Front Cover by Ayana V Jackson
He Who is as if Death Were Not, 2016.
Courtesy of the artist and Gallery MOMO.Order a copy now
Front Cover by Ayana V Jackson
He Who is as if Death Were Not, 2016.
Courtesy of the artist and Gallery MOMO.Order a copy now
THESE DAYS the streets of Rome fill with rubbish, more or less daily. At times its present makes one wonder whether the Eternal City even has a future. A few years ago an Italian archaeologist and art historian published a study provocatively titled If Venice Dies, and just the other day one of our favorite Roman authors, Igiaba Scego, commented that she’s been thinking of writing a companion volume to that work, about her hometown. As for me, having had the good fortune to hang out in this storied city for the past month, my thoughts are increasingly focused on the relation between, on the one hand, our harried, hurried present—where crisis is no temporary state and stress has become routine—and, on the other, those layers and layers of sites and situations underfoot, history sliding wordlessly down into prehistory, stones and bones, under the soil or under ashes. Ancient footprints are everywhere.
In this year’s back-to-school issue, we’ve got more lessons than you can imagine, histories you’ve always sensed but never had a chance to hear. Not surprisingly, poets have the clearest sense—and often offer a synchronic slice—of such matters. Carl Phillips, for example, reminds us that light can’t logically be cast by shipwrecks, all the while inviting his readers to imagine it otherwise. So do spend your share of hours inside the Colosseum. Elsewhere Leila Chatti gives us something of a crime scene as painted by Caravaggio, whereas Filippo Naitana, in Ann Lauinger’s translation, envisions Adam himself, apple in hand, caught between two cities, one in rubble, the other an eternal remove. Joan Houlihan, in her meditation on final things, gives us a title that might also have been coined in reference to the photographic meditations of Ayana V Jackson, also featured in this issue. Hands trace air, indeed.
Archaeology, I’ve come to find, is no longer confined to the distant past. Yasmin Yildiz has brought us a stunner of a story by Meneks¸e Toprak, a tale that blends Turkish immigrant and Holocaust experience within a single, multidirectional history. We have Krzysztof Rowin´ski to thank for an equally impactful excavation: two interviews from the seventies by the Polish journalist Krzysztof Ka¸kolewski, never before published in English. Ka¸kolewski, in a collection given the disarmingly appropriate 401 title How Have You Been, Sir?, confronted Nazis who were then living peacefully in Germany, having been acquitted by the German courts. In our pages, you’ll find his conversations with Hans Fleischhacker, a professor of anthopology still conducting genetic research at Frankfurt’s Goethe University as well as Ka¸kolewski’s interrogation of Heinz Reinefarth, the German SS commander during the Warsaw uprising. The crimes of state that sent Václav Havel to prison are more recent; in this issue, his brother Ivan remembers those years, as well as the resistance of intellectuals that continued nonetheless. As for the dark times we face today, Bruce and JuChan Fulton bring us a story by Hwang Cho˘ng-u˘n about a gay man’s isolation in contemporary Korea, and J. Malcolm Garcia tells the tale of Rosa Robles Loreto, a woman forced to live in sanctuary in Tucson, because the country she calls home threatens to expel her. To tell the tale of our time, however, sometimes you need to go way back. Jim Walke, as one illustration of the horror this country calls health care, offers an avatar of Simeon Stylites, the Syrian ascetic who spent much of his life living atop a pillar.
Strangeness of this sort, and much that is stranger still, is the subject of Catherine Chin’s marvelous essay on the marvels of history. Even if we, like Chin, don’t necessarily believe that “the now-extinct European aurochs [. . .] defended itself by squirting burning shit at hunting dogs twenty-four feet away,” that doesn’t mean such accounts have nothing to tell us—or that they’re not just plain fun. Dark as these times may be, we do still manage to find wonder, comfort, and humor in our world and in these pages. Don’t, for example, pass up your chance to spend some time with “The Rabbi’s Cat” by Miljenko Jergovic´ (translated by Aleksandar Brezar). And definitely don’t miss Teresa Solana’s “Premiere Nights” (translated by Peter Bush). Though certainly buffo, this is clearly no tale for opera buffs; instead, as some of us like to say out here in the Bay State, it’s anti-Fascist, and wicked fun. Who knows, maybe someday everything is going to be smooth, like a rhapsody.
In the meantime, we’ll just keep painting.
Craft and Vision, a poem by Carl Phillips
Celan’s Deathfugue and the Eternal Feminine,
an essay by Alicia Ostriker
How Have You Been, Sir?,
two essays by Krzysztof Kąkolewski,
translated by Krzysztof Rowinski
The Letter in the Suitcase, a story by Menekse Toprak,
with an introduction and translated by Yasemin Yildiz
Cosmogony of Shame (Cosmogonia del pudore),
a poem by Filippo Naitana,
translated by Ann Lauinger
Conversations across the Prison Wall.
Islands of Freedom and the Dawn of Democracy,
an essay by Ivan M. Havel
No Overtime, an essay by J. Malcolm Garcia
Still Life with Hemorrhage, a poem by Leila Chatti
To Kill or Allow to Live, art by Ayana V Jackson
The Rabbi’s Cat, a story by Miljenko Jergović,
translated by Aleksandar Brezar
Hands Trace Air, a poem by Joan Houlihan
Marvelous Things Heard.
On Finding Historical Radiance,
an essay by Catherine Chin
Thirteen Theories on the Better Understanding of Birds
of Eligible Age, a poem by Berta García Faet,
translated by Kelsi Vanada
Urban Menagerie, a poem by Matt Morton
Closure, a poem by John Sibley Williams
Antioch, a story by Jim Walke
Coffee Cantata, a poem by Slavko Mihalić,
translated by Dasha C. Nisula
Pat’s, Geno’s, a story by Michael Deagler
Night of the Full Moon, a poem by Shen Haobo,
translated by Liang Yujing
Pilgrimage, a poem by Kimberly Kruge
When I Find the Ark, a poem by Paige Lewis
The God Girl, a story by Jacqueline Schaalje
The Bone Thief, a story by Hwang Chong-un,
translated by Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton
Summer Rain, a poem by Bruce Smith
What Color, a poem by Elizabeth O’Brien
Premiere Nights, a story by Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush
Notes on Contributors
ALEKSANDAR BREZAR was born and lives in Sarajevo. 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, Brooklyn Rail, Protest.ba, PešCanik, and Lupiga.
PETER BUSH’s translation of Uncertain Glory by Joan Sales will be published by the New York Review of Books in October 2017, and Archipelago will bring out his translation of Josep Pla’s Salt Water in 2018. Biblioasis published his Black Bread by Emili Teixidor in 2016 and in 2018 will bring out his Book Stores by Jorge Carrion. He recently taught at the NEH “Gained in Translation” Summer School at Kent State and was Catalan mentor for the Writers’ Center in Norwich mentorship program.
LEILA CHATTI is a Tunisian-American poet. The recipient of a scholarship from the Tin House Writers’ Workshop and prizes from Ploughshares’ Emerging Writers Contest, Narrative Magazine’s 30 Below Contest and 8th Annual Poetry Contest, and the Academy of American Poets, her poems appear in Best New Poets, Ploughshares, Tin House, Narrative, Georgia Review, Missouri Review, Rumpus, and elsewhere. She lives in Provincetown, MA, where she is a writing fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center.
CATHERINE CHIN is a writer and historian based in Sacramento. She teaches in the Classics program at the University of California at Davis.
HWANG CHŎNG-ŬN is the author of three novels and three volumes of short fiction. She has received half a dozen literary awards, most recently the Daesan Literature Prize for her 2014 novel Kyesok haebogessŭmnida (All the Way). She appears in English translation in Azalea 10 (2017). “The Bone Thief” (Ppyŏ toduk) was first published in Munhak sasang (Literature and Thought) in May 2011 and was reprinted in her 2012 story collection P’a-sshi ŭi immun.
MICHAEL DEAGLER’s fiction has appeared in Glimmer Train, Kenyon Review Online, New England Review, Electric Literature’s Recommended Reading, and elsewhere. He is a 2016–2017 fiction fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, MA.
BERTA GARCÍA FAET was born in Valencia, Spain. She lives in Providence, RI, where she is getting her PhD in Hispanic Studies at Brown University. She is the author of La edad de merecer, Fresa y herida, Introducción a todo, Night club para alumnas aplicadas, and Manojo de abominaciones.
BRUCE and JU-CHAN FULTON are the translators of numerous volumes of modern Korean fiction — most recently The Future of Silence: Fiction by Korean Women and The Human Jungle by Cho Chŏngnae — as well as the graphic novel Moss by Yoon Taeho (serialized at the Huffington Post). Among the Fultons’ awards and fellowships are two U.S. National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships (including the first-ever awarded for a Korean project), the Chametzky Prize for Translation from the Massachusetts Review, and a residency at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre, the first awarded for translators from any Asian language.
J. MALCOLM GARCIA is a freelance writer and author of The Khaarijee: A Chronicle of Friendship and War in Kabul and What Wars Leave Behind: The Faceless and the Forgotten. He is a recipient of the Studs Terkel Prize for writing about the working classes, and the Sigma Delta Chi Award for excellence in journalism. His work has been anthologized in Best American Travel Writing, Best American Essays, and Best American Nonrequired Reading. His book Without a Country: The Untold Story of America’s Deported Veterans was published in September 2017.
SHEN HAOBO, is considered one of the most controversial voices among the new generation of Chinese poets for being both wickedly erotic and politically satirical in his poetry. His first collection, Great Evil in the Heart, was banned and he went abroad for a few months to escape arrest. As the leading poet of the Lower Body Group, he is the author of four poetry collections. He is currently based in Beijing, running his own publishing company, Xiron, the largest private one in China.
IVAN M. HAVEL graduated in 1966 from the Czech Technical University in Prague. From 1969 to 1971, he attended the University of California at Berkeley, earning his PhD in computer science. For several years, he worked as a research scientist with the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences. Before the Communist regime collapsed in late 1989, Havel hosted dissident discussion groups in Prague and cooperated with samizdat (underground) publications. The author of several books and numerous essays, he is presently associate professor at Charles University and the past director of the Center for Theoretical Study, an international cross-disciplinary institution affiliated with Charles University and the Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic in Prague.
JOAN HOULIHAN is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Ay. Her poetry has been anthologized in The Iowa Anthology of New American Poetries and The Book of Irish-American Poetry–Eighteenth Century to Present. She is a contributing critic for the Contemporary Poetry Review and author of a series of essays on contemporary American poetry. She currently teaches in the Lesley University Low-Residency MFA Program and Clark University in Worcester, MA. Houlihan is founder and director of the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conference.
AYANA V JACKSON’s work seeks to crystallize the experience of contemporary Africa and African diasporic societies. Based between Johannesburg, New York, and Paris, Jackson has exhibited her work at the Studio Museum in Harlem, the San Francisco Mexican Museum, Museum of Contemporary African Diaspora Art, and the Philadelphia African American Museum, as well as Gallery MOMO (Johannesburg), Galerie Baudoin Lebon, (Paris), Primo Marella Gallery (Milan), and Galerie Sho Contemporary (Tokyo). She received the 2014 New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship for Photography and grants from the Marguerite Casey Foundation, Inter America Foundation, US State Department and the French Institute.
MILJENKO JERGOVIĆ was born in Sarajevo and lives in Zagreb. His beautifully crafted collection of stories Sarajevo Marlboro was one of the most widely translated and acclaimed works to come out of the recent war in Bosnia. He is the author of numerous works of fiction, poetry, and drama, including Karivani, Buick Riviera, and Kažeš anđjeo; he also writes a regular column for the Croatian newspaper Jutarnji list.
KRZYSZTOF KĄKOLEWSKI (1930–2015) was a journalist, writer, and mentor to many generations of Polish journalists. Known for his genre-defining approach to reportage, he published over thirty books, including several novels. In addition to How Have You Been, Sir? (1975), his best-known works include Jak umierają nieśmiertelni (How the Immortal Die), a book describing, among other incidents, the murder of Sharon Tate, and Wańkowicz krzepi (Wan´kowicz Invigorates), a long-form interview with Melchior Wan´kowicz, perhaps the most important figure of the Polish tradition of reportage. How Have You Been, Sir? is a collection of interviews conducted with former Nazi officials living in the early 1970s in West Germany and the United States. A highly controversial book upon its publication, mostly because of what some saw as the humanizing of war criminals, How Have You Been, Sir? has been immensely popular with readers and was republished five times in Poland.
KIMBERLY KRUGE is a poet and translator based in Mexico. Her recent and forthcoming publications include poems in Ploughshares, Iowa Review, Copper Nickel, Missouri Review, and others.
ANDREW LASS was born in New York City and grew up in Prague, where he also received his undergraduate degree at Charles University. A scholar, poet, fine-art photographer, graphic artist, and translator, he is the Ford Foundation Professor of Anthropology at Mount Holyoke College. He is the 2014 recipient of the Václav Havel VIZE 97 Award.
ANN LAUINGER’s two books of poetry are Persuasions of Fall, winner of the Agha Shahid Ali Prize in Poetry, and Against Butterflies. Her poems have appeared in publications such as Cumberland River Review, Georgia Review, and Parnassus, and have been featured on Poetry Daily and Verse Daily. She is a member of the literature faculty at Sarah Lawrence College.
PAIGE LEWIS is the 2016 recipient of The Florida Review Editors’ Award in Poetry, and has poems forthcoming in Ploughshares, Colorado Review, Poetry Northwest, and elsewhere.
SLAVKO MIHALIĆ (1928–2007) was one of the giants in Croatian literature of the twentieth century. He published his first book of poetry, Komorna Muzika (Chamber Music) in 1954. He worked as an anthologist, publisher, editor, critic, authored over twenty books of poetry, and established several literary journals. Mihalić is a recipient of numerous literary awards, among them Tin Ujevic´, City of Zagreb, Matica Hrvatska, Miroslav Krlez˘a, Goranov Vjenac, Vladimir Nazor, and others.
MATT MORTON’s poetry appears in Crazyhorse, Gulf Coast, Harvard Review, Tin House Online, and elsewhere. He has received the Sycamore Review Wabash Prize for Poetry and scholarships from the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the Sewanee Writers’ Conference. He serves as associate editor for 32 Poems and is a Robert B. Toulouse Doctoral Fellow in English at the University of North Texas.
FILLIPPO NAITANA grew up in Oristano, Italy. He lives in Hamden, CT, where he teaches Italian language and literature at Quinnipiac University.
DASHA C. NISULA is a professor at Western Michigan University, teaching Russian and Croatian languages, literature, and culture. She is author of four books, and her work has appeared in An Anthology of South Slavic Literatures, Modern Poetry in Translation, Southwestern Review, and Colorado Review, among others. A member of the American Literary Translators Association, she lives in Kalamazoo, MI.
ELIZABETH O’BRIEN lives in Minneapolis, MN, where she earned an MFA in Poetry at the University of Minnesota. Her work —poetry and prose — has appeared in many journals, including New England Review, Rumpus, Diagram, Sixth Finch, Radar Poetry, PANK, Cicada, and the Ploughshares blog. Her chapbook, A Secret History of World Wide Outage, is forthcoming from Diode Editions.
Twice nominated for a National Book Award, ALICIA OSTRIKER is author of twelve volumes of poetry, most recently The Book of Seventy, which won the Jewish Book Award for Poetry. Ostriker is the author of Writing Like a Woman and Stealing the Language: The Emergence of Women’s Poetry in America and several books on the Bible. Her poems have appeared in The New Yorker, Paris Review, Antaeus, The Nation, Poetry, American Poetry Review, Kenyon Review, Atlantic, MS, Tikkun, and many other journals, and have been widely anthologized. Her poetry and essays have been translated into French, German, Italian, Chinese, Japanese, Hebrew, and Arabic.
CARL PHILLIPS teaches at Washington University in St. Louis. His new book of poems, Wild Is the Wind, will appear from Farrar, Straus and Giroux in 2018.
KRZYSZTOF ROWIŃSKI is a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. He has an MA in American Studies and a BA in English from the University of Warsaw, and he spent a year at the JFK Institute for North America at the Free University of Berlin. He is writing his dissertation on representations and discourses of failure in twentieth-century American, Italian, and Polish literature, film, and performance.
JACQUELINE SCHAALJE was born in the Netherlands. She published articles in many magazines in the Netherlands, the US, and UK; worked as a linguist and dictionary writer; and ended up living in Israel, where she tutors English and Dutch, and writes. She has an MA in English from the University of Amsterdam, and went to the Southampton Writers Conference last summer to work on a novel. Her stories have appeared in On the Premises and MayDay.
SUSANNAH SHEFFER’s poetry chapbook, This Kind of Knowing, was published by Cooper Dillon Books in 2013, and other poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Barrow Street, The Examined Life, and Bear River Review. She works with people who have experienced various kinds of trauma, and her book Fighting for Their Lives: Inside the Experience of Capital Defense Attorneys was published by Vanderbilt University Press in 2013. She lives in Sunderland, MA.
BRUCE SMITH is the author of six books of poems, most recently, Devotions, a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the LA Times Book Award, and the winner of the William Carlos Williams Prize.
TERESA SOLANA studied Philosophy and Classics at Barcelona University. She has worked as a literary translator and directed the Spanish National Translation Centre in Tarazona. Since 2006 she has published five novels, a series of six children’s stories, and two books of stories for adults. She is translated into English, Esperanto, French, German, Italian, Romanian, and Spanish. A Not So Perfect Crime won the 2007 Brigada 21 Prize for best Catalan noir of the year, and her recent story collection, Gray Matter, won the 2017 Roc Boronat Prize. Bitter Lemon will publish her stories in 2018, translated by Peter Bush.
MENEKŞE TOPRAK is a writer, translator, and radio journalist based in Istanbul and Berlin. She is the author of the story collections Valizdeki Mektup (The Letter in the Suitcase, 2007) and Hangi Dildedir As¸k (What Language Does Love Speak, 2009) as well as the novels Temmuz Çocukları (July Children, 2011) and Agˇıtın Sonu (The End of the Elegy, 2014). Regularly contributing literary and cultural essays as well as radio features to journals and stations in both Turkey and Germany, Toprak has also translated contemporary German literature into Turkish and edited volumes of Turkish literature for German publication. In 2015, she received the Duygu Asena Novel Award and in 2016 was a writing fellow at Civitella Ranieri in Italy Her work has been translated from Turkish into German, French, and English.
KELSI VANADA is poet and translator from Denver. A graduate student in the MFA program in Literary Translation at the University of Iowa, she received her MFA in Creative Writing (Poetry) from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop in May 2016. She translates Spanish and Scandinavian poetry. Recent poems and translations have appeared in Asymptote, New Delta Review, and Prelude.
JIM WALKE is thrilled to be back in Michigan, where he belongs, after a decade in the sweaty South. His work has appeared previously in the Massachusetts Review and was also recently included in Winesburg, Indiana. His only tangible goal this year is to walk his dog Kipling 1,200 miles on the trails and paths and lovely streets of Ann Arbor.
JOHN SIBLEY WILLIAMS is the editor of two Northwest poetry anthologies and the author of nine collections, including Disinheritance and Controlled Hallucinations. A five-time Pushcart nominee and winner of the Philip Booth Award, American Literary Review Poetry Contest, Nancy D. Hargrove Editors’ Prize, Confrontation Poetry Prize, and Vallum Award for Poetry, John serves as editor of the Inflectionist Review and works as a literary agent. Previous publishing credits include: The Midwest Quarterly, Poet Lore, Columbia Poetry Review, MidAmerican Review, Third Coast, Baltimore Review, Nimrod, RHINO, and various anthologies. He lives in Portland.
YASEMIN YILDIZ teaches German and Comparative Literature at UCLA. She is the author of the award-winning study Beyond the Mother Tongue: The Postmonolingual Condition (2012) and the recipient of the 2016 DAAD Prize for Distinguished Scholarship in German and European Studies. Together with her co-author Michael Rothberg, she is currently completing a book on Turkish-German writers’, artists’, and activists’ innovative memory work related to the Holocaust and National Socialism, tentatively titled Inheritance Trouble.
LIANG YUJING grew up in China and is currently a PhD candidate at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand. His poems and translations have appeared in a number of magazines across the world, including Modern Poetry in Translation and Boston Review. He is the Chinese translator of Best New Zealand Poems 2014. His forthcoming books of translation include What Do Women Want: Poems by Kim Addonizio (in China) and Zero Distance: New Poetry from China.