Search the Site

Front Cover by Bianca Stone
The Music Issue, 2016.

Created for the Massachusetts Review.


Order a copy now

Volume 57, Issue 4

A SPECIAL ISSUE on music. For this particular quarterly, given that “public affairs” is the kicker to our moniker, the first reaction of readers might well be, “Why?” Certainly if you think of music as entertainment, as remedy or therapy, you might not see such a theme as urgent. And yet what social movement, what new political formation, hasn't had its unforgettable soundtrack? Where, after all, do those in the struggle find the force and inspiration to keep moving forward, to get up, stand up, in this world full of tunnels and only occasional light? What brings them together, what lifts their voices, what beats the drum?

Granted, it isn't easy to put into words the power of music, especially where rhythm and melody occur in combination with words, yet whatever happens surely takes place at the level of nerve fibers, probably even before perception, much less knowledge. Two of the most respected historians of world history, the father-and-son team of John and William McNeill, have even speculated that human society itself may have begun in song and dance—that music may well be the foundation that first gathered us together into tribes, as a people. For this magazine, then, the measure of music must be taken according to the manner it serves to shake things up, to move us forward. Otherwise it is distraction.

No one should be surprised we’ve chosen to bring you over three dozen poets: a number of languages on this planet have only a single word for both poem and song, and surely all poetry aspires to the condition of music. Here too, however, one should never assume that the abstractions of measure, melody, and rhythm leave behind the tensions or faultlines of the world as it is. A chorus of cultural studies critics have argued, in effect, that all music in this country of ours derives, in one form or another, from the evidently homegrown spectacle of minstrel theater, and thus that US musical culture, and perhaps even US culture itself, began in and still carries that burden. From minstrelsy to blues and jazz, then onto the crossroads of rock and rap: this magazine would not be true to its history if, in a music issue, it failed to honor this legacy.

Given the plethora of possibilities offered here, including art, fiction, and non-, along with our passel of poets, it would be presumptuous in this introduction to attempt a roadmap for readers. From the cornucopia assembled here, we trust you’ll find your fill.

As pars pro toto, however, I can tell you a bit more about the music of one man, and why we want you know his work. The singer-songwriter Gianmaria Testa died this past year, at the age of fifty-seven. Working for the Italian state railroad system for most of his adult life, as a stationmaster in a provincial capital, Testa could be called, with no exaggeration, the Woody Guthrie of Italy’s Piedmont region. In his final years, the cantautore also became his nation’s Leadbelly: the two essays published here tell the back story to a pair of songs chronicling the contemporary migration crisis in Europe, in a period when racism, xenophobia, and Islamophobia are even more telling there than they are here at home.

These words and music, on the other hand, make it impossible to see today’s African immigrants as anything other than Italian and European: no one can hear Testa’s stories as belonging to people who are in any way other. After all, as Testa reminds us, lo sapevamo anche noi (“we used to know it too”). After all, what part of the world today doesn’t have a history of migration from country to city, or from homeland to new world, over the last few centuries, if not the past couple decades? The loss of the land of our birth, along with the loss of traditions and language, is perhaps the most common experience shared across the globe today. Such are the stories that Gianmaria Testa has put to music.

As the philosopher of ethics Jonathan Glover recalls, “George Orwell fought against the fascists in the Spanish Civil War. He later described how a fascist soldier came in sight, half-dressed and running, holding up his trousers with both hands.” Orwell commented, “I had come here to shoot at “Fascists”; but a man who is holding up his trousers isn't a “Fascist,” he is visibly a fellow creature, similar to yourself, and you don't feel like shooting at him.” Woody Guthrie, in 1941, famously placed on his guitar the slogan: “This Machine Kills Fascists.” In our own day and age, it would no doubt be too simple, and overly reassuring, to suggest that any sort of music inevitably has any such redemptive effects. And yet we might still claim for music that which Jiko, the grandmother and Buddhist monk from Ruth Ozeki’s wondrous Tale for the Time Being, claims for Zen meditation—that it is a superpawa. The focus, energy, and collective solidarity of music might just be the one force on earth, from the beginning of human society to the days of slaughter at Pulse and Bataclan, that does change fascists into fellow creatures. And even on our worst days, with their horror beyond belief, the music doesn’t die.




By Gerald Stern


from Veloso, Walking into the Wind

By Igiaba Scego, translated by Frederika Randall


The Last Bohemian of Avenue A,

By Yusef Komunyakaa


from The Voice Imitator

By Ana Schuleit Haber and Yotam Haber


National Anthem

By Ilya Kaminsky


from Radio Imagination

Hart Larrabee


Music from a Farther Room

By Gary J. Whitehead


from This Side of the Sea

By Gianmaria Testa, translated by Jim Hicks


The Tabla Player

By Farah Ahamed


from Here Be Sirens

Kate Soper


What to Take

by Barbara Ras


The Bugler Responds to Mary

by Rebecca Foust


Bird Song

by Tony Eprile


Without Night Shoes

by Jane Hirshfield


from Veloso, Walking into the Wind

Frederika Randall



by Tanya Grae



by Carol Potter



by Roger Greenwald


Paul Robeson Sings America

by Shana L. Redmond


Things in the Form of a Prayer in the Form of a Wail

by Matt Donovan


The Blues: Where Love Ends Badly

by Gerald Williams


The Romantic Mode

by Jen Jabally Blackburn


Then Elvis Drops to One Knee

by David Kirby



by Mary Peelen



by Bruce Smith


Marvin Gaye Sings the National Anthem, 1983

by Bruce Smith


Desert Suite #5: Cactus Music

by Kimberly White


In Their Own Time

by Casey FitzSimons

Novel Excerpt

from Radio Imagination

By Seiko Ito, Translated by Hart Larrabee


Cloud Hands

Arthur Sze


Randy Weston’s African Rhythms, the Day After

by Randall Horton


Found Music

by T. J. McLemore



by Peter Fiore


Goldberg Variatins

by Jim Whiteside


Charles Ives at the Spinnet

by Donald Revell


Music in the Kingdom of the Heart

by Laura McCullough


Dear Enya and Dear Sinéad

by Abe Louise Young


Twilight on Kool Darkness

by Bonia Lee Penn



by Ken Waldman


from Perfect Pitch

by Marcelo Cohen, translated by Judith Filc


from Perfect Pitch

by Marcelo Cohen, translated by Judith Filc


Silent Swan

by Bianca Stone, with text by Ben Pease


Fantasie Impromptu

by Chen Li, translated by Ting Wang


Fantasie Impromptu

by Chen Li, translated by Ting Wang


The Pae Turner

by Amanda Anastasi


The Fidelity of Music

by Geffrey Davis


Tryin to Write a Music Poem

by Diamond Forde


My Crying Towel

by Laura Kasischke


For a Fistful of Sitars

by Gabriele Ferraris, translated by Laurence de Richemont


For a Fistful of Sitars

Laurence de Richemont


Race Music

by Meredith Nnoka


Interview with Berry ordy

by Meredith Nnoka


from This Side of the Sea

Jim Hicks


The Rolling Deep

by Anne Marie Macari


Country Music II

by Helen Wickes


Song of Eleven Consonants and Thirteen Vowels, for G. Stein

by Katie Farris


Poetic Art

By Paul Verlaine, translated by Laure-Anne Bosselaar


Poetic Art

Laure-Anne Bosselaar


Mozart's Magic Coach

Slavko Mihalić, Translated by Dasha C. Nisula


Mozart's Magic Coach

Dasha C. Nisula


Mozart's Starlin

by Leslie Stainton


Old Folks' Singing and Utopia

by Tim Erikson


Crypto-Animist Introvert Activism

by Brenda Hillman


Writing the Life of the Concert Promoter

by Steve Waksman


Saved by Soul

by Rashod Ollison


For Adrienne

by Julia Conrad


The Persistence of Music

by A. Molotkov

Table of Contents


Allegro Ma Non Troppo, Un P Maestoso

from Here Be Sirens, an opera in one act by Kate Soper

Lips, a poem by Gerald Stern

What to Take, a poem by Barbara Ras

The Bugler Responds to Mary, a poem by Rebecca Foust

Bird Song, a poem by Tony Eprile

Without Night-Shoes, a poem by Jane Hirshfield

from Caetano Veloso, Walking into the Wind, nonfiction by Igiaba Scego, translated by Frederika Randall

Mezzo, a poem by Tanya Grae

Muzak, a poem by Carol Potter

Loss, a poem by Roger Greenwald

Paul Robeson Sings America, nonfiction by Shana L. Redmond

from The Last Bohemian of Avenue A, a poem by Yusef Komunyakaa

The Coming of John, an essay by John H. Bracey Jr.

Things in the Form of a Prayer in the Form of a Wail, an essay by Matt Donovan

The Blues: Where Love Ends Badly, an essay by Gerald Williams

The Romantic Mode, a poem by Jen Jabaily-Blackburn

Then Elvis Drops to One Knee, a poem by David Kirby

Variable, a poem by Mary Peelen

from The Voice Imitator, art by Anna Schuleit Haber and Yotam Haber

Scherzo: Molto Vivace

[untitled] and Marvin Gaye Sings the National Anthem, 1983, poems by Bruce Smith

Desert Suite #5: Cactus Music, a poem by Kimberly White

In their own time, a poem by Casey FitzSimons

National Anthem, a poem by Ilya Kaminsky

from Radio Imagination, a novel excerpt by Seiko Ito, translated by Hart Larrabee

Cloud Hands, a poem by Arthur Sze

Randy Weston’s African Rhythms, the Day After, a poem by Randall Horton

Found Music, a poem by T.J. McLemore

Ornithology, a poem by Peter Fiore

Goldberg Variations, a poem by Jim Whiteside

from The Scarlet Professor, a libretto by Harley Erdman

Charles Ives at the Spinet, a poem by Donald Revell

Music in the Kingdom of the Heart, a poem by Laura McCullough

Dear Enya and Dear Sinéad, a poem by Abe Louise Young

Twilight on Kool Darkness, a poem by Bonita Lee Penn

Bassoon, a poem by Ken Waldman

from Perfect Pitch, nonfiction by Marcelo Cohen, translated by Judith Filc

Silent Swan, a poetry comic by Bianca Stone, with text by Ben Pease

Fantaisie Impromptu, nonfiction by Chen Li, translated by Ting Wang

Adagio Molto E Cantabile

The Page Turner, a poem by Amanda Anastasi

The Fidelity of Music, a poem by Geffrey Davis

Trying to Write Music Poem, a poem by Diamond Forde

My Crying Towel, a poem by Laura Kasischke

Music from a Farther Room, a poem by Gary J. Whitehead

For a Fistful of Sitars, an essay by Gabriele Ferraris, translated by Laurence de Richemont

Race Music and Interview with Berry Gordy, poems by Meredith Nnoka

from This Side of the Sea, nonfiction by Gianmaria Testa, translated by Jim Hicks

The Rolling Deep, a poem by Anne Marie Macari

Country Music II, a poem by Helen Wickes

Song of Eleven Consonants and Thirteen Vowels, for G. Stein, a poem by Katie Farris

Poetic Art, a poem by Paul Verlaine, translated by Laure-Anne Bosselaar

Mozart’s Magic Coach, a poem by Slavko Mihalić, translated by Dasha C. Nisula

Mozart’s Starling, an essay by Leslie Stainton

The Tabla Player, a story by Farah Ahamed

Recitative (Choral Finale)

Old Folks’ Singing and Utopia, an essay by Tim Eriksen

Crypto-Animist Introvert Activism, a poem by Brenda Hillman

Writing the Life of the Concert Promoter, an essay by Steve Waksman

Saved by Soul, an essay by Rashod Ollison

For Adrienne, an essay by Julia Conrad

The Persistence of Music, a poem by A. Molotkov

Notes on Contributors


FARAH AHAMED is a Kenyan lawyer, with an MA in education, living in the UK. She has been published by Kwani?, Bridge House, Fey, New Lit Salon Press, The Missing Slate, Two Serious Ladies, Out of Print and Thresholds. She was shortlisted for the 2014 Leeds Literary Prize , nominated for the Pushcart 2015 and Caine Prize for African writing, and was a finalist in the Out of Print/DNA 2015 Short Story Competition.

AMANDA ANASTASI is a Melbourne writer and poet. Her work has been published in magazines and anthologies in Australia, New Zealand, the U.S., the U.K. and Ireland. Her debut collection, 2012 and other poems, was listed in "Top Ten Poetic Works of 2012" in Overland Literary Journal. Her poetry was shortlisted in the 2016 W.B. Yeats Poetry Prize in Australia and the 2016 Nillumbik Ekphrasis Poetry Award.

LAURE-ANNE BOSSELAAR is the author of The Hour Between Dog and Wolf; Small Gods of Grief; and A New Hunger, selected as an ALA Notable Book for 2008. With her husband Kurt Brown, she translated Herman de Coninck’s The Plural of Happiness. The editor of four anthologies and the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, she taught at Emerson College, Sarah Lawrence College, and is part of the core faculty at the low residency MFA in Creative Writing at Pine Manor College.

Professor JOHN H. BRACEY, JR. has taught in the W.E.B. Du Bois Department of Afro-American Studies at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst since 1972. He co-director of the department’s graduate certificate in African Diaspora Studies. His publications include Black Nationalism in America; the prize winning African American Women and the Vote: 1837-1965 ; Strangers and Neighbors: Relations between Blacks and Jews in the United States (with Maurianne Adams); and African American Mosaic: A Documentary History from the Slave Trade to the Twenty-First Century (with Manisha Sinha).

MARCELO COHEN was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina. He is a renowned novelist, journalist, translator, and essayist. He currently co-edits Otra Parte, a literary and arts journal. He was co-founder of Montesinos Press and consultant for Icaria Press. He directed the series Península Narrativa and was editorial advisor for Anaya and Mario Muchnik  He has published eighteen novels and short-story books, four literary non-fiction books, and countless essays in journals and newspapers.

JULIA CONRAD graduated from Wesleyan University in 2014. Since then, she has worked as a high school teacher in Northern Italy, and as the assistant to a literary agent in New York. She has played violin in regional orchestras based in Milan, Varese, and Bologna. This is her first publication.

GEFFREY DAVIS is the author of Revising the Storm, winner of the A. Poulin, Jr. Poetry Prize and a Hurston/Wright Legacy Award Finalist. He also co-authored, with poet F. Douglas Brown, Begotten, a chapbook in URB's Floodgate Poetry Series. His honors include fellowships from the Cave Canem Foundation and the Vermont Studio Center, the Anne Halley Poetry Prize, the Dogwood Prize in Poetry, the Wabash Prize for Poetry, the Leonard Steinberg Memorial/Academy of American Poets Prize. Davis teaches at the University of Arkansas.

MATT DONOVAN is the author of two collections of poetry—Vellum and the chapbook Rapture & the Big Bam—as well as a collection of essays, A Cloud of Unusual Size and Shape: Meditations on Ruin and Redemption. He is the recipient of a Rome Prize in Literature, a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, an NEA Fellowship, and the Larry Levis Reading Prize from VCU. Donovan teaches at Santa Fe University of Art and Design, and is collaborating on a chamber opera titled Inheritance.

TONY EPRILE is a photographer, amateur naturalist, and writer who lives in Bennington, Vermont. His novel The Persistence of Memory was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year and won the Koret Jewish Book prize. He recently completed a memoir about his family’s move from South Africa to England and is working on a new novel. He teaches fiction in Lesley University’s low-residency graduate program.

HARLEY ERDMAN is a theater writer whose work includes original plays, opera librettos, book & lyrics for musicals, translations, and adaptations. He is the author of five books, including Staging the Jew and an anthology of translations of plays by 17th-century Spanish women. He is a winner of the Association for Hispanic Classic Theater’s Translation Prize, the American Society for Theatre Research’s Kahn Prize, and a Fulbright Scholarship. He is professor of theater at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

TIM ERIKSEN is a musician and ethnomusicologist living in western Massachusetts. He is currently working on a follow up to his twice Grammy nominated collaboration with Afro-Cuban pianist Omar Sosa, Across the Divide. His new work is a further exploration of transatlantic Afro/Carribean/New England music and history, including the earliest known music by an American of African descent, Newport Gardner, published in Northampton, MA in 1804.

KATIE FARRIS is the author of boysgirls, a hybrid form text. Her translations and original work have appeared in anthologies published by Penguin and Greywolf, and literary journals including Virginia Quarterly Review, Verse, Western Humanities Review, and Hayden’s Ferry Review. She is an Associate Professor at the MFA program at San Diego State University.

As a senior editor and columnist at Turin’s La Stampa, GABRIELLE FERRARIS supervised its weekly arts supplement. These days he writes, tweets, and blogs.

JUDITH FILC has taught both in the United States and in Argentina. She has published books and essays on Argentine literature and culture, and four volumes of poetry in Spanish. Her translations of La ópera fantasma (Ghost Opera), by Mercedes Roffé and Cierta dureza en la sintaxis (A Certain Roughness in their Syntax), by Jorge Aulicino will be published in 2017. She administers the blog Word Creation / Crear con palabras, in which she publishes her translations of Latin American poetry in Spanish.

PETER FIORE is the author of three books: text messages, the first volume of American poetry totally devoted to Gogyoka; Keep The Ball In Front Of You, a meditation on teaching and playing tennis; and flowers to the torch, a book of tanka prose. His novella, when angels speak of love will be published by Loose Moose Press. His work has been published in numerous journals. He lives in New York City.

CASEY FITZSIMONS has poems in Red Wheelbarrow, Mezzo Cammin, and numerous other journals. She has published 12 chapbooks, including The Sharp Edges of Knowing and Against the Familiar Wall. Her reviews of SF Bay Area exhibitions frequently appeared in Artweek, and her studio drawing book, Serious Drawing, was published by Prentice Hall.

DIAMOND FORDE is a third-year MFA candidate at the University of Alabama. She is a Callaloo and Tin House fellow with work appearing in Black Warrior Review, Fire Tetrahedron and Birmingham Poetry Review.

REBECCA FOUST’s book, Paradise Drive, won the Press 53 Poetry Award and was reviewed in the Georgia Review, Harvard Review, Philadelphia Inquirer, and San Francisco Chronicle. Recognitions include the American Literary Review Fiction Award, the James Hearst Poetry Prize, and fellowhsips from the Frost Place, MacDowell, and Sewanee.

TANYA GRAE is the author of the forthcoming chapbook Little Wekiva River, and winner of the 2016 Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival Poetry Prize, selected by Yusef Komunyakaa. She is a PhD candidate at Florida State University and holds an MFA from Bennington College. Her work has appeared in AGNI, The Florida Review, New South, The Los Angeles Review, The Adroit Journal, Fjords Review, and other places.

ROGER GREENWALD attended The City College of New York and the Poetry Project workshop at St. Mark’s Church In-the-Bowery, then completed graduate degrees at the University of Toronto. He has won two CBC Literary Awards and has published two books of poems: Connecting Flight and, most recently, Slow Mountain Train.

As a Radcliffe and MacArthur Fellow, ANNA SCHULEIT HABER's work engages a range of media, technologies, and environments. The range of work extends from sound systems in psychiatric institutions that turn architecture into a vessel or body of sound; collaborations with computer scientists and architects for a contemporary oracle; to projects that involve type designers and dying newsprint media, live sod and thousands of flowers in a hospital, mirrors, bodies of water and an uninhabited island, and a body of water as an environmental mirror. Her current work revolves around seriality and memory, and includes a series of 104 paintings based on Thomas Bernhard’s short fiction, as well as large-scale drawing commissions for architectural settings.

Hailed by New Yorker critic Alex Ross as “deeply haunting,” by the Los Angeles Times as one of five classical musicians "2014 Faces To Watch," and chosen as one of the “30 composers under 40” by Orpheus Chamber Orchestra’s Project 440, YOTAM HABER was born in Holland and grew up in Israel, Nigeria, and Milwaukee. He is currently working on Voice Imitator, an evening-length cycle of piano works with visual artist and MacArthur Fellow Anna Schuleit Haber, based on the stories of Thomas Bernhard; New Water Music, an interactive work  for the Louisiana Philharmonic and community musicians to be performed from boats and barges along Bayou St. John in New Orleans; and a new work for the Kronos Quartet in collaboration with the electronic performer Philip White.

JIM HICKS is the executive editor of the Massachsuetts Review.

BRENDA HILLMAN is the author of 9 collections of poetry from Wesleyan University Press. She is the Olivia C. Filippi Professor of Poetry at Saint Mary’s College of California.

JANE HIRSHFIELD’s most recent books are The Beauty, long-listed for The National Book Award and a collection of essays, Ten Windows: How Great Poems Transform the World. She is a current chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

RANDALL HORTON is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Hook: A Memoir. He is a member of the experimental performance group, Heroes Are Gang Leaders, and Associate Professor of English at the University of New Haven.

SEIKO ITO was born in Tokyo, graduated from the Waseda University School of Law, and worked as an editor at Kodansha before breaking out as a multi-talented hip-hop artist, actor, television personality, essayist, and novelist. His literary debut, No Life King, was shortlisted for the 2nd Mishima Yukio Prize while Botanical Life won the 15th Kodansha Essay Award. Published in 2013 to critical acclaim, Sozo rajio (Radio Imagination) was shortlisted for both the 26th Mishima Yukio Prize and the 149th Akutagawa Prize, and was awarded the Noma Prize for New Writers.

JEN JABAILY-BLACKBURN lives with her husband and daughter in Western Massachusetts. Selected for Best New Poets 2014 by Dorianna Laux, her recent work appears in Cimarron Review, Cream City Review, and The Common.

ILYA KAMINSKY lives in San Diego, CA.

LAURA KASISCHKE’s most recent collection of poetry, THE INIFINITESIMALS, was published in 2014 by Copper Canyon Press. She lives in Chelsea, Michigan.

DAVID KIRBY teaches English at Florida State University. He has received many honors for his work, including fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts, and his work appears frequently in the Best American Poetry and Pushcart Prize volumes. Kirby is the author of numerous books, including The House on Boulevard St.: New and Selected Poems, which was a finalist for the 2007 National Book Award in poetry. His Little Richard: The Birth of Rock ‘n’ Roll was named one of Booklist’s Top 10 Black History Non-Fiction Books of 2010, and the Times Literary Supplement called it “a hymn of praise to the emancipatory power of nonsense.”

YUSEF KOMUNYAKAA’s thirteen books of poetry include Taboo, Dien Cai Dau, Neon Vernacular, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize, Warhorses, and most recently The Chameleon Couch. His plays, performance art, and libretti have been performed internationally, and include Saturnalia, Testimony, and Gilgamesh. He teaches at New York University.

HART LARRABEE was raised in the Finger Lakes region of central New York State and now lives with his family in the little town of Obuse in northern Nagano, Japan. His translations of short stories by Fumio Takano and Mitsuyo Kakuta have appeared, respectively, in the anthologies Tomo: Friendship Through Fiction and The Book of Tokyo: A City in Short Fiction. He is the author/translator of Haiku: Classic Japanese Short Poems, a compilation of haiku by Basho, Buson, Issa, and Shiki. He also translates non-fiction, particularly in the fields of art, design, and architecture.

CHEN LI was born in Hualien, Taiwan in 1954, and graduated from the English Department of National Taiwan Normal University. Regarded as one of the most innovative and exciting poets writing in Chinese today, he is the author of fourteen books of poetry and eight collections of essays as well as a prolific translator. The recipient of many writing awards in Taiwan, he has taught creative writing at National Dong Hwa University and is the organizer of the annual Pacific Poetry Festival in his hometown. In 2005, he was on the list of “Top Ten Contemporary Poets of Taiwan.” In 2012, he participated in the Olympic poetry festival (Poetry Parnassus) in London as the poet representing Taiwan. In 2014, he was invited to participate in The University of Iowa’s International Writing Program.

ANNE MARIE MACARI is the author of four books of poetry, most recently Red Deer.

LAURA MCCULLOUGH is a poet and prose writer whose essays, memoirs, stories, and poetry have appeared widely in places such as in The Georgia Review, The American Poetry Review, Guernica, Pank, Gulf Coast, The Writer's Chronicle, and others. Her recent books include Jersey Mercy, an edited anthology, A Sense of Regard: Essays on Poetry and Race, and Rigger Death & Hoist Another. She teaches full time at Brookdale Community College and is on the faculty of the Sierra Nevada low-res MFA and has taught for Ramapo College and Stockton University. She is the founding editor of Mead: the Magazine of Literature and Libations.

T.J. MCLEMORE lives in Fort Worth, Texas, where he teaches at Texas Christian University. He is the winner of the 2016 Richard Peterson Poetry Prize, and his poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Prairie Schooner, Crazyhorse, Crab Orchard Review, The Greensboro Review, and others.

SLAVKO MIHALIĆ (1928-2007) was one of the giants in Croatian literature of the second half of the Twentieth century. He published his first book of poetry, Komorna muzika (Chamber Music) in 1954. During the course of his life, he worked as an anthologist, publisher, editor, critic, writer for children, authored over twenty books of poetry, established several literary journals, and the literary review Most (The Bridge), a Croatian journal of international literary relations. Translated into major world languages, Slavko Mihalić is a recipient of numerous literary awards, among them Tin Ujević, City of Zagreb, Matica Hrvatska, Miroslav Krleža, Goranov Vjenac, Vladimir Nazor and others.

Born in Russia, A. MOLOTKOV moved to the U.S. in 1990 and began writing in English in 1993. His poetry collection, The Catalog of Broken Things, was released by Airlie Press in 2016. Published by Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Raleigh Review, Cider Press Review, Pif, Ruminate, 2 Rive and many more, Molotkov is winner of New Millennium Writings and Koeppel fiction contests, two poetry chapbook contests, and a 2015 Oregon Literary Fellowship. Molotkov’s translation of a Chekhov story was included by Knopf in their Everyman Series. He co-edits The Inflectionist Review. Visit him at

DASHA C. NISULA completed her Ph.D. degree in Comparative Literature at the University of Southern California. She began teaching at USC, then at Baylor University, and at Western Michigan University, where she obtained full Professorship with a Distinguished Teaching Award. For most of her career she has been teaching Russian and Croatian languages, literature, and culture, as well as translating poetry and short stories from these languages. She is author of four books, numerous articles, reviews, and translations which have appeared in An Anthology of South Slavic Literatures, and in literary journals as Modern Poetry in Translation, Southwestern Review, International Poetry Review, and Colorado Review among others. A member of the American Literary Translators Association, she lives and works in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

MEREDITH NNOKA is a Smith College graduate with a degree in Africana Studies and English. Originally from outside of Washington, DC, she spent the last year teaching English in France and is currently a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her poems have appeared in Mandala Journal, HEART Journal, and Riding Light. Her first chapbook, A Hunger Called Music: A Verse History of Black Music, will be available from C&R Press later this year.

RASHOD OLLISON is an award-winning music and culture critic and native of Little Rock, Arkansas. He has been a staff pop music and culture critic at the Dallas Morning News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, The Journal News in Westchester, NY, the Baltimore Sun, and The Virginian-Pilot. He graduated from the University of Arkansas, where he earned a BA in creative writing and journalism with a minor in African American studies. Ollison’s literary debut, Soul Serenade: Rhythm, Blues & Coming of Age Through Vinyl, is a memoir by Beacon Press.

BEN PEASE is a board member of the Ruth Stone Foundation. His first book Chateau Wichman is forthcoming from Big Lucks Books. He lives in Vermont with his wife, the poet and artist Bianca Stone.

MARY PEELEN received an MFA from San Francisco State University. Her poetry, fiction, and nonfiction have appeared in Michigan Quarterly Review, New American Writing, Bennington Review, Poetry Review (UK), Alaska Quarterly Review, Gulf Coast, and other journals. She lives in San Francisco.

BONITA LEE PENN’s poems have been published in Women’s Studies Quarterly, Voices from the Attic a Madwomen in the Attic Anthology and elsewhere. As an Interdisciplinary Advisor she taught Poetic Forms in the MFA program at Lesley University. She is active in her local literary community where she is the founder and facilitator of the UMBRA/Pittsburgh Writers Workshop and Curator of several poetry events. She received her MFA from Lesley University and resides in Pittsburgh, PA where she recently completed her first full-length poetry manuscript.

CAROL POTTER, author of five books of poetry, is the 2014 winner of the Field Poetry Prize for Some Slow Bees from Oberlin College Press. She was awarded the 2015 Poetry Prize from Ekphrasis for her poem, “Power Figure, Mixed Media.” Potter’s poems have appeared in Green Mountains Review, Field, The Iowa Review, Poetry, The American Poetry Review, the Massachusetts Review, and many other journals and anthologies. She has poems forthcoming in Hotel Amerika, the Kenyon Review, and in River Styx.

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.

BARBARA RAS first collection of poems, Bite Every Sorrow, was chosen by C. K. Williams to receive the 1997 Walt Whitman Award. In 1999, Ras was named Georgia Poet of the Year. Her other books of poetry include One Hidden Stuff  and The Last Skin. She is also the editor of a collection of short fiction in translation, Costa Rica: A Traveler’s Literary Companion. Ras has received fellowships from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. She has taught at writing programs across the country and has been on the faculty of the MFA Program for Writers at Warren Wilson College. Ras currently lives in San Antonio, where she directs Trinity University Press.

SHANA I. REDMOND is the author of Anthem: Social Movements and the Sound of Solidarity in the African Diaspora and Associate Professor of Musicology and African American Studies at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently writing a book about the political afterlife of Paul Robeson entitled Everything Man: The Form and Function of Paul Robeson.

DONALD REVELL is the author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, most recently of Drought-Adapted Vine from Alice James Books. He is a Professor of English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. His poem “Charles Ives at the Spinet” was inspired by the composer’s antiwar song “They Are There!”, which can be heard on a rare wire-recording of Ives singing and accompanying himself on the piano.

LAURENCE DE RICHEMONT is a translator living in Italy.

IGIABA SCEGO is an Italian writer of Somali descent who was born in 1974 in Rome where she still lives.

BRUCE SMITH is the author of several books of poems, including The Other Lover, a finalist for both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. A “Discovery”/The Nation Award winner, Smith has received a Guggenheim Fellowship as well as grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Massachusetts Foundation for the Arts. His work has appeared in Best American Poetry and the 2009 Pushcart Prize anthology. Smith has been a co-editor of the Graham House Review and a contributing editor of Born Magazine. He has taught at the University of Alabama and Syracuse University.

KATE SOPER is a Professor of Music at Smith College as well as a composer, performer, and writer whose work explores the integration of drama and rhetoric into musical structure, the slippery continuums of expressivity, intelligibility and sense, and the wonderfully treacherous landscape of the human voice.

LESLIE STAINTON is the author of Staging Ground: An American Theater and Its Ghosts and Lorca: A Dream of Life.

GERALD STERN was elected a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets in 2006. In 2010, W.W. Norton published Early Collected Poems: 1965-1992. For many years a teacher at the University of Iowa Writer’s Workshop, Stern now lives in Lambertville, New Jersey.

BIANCA STONE is a poet and visual artist, and the author of Someone Else’s Wedding Vows, Poetry Comics From the Book of Hours, and artist/collaborator on a special illustrated edition of Anne Carson's Antigonick. She runs the Ruth Stone Foundation & Monk Books with her husband, the poet BEN PEASE in Vermont and Brooklyn.

ARTHUR SZE’s latest books of poetry are Compass Rose, and Pig’s Heaven Inn, a bilingual Chinese/English selected poems. He is the recipient of the Jackson Poetry Prize and is a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

GIANMARIA TESTA was an Italian singer-songwriter. He was born in 1958, near Cuneo, in the Piedmont region of Italy, and he died earlier this year. If there were an Italian poet laureate, and if Italy had a Library of Congress, with its own performance series, Testa would have surely have been invited by theirs to perform there, triumphantly, as John Prine once was, and did, at ours.

The author of more than twenty books of poetry, PAUL VERLAINE (1844-1896) was an influential member of the French surrealists (with Rimbaud, Mallarmé and Valéry, among others.) He had a long, dysfunctional relationship with Rimbaud, who he shot in the wrist during a drunken argument in Brussels, Belgium, and spent two years in prison. One of the poètes maudits, he also played an important role in the fin de siècle movement.

STEVE WAKSMAN is Professor of Music and Sylvia Dlugasch Bauman Professor of American Studies at Smith College, where he also chairs the music department. His publications include the books Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience, This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk, and the SAGE Handbook of Popular Music, which he co-edited with Andy Bennett. 

KEN WALDMAN is a writer with six full-length poetry collections and a memoir. He makes his living as a freelance writer, musician, performer, educator, often touring as Alaska’s Fiddling Poet.

TING WANG discovered her passion for literary translation while studying American and British literature in mainland China. Her translations have appeared or are forthcoming in Asymptote, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Brooklyn Rail InTranslation, Denver Quarterly, The Iowa Review, Washington Square Review, and Your Impossible Voice. She holds a Ph.D. from the School of Communication at Northwestern University, and lives and works in the Washington metropolitan area.

KIMBERLY WHITE’s poetry has appeared in Cream City Review, The Comstock Review, the New Renaissance, and other journals and anthologies. She is the author of four chapbooks, Penelope, A Reachable Tibet, The Daily Diaries of Death, and Letters To A Dead Man; two novels: Bandy’s Restola and Hotel Tarantula

GARY J. WHITEHEAD’s third collection of poems, A Glossary of Chickens, was published by Princeton University Press in 2013.

JIM WHITESIDE is a graduate of the creative writing MFA program at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and a Virginia Center for the Creative Arts Fellow. His poems appear or are forthcoming in The Southern Review, Indiana Review, Kenyon Review Online, Ninth Letter, and The Adroit Journal, among others. Originally from Cookeville, Tennessee, he now lives in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

HELEN WICKES lives in Oakland, California and worked for many years as a psychotherapist. She is the author of four books of poetry: In Search of Landscape, Dawson’s Apprentice, Moon over Zabriskie, and World as you Left it.

GERALD WILLIAMS is an editor, writer, and translator living in Manhattan. Essays, short stories and poems have been published in: the Massachusetts Review, the Harvard Review, New Letters, Callaloo, the Beacon Street Review, the California Quarterly Press, the Bieler Press, Coffee House Press, and Michael Coughlin Publications. He was editor at the Olympia Press and Dutch-English translator at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam. He has translated four art books for Harry N. Abrams. His chapbook, Blowing Up Hitler—a biographical poem on the first man to try to kill Hitler—is Google accesible. Out-of-print, copies are still on sale here and in Germany via Amazon. His essay "The Astounding Power of Penmanship" is out this winter.

ABE LOUISE YOUNG leads community-based writing workshops in Austin, TX. Her poetry and essays have appeared in The Nation, Witness, New Letters, Feminist Wire, WIND, Black Clock, Texas Observer and elsewhere, and have won awards from the Hawai'i Review and Narrative Magazine. She is the author of two chapbooks of poetry, Heaven to Me, Ammonite, and several guides available free on the Internet, including Queer Youth Advice for Educators: How to Respect and Protect Your LGBTQ Students.

Join the email list for our latest news