Front Cover and Back Cover by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Front: I Make My Own Money, 2012
Back: from The Offense of Regular Black Self Defense, 2013
Courtesy of the artistOrder a copy now
Front Cover and Back Cover by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Front: I Make My Own Money, 2012
Back: from The Offense of Regular Black Self Defense, 2013
Courtesy of the artistOrder a copy now
AFTER TWENTY YEARS of teaching, it’s hard not to rely on a set piece or two. Some situations recur so regularly, and you’ve tried to think them through, more or less, so why not? After all, who knows how many times Madeleine Renaud had already performed Oh les beaux jours by 1985, when I saw her on stage? An audience is always new, so though the script is not, the performance surely could be. Rocked my world, anyway.
It still happens that students come to see me, those I’ve adopted, to confess they haven’t a clue what to do after graduation. Less frequently these days, as the floodwaters of debt continue to rise and the shore seems an evermore impossible swim away. And yet I still play the scene straight: I look them in the face, and utter a single sentence. Leave the country. Sometimes I have to repeat it.
My thoughts on this score aren’t rocket science. But taking my advice would make you a better rocket scientist, or fishmonger, or corporate raider, or writer. Thing is, the minute you plop your butt down in foreign soil, in order to do anything at all, first you have to learn something. Just buying bread becomes a quest. And to really learn a new culture, to find your way, gropingly, through this selva oscura, resets every category you thought you knew. At least it did for me. You remember every second, every meal, every chance encounter, every conversation—especially those that your knowledge of the language wasn’t good enough to allow. I know I do. I’m still having them.
Back in 2010, when I came on board as editor, I promised that MR would up the ante when it came to publishing in translation. Any decision of this sort, no less than desire itself, is overdetermined: I can think of at least ten reasons why I feel we need to do this. But it’s simplest to say that what I see in reading is what I see in exile: the royal road to knowledge. At least since the late nineteenth century, when the Dickens-soaked protagonist of J.K. Huysmans’s À rebours decided that London had nothing real to offer, we’ve known that there are other ways to travel, and that reading is one of the best. And summer is the right time for displacements of all sorts, meta-, physical, para-, normal, virtual, viral, whatever. So that’s what we have for you here: all of the above.
We begin by sampling what the great Pablo Neruda sang at the Great Wall’s foggy foot, in a new translation by Ilan Stavans. What could be greater than that? How about an excerpt from Francesc Serés’s new pseudo-anthology of pseudo-translations from the Russian, brought to us through the very real work of Peter Bush? Or, from that same translator, new poems and essays from the heroic Juan Goytisolo, a writer who has, out of his own exile, taught us to read all of Spanish history à rebours. Elsewhere Shara McCallum remembers her Nanny, and revolution roams the land. In the first of a two-parter, Gary Amdahl documents the darker powers visited upon California during the Anthropocene, proving himself a brujo in the making. The ravages of history live on in the poetry of Lutz Seiler, admirably rendered by Alex Booth, and in a story by Ron Kubati, brought to us by Yvonne Freccero. Shockingly intimate suffering is brought to the page by Kim T’aeyong, in a translation by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton, and Kelly Clancy mourns the wasted lives of young women in Turkmenistan, where suicide can seem a means of escape, and obedience. Max Page, after his Argentine travels, reminds us that memory and justice, too long exiled, may also come home.
Translation — as both ordinary language and cutting-edge scholarship remind us — involves far more than language. Way back in 1959, the very year that MR was founded, Roman Jakobson published a seminal essay with a sneaky title, “On Linguistic Aspects of Translation”: his point being that intersemiotic translation is not only possible, it may well be the norm. No further proof needed than the stunning montage of street sense that runs through the work of the poet-photographer Thomas Sayers Ellis, so bountifully displayed for you here.
Introduction, by Jim Hicks
Ode to the Great Wall in the Fog, a poem by Pablo Neruda, translated from Spanish by Ilan Stavans
The Transparency of Evil, a story by Francesc Serés,
translated from Catalan by Peter Bush
Culmitzsch, a poem by Lutz Seiler,
translated from German by Alexander Booth
San Luis el Brujo, Part One, a story by Gary Amdahl
History and Myth, a poem by Shara McCallum
The Goat, a poem by Michael Bazzett
“So A’Feared Of” See Also,
photographs by Thomas Sayers Ellis
Who are not, but could be, an essay by Kelly Clancy
What a Woman Knows, a poem by David Thacker
The Kulak’s Son, a novel excerpt from Ron Kubati,
translated from Italian by Yvonne Freccero
The Arc of Memory and the Arc of Justice,
an essay by Max Page
Tears in Reverse, a poem by Marianne Boruch
Rise Up, Beloved, a story by John Goulet
The Selected Works of Alessandro Pope,
a story by Elvis Bego
As the Fool, a poem by Matthew Reed Corey
Fires, Ashes, Forgetfulness and Beauty Untamed,
poems and essays by Juan Goytisolo,
translated from Spanish by Peter Bush
Hand in Glove, a story by Vedran Husić
Morning Rituals, a poem by Nora Hickey
Plenty, a story by Katherine L. Hester
Holes, a poem by Judith Berke
Jack and the Skunk, a story by Jessica Scalise
The Bargain, a poem by Nathaniel Bellows
Night Man, nonfiction by Bill Pitts
Pig on Grass, a story by Kim T’ae-yong,
translated from Korean by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton
Ode to Ironing, a poem by Pablo Neruda,
translated from Spanish by Ilan Stavans
GARY AMDAHL is the author of Visigoth, I Am Death, and The Intimidator Still Lives In Our Hearts. Three of the stories in Intimidator were first published in The Massachusetts Review. Intimidator is the first volume to be published in The Amdahl Library Project from Artistically Declined Press. Volume 2, Across My Big Brass Bed, is scheduled for release in January 2014.
MICHAEL BAZZETT has new poems forthcoming in Ploughshares, New Ohio Review, Pleiades, Salt Hill, Literary Imagination and Prairie Schooner. He is the author of The Imaginary City, recently published in the OW! Arts Chapbook Series, and They: A Field Guide, forthcoming from Barge Press in 2013. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and two children.
ELVIS BEGO was born in Bosnia, fled the war there at twelve, moved around, and currently lives in Copenhagen. His writing can be found now or soon in AGNI, Threepenny Review, PANK, The Coffin Factory, The Brooklyner, The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review, and elsewhere.
NATHANIEL BELLOWS is the author of the novel On This Day (HarperCollins; Harmon Blunt Publishers), a collection of poems, Why Speak? (W.W. Norton), and NAN, a novel-in stories (Harmon Blunt Publishers). He lives in New York City. To learn more about his
work—writing, visual art, and music—please visit www.nathanielbellows.com
JUDITH BERKE's first book White Morning came out from Wesleyan Univ. Press and a chapbook, Acting Problems, came out from Silverfish Review Press. Her work has appeared in APR, The Atlantic, Field, New Letters, The Kenyon Review, The Paris Review, and Poetry, and she has received grants from the state of Florida and the NEA.
ALEXANDER BOOTH lives in Rome. He is the recipient of a 2012 PEN Translation Fund grant for his translations of Lutz Seiler. Other poems and translations have recently appeared in Asymptote, BODY, FreeVerse, Konundrum, and Modern Poetry in Translation.
MARIANNE BORUCH's most recent poetry collections are The Book of Hours (Copper Canyon, 2011)—winner of the Kingsley-Tufts Poetry Award, 2013— and Grace, Fallen from (Wesleyan, 2008); her eighth—Cadaver, Speak—is forthcoming from Copper Canyon. Her prose includes two books of essays on poetry, In the Blue Pharmacy (Trinity, 2005) and Poetry’s Old Air (Michigan, 1993), and a memoir, The Glimpse Traveler (Indiana, 2011). She teaches at Purdue University and in the low-residency graduate Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College.
PETER BUSH is a freelance literary translator based in Barcelona. Recent translations include Exiled From Almost Everywhere by Juan Goytisolo, Tyrant Banderas by Ramón del Valle-Inclán and Sketches of Spain by Federico García Lorca from the Spanish, The Body Hunter by Najat El Hachmi, The Sound of One Hand Killing by Teresa Solana, Russian Stories by Francesc Serés and In Diamond Square by Mercè Rodoreda from the Catalan. He is currently translating two contemporary Catalan classics, The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla and Uncertain Glory by Joan Sales.
KELLY CLANCY is the author of the graphic novel Soldiers of God (2011), in which the War on Terror is presented from the perspective of women and children on both sides of the conflict. She is now a National Science Foundation Fellow at UC Berkeley, where she studies neuroscience.
MATTHEW REED COREY is a PhD candidate in the Program for Writers at the University of Illinois at Chicago and is a winner of the AWP Intro Journals Project prize. Most recently, a thirteen-poem collection of his work appeared in At Length, and his poems have appeared or are are forthcoming in Crazyhorse, Diagram, Artifice Magazine, Grist, and Rhino Poetry.
BRUCE AND JU-CHAN FULTON are the translators of numerous volumes of modern Korean fiction, most recently River of Fire: Stories by O Chŏnghŭi (Columbia University Press, 2012) and How in Heaven’s Name: A Novel of World War II by Cho Chŏngnae (MerwinAsia 2012). The Fultons have received several awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowship, the first ever given for a translation from the Korean; and a residency at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre, the first ever awarded to translators from any Asian language. Their translations have appeared in Manōa, Seattle Review, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and The Norton Anthology of World Literature. Bruce Fulton is the inaugural holder of the Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean Literature and Literary Translation, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia.
JOHN GOULET is a short story writer and novelist (Oh’s Profit, William Morrow; Yvette in America, U of Colorado Press). His stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines, including The Kansas Quarterly, The Sonora Review, Folio, The Crescent Review, Denver Quarterly, Cream City Review, Brooklyn Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Carolina Quarterly, The Beloit Fiction Quarterly, The Literary Review, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, Cutbank, and the Norton anthology, Flash Fiction Forward.
Born in 1931, JUAN GOYTISOLO has lived a life of political and cultural exile. A bitter opponent of the Franco regime, his early novels, including Marks of Identity, were banned in Spain. Since leaving Spain, he has lived mostly in France and Morocco. He is the author of a number of novels, many of which including The Young Assassins, Count Julian, Makbara, The Marx Family Saga, and Quarantine, have been translated into English.
KATHERINE L. HESTER is the author of Eggs for Young America, a collection of short fiction. Her stories have appeared in Prize Stories: The O. Henry Awards, Best American Mystery Stories, American Short Fiction, The Yale Review, and elsewhere. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with her husband and two daughters.
NORA HICKEY is an MFA candidate in poetry at the University of New Mexico. Originally from Milwaukee, WI, she is now enjoying the burger joints and mountains of Albuquerque. She currently serves as Editor-in-Chief of Blue Mesa Review and her poetry and non fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in Booth, Mid-American Review, Court Green, Puerto del Sol and DIAGRAM.
VERDAN HUSIC was born in Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and currently lives in Tempe, Arizona, where he’s pursuing an MFA in Fiction at Arizona State University. His fiction is published or forthcoming in Witness, North American Review and the New Rivers Press anthology, American Fiction: The Best Unpublished Short Stories by Emerging Writers.
Originally from Jamaica, SHARA MCCALLUM is the author of four books of poetry: The Face of Water: New and Selected Poems, This Strange Land, Song of Thieves, and The Water Between Us. For her poems, she has received a number of awards and fellowships, including a 2013 Witter Bynner Fellowship from the Library of Congress and a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Poetry Fellowship. She lives with her family in Pennsylvania, where she is Director of the Stadler Center for Poetry and Professor of English at Bucknell University.
PABLO NERUDA received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He wrote close to 3,500 poems. His 225 odes are collected in Pablo Neruda: All the Odes, edited by Ilan Stavans, to be published by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux in October.
MAX PAGE is Professor of Architecture and History at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst. He is the author and editor of six books: The Creative Destruction of Manhattan, 1900-1940 (University of Chicago Press, 1999), which won the Spiro Kostof Award of the Society of Architectural Historians, for the best book on architecture and urbanism; The City’s End: Two Centuries of Fantasies, Fears, and Premonitions of New York’s Destruction (Yale University Press, 2008); Building the Nation: Americans Write About Their Architecture, Their Cities, and Their Environment (University of Pennsylvania Press, 2003, co-edited with Steven Conn); Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States (Routledge, 2003, co-edited with Randall Mason); The Future of Higher Education (Routledge, 2011, with Dan Clawson); Reconsidering Jane Jacobs (Planners Press, 2011, co-edited with Tim Mennell); The University of Massachusetts: The Campus Guide (Princeton Architectural Press, 2013, with Marla Miller); and Signs of Memories of Buenos Aires: Signs of State Terrorism in Argentina (editor, University of Massachusetts Press 2013). He is a recipient of a Howard Foundation Fellowship, Fulbright Fellowship, Guggenheim Fellowship and, in 2013, the Rome Prize. His next book project is entitled Priceless: Rethinking Historic Preservation in the 21st Century.
BILL PITTS lives in DeLand, Florida. He is writing a book about a South Georgia work camp during the fifties and sixties. His work has appeared in Witness, The Burnside Review, and The Doctor T.J. Eckleburg Review.
JESSICA SCALISE grew up in Oakland, CA. She graduated from Stanford University in 2004, and received her M.F.A. in filmmaking from the University of Southern California in 2010. In 2007, she won the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship in the Arts. She lives in Portland, OR, where she works as a writer and filmmaker. More of her stories can be read on her fiction blog, Any Given Monday, at http://anymonday.wordpress.com.
LUTZ SEILER is widely acknowledged as one of the major German poets of his generation. He was born in 1963 in Gera, a town in the eastern part of the state of Thuringia in the former German Democratic Republic. He underwent training as a mason and a carpenter and completed mandatory military service. After studying in Halle and Berlin, in 1997 he became the literary director and occupant of the Peter Huchel Museum outside of Potsdam, the most recent caretaker in a line extending from the poet Huchel himself (who permanently left the GDR in 1971) to the poet and translator Erich Arendt. Mr. Seiler has published over six volumes of poetry, short-stories and essays. His many prizes include the Dresden Poetry Prize (2000), the Bremen Prize for Literature (2004), the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize (2007), and, most recently, the Fontane Prize (2010). He was writer-in-residence at the German Academy in Rome in 2010 and at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles in 2003. In addition, he has been elected a member of the Saxon Academy of the Arts, Dresden, and the Academy of Arts, Berlin. in field latin is his most recent book of poetry.
FRANCESC SERES was born in Saidí in 1972 on the border between Catalonia and Spain, near the deserted area of Monegros. He has degrees in Fine Arts and Social Anthropology. For many years he has combined literary writing with teaching in high school and university. Russian Stories, his fictional anthology of Russian writers, won the City of Barcelona Award and the Spanish Critics Award. He is now working on chronicles and interviews describing changes over the last thirty years in Catalonia and Europe. He is also writing an essay about the Spanish Civil War literature focused on George Orwell, Ramon J. Sender and Joan Sales. His works have been translated into Spanish, French, and English. He is a frequent contributor to the Spanish newspaper El País.
ILAN STAVANS is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His graphic novel El Iluminado (Basic, with Steve Sheinkin) was published last November. He is the editor of Pablo Neruda: All the Odes (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux), due out in October.
KIM T'AE-YOUNG was born in Seoul in 1974 and studied creative writing at Sungshil University. He began publishing fiction in 2005. He appears in English translation for the first time with “Pig on Grass,” the title story of his 2007 short story collection. He is also the author of the novel Nothing to Leave, Nothing to Hide (2010).
DAVID THACKER teaches writing at the University of Idaho. His poems have appeared in Ploughshares, Subtropics, The Cortland Review, Sycamore Review, and elsewhere. He is the recipient of the 2012 Fredrick Manfred Award for Best Creative Writing from the Western Literature Association and a scholarship recipient from the Port Townsend Writers Conference.