Front Cover by Amy Johnquest
All You Need Is Love. (I Hate You Mr. Strudelwitz,) 2014
ALTERED CABINET CARD, CASEIN, ACRYLIC
Volume 55, Issue 3
NOT LONG AGO in these pages, while mulling over how writerly imaginings shape the stuff of history, Sabina Murray made a striking claim: “What we learn through fiction, we don’t learn through fact, we learn through people. We learn things through how people experience them.” Why else, she wonders, when we think of the British Regency, is Austen our guiding hand? Or Dickens, whenever we remember what urban poverty meant during Victorian times? And why—though Achebe long ago offered the essential counterargument—do we still follow Conrad into the Belgian Congo? No doubt about it: there is power in such words. Even the past is not safe from our stories. So why then today do we read again and again about the death of the novel, or that the market for fiction has vanished, vanquished by the memoir, or that the only audience left is YA anyway, and they read and write for screens, not print. If our knowledge of history is truly found, captured, grasped—firmly and perhaps only—by our best storytellers in their most memorable tales, do you really think we will, or even can, give that up?
On the other hand, of the thousands of stories that are sent our way each year, it is consistently surprising how very few take us beyond the hic et nunc to other places, other times. With all of history and all the globe out there for the telling, why no rush for the gold? Like any other trend, this neglect may soon disappear. Indeed, the nuggets packed into our Fall issue are evidence that it already has. We begin with three testimonies: Meena Alexander writes of seventeenth-century Venice and the poet Sarra Copia; Ricardo Piglia spins history as dreamscape in post-Peronist Argentina; and Julie Lekstrom Himes finds contemporary resonance in the life of the Austro-Hungarian physician Ignaz Semmelweis.
From there, we move on to masters of form; after all, as comments like Murray’s make clear, without the shaping, there is no memory. Three cornucopian chorales from the always astonishing Dean Young, an artful metameditation of the artistry of telling from Mark Jay Mirsky, and a stream of collective consciousness from the late great Antonio Tabucchi. Readers of MR will have already walked miles with Dickinson as their companion, yet few have spent their time more wisely than Peggy O’Brien.
When asked who was Sarajevo’s Austen, Dickens, or Conrad, whose characters and words most perfectly captured the city’s spirit, those in the know invariably say Karim Zaimovic. His stories, which he narrated weekly during the siege on Radio Zid, broadcast Sarajevan civility and courage in opposition to barbarism, and they did so for the citizens of the city itself. As such, the Massachusetts Review is particularly proud to feature one of those stories here, stunningly illustrated by Enis Cisic and elegantly translated by Aleksandar Brezar.
As fall returns the measure of time is again impossible to avoid. So whether you have new crops to harvest or just the same old leaves to rake, we trust you’ll enjoy—and learn from—this cast of characters and their stories.
Serra Copia Falsely Accused of Heresy in the Year 1621
By Meena Alexander
Dark House on the Mountain: Serra Copia Writes to Me in the Year 2014
By Meena Alexander
By Ricardo Piglia, Translated by Sergio Waisman
By Julie Lekstrom Himes
The Death of Andre Breton
By Dean Young
Because of Bears
By Dean Young
By Dean Young
By Antonio Tabucchi, Translated by Martha Cooley and Antonio Romani
The End of Brother Black
By Galsan Tschinag, Translated by Katharina Rout
The End of Brother Black
By Sarah Sousa
Her Moods Caused Owls
By Sarah Sousa
The Secret of Nicola Tesla
By Karim Zaimović, Adapted by Aleksandar Brezar, With art by Enis Čišić
The Secret of Nicola Tesla
What's So Funny?
By Richard Michelson
Half a Queen
By Jim Walke
By Henry Finch
A Place of Their Own
By Robert L. King
By Joel Long
By Joel Long
Telling the Time with Emily Dickinson
By Peggy O'Brien
Lovers Under Lilies-Marc Chagall
By Claudia Roquette-Pinto, Translated by Taryn Gilbert
Lovers Under Lilies-Marc Chagall
By Mateiu Caragiale, Translated by Sean Cotter
Dream of the Rood
By Rebecca Foust
Searching for a Head in Nigeria
By Roger Atwood
By G.C. Waldrep
By hilene Flanzbaum
Table of Contents
Introduction by Jim Hicks
Sarra Copia Falsely Accused of Heresy in the Year 1621
and Dark House on the Mountain: Sarra Copia Writes
to Me in the Year 2014, poems by Meena Alexander
The Factory, a novel excerpt by Ricardo Piglia,
translated by Sergio Waisman
Omnisciens, a story by Julie Lekstrom Himes
The Death of André Breton, Because of Bears,
and Gizzard Song, poems by Dean Young
The Circle, a story by Antonio Tabucchi,
translated by Martha Cowley and Antonio Romani
The End of Brother Black, a story by Galsan Tschinag,
translated by Katharina Rout
Trinket-Shine and Her Moods Caused Owls,
poems by Sarah Sousa
What's So Funny?, a poem by Richard Michelson
Half a Queen, a story by Jim Walke
Settlement, a story by Debbie Urbanski
Always Together, a poem by Henry FInch
A Place of Their Own, a story by Robert L. King
Doll's Dress and That Pretty, poems by Joel Long
Lovers Under Lilies-Marc Chagall,
a poem by Claudia Roquette-Pinto,
translated by Taryn Gilbert
Rake's Congress, a story by Mateiu Caragiale,
translated by Sean Cotter
Dream of the Rood, a poem by Rebecca Foust
Searching for a Head in NIgeria,
an essay by Roger Atwood
lullaby, a poem by G.C. Waldrep
Nehil'im, a poem by Hilene Flanzbaum
Notes on Contributors
MEENA ALEXANDER'S most recent volume of poetry is Birthplace with Buried Stones (TriQuarterly Books/Northwestern University Press). She is currently a National Fellow at the Indian Institute of Advanced Study, Shimla. SARRA COPIA was a Jewish poet and intellectual who kept a literary salon in the Ghetto of Venice. She was falsely accused of denying the immortality of the soul. In July 1621, she published a powerful manifesto in her own defense.
ROGER ATWOOD is author of Stealing History (St. Martin’s Press). His work has appeared in many publications, including the Times Literary Supplement, National Geographic, ARTnews, Latin American Research Review, the New York Times, and Archaeology, where he is a contributing editor. He lives in Washington, D.C., and London.
ALEKSANDAR BREZAR was born in Sarajevo, and currently resides in Northampton, MA. He has worked as a journalist at Radio 202, and a translator for several documentary films and other projects for PBS, the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Al Jazeera English, and the Sarajevo Film Festival. His translations have appeared in the Massachusetts Review, the Brooklyn Rail, Protest.ba, Peščanik, and Lupiga.
MATEIU CARAGIALE (1885–1939) was a poet and author of three novels. His works (including the fragment of a detective novel) describe characters of uncertain ancestry, airs of fog and mystery, and plots of decadence and abasement. His most successful novel, Rakes of the Old-Court (1929), depicts a world of corrupt nobility, and is prized for its ornate style, filled with archaic Romanian and Turkish, Rroma, and Greek vocabulary. The novel’s style illustrates the complicated history of Romania, a nation at the crossroads of dead empires.
ENIS ČIŠIĆ is an illustrator and comic book artist, working as a 3D animator at an advertising agency in Sarajevo. He is the creator of a number of music videos and album artworks for notable Bosnian musicians and bands. His work, including large scale drawings of famous film scenes as well as other illustrations, was exhibited throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina, while his short comic books were published in various magazines throughout the former Yugoslavia.
MARTHA COOLEY's and antonio romani's translations of poems by Giampiero Neri have appeared in AGNI, The Common, and A Public Space. Cooley’s novels include The Archivist and Thirty-Three Swoons.
SEAN COTTER is Associate Professor of Literature and Translation Studies at the University of Texas at Dallas. His most recent translation from Romanian is Mircea Cartarescu’s novel, Blinding.
HENRY FINCH was born in Rocky Mountain, NC, and grew up in Henrico. He holds an MFA in poetry from the University of Iowa. His work appears or is forthcoming in the Missouri Review, the Denver Quarterly, and McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, among others.
REBECCA FOUST's books include God, Seed (Foreword Book of the Year Award) and All That Gorgeous Pitiless Song (Many Mountains Moving Book Award). New poems are in current issues of Hudson Review, Narrative, Sewanee Review, Southern Indiana Review, Zyzzyva, and other journals. Foust received an MFA in poetry from Warren Wilson College in 2010 and currently works as an assistant editor for Narrative.
TARYN GILBERT is a poet and translator based in Gainesville, FL, where she received her MFA in poetry from the University of Florida. Her work has previously appeared in Fawlt.
JULIE LEKSTROM HIMES's fiction has been published in Shenandoah, Mid-American Review, Florida Review, Fourteen Hills, Confrontation, and elsewhere. She lives in the Boston area with her family. She is currently working on her first novel.
ROBERT L. KING has been a contributing editor in drama criticism at the North American Review since 1993. His The Ethos of Drama (Catholic University Press) was published in 2010. He teaches English at Elms College.
JOEL LONG is the author of several books and chapbooks, including Lessons in Disappearance and Winged Insects, winner of the White Pine Press Poetry Prize. His poems have appeared in many publications and anthologies, including Painted Bride Quarterly, Ocean State Review, Quarterly West, Gulf Coast, Prairie Schooner, and American Poetry: The Next Generation, among others.
RICHARD MICHELSON is the author of More Money than God (forthcoming Pitt Poetry Series), Battles and Lullabies (University of Illinois) and two fine press collaborations with Leonard Baskin’s Gehenna Press. His many children’s books have been listed among the Ten Best of the Year by the New York Times, Publishers Weekly, the New Yorker, and Amazon.com. He owns R. Michelson Galleries and he is the Poet Laureate of Northampton, MA.
MARK JAY MIRSKY was born on Boston’s Blue Hill Avenue, the title of his third novel, which was cited by the Boston Globe on their list of 100 “essential books about New England.” Editor of the magazine Fiction since its founding in 1972, and Professor of English at the City College of New York, Mirsky has published thirteen books, including the novels Thou Worm Jacob, Proceedings of the Rabble, and Red Adam, and edited volumes of Rubert Musil’s diaries.
PEGGY O'BRIEN is the author of three collections of poems, Sudden Thaw, Frog Spotting, and Trusting Ice, forthcoming from Orchises Press in 2015. She is the editor of the Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry, and a book about Seamus Heaney and other Irish poets called Writing Lough Derg. She has spent half her teaching career at Trinity College, Dublin, and the other half at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
RICARDO PIGLIA was born in 1941 in Adrogué, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is the author of the novels Respiración artificial [Artificial Respiration], La ciudad ausente [The Absent City], Plata quemada [Money to Burn], Blanco nocturno [White Nocturne], and El camino de Ida [Ida’s Way], as well as numerous stories and essays. His work has been translated into French, Italian, German, English, and Portuguese, among others. “The Factory” is drawn from Piglia’s 2010 Blanco nocturno, which won the Rómulo Gallegos and the National Critics Prizes.
CLAUDIA ROQUETTE-PINTO is a Brazilian poet who was born in 1963 in Rio de Janeiro. She was a founder and editor of Verve, a monthly literature and culture magazine, and has published five collections of poetry. She received the Jabuti Prize for her collection Corola, and was a finalist for the Portugal Telecom Prize for her most recent work, Margem de Manobra.
KATHARINA ROUT teaches English and Comparative Literature at Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, British Columbia.
SARAH SOUSA's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Passages North, Barn Owl Review, Cider Press Review, and Salt Hill Journal, among others. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her first collection won the Red Mountain Press Prize and will be published in May 2014; her second collection will be published in late 2014 by Free Verse Editions. She holds an MFA from Bennington College and lives in Western Massachusetts with her husband and two sons.
A master of short fiction, ANTONIO TABUCCHI won the Prix Médicis Etranger for Indian Nocturne, the Italian PEN Prize for Requiem: A Hallucination, and the Aristeion European Literature Prize for Pereira Declares. Together with his wife, Maria José de Lancastre, he translated much of the work of Fernando Pessoa into Italian. Tabucchi’s works include The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico and The Woman of Porto Pim.
GALSAN TSCHING, whose name in his native Tuvan language is Irgit Schynykbaj-oglu Dshurukuwaa, was born in the early 1940s in Mongolia. From 1962 to 1966, he studied at the University of Leipzig, where he adopted German as his written language. Under an oppressive Communist regime, he became a singer, storyteller, poet, and shaman in the ancient Tuvan tradition. As the chief of the Tuvan in Mongolia, Tschinag led his people, scattered under Communist rule, back in a huge caravan to their original home in the High Altai Mountains. Tschinag is the author of more than thirty books, and his work has been translated into many languages. He lives in the Altai, Ulaanbaatar, and Europe.
DEBBIE URBANSKI's fiction has appeared in the Kenyon Review, New England Review, The Southern Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Tin House’s “Open Bar,” and the UK science fiction magazines Interzone and Arc. She is at work on a linked story collection about aliens and cults.
SERGIO WAISMAN is Professor of Spanish and Latin American literature at George Washington University. He has translated The Underdogs, two books by Ricardo Piglia, and three titles for Oxford’s Library of Latin America series, among others. In 2000, he received an NEA Translation Fellowship Award for his work with Piglia’s The Absent City. Waisman is also the author of Borges and Translation: The Irreverence of the Periphery and of the novels Leaving and Irse.
JIM WALKE, originally from Michigan, now lives in Greenville, SC , with a dog named Kipling. He (Jim, not Kip) writes biomedical research proposals for Virginia Tech.
G.C. WALDREP’s most recent books are Your Father on the Train of Ghosts (BOA Editions), a collaboration with John Gallaher; The Arcadia Project: North American Postmodern Pastoral (Ahsahta), co-edited with Joshua Corey; and a chapbook, Susquehanna (Omnidawn). He lives in Lewisburg, PA, where he teaches at Bucknell University, and edits the journal West Branch. He served as editor-at-large for the Kenyon Review.
DEAN YOUNG's most recent book is Bender.
KARIM ZAIMOVIC was a Bosnian comic strip artist, journalist, radio host, and writer for many publications, including Lica, Mladina, Oslobodjenje, The Phantom of Liberty, and BH Dani, in Sarajevo. He was killed by a shell in August of 1995, at the age of twenty-four, only months before the war’s end.