Front Cover by Laurent Chéhère
L'Enfer, 2017. Photomontage.
Courtesy of the artist.Order a copy now
Front Cover by Laurent Chéhère
L'Enfer, 2017. Photomontage.
Courtesy of the artist.Order a copy now
“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.
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
ATEF ABU SAIF is a Palestinian writer living in Gaza. He has published six novels. His novel A Suspended Life was shortlisted for the 2015 Arab Booker Prize. He edited a collection of short stories from Gaza titled The Book of Gaza, which includes one of his own pieces. His account of the Israeli attacks against Gaza in 2014 was published in English under the title The Drone Eats with Me: Diaries from a City Under Fire. Abu Saif holds a PhD in political science and teaches at the University of Al-Azhar in Gaza.
FRANCESCA BELL’s poems appear in many journals, including B O D Y, New Ohio Review, North American Review, Poetry Northwest, Prairie Schooner, and Rattle. Her translations appear in Berkeley Poetry Review, Blue Lyra Review, Circumference, Poetry in Translation, and Laghoo. She is the Marin Poetry Center’s events coordinator and the poetry editor of River Styx.
In addition to the short story collection The Little Red Book, ALEXANDRA BERKOVÁ published four novellas (Magoria or: A Tale of Great Love; The Trials and Tribulations of the Devoted Scoundrel; Dark Love; A Banal Story) before her untimely death in 2008. She also worked in television and radio, and influenced a generation of writers as an instructor at the Czech Literary Academy.
GIUSEPPE BERTO (1914–1978) started writing novels when he was a prisoner of war in Hereford, TX, from 1943 to 1946. The second novel he wrote there, Il cielo è rosso, was the first to be published, and it was a commercial and critical success, winning praise from Ernest Hemingway and the Florence Prize for literature. This first success was followed quickly by two others, Le opere di Dio and Il brigante. Both Il cielo è rosso and Il brigante were later made into films, as was his masterpiece Il male oscuro (Incubus) in 1964. In several of his works, including his last novel, La Gloria, Berto elaborated his existential struggle in confrontations with Christianity. All but two of his novels, La gloria and Oh, Serafina, have been translated into English. From La Gloria, published in Italy by Neri Pozza Editore, translated by arrangement with The Italian Literary Agency, Milan.
PETER BUSH has translated many Catalan, Spanish, and Latin American writers. He received the Valle-Inclán Prize for Juan Goytisolo’s The Marx Family Saga and Exiled from Almost Everywhere, the Calouste Gulbenkian Prize for Equator, and the Ramon Llull Prize for Josep Pla’s The Gray Notebook. The Spanish government awarded him the Cross of the Order of Civil Merit in 2012 and the Generalitat, the St George’s Cross, in 2015, for his translation and promotion of Spanish and Catalan literature respectively. He lives in Oxford, where he is completing the translation of Winds of the Night.
AHSAN BUTT was born in Toronto, is of Pakistani descent, and currently lives in Los Angeles. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in One Throne Magazine, Pacifica Literary Review, The Offing, The James Franco Review, and elsewhere.
NANCY NAOMI CARLSON has authored six titles, including translations of poems by Abdourahman Waberi, a finalist for the Best Translated Book Award. A recipient of an NEA literature translation fellowship, Carlson has published translations in APR, crazyhorse, FIELD, New England Review, Massachusetts Review, and Prairie Schooner. The novel excerpt appearing in this issue comes from Suzanne Dracius’s The Dancing Other, forthcoming from Seagull Books.
MARGARET CARSON’s translations include Sergio Chejfec’s My Two Worlds, Mercedes Roffe’s Theory of Colors, and José Tomás de Cuéllar’s The Magic Lantern. She is currently translating the writings of the Spanish surrealist artist Remedios Varos.
LAURENT CHÉHÈRE lives in Menilmontant, a popular district of Paris. His inspiration is rich and varied, he loves architecture, cinema, reportage, conceptual ideas, manipulation, retouching, and photo-montage. His work has been exhibited in ParisPhoto2013, the Fence Festival New York, Seoul Lunar Festival, Photo Phnom Penh Festival, Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography in Moscow, Fotografica Bogota in Colombia, Caumont Art Center in Aix-en-Provence, and many more.
SERGIO CHEJFEC is a well-known Argentinian Spanish writer. He lived in Caracas from 1990 to 2004 and has lived in the US since 2005. His novels My Two Worlds, The Planets, and The Dark have been published in translation by Open Letter Books.
GREGORY CONTI is a graduate of Notre Dame and Yale, and has lived in Perugia, Italy, since 1995, where he teaches English at the university. Recent translations include A Soldier on the Southern Front by Emilio Lussa, and The Fault Line by Paolo Rumiz.
SUZANNE DRACIUS is an award-winning writer from Martinique, whom the French Cultural Minister has called “one of the great figures of Antillean letters.” Dracius’s poems, short stories, novels, and plays emphasize Martinique’s complex cultural history, filled with slavery, sugar cane, métissage (the blending of two distinct elements, in either a biological or cultural sense), and erupting volcanoes. Her sophisticated language is filled with imaginative word play, Latin, slang, and Creole.
SEIF ELDEINE is an Arab-American poet living outside Worcester, MA, with a degree in Middle Eastern Studies from Tufts University. He is currently working on a book about the Syrian Civil War and has work published in Star 82 Review and Vayavya, among others.
DANIELLE LEGROS GEORGES was named poet laureate of the city of Boston in 2015, and is the author of two books of poems, The Dear Remote Nearness of You (Barrow Street Press, 2016) and Maroon (Curbstone Press, 2001). She is a professor in the Creative Arts in Learning Division of Lesley University, and a faculty member of the William Joiner Institute Summer Writer’s Workshop, University of Massachusetts, Boston. She serves as a consulting poetry editor for Solstice and Salamander literary magazines.
ALICE GUTHRIE is a British translator, editor, journalist, and event producer specializing in Arabic-English literary and media content. Her work has appeared in a range of international publications, with an increasing focus on Syria, where she studied Arabic between 2001 and 2003. She is the literary producer for Shubbak, London’s biennial festival of Arab arts and culture, and bilingually edits Arabic-English translations for various literary presses. A former Translator in Residence at London’s Free Word Centre and American Literary Translators Association Fellow, in 2015 she was a recipient — with Syrian writer Rasha Abbas — of the Omi International Translation Lab fellowship.
KALAM HAIDARI(1930–1994) was a critically esteemed Urdu writer and journalist, whose reputation would have been greater had he lived in a big city. He spent most of his life in the small town of Gaya, India, where he was a businessman, and edited two Urdu publications. He was also a member of the radical pan-Indian Progressive Writers’ Movement. Like many Urdu writers of his generation, he never wrote a novel.
JARED HARÉL was awarded the Stanley Kunitz Memorial Prize from the American Poetry Review in 2015. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Arts & Letters, Ecotone, Southern Review, Threepenny Review, and Tin House. His narrative long poem, “The Body Double,” was published by Brooklyn Arts Press. Harél lives in Queens with his wife and two kids, and plays drums for the twang-rock band The Dust Engineers.
A writer and scholar, SYED SARWAR HUSSAIN teaches English in Saudi Arabia and translates from Urdu.
CLAIRE HUTTLINGER is a teacher, editor, and translator living in Florence, MA. She spent seven years teaching English and studying in Granada, Spain. She has taught Science and World Languages to students ranging from elementary school to community college. She edited Ibtissam Bouachrine’s Women and Islam: Myths, Apologies, and the Limits of the Feminist Critique, and has translated several articles for psychology research journals. This is her first venture into the translation of fiction.
GEORGE KALAMARAS, former Poet Laureate of Indiana, is the author of fifteen books of poetry, eight of which are full-length, including Kingdom of Throat-Stuck Luck, winner of the Elixir Press Poetry Prize, and The Mining Camps of the Mouth, winner of the New Michigan Press Prize. He is Professor of English at Indiana University-Purdue University Fort Wayne.
CATHERINE MAIGRET KELLOGG was born and raised in France and moved to the US almost twenty years ago. She keeps a day job in digital marketing, but literary translation is her passion. An excerpt from her co-translation of The Dancing Other, by Suzanne Dracius, has appeared in the New England Review. She lives in New York City with her husband.
Born and educated 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.
STACIE LEATHERMAN is the author of two books of poetry: Stranger Air and Storm Crop. Her work has appeared in New American Writing, Indiana Review, Barrow Street, Diagram, and crazyhorse, among others. She lives near Cleveland, OH.
DANIEL LUSK is the winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize and author of five poetry collections, including most recently The Vermeer Suite. His poems, stories, and essays have appeared in New Letters, Poetry Ireland Review, North American Review, Poetry, Prairie Schooner, The Iowa Review, Southern Poetry Review, American Poetry Review, Markings, and more. A new collection of his poems, The Shower Scene from Hamlet, is scheduled for release in 2017. Daniel lives in Vermont with his wife, Irish poet Angela Patten.
A. MEDVEDENKO lives in Amsterdam. The story in this issue is drawn from a novel in progress. A different excerpt previously appeared in Asymptote, and was translated into Mandarin.
ANTONIO MUÑOZ MOLINA is a highly acclaimed author and member of the Royal Spanish Academy. His body of some thirty novels, in addition to regular columns and blogs, have earned him several international awards. Notable works include El jinete polaco, Sepharad, The Night of Times, and most recently, Como la sombra que se va, a meticulously researched and deeply moving portrayal of the life of James Earl Ray. He has taught in various US colleges, and headed the Instituto Cervantes in New York.
FÉLIX MORISSEAU-LEROY (1912–1998) was a prolific Haitian writer, educator, activist, and champion of the Haitian Creole language. Morisseau-Leroy is deeply admired and celebrated in the Haitian diaspora, Haiti, and elsewhere for the significant and courageous role he played in the promotion and recognition of Haitian Creole as a language of instruction, as well as literature. He was among the first important Haitian writers to write serious literary texts in Haitian Creole, which reflected and celebrated Haitian Creole cultural identity and concerns. Often referred to as the “father of Haitian Creole literature,” his literary influence can be seen in the existence of Creole-language texts written by contemporaries and a younger generation of Haitian writers.
PAUL NEMSER’s book Taurus won the New American Poetry Prize, and his chapbook of prose poems Tales of the Tetragrammaton was published in 2014. His poems have appeared in magazines such as AGNI, Blackbird, Columbia, Fulcrum, Poetry, TriQuarterly, and Tupelo Quarterly. Work is forthcoming in London Review of Books and Plume. He co-translated two books of Ukrainian poetry: Antonych, Square of Angels and Drach, Orchard Lamps, which won a PEN prize.
ILMA RAKUSA is a celebrated Swiss author, poet, translator (from Russian, Hungarian, French, and Serbo-Croatian into German), and journalist (Neue Züricher Zeitung, Die Zeit). She has translated, among others, the works of Anton Chekhov, Marguerite Duras, and Joseph Brodsky. Recent books include Mehr Meer. Erinnerungspassagen (winner of the Swiss Book Prize), Einsamkeit mit rollendem “r,” and Impressum: Langsames Licht.
ERIC HENRY SANDERS is a playwright, filmmaker, and fiction writer. His many plays have been produced in New York, London, and Berlin, and in regional theaters across the United States. His short films have screened at festivals including the Palm Springs International ShortFest, the New Hope Film Festival, and the Massachusetts International Film Festival. His nonfiction writing has appeared in Bright Lights Film Journal and Take Magazine, among others.
CLAIRE SCHWARTZ is a PhD candidate in African American Studies, American Studies, and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies at Yale. Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in Apogee, Beloit Poetry Journal, Prairie Schooner, and Waxwing, and her essays, reviews, and interviews appear in Electric Literature, Iowa Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, and elsewhere. Her chapbook bound is forthcoming in 2017.
FRANCESC SERÉS was born in Saidí, on the border between Catalonia and Spain, near the deserted area of Monegros. Russian Stories, his fictional anthology of Russian writers, won the City of Barcelona Award and the Spanish Critics Award. His works have been translated into Spanish, French, and English. He is a frequent contributor to the Spanish newspaper El País.
MARGARET WILKERSON SEXTON received her BA in Creative Writing from Dartmouth College and her JD from UC Berkeley School of Law. Her first novel, A Kind of Freedom, will be published by Counterpoint Press in August 2017. Her stories have been published or are forthcoming in Grey Sparrow Journal, Broad! Magazine, and Limestone Journal, and her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
BRITTON SHURLEY’s poetry has recently appeared, or is forthcoming, in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Southern Indiana Review, and Wacamaw. He received Emerging Artist Awards from the Kentucky Arts Council in 2011 and 2017. He is currently an associate professor of English at West Kentucky Community and Technical College where he edits the journal Exit 7 with his wife Amelia Martens.
TAIJE SILVERMAN’s book Houses Are Fields was published in 2009. She is the winner of the Anne Halley Poetry Prize from the Massachusetts Review, as well as the recipient of a 2016 Pushcart Prize and several residencies from MacDowell. Newer poems are forthcoming in the Georgia Review, Barrow Street, Gettysburg Review, and Best American Poetry 2016.
CORINE TACHTIRIS translates mainly the work of contemporary women authors from the Czech Republic, Haiti, and Francophone Africa. Her translation of Alexandra Berková’s Dark Love was awarded a 2016 PEN/Heim Translation Fund Grant. She teaches in the Literature program at Antioch College.
SHASHI THAROOR holds a PhD from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and is the author of sixteen best-selling books, including three novels and a biography of Nehru. His most recent, Inglorious Empire: What the British Did to India, published in India as An Era of Darkness: The British Empire in India, has ignited a major debate in both countries on colonial rule. Dr. Tharoor is a secondterm member of India’s Parliament, elected to represent Thiruvananthapuram (capital of the state of Kerala), and chairs Parliament’s External Affairs Committee.
LENA KHALAF TUFFAHA writes poetry, translations, and essays. Her work has been published or is forthcoming from the Kenyon Review Online, Lunch Ticket, Borderlands Texas Review, Lake for Poetry, Sukoon, and the Taos Journal of International Poetry and Art. Her poem “Running Orders” has been translated into Hebrew, Greek, Italian, Spanish and Norwegian, performed at anti-war protests around the world, and anthologized in Letters to Palestine. Her first collection of poems, Water & Salt, is forthcoming from Red Hen Press.
LAURA PAUL WATSON lives and writes in Pine, CO. She is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Florida. When not writing poetry, she works as a general contractor remodeling and building new homes in the Denver area. Her work has also appeared in the Cincinnati Review, Poetry Northwest, and Meridian, among others.
DEAN YOUNG’s latest book is Bender.