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Date: 08/15/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“1936
The year your grandmother swallowed her gold coins

to hide them from the soldiers
This is how you keep yourself

safe, keep parts
of yourself in different boxes

Trust no one
with everything”
—from “In Case of Emergency” from our Summer issue

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.
I worked for several years on a poem about a friend of mine who survived incarceration and torture during the first Palestinian Intifada. The poem is in my book, Water & Salt.

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
It's difficult to overstate the influence of the forms and vocabulary of Mahmoud Darwish's poems. Naomi Shihab Nye, Adrienne Rich, Gwendolyn Brooks are important to me, as well as several...

Date: 08/14/2017
Blogger:
Jim Hicks

Since the end of the eighteenth century, and perhaps long before, visiting Napoli has been a feature item in Western Europe’s bucket list. In a letter from Naples written on March 2, 1787, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe commented, “Of the situation of the city, and of its glories, which have been so often described and commended, not a word from me. ‘Vedi Napoli e poi muori’ is the cry here. ‘See Naples, and die.’” The great German writer added, “That no Neapolitan will allow the merits of his city to be questioned, that their poets should sing in extravagant hyperbole of the blessings of its site, are not matters to quarrel about.”

These days, however, Napoli is perhaps more infamous than famous: whether one thinks of the film (and now TV series...

Date: 08/10/2017
Blogger:
Cynthia Haft

Editor’s Note: There are many rewards in working for a literary magazine that has lasted nearly six decades. None greater, though, than the chance to receive messages of the sort that came in just the other day, when we heard from Dr. Cynthia Haft, a former student of the French scholar and theater critic Rosette Lamont. Lamont translated into English essential works by Charlotte Delbo—a French resistance fighter, deported to Auschwitz, who survived to make memory her lifework. Dr. Haft also happens to be Delbo’s goddaughter; in fact, she introduced Lamont to Delbo, and the rest, as they say, was history. Our magazine owes great debt to Rosette Lamont, who passed away in 2012; we published her nearly a dozen times—most notably, perhaps, her essay on Delbo’s work and her translation of Delbo’s “Phantoms, My Faithful Ones.”

 

...
Date: 08/08/2017
Blogger:
Michael Thurston

      

Double Portrait by Brittany Perham (Norton, 2017)

S...

Date: 08/07/2017
Blogger:
Beth Derr

“We do not expect to be bludgeoned by laughter and/or by love
or other pleasantries, and neither do we expect music to be used
      on us. . .”

– From “Muzak” which appears in the Music issue (Volume 57, Issue 4).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
In art class in junior high I wrote a fabulist piece in the voice of a person inside a sock that lifts off into the atmosphere. I remember the shape of it, hand-written on a long, narrow piece of paper.  Perhaps inspired by Dylan’s “Highway 61 Revisited,” or Ferlinghetti’s Coney Island of the Mind.

What other professions have you worked in?
I fed calves, collected and sorted eggs, gathered hay, helped chase loose cows in the middle of the night—all sorts of miscellaneous chores on the family farm where I grew up. Then off to school in Boston where...

Date: 08/03/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“. . .No one thinks this is enough to get the blood out.

No one sleeps to the sounds of bombs.[ . .]

No one shares the bed with his sisters and brothers.. . ."

— from “No One and Syria’s Struggle to Sleep” which  appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.
In my elementary school, I was lucky enough that they forced us to write a poetry anthology every year. The first work I wrote was a rhyming piece about a local radio station. I was so excited to turn it in, but when I got it back, that excitement didn’t last. I remember my grade from that one poem being lower than almost all my other grades that year. It turned me off poetry for a long time, though I continued to love writing for my English and History classes. It wasn’t until I was a Junior in high school that...

Date: 08/01/2017
Blogger:
Mark Gozonsky

On July 14 and 15 of 2017, I taught a class of between twenty-seven and thirty-two high school students at UCLA, as part of the University’s Early Academic Outreach Program. There was certainly an exact number of kids in the room, but I was never certain what that number was. The teenagers, teaching assistants, and I all tried counting early Friday morning and got different tallies, because counting youngsters is dicey. They squirm, shift, get up and move while you’re counting. We decided the number was right around thirty students, mostly of color, all on summer vacation between their sophomore and junior year of high school, recruited to get a taste of the good life at UCLA.

The theme of our course was “What do teenagers need to know about the global refugee crisis?” We followed an introductory curriculum from...

Date: 07/31/2017
Blogger:
Beth Derr

"There are queens and divas here, holding notes and holding sway and cloaking themselves in poisonous ways that march on no feet. They say to be careful here in the desert, that the uninitiated will pay like the gamblers they are,

amateurs welshing on a price they negotiated themselves." —From "Desert Suite #5: Cactus Music," which appears in the Music Issue (Volume 57, issue 4).

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
This is the first poem I ever wrote, somewhere in the 1980s, never before published, never shared with anyone:

two-line poem
if it exists, it can be discovered
conformity is death

What writer(s) or works have influenced the way you write now?
John Cage has been a huge influence. I read Silence and it blew my mind. Every artist, of any...

Date: 07/28/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“But it always happens, and at a certain point the torpor broke up as if the whole garden had completely awakened at the same moment; I believe it coincided with the appearance of Baroni. The oppressive fragrance turned into the air’s perfume, the trees and plants regained their habitual splendor, and even the dog felt the beneficient effects of the change as he gave up on sleep and headed over to his mistress.”
—from  “Baroni: A Journey” which appears in our Summer issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

 

Tell us about one of the first pieces you translated.
I translated a story from the 1950s by the Spanish author Ignacio Aldecoa, “Un buitre ha hecho su nido en el café” —“A Vulture Has Made His Nest in the Café.” The café in question was the famed Café Comercial on the Glorieta de Bilbao in Madrid, now closed. The story itself was very old...

Date: 07/25/2017
Blogger:
Katherine Keenan

“The poems of my friends will never be lost in layers of white death.
I read them aloud and hear them breathe.
Gene’s Dostoevsky & Other Nature Poems. Alvaro’s little broth
of a train in the distance boiling down to nothing.
This is not an elegy but a love poem.
This is not a love poem but a praising of hounds.
The day of no fire waits, here, inside wood smoke and snow.”
—from “The Day of No Fire” which appears in the Summer 2017 issue (Volume 58, Issue 2)

 

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.
One of the first poems I wrote that I liked and that still (maybe) holds up a bit was a poem about barns. I had been living in Colorado at the time, freshly moved from Indiana in 1980, and to my surprise I still carried the landscape of Indiana inside me in some...