Front Cover by Latoya Ruby Frazier
Self-Portrait March (10:00 a.m.), 2009
Courtesy of the artist, from The Notion of Family (Aperture, 2014)Order a copy now
Front Cover by Latoya Ruby Frazier
Self-Portrait March (10:00 a.m.), 2009
Courtesy of the artist, from The Notion of Family (Aperture, 2014)Order a copy now
HIDDEN SHAME, SHAME, SHAME /And I can’t get free . . . Must it be my secret for eternity? / Till you know my hidden shame you really don’t know me. So goes a catchy little tune by Elvis Costello, originally written for and recorded by Johnny Cash. As a literary genre, the confession looks to Augustine and Rousseau as its patron saints, though neither would find much value in the ritual self-flagellation that so fascinates the public today. Costello himself, née Declan Patrick MacManus, is one of rock’s most protean changelings. Whatever act, or failure to act, inspired Elvis to pen these words, it probably wasn’t the memory of his first commercial vocals — backing up his father on “I’m a Secret Lemonade Drinker” — or that of getting punched out by Delaney’s Bonnie for drunkenly dissing James Brown and Ray Charles. And it would also be my guess that there is no actual accidental murder, with hints of homophobia (even though, in this song, that’s how the story goes), no best friend from boyhood whose death lies lurking in the British songster’s closet. Yet here, perhaps, his pop lyric really does reach toward the founding confessions, and the founders, of the Catholic Church and the modern state. Whatever you think they’re guilty of, you don’t know the half of it. They locked me up here for the ideas in my head/They never got me for the thing I really did.
Ruminating on such potential remonstrations, we begin this issue with two master classes: Thomas Devaney’s “First Instrument,” guaranteed to give even the most flip hipsters pause, followed by Mark Jay Mirsky’s magisterial meditation on “Other people’s stories.” If, at the close of his tale, Mirsky’s nod to Dante — Quali i fanciulli, vergognando, muti . . . — doesn’t leave you gasping for breath, you’d best take his lesson twice. Stories by Ken Harvey and Nicholas Montemarano also plumb the register of remorse; taking silence as their subject, both writers show where social predicates and prejudice predict, and perhaps even determine, individual, human failings. Our poets may have the answer, though you’ll have to choose between the insurgency of Sarah Holland-Batt and the solace of Amy Dryansky. And when Peter Bush, fresh off his Ramon Llull award-winning translation of Josep Pla’s The Gray Notebook, regales us with a WWI sea story from the same author, its climactic scene, to this reader at least, bears comparison with the epic aftermath of the battle scene in Kurosawa’s Kagemusha. History does have a way of assuring we never leave it behind: here, in an Ilan Stavans translation, Raúl Zurita recalls the final minutes before Chile’s September 11th, and Myriam J.A. Chancy counts out in seconds the horror of the Haitian earthquake. The bold photography of LaToya Ruby Frazier responds with family values to our national shame, refusing to let it remain hidden. And with the permission of his parents, and help from Martín Espada, we are proud to publish an excerpt from the novel GlobalPost journalist James W. Foley wrote for his MFA degree from UMass, La lucha sigue.
When the theme is shame, one might assume that humor will be hard to find. Turn then to Thomas Israel Hopkins’s slyly funny tale of ’60s-era, prep-school, home-front hysteria. Or try sharing a tick quilt with Laura Willwerth’s bizarre, and familiar, family. Though definitely not on the lighter side, I should mention two other writers you likely haven’t yet read but certainly won’t forget. Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s tale of slave trafficking in Africa, like Allison Kade’s downtown horrorshow story of post-apocalypse, leave us left behind with their young protagonists, stunned and unsure how to go on. One answer, if there is an answer, would be to trust the elders: several short essays from Rafik Schami, ably rendered by Kristina Kalpaxis, offer both wit and wisdom aplenty, and certainly few stories could inspire us more than to learn of Tatiana Gnedich’s Russian translation of Byron’s Don Juan, done in prison, more than half of it miraculously from memory (as told by Efim Etkind, in a translation by Jane Bugaeva). Finally we leave you with a lovely lyric from Doug Anderson, blowing on coals to keep the flame alive.
So what then makes some confessions art, when most are self-indulgent, not to say selfish? If our Spring issue is any indication, the essential move may be a sort of bait and switch, or strip and tease. Though something somewhere interior appears on offer, what a real writer delivers is ultimately externalized, worldly. The Iraqi-American artist Wafaa Bilal puts it somewhat differently. When asked how he still manages, after surviving the first Gulf War, after enduring a refugee camp in Kuwait, after losing his brother and his father, not to mention just simply living as a Muslim artist in these Islamophobic States of America, Bilal comments that it really doesn’t matter what you’ve lived through. What matters is what you make of it.
First Instrument, a poem by Thomas Devaney
Other people’s stories . . . ? Why do you want them?,
a story by Mark Jay Mirsky
Artifact Hotel, a poem by Ted Mathys
One from Begur, a story by Josep Pla,
translated by Peter Bush
Last Minutes, a poem by Raul Zurita,
translated by Ilan Stavans
Provincetown and The Drowned Man,
poems by Alison Hawthorne Deming
Zapata Vive, La Lucha Sigue, a story by James W. Foley
Douze: Opening Pages,
a novel excerpt by Myriam J.A. Chancy
Palisades, a story by Allison Kade
Collected Olive Pitts from the Diaries of Strangers,
four stories by Rafik Schami,
translated by Kristina Kalpaxis
from The Notion of Family,
photographs by Latoya Ruby Frazier
Insurgency, a poem by Sarah Holland-Batt
Like Victorian Women and Angel and I are
both great pretenders, poems by Natalie Scenters-Zapico
Because the world has its own version of solace,
a poem by Amy Dryansky
The Boyfriend Experience, a story by Ken Harvey
Wyoming, a poem by Christopher Howell
Rome, a story by Nicholas Montemarano
Changing Shirts in the Car, a poem by Evan Beaty
Other Adam, a poem by John James
To the Women I Secretly Want, a poem by Marc Tretin
Always Ruining, a story by Laura Willwerth
This is a Test of the System,
a story by Thomas Israel Hopkins
Passeri, a poem by Matthew Miniucci
The Translator, an essay by Efin Etkind,
translated by Jane Bugaeva
The Train, a poem by Tsvetanka Elenkova,
translated by Jonathan Dunne
Aubades 1-4, poems by L. M. Myers
The Boy Who Would Be Oloye,
a story by Maurice Carlos Ruffin
One of Us Is Sleeping and Days in the Summerhouse,
stories by Josefine Klougart, translated by Alexander Weinstein
Seventy, a poem by Doug Anderson
Notes on Contributors
DOUG ANDERSON’s poetry has been published in Prairie Schooner, Poetry Ireland Review, Cimarron Review, and Stone Canoe. He is poet in residence at Fort Juniper, where he completed a new book, Horse Medicine. He teaches at Emerson College.
EVAN BEATY lives in San Antonio, Texas. His poems have most recently appeared in Southern Humanities Review, Cutbank, Hayden’s Ferry Review, and other journals.
JANE BUGAEVA emigrated to the United States from St. Petersburg. She worked with renowned Russian translator Robert Chandler through the British Centre for Literary Trans- lation’s Emerging Translator Mentorship Program. Her translations of Russian children’s literature can be found in BCLT’s First Lines and Cardinal Points. Her first book-length translation, Catlantis by Anna Starobinets, is forthcoming from Pushkin Press in 2015.
PETER BUSH is 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. His most recent translation is of The Gray Notebook by Josep Pla.
MYRIAM J.A, CHANCY, is a Haitian-Canadian/American writer/scholar. Her novel, The Loneliness of Angels, was awarded the 2011 Guyana Prize in Literature. She is the author of Framing Silence: Revolutionary Novels by Haitian Women, Searching for Safe Spaces: Afro-Caribbean Women Writers in Exile, The Scorpion’s Claw, and From Sugar to Revolution: Women’s Visions of Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Cuba.
ALISON HAWTHORNE DEMING is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Rope, and four books of nonfiction including Zoologies: On Animals and the Human Spirit. These poems are from a book in progress titled Stairway to Heaven. She is Agnese Nelms Haury Chair in Environment & Social Justice at the University of Arizona.
THOMAS DEVANEY is the author of five poetry collections, including Runaway Goat Cart, forthcoming from Hanging Loose in 2015, and The American Pragmatist Fell in Love. He is the 2014 recipient of a Pew Fellowship in the Arts and he teaches at Haverford College.
AMY DRYANKSY’s newest collection, Grass Whistle, was released in 2013 by Salmon Poetry, and won the Massachusetts Book Award for poetry. Her first book, How I Got Lost So Close to Home, was published by Alice James, and individual poems have appeared in a variety of anthologies and journals.
JONATHAN DUNNE has translated more than twenty books of poetry and fiction into English from Bulgarian, Catalan, Galician, and Spanish. He has translated Álvaro Colomer, Alicia Giménez-Bartlett, Manuel Rivas, and Enrique Vila-Matas. He has edited and translated a bilingual Anthology of Galician Literature as well as a supplement of Contemporary Galician Poets for Poetry Review . He is author of The DNA of the English Language and The Life of a Translator, and directs Small Stations Press.
TSVETANKA ELENKOVA is author of four poetry collections and two books of essays. Her latest poetry collections have appeared in English: The Seventh Gesture and Crookedness. She edited At the End of the World: Contemporary Poetry from Bulgaria. Her work has appeared in English in Absinthe, Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry Review, and others. She has translated into Bulgarian poetry by Raymond Carver, Rosalía de Castro, Lois Pereiro, and others. She is editorial director of Small Stations Press.
EFIM ETKIND (1918–1999) was born in Petrograd. He was a language scholar, literary historian, translator of European poetry, and translation theorist. In 1964, he testified in defense of Joseph Brodsky. Later, he openly supported Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn and helped him in his work. By 1974, he was barred from the Soviet Writers’ Union, stripped of his aca- demic degrees, and forced to emigrate to France. He settled in Paris and was a professor at the University of Nanterre Paris X from 1974 to 1986. During perestroika, Etkind’s academic degrees were reinstated, he often returned to Russia, and his work was pub- lished in Russian publications.
LATOYA RUBY FRAZIER is assistant professor of photography at the Art Institute of Chi- cago. She lectures at institutions around the world, including the International Center of Photography; Columbia University School of the Arts; Freie Universitat Berlin; and Tate Modern, London. Frazier’s work is exhibited widely, with solo exhibitions at Brooklyn Museum; Seattle Art Museum; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; and Contempo- rary Arts Museum Houston. She has received awards from the Creative Capital Foundation, the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, and Art Matters, and was recently awarded a Guggenheim fellowship.
KEN HARVEY is the author of two books, If You Were With Me Everything Would Be All Right: Stories and A Passionate Engagement: A Memoir. His work has appeared in River Styx, Cimarron Review, Nebraska Review, Buenos Aires Review, and a previous story in the Massachusetts Review. He has also read his work on NPR. He is the recipient of a fiction grant from the Massa- chusetts Artist Foundation, and holds an MFA from the Bennington Writing Seminars.
SARAH HOLLAND-BATT’s first book, Aria, won several major Australian literary prizes, including the Arts A.C.T. Judith Wright Prize and the Anne Elder Award. She holds an MFA from NYU, where she was the W. G. Walker Memorial Fulbright Scholar.
THOMAS ISRAEL HOPKINS lives in Northampton, Massachusetts. His stories have been published in BOMB, Fence, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, Cincinnati Review, and One Story, among other places. He has written for Bookforum, Tablet, and Poets & Writers.
CHRISTOPHER HOWELL has published ten collections of poems, most recently Gaze and Dreamless and Possible: Poems New & Selected. Recent work may be found in Field, Miramar, Pleiades, and the Gettysburg Review. He teaches at Eastern Washington University’s Inland NW Center for Writers in Spokane, where he is director of Willow Springs Editions and director of Lynx House Press, founded in Amherst with David Lyon, Helena Minton, and Robert Abel in 1975.
JOHN JAMES is an assistant editor at Phantom Limb Press and teaches at Bellarmine University in Louisville His work has appeared or is forthcoming in the Boston Review, Kenyon Review, Gulf Coast, and Hayden’s Ferry Review, Best New Poets 2013. He holds an MFA in poetry from Columbia University, where he received an Academy of American Poets Prize.
ALLISON KADE is a freelance writer living in Brooklyn. Her fiction has appeared in publications including Annalemma, Fractured West, Underground Voices, and The Huffington Post. Her nonfiction has appeared in Travel & Leisure, Consumers Digest, Real Simple, Forbes, Boing Boing, Business Insider, and others.
KRISTINA KALPAXIS is currently completing an MFA in German translation at Queens College in New York City.
JOSEFINE KLOUGART made her literary debut with the novel Stigninger og fald (Rise and Fall), which was nominated for the Nordic Council Literature Prize in 2010 and won the Danish Royal Prize for Culture. Her second novel, Hallerne (The Halls) was adapted for the stage at Aarhus Theatre. Klougart is also the author of Én af os sover (One of us is sleeping), and her most recent novel, On Darkness, was nominated for two major literary prizes in Denmark. Klougart’s translations have appeared in Salamander, Conduit, Fjords and World Literature Today. She is the editor of the literary journal Den Blå Port (“The Blue Gate”).
TED MATHYS is the author of three books of poetry: Null Set, forthcoming from Coffee House Press in 2015, The Spoils, and Forge. He has received fellowships and awards from the National Endowment for the Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, and Poetry Society of America. He teaches at Saint Louis University and co-curates the Fort Gondo Compound for the Arts Poetry Series.
MATTHEW MINICUCCI is the author of the chapbook Reliquary. His work has appeared in or is forthcoming Cincinnati Review, Crazyhorse, Gettysburg Review, Kenyon Review, Southern Review, and West Branch, among others. He has also been featured on Verse Daily. He teaches writing at the University of Illinois at Urbana/Champaign.
MARK JAY MIRSKY was born on Boston’s Blue Hill Avenue, the title of his third novel. Two novels preceded it, Thou Worm Jacob and Proceedings of the Rabble. His novel The Red Adam was set in a mythical town of ghostly Kabbalists and descendents of Jonathan Ed- wards. Editor of the magazine Fiction since its founding in 1972, and professor of English at the City College of New York, he has published thirteen books.
NICHOLAS MONTEMARANO’s latest novel is The Book of Why. His short stories have appeared in Esquire, Zoetrope: All-Story, Tin House, Pushcart, and elsewhere. He teaches at Franklin & Marshall College.
Poems and essays by L.M. MYERS have appeared or are forthcoming in Tule Review, Shadowgraph Magazine, and The Collagist. She currently lives in Napa, California.
JOSEP PLA (1897–1981) was born in Palafru- gell, Spain. He studied law in Barcelona, abandoned law for journalism, and in 1920 moved to Paris as the correspondent for the Spanish newspaper La Publicidad. Banned from Spain in 1924 for his criticisms of the dictator Primo de Rivera, Pla continued to report from Russia, Rome, Berlin, and Lon- don, before returning to Madrid in 1927. He supported the Spanish Republic, but left the country during the Civil War, returning in 1939. After 1947 his work began to be published in Catalan, and his complete works were published in full in 1966.
MAURICE CARLOS RUFFIN is a graduate of the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop and a member of the Peauxdunque Writers Alliance and the Melanated Writers Collective. His work has appeared in Redivider, the Apalachee Review, and Unfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas. He is winner of the 2014 Iowa Review Fiction Award, the 2014 So to Speak Journal Short Story Award, and the 2014 William Faulkner Competition for Novel-in-Progress.
NATALIE SCENTERS-ZAPICO is from the sis- ter cities of El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. Her debut poetry collection, The Verging Cities, is forthcoming from the Center for Literary Publishing in 2015. Her poems have appeared in The Believer, Prairie Schooner, American Poets, and more.
RAFIK SCHAMI is a Syrian author and critic who has been living in exile in Germany for the past forty years. His last novel, The Dark Side of Love, was called “the first Great Syrian Novel” by Pakistan’s oldest English newspaper. Schami recently founded Swallow Editions to publish Arab writers in English.
ILAN STAVANS is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. Among his recent translations are The Underdogs, by Mariano Azuela (with Anna More) and The Plain in Flames, by Juan Rulfo (with Harold Augenbraum). He is the editor of The FSG Book of Twentieth-Century Latin American Poetry and All the Odes of Pablo Neruda.
MARC TRETIN is a retired attorney. His work is forthcoming in the New York Quarterly, and has appeared in Painted Bride and Solstice.
ALEXANDER WEINSTEIN is Director of the Martha’s Vineyard Institute of Creative Writing. His fiction and translations have appeared in Cream City Review, Pleiades, PRISM International, World Literature Today, and other journals. His fiction has been awarded the Lamar York Prize, the Gail Crump Prize, and appears in the anthology 2013 New Stories from the Midwest. He is a professor of Creative Writing at Siena Heights University, and a lecturer at the University of Michigan.
LAURA WILLWERTH studies fiction in the MFA program for poets and writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
RAÚL ZURITA won Chile’s National Lit- erature Prize. The poem in this issue, “Last Minutes,” is part of the book Zurita (Editorial Diego Portales, 2011). He co-edited, with Forrest Gander, the anthology Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America.