and Papers on the War.
ENRICA MARIA FERRARA is a writer, translator, and scholar in Italian literature and film working at Trinity College Dublin. Her latest work as a translator includes the volume Disaster Narratives in Early Modern Naples (Viella), edited by D. Cecere et al., as well as texts by Cosentino, Perrella, Starnone, among others. Recent scholarly publications include: Staged Narratives / Narrative Stages (co-edited with C. Ó Cuilleanáin, Franco Cesati); Posthumanism in Italian Literature and Film: Boundaries and Identity (Palgrave), of which she is the editor; Reading Domenico Starnone, a special issue of Reading in Translation (co-edited with Stiliana Milkova).
RYAN HABERMEYER'S debut collection of short stories, The Science of Lost Futures, won the BoA Short Fiction Prize. His stories and essays, twice nominated for the Pushcart, have appeared in or are forthcoming from Copper Nickel, Puerto del Sol, Cincinnati Review, Blackbird, Iron Horse Literary Review, and Fairy Tale Review. He teaches creative writing at Salisbury University.
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 at Universidad Francisco Marroquín. He is the author of fifteen books published in Spanish. 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, and the José María de Pereda Prize. His latest novel, Mourning, won the Prix du Meilleur Livre Étranger, the Premio de las Librerías de Navarra, the Edward Lewis Wallant Award, and the International Latino Book Award. In 2018, he was awarded the Guatemalan National Prize in Literature, his country’s highest literary honor.
REBECCA HAZELTON is an award-winning poet, writer, critic, and editor. Her first book, Fair Copy, won the Wheeler Prize from Ohio State University Press. Her second book, Vow, was an editor’s pick from Cleveland State University press. Her most recent book of poetry, Gloss, was published by the University of Wisconsin University Press and was a New York Times “New and Notable” pick.
ALEXIS LEVITIN has published forty-seven books in translation, including Clarice Lispector’s Soulstorm and Eugénio de Andrade’s Forbidden Words, both from New Directions. Recent translations from Portugal include Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen’s Exemplary Tales (Tagus Press) and Rosa Alice Branco’s Cattle of the Lord (Milkweed Editions). He has served as a Fulbright Lecturer at the Universities of Oporto and Coimbra, Portugal, The Catholic University in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and the Federal University of Santa Catarina, in Brazil, and has held translation residencies at the Banff Center, Canada, The European Translators Collegium in Straelen, Germany (twice), and the Rockefeller Foundation Study Center in Bellagio, Italy.
jessi lewis grew up on a blueberry farm in rural Virginia. She was Oxford American’s Debut Fiction Prize winner in 2018. Her essays, short stories, and poems have been published or are forthcoming in Alaska Quarterly Review, The Hopkins Review, Zone 3, Sonora Review, The Pinch, Yemassee, and others. Jessi’s novel manuscript, She Spoke Wire, was a finalist for the PEN/Bellwether Prize for Socially Engaged Fiction. She received an honorable mention in Best American Short Stories, 2020.
ANTHONY THOMAS LOMBARDI is a multiple Pushcart-nominated poet, organizer, activist, and educator. He is the founder and director of Word is Bond, a community-centered reading series partnered with AAWW that raises funds for transnational relief efforts and mutual aid organizations, and currently serves as assistant poetry editor for Sundog Lit. A recipient of the Poetry Project’s Emerge-Surface-Be Fellowship, his work has appeared or will soon in Guernica, Gulf Coast, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, North American Review, and elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn with his cat, Dilla.
CAROL MOLDAW'S fifth collection of poems, Beauty Refracted, appeared in 2018 (Four Way Books). Her work has been published widely in journals, including The New York Review of Books, Poem-A-Day, AGNI, FIELD, Harvard Review, Yale Review, and The New Yorker. She lives in Santa Fe, NM, and teaches privately.
ARMINE KOTIN MORTIMER, translator and retired professor of French literature, holds the rank of Chevalier dans l’ordre des Palmes académiques. She has a PhD from Yale and is the author of numerous scholarly publications, including eighteen articles on Sollers and a book in French on Sollers’s Paradis. She has published translations of four French books, The Enchanted Clock by Julia Kristeva, Mysterious Mozart and Casanova the Irresistible by Sollers, and An Impossible Love by Christine Angot, as well as about 128,000 words on and by Kristeva in a book on her work published in 2020. Her work has appeared in literary magazines Including 3:AM Magazine, The Brooklyn Rail, Asymptote, Lunch Ticket, LIT Magazine, Delos, and AGNI. For 2020, she obtained the National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Translation for the translation of Catherine Cusset’s novel Un brillant avenir.
LUÍS MIGUEL NAVA'S Poesia came out in 2020, twenty-five years after the young poet’s shocking death. Nava’s poetry relies on a fearless visceral depiction of the body, accompanying surging seas of memory and desire. His work, well known in Portugal has also appeared in French and Spanish translations. Poems drawn from his forthcoming collection in English have been accepted by Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Birmingham Poetry Review, Bitter Oleander, Hollins Critic, Metaforologia, Metamorphoses, Mid-American Review, Osiris, and Puerto del Sol.
MEGAN PINTO is a writer living in Brooklyn. Her poems can be found or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Lit Hub, Plume, and elsewhere. She has received scholarships and fellowships from Bread Loaf, the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing, the Port Townsend Writers’ Conference, and an Amy Award from Poets & Writers. Megan holds an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson.
MATTHEW RAYMOND earned his BA in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara. He is the author of the chapbook The Muddy Season (Black Lawrence Press). His stories and poems have appeared in or are forthcoming from Gettysburg Review, New Letters, December, Beloit Poetry Review, Free State Review, Pidgeonholes, Permafrost, and other places.
KATHRIN SCHMIDT is a multi-awardwinning contemporary poet and novelist, born in Gotha in the former German Democratic Republic. Schmidt’s German Book Prize–winning novel of 2009, You’re not dying, has since appeared in fourteen languages. Schmidt’s story collection It’s over. Don’t go there (transl. Sue Vickerman, Naked Eye Publishing) portrays the lives of all those “left behind” by the process of Germany’s 1989 reunification.
DIANE SEUSS is the author of five books of poetry. Her most recent collection is frank: sonnets (Graywolf Press), the winner of the PEN/Voelcker Prize and a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, the National Book Critics Circle Award, and the 2022 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award. Seuss was a 2020 Guggenheim Fellow. She received the John Updike Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 2021. She was raised by a single mother in rural Michigan, which she continues to call home.
PHILIPPE SOLLERS, born near Bordeaux in 1936, is founder of the journals Tel Quel and L’Infini and a powerful and influential editor, author of scores of novels, essays, interviews, and art criticism. William Cloonan describes Sollers as a public intellectual on a par with Barthes or Lacan and stresses his importance for English speakers. Sollers’s biographical essay on Vivant Denon complements his two other books about important eighteenth-century figures, Mozart and Casanova. His most recent publications are Le Nouveau, Désir, Légende, and Graal. He lives in Paris with his wife, Julia Kristeva, with whom he wrote Marriage as a Fine Art (English translation 2016).
OONAGH STRANSKY has been a translator of Italian prose for the past twenty years. Her most recent publication is Montale’s collection of short stories, Butterfly of Dinard, team-translated with Marla Moffa and due out in 2023 with NYRB. She has also translated noirs by Lucarelli and Vichi, nonfiction by Pope Francis and Saviano, and literary autobiographies by Pontiggia and Starnone (excerpt). Born in Paris, Oonagh grew up in the Middle East, London, and the United States and has studied at Mills College, UC Berkeley, Middlebury College, the University of Florence, and Columbia University. A member of PEN American Center and the American Literary Translators Association, she currently lives in Tuscany.
HEATHER TRESELER is the author of Parturition, which received the Munster Literature Centre’s international chapbook award. Her work appears in The American Scholar, Harvard Review, and The Iowa Review, among other journals, and her poem “Wildlife” was chosen by Spencer Reece for the 2021 W. B. Yeats Prize. She is professor of English at Worcester State University and a Resident Scholar at the Brandeis Women’s Studies Research Center.
ANAMY TUROWSKI was born and raised in Santa Monica, CA, and now resides on a farm in upstate New York. Her stories have appeared in december, New Ohio Review, Fugue, Terrain.org, among others. She was a recent fiction judge for Millay Arts. She’s a graduate of Bennington’s Writing Seminars.
RICARDO VASCONSELOS is a 2020–2021 Fulbright U.S. Scholar and Professor of Portuguese at San Diego State University. His scholarly work on modern and contemporary Portuguese literature, including Mário de Sá-Carneiro, Fernando Pessoa, Eça de Queirós, among other authors, has been published in several countries. He is the author of Campo de Relâmpagos—Leituras do Excesso na Poesia de Luís Miguel Nava [Lightning Field—Readings in Excess in the Poetry of Luís Miguel Nava], and in 2020 he published a critical edition of Luís Miguel Nava’s Poesia.
SUE VICKERMAN translates East German Kathrin Schmidt out of empathy: both women hail from “left behind” regions where populism is on the rise. Her translations include Kathrin Schmidt’s Twenty Poems (Arc Publications) and It’s over. Don’t go there (Naked Eye Publishing). Her own poems, translated short stories, and articles have appeared in, among others, The Guardian, the Times Educational Supplement, The Poetry Review (UK), Stockholm Review, Trafika Europe, Metamorphoses (USA), The Queens Quarterly (Canada), and The Los Angeles Review. She has published five poetry collections and four works of fiction, and works as a poet, writer, literary editor, and life model.
AH ZI is a writer from Hong Kong.