Front Cover by Kate Durbin, Unfriend Me Now!, 2018. STILL FROM 3-CHANNEL VERSION OF UNFRIEND ME NOW! (c) Kate Durbin.
Courtesy of the artist.
Volume 60, Issue 2
NOT LONG AGO, a friend from my school days shared a photo with me, a junior high yearbook snapshot taken during art class, apparently. Remember, he posted. Not a bad question (though it may not have been one, since it wasn’t marked as such). As exhortation, it echoes that of Hamlet’s father and seems similarly unnecessary. Faced with such an image, a scrap of time some forty-five years old, life’s Rolodex can’t help but spin, doing its circular best to sort and assemble, identify and classify, until the intrusion is either resolved or left indefinitely suspended, nagging somewhere until it doesn’t, forgotten once more. This particular photo shows seven of us: long-haired, adolescent boys in bell-bottoms and tight sweaters or florid, wide-collared shirts or flannel, five in chairs and two on the floor. Of the four in the foreground, I identified three instantly, myself and two friends. The rest all looked familiar, but without prompting I doubt I’d have managed to name any others.
Nearly a century ago now, Walter Benjamin was already speculating that newspapers, through their ability to take all events from everywhere and place them together on a single page, would collapse all experience into a single homogeneous sense of time, in which events themselves — real experience with its true shock and awe — would become increasingly rare, perhaps one day impossible. What then of our day, when the web and social media make such occurrences instantly available everywhere, with a certain equality of access, and all of us are interpellated as editors of our lives? Yet, faced with this blast from my past, frankly, I don’t believe anyone ever gets irredeemably jaded, though sometimes we like to see ourselves that way. With this particular photo what jumps me from behind, and what perhaps induced the yearbook editor to include it, is how engrossed in activity the four in the foreground are — in the task at hand, their artworks in the making. The others are all looking at the camera, but we four are oblivious, lost in a mess of papier-maché sculpture that, for some reason or other, we were called upon to complete. I made an aardvark. I always liked most animals that others had hardly heard of. Or maybe I just liked the word, practically first in the OED.
In this summer’s issue, as in Hamlet’s world, the time is out of joint, like a dislocated bone. Which means, in other words, that in 2019 there’s still plenty left for Benjamin’s storytellers to do. If it can be set right, the task is ours to accomplish — whether a curse, as Hamlet thought, or a gift, remains to be seen. Probably both. Take, for example, Edward Hirsch’s poetic chronotope, which opens this number — past place is remembered as prophecy, as a dream of the future. In J. Malcolm Garcia or Matt Izzi’s tales of would-be warriors, it is the image of manly bravado that shapes the story, far more than performance. Tabish Khair, in a brilliant exploration of the defanging that comes concomitant with canonization, shows how adept the culture industry is at commodifying opposition. And yet the work remains. Our times have seen no greater masters of the storyteller’s art than Naguib Mahfouz and Antonio Tabucchi (here rendered with requisite expertise by Raymond Stock and Anne Milano Appel); the central issue wrestled with by both, in each of the five mysterious and moving stories featured here, is time: how to read it, how we live it, and how it comes alive in the telling.
Mimi Lipson’s heart-rending record of coming into the orbit of a tornado (or actually several — climatic, familial, and historical) exemplifies in absolute, as a certain macho wordsmith would have it, grace under pressure. As Mimi’s mother puts it, it’s what Mimi has always done, “cleaning up after a disaster.” Kate Durbin gives us a clown, no more evil than our times. Debord decried a society of spectacle: today seems all spectacle, without any society remaining. Kathryn Mills remembers an earlier time, that of her father, C. Wright Mills, in days that these days seem far off indeed. Both Susanna Brougham’s Finnish lake and Elizabeth Barrett’s upset vehicles offer poetic images of movement in time, where things could go one way or another. But now instead I’ll leave you to your reading, with only a brief mention of Ruth Ozeki’s duck eggs, described by her with such loving precision that we cannot but see the world as her hatchlings do, in awe and wonder.
To some small extent, perhaps, that may be what I see too, bound up within the focused task of that person I no longer am, but perhaps once was. After all, aren’t we all, in junior high that is, hatchlings?
for the editors
Table of Contents
Duck Eggs, a poem by Ruth Ozeki
Drop Coalescence, a poem by Mingpei Li
Up in Smoke, nonfiction by Kathryn Mills
A Dream to Remember and Face-to-Face,
stories by Naguib Mahfouz,
translated by Raymond Stock
Two Snails Stuck to My Cheeks,
a poem by Matei Visniec,
translated by Adam J. Sorkin and Lidia Vianu
Unfriend Me Now! art by Kate Durbin
Irish Music, a poem by Joyce Peseroff
Gasoline, a story by Matt Izzi
Having Once Served, a story by J. Malcolm Garcia
On the Overnight Train, a poem by Alice Friman
Anne Bonny Marooned with Child,
a poem by Dorsey Craft
Trying to Pray, a poem by Robert Evory
Better Angels II, a poem by M. A. Untch
Ragnarök, a story by Robert Long Foreman
Every Thought Is Citric, a poem by Robert Carr
Missing: Yumi Itō, a story by Tara Kun
Third Swan, a poem by David Freeman
Watching Sophia with my daughter,
the one where the king’s coach crashes,
a poem by Elizabeth Barnett
The Tribes, a story by Stephanie MacLean
Notes on Contributors
ANNE MILANO APPEL has translated works by Claudio Magris, Paolo Giordano, Paolo Maurensig, Giuseppe Catozzella, Primo Levi, Roberto Saviano, and many other Italian authors. Her awards include the Italian Prose in Translation Award, the John Florio Prize for Italian Translation, and the Northern California Book Award for Translation. Translating professionally since 1996, she is a former library administrator, and has a doctorate in Romance Languages.
ELIZABETH BARNETT lives in Kansas City. Her recent work has appeared in Gulf Coast, Hunger Mountain, and Poetry Northwest.
SUSANNA BROUGHAM'S poetry has been published in Gettysburg Review, Denver Quarterly, Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, and other journals, and has appeared on Poetry Daily. She has received grant support from the St. Botolph Club Foundation and Finlandia Foundation. Susanna works as an editor for book publishers and museums.
ROBERT CARR is the author of Amaranth, a chapbook published, in 2016 by Indolent Books and a 2017 Pushcart Prize–nominated poet. His first full-length poetry collection, The Unbuttoned Eye, will be published by 3: A Taos Press in 2019. He lives with his husband, Stephen, in Malden, MA, and serves as an associate poetry editor for Indolent Books. He is also deputy director for the Bureau of Infectious Disease and Laboratory Sciences in Massachusetts.
DORSEY CRAFT holds degrees from Clemson University and McNeese State University. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Crab Orchard Review, Fifth Wednesday Journal, Mid-American Review, Notre Dame Review, Rhino Poetry, and elsewhere. She is currently a PhD student in poetry at Florida State and the assistant poetry editor of Southeast Review.
KATE DURBIN is a Los Angeles–based artist, writer, and filmmaker whose work deals with popular culture and digital media. She has shown her work internationally, and her most recent book is E! Entertainment. Her work has been featured in the New York Times, Art in America, Art Forum, and elsewhere. You can find out more at www.katedurbin.la.
ROBERT EVORY is the assistant coordinator of the Creative Writing Department at Western Michigan University, where he is doctoral assistant. He is the managing editor and cofounder of The Poet’s Billow. He has an MFA from Syracuse University. His poetry is featured or is forthcoming in Georgia Review, Spillway, Spoon River Review, Natural Bridge, Fat City Review, Nashville Review, Wisconsin Review, Arroyo, Madison Review, Water-Stone Review, and elsewhere.
ROBERT LONG FOREMAN is the author of Among Other Things and the novel Weird Pig, which won the Nilsen Prize for a First Novel and will be published in 2020. His work has appeared most recently in Kenyon Review Online, Crazyhorse, Willow Springs, and AGNI. He lives in Kansas City.
DAVUD FREEMAN is a poet, playwright, and essayist from Long Lake, MN. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Kenyon Review Online, Prairie Schooner, Sinking City Literary Magazine, and Honey Bee Review.
ALICE FRIMAN'S seventh collection of poetry is Blood Weather, forthcoming from LSU in the fall of 2019. New work appears in Ploughshares, Southern Review, Western Humanities Review, Gettysburg Review, and Plume. A recipient of a Pushcart Prize and included in Best American Poetry, she is professor emerita of English and creative writing at the University of Indianapolis and now lives in Milledgeville, GA, where she was poet-in-residence at Georgia College.
J. MALCOLM GARCIA is the author most recently of Riding Through Katrina with The Red Baron’s Ghost.
EDWARD HIRSCH'S tenth book of poems, Stranger by Night, will be published by Knopf in 2020.
MATT IZZI was born in Rhode Island and lives in east Boston. His writing has appeared in Baltimore Review, Carolina Quarterly, Post Road, Shenandoah, Third Coast, and other journals.
LEAH CLAIRE KAMINSKI'S poems have also appeared in Bennington Review, Fence, Prairie Schooner, and ZYZZYVA. She is the author of the chapbook Peninsular Scar, available from Dancing Girl Press. Some recent honors include Grand Prize in the Summer Literary Seminars Fiction & Poetry Contest and an Artist in Residence position at Everglades National Park. She lives in Chicago.
Born and educated in a small town in Bihar, India, TABISH KHAIR is the author of various books, including the poetry collections Where Parallel Lines Meet and Man of Glass; the studies Babu Fictions: Alienation in Indian English Novels and The Gothic, Postcolonialism and Otherness; and the novels Just Another Jihadi Jane, The Bus Stopped, Filming, The Thing About Thugs, and How to Fight Islamist Terror from the Missionary Position. His novels have been shortlisted for nine prestigious prizes in five countries, including the Man Asian Literary Prize and the Encore Award, and translated into several languages. Khair now mostly lives in a village near the town of Aarhus, Denmark.
TARA KUN is a Brooklyn-based undergraduate writing lecturer. She is working on a collection of short stories about the overlooked worker.
MINGPEI LI was born in China and lives in New York City. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in Black Warrior Review, The Journal, Magma, Puerto del Sol, Third Coast, Vinyl, and elsewhere.
MIMI LIPSON writes fiction and nonfiction. Her first book is a story collection called The Cloud of Unknowing. Her work has appeared in BOMB, Harvard Review, Pitchfork Review, and elsewhere. She lives in New York City.
STEPHANIE MACLEAN is working on a collection of short stories about women artists. Pieces from that collection have been published in the Gettysburg Review, Chicago Tribune’s “Printers Row,” and Camera Obscura Journal. She divides her time between Manhattan and Sag Harbor, NY.
NAGUIB MAHFOUZ (1911–2006), who in 1988 became the Arab world’s first Nobel Laureate in Literature, authored roughly sixty books. He produced numerous movie scripts and scenarios, including for many of the top films in Arab cinema history. Little known beyond his native region before his Nobel, his works now appear in over four hundred editions in at least thirty languages. In 1957, he won Egypt’s State Prize for Literature for Cairo Trilogy (Palace Walk, Palace of Desire, and Sugar Street). In 2005, he was shortlisted for the first Man Booker International Prize for fiction, and he received countless other awards internationally. In 1994, Mahfouz survived an attempt on his life by an Islamist fanatic in retaliation for his novel Children of the Alley (1959).
KATHRYN MILLS is C. Wright Mills’s daughter with Ruth Harper Mills, the statistician who worked with him on White Collar and The Power Elite. She collected, selected, and edited C. Wright Mills: Letters and Autobiographical Writings (with Pamela Mills), and has given readings and talks based on her father’s letters and writings in Austria, Canada, Norway, and the United States. She visited Cuba twice on people-to-people tours organized by her alma mater, Hampshire College. She worked for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, most recently as vice president, contracts, trade publishing. She studied creative nonfiction writing at Grub Street in Boston. She is working on a memoir.
RUTH OZEKI is a writer, Zen priest, and author of three novels, My Year of Meats, All Over Creation, and A Tale for the Time Being. She teaches creative writing at Smith College, where she is the Grace Jarcho Ross 1933 Professor of Humanities.
JOYCE PESEROFF'S fifth book of poems, Know Thyself, was designated a “must read” by the 2016 Massachusetts Book Award. Her recent poems and reviews appear in in On the Seawall, Plume, and Woven Tale Press.
ADAM J. SORKIN has published more than sixty books of Romanian translation. His recent books include The Hunchbacks’ Bus by Nora Iuga, longlisted for the National Translation Award in Poetry (Bitter Oleander, co-translated with Diana Manole); Syllables of Flesh by Floarea Tutuianu (Plamen, with Irma Giannetti); A Deafening Silence by Magda Cârneci (Shearsman, with Madalina Banucu and Cârneci); and The Return of the Barbarians by Mircea Dinescu (Bloodaxe, with Lidia Vianu). Sorkin is Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Penn State.
RAYMOND STOCK, an expert on Middle Eastern cultural and political affairs, is instructor of Arabic at Louisiana State University and a Shillman-Ginsburg Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum. He lived in Cairo for twenty years, and has translated seven books by Egyptian Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz, whose biography he is writing for Farrar, Straus & Giroux. His articles and translations of Arabic fiction have appeared in Bookforum, Financial Times, Georgia Review, Harper’s Magazine, International Herald Tribune, Journal of Arabic Literature, Zoetrope: All-Story, among other venues, and guest-edited a special Egypt issue of the Massachusetts Review. He is currently translating a novel, Khatim Sulayman (working title: Suleiman’s Ring) by Egyptian writer Sherif Meleka, for the American University in Cairo Press.
A master of short fiction, ANTONIO TABUCCHI won the Prix Médicis Etranger for Indian Nocturne, the Italian PEN Prize for Requiem: A Hallucination, and the Aristeion European Literature Prize for Pereira Declares. Together with his wife, Maria José de Lancastre, he translated much of the work of Fernando Pessoa into Italian. Tabucchi’s works include The Flying Creatures of Fra Angelico and The Woman of Porto Pim.
M. A. UNTCH is an emerging writer. Recent publications include Beloit Poetry Journal, Poet Lore, North American Review, Confrontation, Nimrod International, Painted Bride Quarterly, Chattahoochee Review, among others.
LIDIA VIANU is professor of Modernist and Contemporary British Literature at Bucharest University, where she also directs the publishing house Contemporary Literature Press. She has been Fulbright professor at the UCal Berkeley and SUNY Binghamton. Author of more than twenty books of literary criticism, she has translated over seventy books into English and Romanian, among which Marin Sorescu’s The Bridge, translated with Adam Sorkin, won the 2005 Poetry Society (U.K.) Prize for European Poetry Translation.
Poet, playwright, novelist, and journalist,MATEI VISNIEC was born in Romania but left in 1987, and since the 1990s he has lived in Paris, working at Radio France Internationale. He writes poetry and fiction in Romanian, but drama, now, in French. Visniec has published five collections of poetry, six novels, and more than fifty plays; he has been recognized by major awards in Romania and France. How to Explain the History of Communism to Mental Patients and Other Plays is a selection of his plays in English.