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Front Cover by Rachel B. Glaser
Portrait of James Tate, 2012

Courtesy of the artist

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Volume 53, Issue 4

SOMETIMES CHRISTMAS COMES EARLY. It sure has for us: as we wrap up this issue and send it to press, scraping a scissor blade down the length of the ribbon, curling it up into a fancy red bow just for you, the New England forests still burn in every color of flame, and leaves totter and ground in their annual Oktoberfest. It’s hard, actually, knowing already what’s under the tree. Two months is a long wait for the smile on your faces.

More than anything, more than ever, in this issue we celebrate James Tate, our friend, neighbor, and inspiration. A series of nine new dialogues, encounters, and ventures, from the master himself. Generosity toward our human (and inhuman) ways surfaces in each of these sketches, so it’s no surprise that, once word got out, our resident poet was offered more than a little help from his friends. Thus we welcome and honor as well work from John Ashbery, Richard Jackson, Dara Wier, and Franz Wright.

Such a voracious vortex of voices is bound to warp and weave its way elsewhere though an issue. For instance in the haunting nightsong of Antonio Tabucchi’s “Woman of Porto Pim,” brought home through the care and grace of a Tim Parks translation. Or in Mandy Keifetz’s “Klingon Confidential,” where private language is no mere Wittgensteinian non sequitur. Or Carol Ann Davis’s limning, lining, and cupping of grief. Or when Rachel Swearingen isolates her storyworld specimens, or Gary Amdahl saddles up and rides on out. Things here, in short, get weird, and wacky, and wonderful.

But at the Massachusetts Review, we’re too feisty to leave it at that. In this issue, Philip Metres returns to remind us of what we’re missing, and of what this country is doing. Mark O’Connor’s “Holy Ghosts” summons from the past a working-class Pittsburg, and Andrew Fox’s “Occupations” records an Irishman’s struggle for meaningful work. And Kim Townsend tells us of a time when administrators were people too; when they read Thoreau, not Ayn Rand. Then, finally, Mike Magnuson stands up for strikers, dreaming of a day as yet deferred.

A literary light in your window, to shine throughout the solstitial nights.



Relentless Usurpation of Temporal Linearity

By Dara Wier


Saddling the Sorry Ass of Self

By Gary Amdahl


The Woman of Porto Pim

By Antonio Tabucchi


The Woman of Porto Pim

By Tim Parks


Laughing Creek

By John Ashbery


Klingon Confidential

By Mandy Keifetz


Leave Me Hidden

By Franz Wright


Lizard Juice

By David Hancock


Good Form

By Michelle Valois


A Gathering Storm

By Mike Magnuson


Holy Ghosts

By Mark O'Connor



By Andrew Fox


First Born

By Sarah Gambito


The Abduction Narrative

By Aimée Baker


Baby Talk

By Kristie Letter


The Uninterrupted Flow

By James Tate



By James Tate


Mount Fuji

By James Tate


Marcella in the Forest

By James Tate


Our Roles in Life

By James Tate


The Chickadee

By James Tate


Unlikely Friends

By James Tate


The Kiss

By James Tate


The Aviary

By James Tate



By Dana Cann


If grief is the cup

By Carol Ann Davis



By Warren Slesinger


Edith Under the Streetlight

By Rachel Swearingen


Giving Shelter to the Homeless

By Mercedes Cebrian


Giving Shelter to the Homeless

By Ben Van Wyke


A letter from Paul Éluard to his wife who is in Cadaques with Salvador Dali

By Anna Piwkowska


A letter from Paul Éluard to his wife who is in Cadaques with Salvador Dali

Iza Wojciechowska


In the Good Old Summertime

By Deborah Bogen


Civil Disobedience: A Question of Institutional Involvement

By Kim Townsend


Living On

By Richard Jackson

Table of Contents


Relentless Usurpation of Temporal Linearity,
a poem by Dara Wier

Saddling the Sorry Ass of Self,
a story by Gary Amdahl

Laughing Creek, a poem by John Ashbery 

The Woman of Porto Pim,
a story by Antonio Tabucchi
translated from Italian by Tim Parks  

Klingon Confidential, a story by Mandy Keifetz   

Leave Me Hidden, a poem by Franz Wright   

Black Site (Exhibit I), a poem by Philip Metres   

Lizard Juice, a story by David Hancock   

Good Form, an essay by Michelle Valois   

A Gathering Storm, a story by Mike Magnuson   

Holy Ghosts, a story by Mark O’Connor   

Occupations, a story by Andrew Fox  

First Born, a poem by Sarah Gambito

The Abduction Narrative, a poem by Aimée Baker  

Baby Talk, a story by Kristie Letter   

New Poems, nine new poems by James Tate

Monitor, a story by Dana Cann   

If Grief is the Cup, a poem by Carol Ann Davis 

Snapshots, a poem by Warren Slesinger   

Edith Underthe Streetlight, a story by Rachel Swearingen   

Giving Shelter to the Homeless, a story by Mercedes Cebrian
translated from Spanish by Ben Van Wycke  

A Letter from Paul Éluard to His Wife
who is in Cadaqués with Salvador Dali,
a story by Anna Piwkowska   

In the Good Old Summertime, a poem by Deborah Bogan   

Civil Disobedience: A Questions of Instituational
Involvement, an essay by Kim Townsend   

Living On, a poem by Richard Jackson   

Notes on Contributors  

Volume Index    


GARY AMDAHL's work has appeared in MR, Agni, Gettysburg Review, Fiction, The Quarterly, A Public Space, Santa Monica Review, Third Bed, and the Pushcart Prize antology. His books are Visigoth and I Am Death.

JOHN L. ASHBERY has published more than twenty volumes of poetry and won nearly every major American award for poetry, including a Pulitzer Prize in 1976 for his collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

AIMÉE BAKER holds an MFA in fiction from Arizona State University. This piece is part of a series exploring the lives of missing women in the US. Her work has been published by journals such as The Southern Review, The Florida Review, and Gulf Coast.

DEBORAH BOGEN's most recent book of poems, Let Me Open You a Swan, won the 2010 Antivenom Prize from Elixir Press. She is currently at work on a novel called The Wych of Lepyr Cove.

DANA CANN's short stories have appeared in The Sun, The Gettysburg Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, The Florida Review, and other journals. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland, and teaches fiction workshops at The Writer's Center.

MERCEDES CEBRIAN hails from Madrid and is the author of six books of short stories, poems, and a novel, including, most recently, an anthology of her work, Oremos por nuestros pasaportes and La nueva taxidermia. She is a columnist with, a translator from French, English and Italian into Spanish, and has contributed regularly to the Spanish newspapers El País and La Vanguardia.

GILLIAN CUMMINGS' poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Laurel Review, Boulevard, the Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, The Cream City Review and PANK. A chapbook, Spirits of the Humid Cloud, is due out soon from Dancing Girl Press.

CAROL ANN DAVIS is the author of Psalm (2007) and Atlas Hour (2011), both from Tupelo Press. The recipient of a National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and the W. K. Rose Fellowship for the Creative Arts from Vassar College, her recent work has appeared in Agni, American Poetry Review, Volt, and on the PBS ArtBeat website. She served as editor of Crazyhorse from 2001-2012 and is currently Assistant Professor of English at Fairfield University.

ANDREW FOX was born in Dublin and lives in Massachusetts. Twice a recipient of bursaries from the Arts Council of Ireland, his stories have appeared in New Irish Writing, The Dublin Review and Prairie Schooner. He is the winner of the 2012 RTE PJ O'Connor Award for radio drama.

SARAH GAMBITO is the author of Delivered (Persea Books) and Matadora (Alice James Books). Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in The Iowa Review, The Antioch Review, Denver Quarterly, The New Republic, Field, Quarterly West, and Fence. She is teaches at Fordham University and is co-founder of Kundiman, a non-profit organization serving Asian American poets.

RACHEL B. GLASER is a writer and painter living in Northampton, MA.  She is the author of the story collection Pee On Water (Publishing Genius 2010) and of the poem book MOODS (forthcoming from Factory Hollow Press 2013). She teaches Creative Writing at Flying Object in Hadley, MA and paints commissioned paintings of basketball players.

DAVID HANCOCK has received playwriting OBIE Awards for The Race of The Ark Tattoo and The Convention of Cartography, both presented by the Foundry Theatre. His other theatrical works include Deviant Craft, Our Lot (with Kristin Newbom), The Puzzle Locker, The Incubus Archives, and Booth. Hancock is the recipient of the Hodder Fellowship, the Cal Arts/Alpert Award in Theatre, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a TCG/NEA Playwriting Residency Fellowship. Hancock’s recent stories can be found in Permafrost, Interim, Ping Pong and Amarillo Bay. His essays on playwriting have appeared in American Theatre, and his co-authored fiction with Spencer Golub is forthcoming in Petrichor Machine, Otis Nebula, Danse Macabre, and scissors and spackle.

RICHARD JACKSON is the author of ten books of poems, most recently Eric Hoffer Award winning Resonance (Ashland Poetry Press, 2010), two books of translations, two books of criticism and two anthologies of Slovene poetry. Translated in fifteen languages, he is the winner of an AWP-George Garret Award, Fulbright, Guggenheim, NEA and NEH Fellowships, a Witter-Bynner Fellowship, and five Pushcart appearances. He won the Order of Freedom Award from the President of Slovenia for literary and humanitarian work in the Balkans. He teaches at UT-Chattanooga and Vermont College of Fine Arts.

MANDY KEIFETZ is a fourth-generation New Yorker. Her work has appeared in Cent, Penthouse, Vogue, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, and The Brooklyn Rail. Her first novel, Corrido, has been optioned by a UK production company. Her second novel, Flea Circus: a brief bestiary of grief, was the 2010 AWP fiction prize winner. She was a New York Foundation for the Arts fellow. Her plays have been staged in New York, London, Cambridge, Montréal, and Oslo.

KRISTIE LETTER's short stories have been published in The North Dakota Quarterly, Washington Square, Passages North, Pangolin Papers and The Southern Humanities Review. As a day job, she teaches Hamlet to high school seniors and her educational publications include a Reader’s Handbook for the Colorado Department of Education. She is finishing The Poison’d Cup, a memoir about teaching and madness.

MIKE MAGNUSON is the author of two novels, The Right Man for the Job and The Fire Gospels, and three books of nonfiction, Lummox: The Evolution of a Man, Heft on Wheels: A Field Guide to Doing a 180 and Bike Tribes: A Field Guide to North American Cyclists. His short fiction and nonfiction has appeared in Esquire, Gentleman’s Quarterly, The Massachusetts Review, Men’s Health, Backpacker, and other publications, and he is a longtime contributing writer with Bicycling magazine. His piece “Whatever Happened to Greg LeMond” has been reprinted in Best American Sports Writing 2010 and in The Best of Bicycling Magazine. He lives in Appleton, Wisconsin, where he is finishing a long novel about working people in Wisconsin’s Fox Valley region.

PHILIP METRES is the author of numerous books including, recently, abu ghraib arias, which won the Arab American Book Award in 2012 and is in a second printing. His writing has won numerous awards, including an NEA, a Watson Fellowship, four Ohio Arts Council grants, and the Anne Halley Prize. He is professor of English at John Carroll University and lives in Cleveland, Ohio.

ANDREW NURKIN's poetry has appeared in North American Review, Drunken Boat, Rattle, Solstice, Peregrine, and elsewhere. Recipient of the Solstice Poetry Prize, a SLS Fellowship, and two Pushcart nominations, he holds his MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and degrees in English and religion from Duke and Yale. Originally from Atlanta, he lives in New Jersey.

MARK O'CONNOR teaches creative writing at Slippery Rock University. The recipient of a Pennsylvania Individual Arts Council Fellowship Award for Creative Nonfiction, he has also been a writer in residence at the Edward Albee Creative Persons Center. His work has been published in Gulf Coast, Karamu, Creative Nonfiction, and elsewhere. He lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

TIM PARKS, a novelist, essayist, and translator, is Associate Professor of Literature and Translation at IULM University in Milan. He has written fourteen novels, including Europa (shortlisted for the Booker prize), as well as two non-fiction accounts of life in northern Italy, and A Season with Verona, an overview of life and football in Italy. His latest book is Teach Us to Sit Still: A Skeptic’s Search for Health and Healing. His translation of The Woman of Porto Pim will be published by Archipelago Books in 2013.

ANNA PIWKOWSKA is a poet, essayist, and novelist living in Warsaw, who has published nine books of poetry. Her The Dye Girl received the 2009 Warsaw Literary Prize. She is also the author of a novel, Slad Łyzwy, and a nonfiction book, Akhmatova, Czyli Kobieta, about the life of the Russian poet. Piwkowska’s work has been translated into German, Russian, Italian, Hebrew, and Slovenian.

After WARREN SLESINGER graduated from the Iowa Writers Workshop. His poetry has been published in The American Poetry Review, The Antioch Review, The Beloit Poetry Journal, The Georgia Review, The Iowa Review, New Letters, The North American ReviewNorthwest Review, Poetry Daily, The Sewanee Review, and The South Carolina Review. He has been a resident at the Yaddo and MacDowell colonies for writers and the Sitka Center for Study of the Arts and Ecology. At present, he teaches part-time at the University of South Carolina-Beaufort.

RACHEL SWEARINGEN's stories have appeared, or are forthcoming, in New Stories from the Midwest 2012, Agni, The Kenyon Review, Mississippi Review, Witness,The Missouri Review, and elsewhere. Recipient of a 2012 Rona Jaffe Writer’s Award and the 2011 Mississippi Review Prize in Fiction, she is a visiting assistant professor at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

ANTONIO TABUCCHI was born in Pisa in 1943 and died in 2012 in Lisbon. Translated into more than forty languages, his many books have won prestigious prizes including the Aristeion, the Nossack, and the Europaeischer Staatpreis. His previous fiction includes Little Misunderstandings of No Importance and Indian Nocturne — now a film — which won the Prix Medici Etranger in 1987. The Woman of Porto Pim will be published by Archipelago Books in 2013.
JAMES TATE has won many awards, including a Pulitzer Prize and a National Book Award. His latest book is The Eternal Ones of the Dream: Selected Poems 1990-2010. He teaches at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

KIM TOWNSEND is the author of Sherwood Anderson, Manhood at Harvard: William James and Others, and is currently at work on a book titled On Friendship. “Civil Disobedience: A Question of Institutional Involvement” is a section of John William Ward: An American Study, which is near completion. He is Emeritus Professor of English at Amherst College.

MICHELLE VALOIS lives in Florence, Massachusetts with her partner and their three children and a kitten named Moxie. Her writing has appeared in TriQuarterly, Brevity, Baltimore Review, Fourth Genre, Palooka, North American Review, Florida Review, Hayden's Ferry Review, Pank, and others. She teaches writing and humanities at Mount Wachusett Community College.

BEN VAN WYKE is an Assistant Professor of Spanish and Translation Studies at Indiana University-Purdue University, Indianapolis (IUPUI). He translates poetry, fiction, and scholarly articles from Spanish and Portuguese and is the author of the articles “Borges and Us: Exploring the Author-Translator Dynamic in Translation Workshops” (The Translator 18.1) and “Imitating Bodies and Clothes: Refashioning the Western Conception of Translation” (in Thinking Through Translation with Metaphors).

DARA WIER's new book will be You Good Thing from Wave Books, April, 2013.

IZA WOJCIEWCHOWSKA has an MFA in creative non-fiction and literary translation from Columbia University and a BS from Duke. Her translations and nonfiction have appeared in The New York Times, Hayden’s Ferry Review, The Common, The Millions, The Sycamore Review, and others. She lives in New York City and works in publishing.

FRANZ WRIGHT recieved the Pulitzer Prize in 2004 for his Walking To Martha’s Vineyard (Knopf, 2003). He and his father James Wright (for Collected Poems, 1972) are the only father and son both to receive the award in poetry. His most recent book, Kindertotenwald, is a collection of prose poems. His next works, both with Knopf, are F (2013) and The Last Book (2015).

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