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Date: 01/19/2017
Amal Zaman

"What little that's rooted must arise.
Like, who plants in cups except kids?

Enter the forest. The forest will eat you,
men in balaclavas who haven't read Marx.

And so on, including the starry skies.
You've seen a sieve? Explosions unto mesh.
--from "Vegetables" which appears in the Fall 2016 issue (Volume 57, Issue 3).

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?

I feel in dialogue with quite a number of contemporaries – Maureen Seaton, Stephanie Strickland, Brenda Hillman, Mac Wellman, Thylias Moss.

What other professions have you worked in?

I've sold pretzels on the street and I've produced a documentary series for PBS.

What did you want to be when you were young?...

Date: 01/17/2017
Amal Zaman

The earth too is a magic coach, my dear,
look at the flocks of elves that pull it
down dark virgin forests of the universe,
and a witch or two, it's known, would like to diverge it
into a coy ditch, in a passionate embrace.

--from "Mozart's Magic Coach" which appears in the Winter 2016 issue (Volume 57, Issue 4).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated

The first pieces of poetry that I translated were poems by a Croatian poet Vesna Parun. I had been teaching Croatian at the University of Southern California and was looking for literary pieces that might be of interest to students.  It was when I translated the poem “You With Hands More Innocent” that I decided I had to translate more of her poetry into English.  This process led to a...

Date: 01/13/2017
Amal Zaman

"The flute, the sackbut, the dulcimer
in the rooms of the dying. The harp,
the cornet, the psaltery. The look..."

from "Music from a Farther Room" which appears in the Winter 2016 issue (Volume 57, Issue 4).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written

I remember being twenty-one or twenty-two and writing a poem on Christmas Eve in my basement bedroom in my parents’ home in Rhode Island. Confused, half-drunk, and dating an eighteen-year-old girl who had a six-month-old baby, I found myself scribbling lines that were remarkably hopeful and nostalgic. What became of that poem and that young...

Date: 01/10/2017
Amal Zaman

"these hands, their roughness
            if you tell me what to swallow, I'll do it

                        sheathed in ice, brittle as glass
another kind of groping in the dark

            a blue note fills the room
                        climb on top, again and again..."

—from "Goldberg Variations" which appears in the Winter 2016 issue (Volume 57, Issue 4).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written

In4th grade I wrote a poem about sitting in a treehouse in the woods with my hair the color of corn. Looking back, the images weren’t as fully-realized as they could have been.

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?

The summer before I started graduate school, my friend Jacques Rancourt loaned me his...

Date: 01/09/2017
Michael Thurston

Soupault, Philippe. Lost Profiles: Memoirs of Cubism, Dada, and Surrealism. Translated by Alan Bernheimer. City Lights. xiv + 99 pp. ISBN: 978-0-87286-727-7. Paper. $13.95.

Daive, Jean. White Decimal. Translated by Norma Cole. Omnidawn. 144 pp. ISBN: 978-1-63243-028-1. Paper. $11.95.

Collage, agglomeration, accumulation and declamation, les memes as no more than memes. As the late twentieth-century poet Pete Shelley put it, “noise annoys.” Call this the dominant trend in experimental writing in French up to around 1940, the writing that sought, sometimes,...

Date: 01/07/2017
Joshua L. Ishmon

Scott Olson/Getty Images

The summer of 2016 was filled with the deepest sense of empathy I had ever experienced. Sadly, I had considered myself almost numb to the constant tragedies permeating my community and the communities of people dear to me, but in the cases of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile as well as the Pulse massacre, my spirit was heavy with grief and frustration. The dance studio afforded me the space to share and cope, to create work that—one hopes—will allow others to do the same.

I needed to respond to these tragedies devastating my community. What does equality look like? What is the meaning of freedom? How do we resist? In a world that tries to make us something other, not men. . .

“Don’t give yourself to these unnatural men! Machine men, with machine minds and machine...

Date: 01/05/2017
Benjamin Franklin

(Portrait by Joseph Duplessis;, Public Domain,

Over the past year or so, events in the United States of America, a country in which, as you know, I myself have no small interest, have made it increasingly difficult for those of us who are, shall we say, permanently retired from active duty, to remain so. The recent controversy regarding a book contract, one, which purportedly includes a truly outrageous advance sum of money, proffered to a certain notorious abuser of the public good and trust, has made it impossible for me, as a dedicated public servant, to remain silent any longer. On this issue, I long ago made my own sentiments, and my own practice, clear, so let me indulge myself here by simply...

Date: 01/04/2017
Erri De Luca

I begin the year as a reader of poets. In the second book of the Illiad one reads for more than two hundred and fifty lines the precise listing of those present in the Greek army. This section is called the catalogue of ships, for Homer also wanted to be a historian. Such is the added task poetry gives itself.

Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare, and Pushkin prove this, as does Borges in his poem entitled “South.”

I read verses instead of history books, and from them I extract information impossible to find in treatises or chronicles.

From Lorca I learned of the tragic, rigged contest between man and beast, from Dylan Thomas of the bombing of London, from Hikmet the fiber necessary for a prisoner, from Neruda the share for a man locked in, with the Andian Cordillera at his back and the vast ocean before him, from Whitman the rural pace of history, from Sarajlić the loyalty of a citizen under siege, and from Katzenelson the force for translating slaughter...

Date: 01/02/2017
Amal Zaman

Photo by Howard Romero

It took time and travel to understand
how the word father sings to me in all
languages — I want daddy, but father-abuser crosses
the notes or keys I believe have barricaded
the badness of that man. I hear father-addict
in the damn silence. Of course, my whol-

hearted hope had no chance, which I should
have known once I learned guitar — the first instrument . . .

—from "The Fidelity of Music," published in Winter 2016: Words and Music


Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written

I’ve thought often about the very first conscious piece I ever wrote—which is to say, the one that turned me into someone who regularly contemplated (and acted) on the...

Date: 12/29/2016
Amal Zaman


Yesterday, blue rain fell on me. I found my hair on the pillow:
     lovely beige clumps,

dry like distance.
I remember your hands running through it. I'm on read-only
     access. . .

—from "The Persistence of Music," published in Winter 2016 "Words and Music" (Vol. 57, Issue 4)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written

My first piece was a Julio Cortázar kind of short story in which the protagonist (over)identifies with a Formula 1 race car driver and suffers the consequences of a crash. I hadn't read Cortázar yet.

What writer(s) or works have...