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Introduction

“TO DWELL IN A MYTH is to dwell in a prison.” It takes a few paragraphs, but eventually that’s how Mahmoud Darwish boils it down, in an interview published in these pages, translated by Amira El-Zein and Carolyn Forché. Myths are prisonhouses; if they don’t fall, they make us dream, as Darwish did, of breaking out. For young writers in the United States, such words may seem strange, coming from a poet whose words express the dreams of an entire nation. In this country, the number of creative writing programs continues to mushroom at a rate most often found in Ponzi or pyramid schemes, with thousands of young writers each year earning their M.F.A.s and Ph.Ds. Their dream is to break in, not out. For some, Darwish may already be a central figure in their personal pantheon, even if they’ve never visited a country where poets draw rock star–sized crowds, much less lived or grown up in one. Though he is also central to ours, we’d still think...

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poetry

(siege)

Baiba Bičole, translated by Bitite Vinklers

fiction

The Sea

Silvina Ocampo, translated by Suzanne Jill Levine and Katie Lateef-Jan

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“We are the heirs of a legacy of creative protest [...] the teachings of Thoreau are alive today, indeed, they are more alive today than ever before.”

—REV. MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. (MR 4.1, Autumn 1962)

From the Blog

Our America

The Kids are Right

- By The Editors

(Hamburg, Germany. Early estimates report over 50,000 protesters today, participating in the Global Climate Strike.)

In a recent, as yet unpublished work, the Italian writer and activist Erri De Luca salutes the youth of today and welcomes the rise and return of a generation of activists: "Today’s youth know the risks they run, but they also know, with greater force and reason, the avalanche of accumulated ruin hanging over them. They know it’s there, perched on the slope above them, ready to fall with the next increase in temperature. For this reason, the vocal chord of a collective prophet vibrates through them."

When it comes to the environment devastion we've wrought, the crimes of my own and all previous generations are unpardonable. And yet...


10 Questions

10 Questions for Robert Evory

- By Catherine Fox

“My dream awakens after sleep. I cannot swear
these are my hands. The night is probing the air
for bodies asking a little grace from the watery moon.”
—from “Trying to Pray,” Volume 60, Issue 2 (Summer 2019)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
As an undergraduate I took a class with Mary Ruefle. On the first day of class she asked a similar question and requested we bring in that early poem. I brought one in that used an image of a fly as an extended metaphor for love or being jaded about relationships or something. The point of the exercise was to note how our vocabulary and subject matter has changed from the time of our first poem. Many years later, when I got married, I realized...


10 Questions

9 Questions for Adam J. Sorkin

- By Christin Howard

“When I shook hands with him
his hand remained in my hand
that’s how he is, generous, I told myself
 as I tried to get rid of his warm hand
that grasped my own ever more tightly” —From "Two Snails Stuck to My Cheeks," by Matei Visniec, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Lidia Vianu, Summer 2019 (Vol. 60, Issue 2)

 

Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated.
I never imagined myself a translator...


Favorite Things

Don’t Call African-American Theatre Black Theatre: It’s Like Calling a Dog a Cat

- By Dominic Taylor

(Wadsworth Jarrell, Heritage (1973), The Cleveland Museum of Art. With kind permission of the artist.)
 

I’ve been trying to find a way to frame an idea, and I believe my somewhat pithy title above basically catches it.

When social upheavals occur, people do many things to find solace, including looking to pets for comfort. What is true of pets will also help us understand certain recent cultural phenomena. In short, what I have in mind is not just an assessment involving nomenclature or semantics; I’m thinking about what a work of art or entertainment fundamentally is. Dogs and cats are both contemporary domestic animals, yet anyone who has had either can attest to the fact that they are very different life forms.

With the election of the...


10 Questions

10 Questions for Lidia Vianu

- By Christin Howard

“it’s true that we’d been very close
but never did I imagine that
I’d see him flayed right before my eyes
with his heart tumbling down to my feet
just because we were going to say goodbye” —From "Two Snails Stuck to My Cheek," by Matei Visniec, translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Lidia Vianu, Summer 2019 (Vol. 60, Issue 2)

 Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated.
It was Joyce Carol Oates, followed by Joseph Conrad, Mirror of the Sea.

The former was—miraculously, for communist times in Romania—published in our then best world literature magazine. It was my one-time publication before 1990.  The latter took some twenty years to go to print...


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