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Front Cover by Laurent Chéhère
L'Enfer, 2017. Photomontage.

Courtesy of the artist.

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Volume 58, Issue 2

“STAND AND DELIVER!” There must generally be few circumstances where poets and writers get confronted with some modern-day equivalent to this highwaymen’s call. “Your poetry or your life!” sounds like a skit from Monty Python, not a moment nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita. Lately, though, I’m beginning to wonder. For example, back during the first half of August, 2014, my wanderings took me for a short stint at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, a two-week workshop on “Literary Responses to Genocide in the Post-Holocaust Era,” organized by Erin McGlothlin and Stephenie Young. Our discussions were of the sort where, years later, I feel I’m still at that table, sorting things out. In part, however, history itself has had a hand in the matter. During those days back in 2014, the third war in six years was raging on Gaza, the Yazidis had fled from ISIS to Mount Sinjar, and Michael Brown was gunned down in Ferguson. Genocide, to put it bluntly, yet again on the table.

One morning, after scanning my email and the news, I headed for the USHMM. Just before leaving, though, I also happened upon “Running Orders” by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, whose poem “In Case of Emergency” we feature in this issue. I won’t say more about either poem here, since you should do your own homework, but I will say that I could not not take that poem with me that morning and place it squarely on the table for our discussions. Needless to say, it’s still there.

As is “Syria’s Struggle to Sleep,” the meditation in verse by Seif Eldeine that opens these pages: “No one sleeps to the sounds of bombs”—except, all too easily, the rest of us. Then Francesc Serés (as ever, trenchantly translated by Peter Bush) takes us on a walkabout through refugee camps in southern Spain; places where, as Serés observes, “They had made the leap from a boat to land, but everything is still a boat and made of plastic.” Elsewhere on the planet, the acclaimed Indian writer, diplomat, and Member of Parliament Shastri Tharoor offers sage reflections on “Nehru’s Relevance in India Today”; the themes of a political legacy besieged and betrayed, we trust, will resonate in other countries as well. An able translation from Urdu by Syed Sarwar Hussein, and another from Arabic by Alice Guthrie, give us a pair of stories—by Kalam Haidari and Atef Abu Saif—reminding us that humor is what oppressors most lack and tolerate least. Then Tabish Khair, in an intimate, important essay, tells tales out of school to explore the roots of postcolonial resentment. Finally, our opening section ends, with some lovely blue notes from last year’s Halley Prize-winning poet, Taije Silverman.

Rather than recite the rest of our issue, I should just get out of the way and let you read. Rest assured, however; there is plenty more, both heroes and finds, in the pages that follow. Three poems from Dean Young, for example, work from Chejfec and Muñoz Molina, statements of faith from at least two religions, and gems from Eastern Europe and the Caribbean too. Not to mention Laurent Chéhère’s Parisian hommage in photomontage to the WTF world we inhabit. In times like these, artists, poets, and writers do need to give up the goods—to save their lives, and ours.


Entries

poetry

No One and Syria’s Struggle to Sleep

by Seif Eldeine

essay

All I Know About Myself and Everybody Else, Lest I Forget

By Francesc Serés, Translated by Peter Bush

translation

All I Know About Myself and Everybody Else, Lest I Forget

Peter Bush

poetry

Song over Song for My Father

By Paul Nemser

poetry

In Case of Emergency

By Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

essay

Nehru's Relevance in India Today

By Shashi Tharoor

fiction

The Paper Pond

By Kalam Haidari, Translated by Syed Sarwar Hussain

translation

The Paper Pond

Syed Sarwar Hussain

fiction

The Lottery

By Atef Abu Saif, Translated by Alice Guthrie

translation

The Lottery

Alice Guthrie

essay

Postcolonial Resentments

By Tabish Khair

poetry

Harp Jazz

By Taije Silverman

poetry

Meditation in the Key of an Exhale

By Jared Harél

art

Flying Houses

By Laurent Chéhère

poetry

Now that Tomaž and Jim are Gone, Sleepers Awake, and Unprotected

By Dean Young

fiction

Impossible Love

By Antonio Muñoz Molina, Translated by Claire Huttlinger

translation

Impossible Love

Claire Huttlinger

fiction

Lena Dunham Is Everywhere

By Eric Henry Sanders

fiction

The Little White Notice

By Alexandra Berková, Translated by Corine Tachtiris

translation

The Little White Notice

Corine Tachtiris

fiction

Two Weeks at Most

By A. Medvedenko

poetry

Rainy Sun

By Ilma Rakusa, Translated by Francesca Bell

translation

Rainy Sun

Francesca Bell

Novel Excerpt

Baroni: A Journey

By Sergio Chejfec, Translated by Margaret Carson

translation

Baroni: A Journey

Margaret Carson

Novel Excerpt

Glory

By Giuseppe Berto, Translated by Gregory Conti

translation

Glory

Gregory Conti

poetry

Partenogensis

By Britton Shurley

fiction

Turn, Struggle

By Ahsan Butt

poetry

The Day of No Fire

By George Kalamaras

poetry

[Redacted]

By Claire Schwartz

poetry

The Commitment of Rain

By Stacie Leatherman

poetry

Blood Oranges

By Daniel Lusk

poetry

Mwen menm ou menm

By Félix Morisseau-Leroy, with commentary by Danielle Legros Georges, translated by Danielle Legros Georges with Jean-Claude Martineau et al

translation

Mwen menm ou menm

Danielle Legros Georges with Jean-Claude Martineau et al

fiction

White Girl

By Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

Novel Excerpt

The Dancing Other

By Suzanne Dracius, Translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson and Catherine Maigret Kellogg

translation

The Dancing Other

Nancy Naomi Carlson

translation

The Dancing Other

Catherine Maigret Kellogg

poetry

Love & Hypothermia

By Laura Paul Watson

Table of Contents

Introduction

No One and Syria’s Struggle to Sleep, a poem by Seif Eldeine

All I Know About Myself and Everybody Else, Lest I Forget,
  an essay by Francesc Serés, translated by Peter Bush

Song over Song for My Father, a poem by Paul Nemser

In Case of Emergency, a poem by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Nehru’s Relevance in India Today,
  an essay by Shashi Tharoor

The Paper Pond, a story by Kalam Haidari,
  translated by Syed Sarwar Hussain

The Lottery, a story by Atef Abu Saif,
  translated by Alice Guthrie

Postcolonial Resentments, an essay by Tabish Khair

Harp Jazz, a poem by Taije Silverman

Meditation in the Key of an Exhale, a poem by Jared Harél

Flying Houses, photomontages by Laurent Chéhère

Now that Tomaž and Jim are Gone, Sleepers Awake,
  and Unprotected, poems by Dean Young

Impossible Love, a story by Antonio Muñoz Molina,
  translated by Claire Huttlinger

Lena Dunham Is Everywhere, a story by Eric Henry Sanders

The Little White Notice, a story by Alexandra Berková,
  translated by Corine Tachtiris

Two Weeks at Most, a story by A. Medvedenko

Rainy Sun, a poem by Ilma Rakusa, translated by Francesca Bell

Baroni: A Journey, a novel excerpt from Sergio Chejfec,
  translated by Margaret Carson

Glory, a novel excerpt by Giuseppe Berto,
  translated by Gregory Conti

Parthenogenesis, a poem by Britton Shurley

Turn, Struggle, a story by Ahsan Butt

The Day of No Fire, a poem by George Kalamaras

[Redacted], a poem by Claire Schwartz

The Commitment of Rain, a poem by Stacie Leatherman

Blood Oranges, a poem by Daniel Lusk

Mwen menm ou menm, a poem by Félix Morisseau-Leroy,
 with commentary by Danielle Legros Georges,
 translated by Danielle Legros Georges with
 Jean-Claude Martineau, David Brooks Andrews,
 Mary Birnbaum, Ruby Poltorak, and Molly Lynn Watt

White Girl, a story by Margaret Wilkerson Sexton

The Dancing Other, a novel excerpt by Suzanne Dracius,
  translated by Nancy Naomi Carlson and
  Catherine Maigret Kellogg

Love & Hypothermia, a poem by Laura Paul Watson

Notes on Contributors

Contributors

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