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Mad Max in Ukraine

- By Borja Lasheras

Translated from Spanish by James Badcock

The hall is packed as people wait expectantly for the arrival of the bard. We snaffle a couple of free seats, surrounded by the young and not so young who pay us no mind as they gaze intently at the black curtain. This theatre was once one of the Jewish centres of Chernivtsi, a cosmopolitan cultural capital in western Ukraine, part of northern Bukovina, and a city which annually hosts the Meridian Czernowitz International Literary Festival. After a little while, Serhiy Zhadan, described by Marci Shore as “the Bard of eastern Ukraine,” appears alongside two guitarists to a rapturous welcome from the crowd.

With his sharp features, dressed all in black with half-mast trousers and a sweatshirt, his hair shaved to a...



Reviews

Massachusetts Reviews: Spectra

- By Robert Manaster

Spectra: Poems by Ashley Toliver (Coffee House Press, 2019)

"Kinesis," the first poem in Ashley Toliver's powerful first book Spectra, frames the collection's primary strength: that of movement through trauma and the emotionally dark places in the female self, where one can be "plumbing / a violent kinesis. "This movement takes place via Toliver's poetic form and her charged poetic language. While near the collection's beginning, the female speaker's husband in "Long Division" is waiting for "a woman / to crawl out of / herself," by the collection's last poem, the speaker sees herself "in the last pew / of the lit horizon / in the wide-open field of the...


Reviews

Massachusetts Reviews: Liquid Whitman

- By Marsha Bryant

Some poets are wine poets. Walt Whitman is a beer poet. In a Brooklyniana piece from 1862, he describes the Eastern District breweries as “sources of the mighty outpourings of ale and lager beer, refreshing the thirsty lovers of those liquids in hot or cold weather.” In American literature, the boisterous and sprawling poem that made his name still refreshes lovers of innovation with its mighty outpourings. Bell’s “Song of Myself” India Pale Ale isn’t Whitman’s first beer incarnation. ...


Reviews

Massachusetts Reviews: The Book of Delights

- By Brad Crenshaw

The Book of Delights: Essays by Ross Gay (Algonquin Books, 2019)

The 2019 Conference of the Association of Writers and Writing Programs concluded this spring, after nearly six hundred panels, readings and celebrations, and over eight hundred vendors and literary presses on display at the book fair—all crammed into three days and three nights. The Massachusetts Review was there, celebrating its 60th anniversary by organizing an excellent, memorable panel, and establishing its presence at the book fair. This conference for writers is, of course, not the only one held this year, but it is the largest, and its organizers were visibly committed to representing as wide a range of...


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