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Front Cover by Chuck Close
Bill T. Jones (detail), 2008

Courtesy of the artist and Pace Gallery

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Volume 56, Issue 4

OTHER PEOPLE. . . les autres. So far as philosophy is concerned, they may not even exist. Certainly we’ve all met folks that—for all we know—might well have been automatons. Maybe they all are. Sartre, on the other hand, famously depicted hell as a living room, with other people as its upholstery. (Existentialism may have been a humanism, but it wasn’t particularly sentimental.) Yet as I write these lines, the newspapers are full of stories about the daily struggles of refugees hoping to find shelter in Europe. With the warring factions multiplying by the minute, one can only wonder what’s next. Certainly no one sane imagines an end any time soon. Most of us, I’m thinking, probably put it all aside, so we can sleep at night. We never really know anyone anyway, right? How much do other people matter, really?

Well, I’m here to tell you that writers, at least the ones we care about, think differently. Last year, during a conference commemorating the hundredth anniversary of WWI, I gave a talk juxtaposing the modernist narratives of Mary Borden, who set up and ran hospitals on the front during that war, with the journalism of James Foley, the UMass MFA graduate who reported for GlobalPost until he was kidnapped and then murdered last year in Syria. Central to both writers, I believe, was an authorial perspective where questions of morality stayed suspended in negative capability, “capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.” I’d argue that the achievement of any writer is grounded in this perspective. As Keats claimed for Shakespeare, such an attitude opens up a rare and invaluable level of receptivity to the world around us, something that for Barton and Foley, given the unprecedented horror of the events surrounding them, we must imagine all the more important.

So we trust you’ll rever as we do the words of Ben Balthasar as he reflects on the life and death of his friend and classmate. We also suspect that you’ll follow, as we have, the thread of mystery, transformation, and secret life that forms the greater warp and weave of our Winter issue. In Ah@d Ha’ @m’s devastating play “Blue Handed,” the question of empathy with others is cut to the bone, and we cannot miss the connection between foreign shores and our own. Then, with three stories from his collection Autisms, we bring you—for the first time in English—the work of a major Italian writer, Giacomo Sartori. How better to express the ability of narrative to render the experience of others than Sartori’s “temporary, reversible interment”? And we have our Smith College colleague Velma García to thank for unveiling the great Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral’s love for Doris Dana; the translations of Mistral’s letters here put to rest forever the “Santa Gabriela” myth of the poet as “a sad, religious spinster whose poetry mirrored her tragic life.”

We also bring you not one feast but two for the eyes in this issue; both show us what we tend to otherwise miss. The photographs of Chuck Close—from his earliest days as an artist a foundation for his portrait painting—are sampled here to commemorate the return of his work this fall to the UMass Museum of Contemporary Art. And we give you a glimpse into a retrospective of second-wave feminist art from the Smith College Museum, entitled “Women’s Work.” As you’ll see, there are advantages to being a woman artist, though they may not be what you’d anticipate.

The theme of other lives, and of hidden selves, has left more breadcrumbs elsewhere: certainly in Robert Hamburger’s tale of those boxed-up lives that exiles are forced to assume; but also where Marianne Colahan cracks us out of our shells; in a salute from Esteban Ismail to the poet doctor of Patterson; where Anzhelina Polonskaya airs her suspicions about widows; or when Emmanuel Merle sees eternity in a single stone. We cannot know all we know, and we may not even know when we know it. What writers do is trace the lineaments, and in these explorations of others at times we find ourselves.

I’ll end with a brief comment about this issue’s cover lines. (And, here again, the point is precisely the lives of others.) We at MR have been heartened by the success in recent years of independent presses, particularly those that have chosen to focus on publishing in translation. The tide may well be turning: readers in this country are increasingly being offered the best that the world has to give them. No one should question for a second our esteem for the incredible voices of Roberto Arlt, Emmanuel Merle, Anzelina Polonskaya, Giacomo Sartori, or Rodolfo Walsh—after all, we’re publishing them! On this issue’s cover, nonetheless, we decided to reverse the decision of one of the best of today’s independent presses, a publishing house where translations carry only the author’s name and never that of the translators. We chose instead to remind you of what we all, on some level, already know. Most of us owe our discovery of great authors like these to translations. And when we read, we’re reading the translators.



For Jim Foley, October 18, 1973—August 19, 2014

By Benjamin Balthaser


The Ghetto Birds (III)

By Esteban Ismael


Blue Handed

By Ah@d Ha'@m


Burnt Orange

By Robin Wyatt Dunn


Dead Horse Point

By Mylène Dressler


This stone

By Emmanuel Merle


This stone

By Jennifer Barber


Maquette for Self Portrait

By Chuck Close


Self-Portrait/Five Part

By Chuck Close



By Chuck Close



By Chuck Close


Bill T. Jones

By Chuck Close



By Chuck Close



By Giacomo Sartori



By Frederika Randall


Second Thoughts on a Winter Afternoon

By Chen Chen



By Patricia Horvath


"I have only you in this world"

By Gabriela Mistral


"I have only you in this world"

By Velma García-Gorena


Butter Up, Morning Glory

By Tiffany Higgins



By B. P. Greenbaum


When We Were Boys

By Eric Severn


A Dark Day of Justice

By Rodolfo Walsh


A Dark Day of Justice

By Cindy Schuster


Raw Unfiltered Honey

By Anne Love Woodhull


Goddess Head/Soft from Femfolio

By Marybeth Edelson


One Who Watches

By Emma Amos


Red Flag

By Judy Chicago


Eye Body #1

By Carolee Schneemann


Untitled, from Silueta Series in Mexico

By Ana Mendieta


The Professional, from A Portfolio of Models

By Martha Wilson


A Working Girl, from A Portfolio of Models

By Martha Wilson


The Advantages of Being a Woman Artist

By Guerrilla Girls


Dancing Among Schoolchildren

By Catherine Gunther Kodat


Midnight Mass

By Katie Hartsock


But to Return Again to My Going Home

By Kay Cosgrove


The Little Hunchback

By Roberto Arlt


The Little Hunchback

By Sergio Waisman



By Marianne Colahan


(. . .)

By Anzhelina Polonskaya


(. . .)

By Andrew Wachtel


The Private Life

By Robert Hamburger


Language the Fire in the Bog

By Martha Silano

Table of Contents


For Jim Foley, October 18, 1973-August 19, 2014,
a poem by Benjamin Balthaser

The Ghetto Bird (III), a poem by Esteban Ismael

Blue Handed,a play by Ah@d Ha'@m

Burnt Orange, a story by Robin Wyatt Dunn

Dead Horse Point, a story by Mylène Dressler

This stone, a poem by Emmanuel Merle,
translated by Jennifer Barber

Photographs, by Chuck Close
Selections from the exhibition at the UMCA

from Autisms, stories by Giacomo Sartori,
translated by Frederika Randall

Second Thoughts on a Winter Afternoon,
a poem by Chen Chen

Patience, an essay by Patricia Horvath

"I have only you in this world . . . ",
selected letters of Gabriela Mistral,
translated by Velma García-Gorena

Butter Up, Morning Glory, a poem by Tiffany Higgins

Dumbass, a story by B. P. Greenbaum

When We Were Boys, a story by Eric Severn

A Dark Day of Justice, a story by Rodolfo Walsh,
translated by Cindy Schuster

Raw Unfiltered Honey, a poem by Anne Love Woodhull

Women's Work: Feminist Art from the Smith
College Museum of Art Collection,
Selections from the exhibition

Dancing Among Schoolchildren,
an essay by Catherine Gunther Kodat

Midnight Mass, a poem by Katie Hartsock

But to Return Again to My Going Home,
a poem by Kay Cosgrove

The Little Hunchback, a story by Roberto Arlt,
translated by Sergio Waisman

Molting, a story by Marianne Colahan

(. . .), a poem by Anzhelina Polonskaya,
translated by Andrew Wachtel

The Private Life, a story by Robert Hamburger

Language the Fire in the Bog,
a poem by Martha Silano

Notes on Contributors


Argentine writer AROBERTO ARLT (1900– 1942) is the author of the novels El juguete rabioso [The Rabid Toy], Los siete locos [The Seven Madmen], and Los lanzallamas [The Flamethrowers]. One of Latin America’s first urban writers, Arlt’s stories are filled with marginal, alienated characters and tense existentialist plots. “El jorobadito” [“The Little Hunchback”] was first published in El Mundo in 1928.

BENJAMIN BALTHASER is assistant professor of Multi-Ethnic Literature at Indiana University, South Bend. He is the author of Anti-Imperialist Modernism: Race and Radical Transnational Culture (forthcoming), and a book of poems, Dedication, about Jewish victims of the Cold War blacklist. His work has appeared in American Quarterly, Minnesota Review, Another Chicago Magazine, and elsewhere. Balthaser was a 2003 graduate of UMass Amherst’s MFA for Poets and Writers, where he met Jim Foley.

JENNIFER BARBER teaches at Suffolk University in Boston, MA, where she edits the journal Salamander. Her poetry collections are Gone Away and Rigging the Wind, both from Kore Press.

CHEN CHEN is the author of two chapbooks, Set the Garden on Fire and Kissing the Sphinx (forthcoming from Two of Cups Press, 2016). His work has appeared in Poetry, Narrative, Crab Orchard Review, and The Best American Poetry 2015, among other places. A Kundiman Fellow and a 2015 finalist for the Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fel- lowships, Chen is currently a PhD candidate in English & Creative Writing at Texas Tech University.

CHUCK CLOSE has been renowned for more than five decades for his portrait paintings. He has also investigated and explored another subject with equal virtuosity: photography. Chuck Close Photographs is a comprehensive survey of significant scope, exploring how the artist has stretched the boundaries of photographic means, methods, and approaches throughout his career. While a member of the UMass Amherst Art Department, Close’s very first solo exhibition was held there in 1967. He was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of the Arts by UMass Amherst in 1995.

MARIANNE COLAHAN is a writer and editor living in Denver, CO. Originally from Massachusetts, she earned her MFA in Fiction from Colorado State University. She worked as a copywriter and editor in New York City before returning to Colorado. Her work has appeared in The Normal School and PANK.

KAY COSGROVE was the winner of the Writers Under 30 Contest from the Westchester Review. She was a finalist for the 2014 Field Poetry Prize and the 2014 Larry Levis Prize at Four Way Books. Her work has appeared in Barrow Street, Conduit, and EPOCH magazine, among others. She is a doctoral student in the University of Houston’s Creative Writing & Literature program, where she serves as a poetry editor for Gulf Coast.

MYLÈNE DRESSLER’s novels include The Deadwood Beetle, The Medusa Tree, and The Floodmakers. Her stories and essays have appeared in the Kenyon Review, Creative Nonfiction, Big Fiction, and Flyway, among others. She currently teaches at Guilford College, where she directs the Sherwood Anderson Creative Writing Program. She lives and writes in North Carolina and in the canyon country of southern Utah.

ROBBIN WYATT DUNN writes and teaches in Los Angeles. He’s online at

VELMA GARCÍA-GORENA is professor of government and Latin American and Latino/a studies at Smith College. Her translation of the complete correspondence between Gabriela Mistral and Doris Dana will be published by the University of New Mexico Press in 2016. She is at work on a translation of Mistral’s political essays as well as a book manuscript on resistance to the border fence in the U.S. Southwest.

B. P. GREENBAUM is a fiction writer and creative writing teacher at a magnet arts high school in Willimantic, CT. She has an MFA from the University of Southern Maine. Her poetry and short stories have been published in Eclectica, Hawaii Pacific Review, Alembic, Forge, Hog River Review, Inscape, Verdad, Pearl, Willow Review, Underwood Review, Dos Passos Review, and others. 

“AH@d HA’@M” is the pen name of a New York City playwright who, in writing this short play, was inspired by the bravery and clarity of “Ahad Ha’am,” the pen name of Asher Ginzberg (1856–1927).

ROBERT HAMBURGER is the author of Shiraz, a novel. He has been awarded two NEH research awards, a New York Foundation of the Arts fellowship in creative nonfiction, and residencies at the MacDowell Colony. He has taught American Studies in France, India, and Morocco as a Fulbright lecturer.

KATIE HARTSOCK is the author of a poetry chapbook, Hotels, Motels, and Extended Stays. She holds an MFA from the University of Michigan, and a PhD in Comparative Literary Studies from Northwestern University.

TIFFANY HIGGINS is the author of And Aeneas Stares into Her Helmet, selected by Evie Shockley as winner of the Carolina Wren Poetry Prize. Her poems appear in Poetry, Kenyon Review, Taos Journal of Poetry & Art, From the Fishhouse, and others, as well as Ghost Fishing, an anthology of ecojustice poems. She is a translator of contemporary Brazilian writers and teaches English at several colleges in the San Francisco Bay area.

PATRICIA HORVATH’s essay “Patience” is from her collection-in-progress, Fourteen Ways of Looking at a Poison. She is the author of the memoir All the Difference, forthcoming from Etruscan Press, and has been published in Shenandoah, Los Angeles Review, New Ohio Review, and Confrontation. She teaches at Framingham State University.

ESTEBAN ISMAEL lives in San Diego, CA. He teaches creative writing with the San Diego Community College District. His poems have recently appeared in Ruminate, H_NGM_N, RHINO, Crab Orchard Review, and Verse Wisconsin Online, among others.

Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Lewis & Clark College, CATHERINE GUNTHER KODAT is author of Don’t Act, Just Dance: The Metapolitics of Cold War Culture. Her essays have appeared in Boston Review, American Quarterly, Salmagundi, and in several collections. She previously served as metro desk reporter and chief dance critic for the Baltimore Sun.

EMMANUEL MERLE’s publications include six books of poetry, a collection of short stories, and four artist’s books. He was awarded the Kowalski Prize (France), the Prix Théophile Gautier from the Académie Française, and the Prix Rhône Alpes du Livre. He lives in Grenoble, France. Translation of Merle’s Amère indienne was supported by the PEN America Center and the Service du Livre of the French Embassy in New York City.

GABRIELA MISTRAL (born Lucila Godoy Alcayaga, 1889 –1957) was a Chilean poet, educator, diplomat, and human rights activist. Her books of poetry include Desolación, Lagar (Winepress), and Poema de Chile. Mistral won the Nobel Prize in literature in 1945, the first Latin American selected. She remains the only female winner from Latin America.

ANZHELINA POLONSKAYA was born in Malakhovka, a small town near Moscow. Since 1998, she has been a member of the Moscow Union of Writers, and in 2003, Polonskaya became a member of the Russian PEN-centre. An English version of her book, A Voice, appeared in the “Writings from an Unbound Europe” series at Northwestern University Press, which was shortlisted for the Corneliu M. Popescu Prize for European Poetry in Translation. Paul Klee’s Boat, a bilingual edition of her poems, was shortlisted for the 2014 Best Translated Book Award and 2014 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.

FREDERIKA RANDALL worked as a cultural journalist for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Nation and the Italian weekly Internazionale among others. Her translations include novels by Luigi Meneghello, Ottavio Cappellani, Helena Janeczek, and Ippolito Nievo’s Confessions of an Italian. Other translations include Sergio Luzzatto’s The Body of Il Duce and Padre Pio: Miracles and Politics in a Secular Age, for which she and the author shared the Cundill Prize for History. Her awards include a PEN (Heim) Translation Fund award and a Bogliasco Fellowship.

GIACOMO SARTORI was born in 1958 in the Alpine northeast of Italy near the Austrian border. He is a prolific writer with a dozen volumes to his credit, including the novels Tritolo (TNT) and Sacrificio (Sacrifice), and most recently, Rogo (At the Stake). Sartori’s shorter fiction includes Autismi (Autisms), written in the voice of a person struggling to cope with the baffling customs and expectations of those around him. Sartori has won several Italian literary prizes, and three of his novels have been translated into French. This marks his first appearance in English.

CINDY SCHUSTER is a poet, translator, and scholar. Her translations of Latin American writers and essays on translation have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies. She is co-translator, with Dick Cluster, of Cubana: Contemporary Fiction by Cuban Women. She was awarded a Translation Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts, and is a former board member of the American Literary Translators Association.

ERIC SEVERN received his MFA from the University of Idaho and has worked as fiction editor of the literary journal Fugue. His fiction has appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, Beloit Fiction, Lake Effect, and Moss.

MARTHA SILANO is author of Reckless Lovely and The Little Office of the Immaculate Conception, among others. She edits Crab Creek Review and teaches at Bellevue College.

ANDREW WACHTEL is the president of the American University of Central Asia in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. A fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, his most recent books include The Balkans in World History, Russian Literature (with Ilya Vinitsky), and Remaining Relevant After Communism: The Role of the Writer in Eastern Europe. He is a translator from Russian, Bosnian/Croatian/Serbian and Slovene, and his translation of Russian poet Anzhelina Polonskaya, Paul Klee’s Boat, was short-listed for the 2014 PEN Poetry Translation Prize.

SERGIO WAISMAN is professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature at George Washington University. He has translated, among others, The Underdogs: A Novel of the Mexican Revolution by Mariano Azuela, two books by the Argentine Ricardo Piglia, and three titles for Oxford’s Library of Latin America series. He received an NEA Translation Fellowship Award for his work on Piglia’s The Absent City. Waisman is the author of the novel Leaving, which he translated into Spanish.

RODOLFO WALSH (1927–1977) is considered one of the foremost Argentinean writers of the second half of the twentieth century. He is widely recognized for his compelling fiction, investigative journalism, and testimonies, which led the way to that genre’s boom in the 1960s and anticipated the genre of New Journalism. Rodolfo Walsh was murdered by Argentina’s military dictatorship in 1977.

WOMEN's WORK is an exhibit of work by feminist artists from the Smith College Museum of Art collection. The exhibit features pioneering feminist artists, including MARY BETH EDELSON, a performance and multi-media artist, and painter EMMA AMOS. Other contributors include artist, teacher, and organizer JUDY CHICAGO, co-founder of the Feminist Art Program at the California Institute of the Arts; the GUERRILLA GIRLS, founded in 1985 by women and artists of color in an effort to focus on issues of racism, sexism, and prejudice in the art world; multimedia and installation artist CAROLEE SCHNEEMANN; performance artist ANA MENDIETA; and multimedia artist MARTHA WILSON, founder/director of Franklin Furnace, an archive that supports, presents, and documents avant-garde art.

ANNE LOVE WOOHULL is a poet and art therapist who works with children and adults. She is the author of a chapbook, This Is What We Have, and a book of poems, Night with Its Owl. She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and has coauthored three children’s books.

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