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- By Erri De Luca, translated by Jim Hicks

One summer after another, I come back to swim in the Mediterranean. I throw my arms over my head, swimming backstoke, my face to the air. I push with my feet and I’m off.

I come back to rinse off my tongue, teeth, and gums with a sip or two. I breathe some water in through my nose and smell its odor, down in my throat.

It's not the same sea, no longer itself. It’s not the sea that shipwrecked Jonah, Ulysses, Aeneas, Paul the Apostle, and Shelley. Back then the sea would warn sailors, who heard its message and sought shelter.

Now it’s a sea that drowns without tempests. It can’t warn with clouds or the flight of seagulls. Now ships pass by the shipwrecked and, impassive, continue their journey. Never before has cowardice shown itself so...


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...

10 Questions

10 Questions for James Smethurst

- By Abby MacGregor

“If Amiri Baraka had never published anything but Blues People, he would still be an important cultural critic. The appearance of the book in 1963 is a plausible beginning for when and where cul­tural studies began in the United States, a starting point that, in fact, antedates the founding of the Centre for Cultural Studies by Richard Hoggart in Birmingham, England.” —from “‘Formal Renditions’: Revisiting the Baraka-Ellison Debate”, Spring 2019 (Vol. 60, Issue 1)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you’ve written.
Though I am sometimes thought of as a scholar of literature, one of the first shorter pieces I published was "How I Got to Memphis: The Blues and the...

10 Questions

10 Questions for Geoffrey Brock

- By Emily Wojcik

Having risen from a branch of the Ni River
during a lull in the Battle of Spotsylvania,
she settled on the blue upper lip of a dead
Confederate corporal, weary. . . .
from “The Mayfly: May 12, 1864,” Volume 60, Issue 1 (Spring 2019)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
The first “serious” poem I ever wrote...

10 Questions

10(ish) Questions for David Roderick

- By Emily Wojcik

Begone deadpan
mother into stones

arranged like a skeleton,
begone fatherly blades

that scotch my greening. . . —from "Ballad of the Wild," Volume 60, Issue 1 (Spring 2019)

Tell us about one of the first pieces you wrote.
Most of my first successful (sort of) poems I wrote in the MFA program at UMass and published in my first book, Blue Colonial. They focused on my hometown, Plymouth, Massachusetts...

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