For most of us, the last time we reflected at any length on the subject of Manifest Destiny was eleventh grade. And at that age in that context, the moral lines were mostly uncomplicated: “[sputter sputter] … EVIL Empire! … [sputter] Fascist pigs! And [deep breath] Ronald Reagan must … be … stopped!” The geopolitical borders had by then been drawn and the vainglorious motivations of great ships and flourishing empires were entirely yesterday’s ineluctable stew. In fact, we chose this theme for our issue precisely because it is so essentially out of currency, elusive, and yet suggestive in a scurrying, spidery way. Manifest Destiny: by which we mean politics, ideology, the world, and heading off into the horizon to conquer. With literature. Bring on the rogue fiction, the expansionist poetry, Latin American bards, identity issues, culture bludgeons; bring on God, men, and guns.
And then the clarion call of bugles fades. “And then what, America?” —asks one of our poets, Bob Evans, here (quoting Milton Kessler)—“What if we have always had this, this more-than-we-had-ever-imagined?” For here we are, well into the twenty-first century. American imperialism creeps and staggers. It is no longer fierce, directed and ideological, but rather ambivalent, apologetic, deadly and political. It does not seem that we want more America (anymore); we simply want a more comfortable one. We “want” easier claims—on oil, technology, mobility, influence. We want greater access and less mystery. Less God, more gold.
As for glory, that most unquantifiable, third face of imperialism? Well, modern glory lies somewhere between Barack Obama and Michael Jackson. Exquisitely American phenomena, both; global in their reach, astonishing in their ascension—large bait for our collective dreams and desires. Self-invented, as Robert Polito points out in our interview with him; a determined combination of imagination and will, a conviction that there is some other, better way to inhabit this moment. How else would you define literature?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Rubén Darío, Leopoldo Lugones, Delmira, Agustini, Pablo Neruda, Juan Gelman, Alberto Blanco
Ilan Stavans, translator
Six Poets from Latin America
Her Life to Come
R. A. Allen
The Emerald Coast
Miciah Bay Gault
City of Lonely Women
The Most Beautiful Book in the World
Translated byAlison Anderson
The Dreams of Savages
I Have a List of Things
We Loved to Eat at Burger King
R. G. Evans
“And Then What America, And Then What?”
The Body, An Afterthought
Mathew Brady at Gettysburg
Boy on Market Day
Martin Jude Farawell
The Search for Atlantis
Our Enemies Send Other People’s Children on Missions of Suicide and Murder
Translated by J. Kates
Ian W. Douglas
Dark Was the Night
Postscript to an Argument
To Leuconö e
To the Lyre
Two Poems on Edward Hopper’s Paintings
Translated by Lawrence Venuti
When We Decided To Build the Wall
Jennifer Louise Percy
Hi-Ho, Hi-Ho, Off to the Gun Show We Go
Wanderers in Zion
Cole Swenson and David St. John, editors
American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry
by Renée Ashley
Interview with Robert Polito
Once the Shore
By Marion Wyce
The Withdrawal Method
By Jeff Bursey
By Paul-Victor Winters
Diary of a Wave Outside the Sea
By Deborah Hall
Ernesto Cardenal and John Cohen, editors
Pluriverse: New and Selected Poems
By Kristina Marie Darling
Fourth of July #2
Mike Sinclair is an architectural and fine art photographer living in Kansas City, Missouri. His Photographs are frequently published in the architectural press and elsewhere, including The New York Times, Metropolis, Architectural Record, and Interior Design. His work is in several public and private collections, including The Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, and the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, also in Kansas City.
The celebration in Fourth of July #2, Independence, Missouri took place on the lawn of the Truman Presidential Library in Independence, Missouri. The event, according to Sinclair, included speeches, introductions of prominent citizens, and a band concert featuring several numbers with a children’s choir. “I think,” he says, “the Declaration of Independence was read aloud.” The lawn was full of people—some picnicking, some just there for the evening fireworks display.
The haze in the picture is a combination of Missouri’s humid summer weather, fireworks, and smoke from the Civil War-era cannons that were fired while Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture played.
Fourth of July #2, Independence, Missouri, by Mike Sinclair is available as a limited-edition print at 20×200.com, a fine art website that offers exhibition quality prints, exclusively online.
Uruguayan poet Delmira Agustini is considered one of the greatest female Latin American poets of the early twentieth-century. Her books include El libro blanco, Cantos de la mañana, El rosario de Eros and Los astros del abismo (all published between 1907 and 1924). Selected Poetry of Delmira Agustini: Poetics of Eros, edited and translated by Alejandro Cáceres, offers a good representation of her work for English-language readers. She died in 1914.
R.A. Allen lives in Memphis. His fiction has appeared in The Barcelona Review #64, Calliope, PANK, SinisterCity, Sniplits (audio) and others; poetry in WordnRiot, The New York Quarterly, Pirene’s Fountain and others.
In addition to The Most Beautiful Book in the World: 8 Novellas, Alison Anderson has translated from French Sélim Nassib’s novels, I Loved You for Your Voice and The Palestinian Lover; Amélie Nothomb’s Tokyo Fiancée, and Muriel Barbery’s bestselling novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog.
J.R.Angelella’s received an MFA in Writing from the Bennington Writing Seminars at Bennington College. He is a regular contributor to The Chapbook Review and his short fiction has been published in Twelve Stories, Hunger Mountain and is forthcoming in Fifth Wednesday Journal. He lives in Brooklyn with his wife, Kate, and is at work on his first novel.
Renée Ashley is the author of four volumes of poetry; the latest, Basic Heart, was awarded the 2009 X.J. Kennedy Poetry Prize. She is poetry editor for The Literary Review.
Nina Berberova, who died in 1993 at age ninety-two, is best known for her prose fiction and nonfiction, but she was also a poet, playwright and translator. She left Russia in 1922 and lived in Paris until 1950, when she came to the United States. English translations of her poetry have appeared in Cyphers, Modern Poetry in Translation, and Salt.
Alberto Blanco, one of Mexico’s most important poets, is the author of, among other books, El corazón del instante, a compilation of twelve volumes of poetry and La hora y la neblina, a second compilation of another twelve books of poetry. Dawn of the Senses is the most representative sample of his work available in English.
Jeff Bursey’s articles, fiction and reviews have appeared in many Canadian, British and United States publications. His plays have been performed in Canada.
Kelly Cherry is the author of seventeen books, eight chapbooks and two translations of classical plays. Hazard and Prospect: New and Selected Poems, was published by LSU Press in 2007.
Along with José Martí, Nicaraguan poet Rubén Darío was a leader of the Modernismo literary movement that renovated Latin American poetry between 1885 and 1915. Darío’s most important books are Azul . . . , Cantos de vida y esperanza, El cisne y otros poemas, El canto errante and Canto a la Argentina—all published between 1888 and 1914. Rubén Darío: Selected Writings, edited by Ilan Stavans, is a comprehensive anthology of his work available in English. Dario died in 1916.
Kristina Marie Darling is a graduate student at Washington University in St. Louis. Her work appears in the Boston Review, Mid-American Review, New Letters and other journals.
Ian W. Douglas is a writer, photographer and designer living in Brooklyn, New York. His work has appeared in The New Yorker and other publications.
R. G. Evans teaches and writes in southern New Jersey.
Martin Jude Farawell is author of the chapbook “Genesis: A Sequence of Poems,” and his work has appeared in the The Cortland Review, Lips, Poetry East, Maryland Poetry Review, Paterson Literary Review, Paintbrush, The Southern Review, Tiferet Journal and others, as well as a number of anthologies, including Outsiders from Milkweed Editions. His plays have been performed off-off-Broadway and by regional, college, community and international theaters. He directs the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Program.
Catalan poet Ernest Farrés lives in Barcelona. A journalist who works on the cultural supplement of the Spanish daily, La Vanguardia, he has written three volumes of poetry, including Edward Hopper, which won the Englantina d’Or of the Jocs Florals in 2006.
Miciah Bay Gault is the managing editor of Hunger Mountain at the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her fiction has appeared in AGNI. She is working on her first novel.
Argentine poet Juan Gelman is the author of, among other books, Violín y otras cuestiones, Gotán, and Cólera buey; the anthology, Unthinkable Tenderness: Selected Poems, edited and translated by Joan Lindgren, offers a representative style of his poetry in English. He is also the author of Dibaxu, a volume of poetry written in Ladino, the Judeo-Spanish language.The two poems included in this issue are from that collection. Gelman taught himself the language in order to compose the book.
Alan Gilbert is a widely published poet and critic, and the author of Another Future: Poetry and Art in a Postmodern Twilight.
Deborah Hall is the author of The Anatomy of Narrative: Analyzing Fiction and Creative Nonfiction, and has published in River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative, and International Quarterly, among others. She is prose editor of the new online journal of Pakistan studies, Pakistaniaat. She teaches writing and literature at Valdosta State University in Georgia.
Huan Hsu lives in Shanghai. This is his first published story.
J. Kates is a poet and literary translator who lives in Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire.
John Lindgren’s poetry and prose has appeared in The New Yorker, The ParisnReview, Chelsea, The Iowa Review, The Literary Review, Encounter, Poetry Northwest, and is forthcoming in the American Literary Review and The Southern Review. He is working on his first book of verse, and teaches calculus and physics in Los Angeles.
A prolific man of letters in Argentina at the turn of the last century, Leopoldo Lugones is the author of Los crepúsculos del jardín, Lunario sentimental, and El payador. He also wrote impressionistic, book-long meditations on the war against the gauchos in Argentina, and the Jesuit presence in Paraguay during colonial times. His poetry remains unavailable in English. Some of his fiction is featured in Strange Forces, translated into English by Gilbert Alter-Gilbert. He died in 1938.
Erica McAlpine is currently finishing her PhD in English at Yale. Her poems and translations have appeared (or are forthcoming) in Slate, TriQuarterly, The Southwest Review, Literary Imagination and The American Scholar.
David McGlynn is the author of the story collection The End of the Straight and Narrow. His recent nonfiction has appeared in The Missouri Review, The Southwest Review, The Best American Sports Writing and elsewhere. He teaches at Lawrence University in Wisconsin.
Matt Mendez’s writing has appeared in BorderSenses, Alligator Juniper, and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and inclusion in Best New American Voices 2009. His story “Airman” was winner of Alligator Juniper’s National Fiction Contest.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1970. Ilan Stavans edited the collection The Poetry of Pablo Neruda. Neruda translated into Spanish the work of Shakespeare, Charles Baudelaire,William Blake, Rainer Maria Rilke and James Joyce. He died in 1973.
Jennifer Louise Percy is an MFA candidate at the University of Iowa’s Nonfiction Writing Program. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rosebud, The Atlantic, The American Literary Review, Redivider, The Indiana Review and Brevity. She is working on her first book of nonfiction.
Thomas Reiter’s next book of poems, Catchment, will be published this Fall by LSU Press. He has received poetry fellowships from the NEA and the New Jersey State Council on the Arts.
Clea Roberts lives in Whitehorse, the capital city of Canada’s Yukon Territory. She has published poetry in The Malahat Review, PRISM International, The Antigonish Review, The Dalhousie Review, International Feminist Journal of Politics, Lake: A Journal of Arts and Environment, and Contemporary Verse 2: The Canadian Journal of Poetry and Critical Writing, among others. She organizes the Whitehorse Poetry Festival, and her first book of poetry will be published by Freehand Books in 2010.
Paul Ruffin is Texas State University Regents’ Professor and Distinguished Professor of English at Sam Houston State University, where he edits The Texas Review and directs the Texas Review Press. He is the author of two novels, three collections of short stories, six books of poetry and two collections of essays, and has edited eleven other books. He has just been named Poet Laureate of Texas.
Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt, playwright, novelist and author of short stories, was awarded the French Academy’s Grand Prix du Théâtre in 2001. His books include Oscar and the Lady in Pink, The Gospel according to Pilate, and My life with Mozart. The film Odette Toulemonde, Schmitt’s debut as screenwriter and director,was released in 2007.
A.K. Scipioni is a recent graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Denver Quarterly, Diagram, Poetry Midwest, LA Miscellany, and 1913.
Alison Sparks is a Research Associate in the Department of Psychology at Amherst College. Her research explores the social origins of children’s linguistic and cognitive development.
Ilan Stavans is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His books include The Hispanic Condition, On Borrowed Words, Spanglish, and Love and Language. He is the editor of The Oxford Book of Jewish Stories, The Poetry of Pablo Neruda, the three-volume set of Isaac Bashevis Singer: Collected Stories, and, to be released this October by the Library of America, Becoming Americans: Four Hundred Years of Immigrant Writing. His translations in this issue’s mini-portfolio are part of a forthcoming anthology of twentieth-century Latin American poetry,which he edited for Farrar, Straus, and Giroux.
Nickolay Todorov was born in the violent and mystical Balkans. He lives in Los Angeles, where he is a witness to and beneficiary of wild Southern California realities. His short stories have been published in The Barcelona Review, The Pacific Review, Whiskey Island Magazine, Farmhouse Magazine, Istanbul Literary Review and others.
Lawrence Venuti’s books include The Translator’s Invisibility and the translation of Massimo Carlotto’s crime novel, The Goodbye Kiss.His version of Ernest Farrés’s Edward Hopper, in which these poems appear, won the 2008 Robert Fagles Translation Prize. It will be published by Graywolf Press.
Jerald Walker teaches at Bridgewater State College in Massachusetts. “Two Boys” is an excerpt from his memoir Street Shadows: A Memoir of Race, Rebellion, and Redemption, to be published by Random House in 2010. Other excerpts have appeared or will appear in The Best American Essays (2007 & 2009), The Best African American Essays 2009 and The Missouri Review.
Paul-Victor Winters is a writer and teacher living in Southern New Jersey. Recent poems and book reviews appear or are forthcoming in The Literary Review, The New York Quarterly, and Tattoo Highway.
Marion Wyce has received an AWP Intro Journals Award in fiction and had her work performed in the InterAct Theatre Company’s stage series Writing Aloud.