If the first prerogative is to wrest ourselves from the hegemony of the ground then you have to get up into the air somehow.
Craig Morgan Teicher
Are you in or are you out? Since you’ve come this far, let’s say you’re in. Literature, like anything else, has its scenes, its in- and out-crowds. I like to think of it as a life- long high school for those of us for whom high school was torture. Though of course, there are always those unlikely one-time quarterbacks and cheerleaders who make the wise decision to leave the cheering crowds behind them and pursue the strange rewards of facing the blank white page every day, a mirror that only reflects what you’re willing to see in it.
Nerds, weirdos, hipsters, fanboys, creeps, beauties, indoor kids, nobodies, prom queens, prom crashers, the dateless and the double-daters, the returning students, the class-skippers, band-room-makers-out, perpetual virgins, teachers’ pets and pests, tweens, tweakers, tutors, whoevers, gang leaders, anyones and everyones, weight lift- ers, behind-the-dumpster smokers, freshmen, seniors, especially sophomores: litera- ture has room for them all, for anyone with the will to seek it out and the patience to apprentice themselves to words and sentences and the long road that leads (maybe) to what they might mean.
Reading is writing, writing is reading, two sides of a conversation that is ever going on between a pair of minds and a piece of paper (or a screen) crosshatched with black lines and some dots acting as interpreter. There’s no way to know if what’s said is what’s being heard except to talk back.
Wait, now, is it a mirror or a translator? And what’s the difference? In one you see yourself reflected back; the other makes you visible to someone who wouldn’t be able to make sense of you otherwise . . . someone like you.
It seems to me all readers are recovering high school students looking for the one place they will finally belong. But this issue isn’t about high school; it’s our take on the scene, on the communities we make so that some people can belong and oth- ers can’t, on the passwords and secret handshakes that open locked doors. It’s about the places behind those doors, too.
The nice thing is that the passwords are available to anyone who wants them, though no one will tell what they are.
If you’ve come this far, you’re in . . . now keep going, though also keep in mind that, having come this far, there’s no way out.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Half King
On the Publication of My First Book
Translated from Italian by Elizabeth Harris
Her Mother and I Do
The Joy of Knowing
Letter to a Stranger
I Haven’t Finished Looking at the World
Translated from French by Shaun Whiteside
Emily Dickinson Thinks She Looks Like a Kangaroo
Nathaniel Hawthorne Has a Pet Monkey
Looking for Robinson Crusoe
“A Double Sort of Likeness”
I Accept the Loss of My Rib
Blood Pool of the Mosquitoes of North America
It Doesn’t Get Cold Where We’re From And We Weren’t Taught
Real Housewife Defends Herself in Front of a Live Studio Audience
Fall of Fearing
By Oxcart from the Territories
“A Rottenness Begins in His Conduct”
Ode to the Azure Flower
Ode to the Butterfly
Ode to Solidarity
Translated from Spanish by Ilan Stavans
Federico García Lorca
Lament for the Death of Ignacio Sánchez Mejías
Translated from Spanish by Pablo Medina
Good Morning, Jean Rhys
A Draft for Derrida
Amy Pretends This Is Old Penn Station
As Amy Points Out Turkeys Are Birds
Amy Is off the Porch and into the World
Home with H
But the Flag Fell from the Sky, Didn’t It
Translated from Danish by Thomas E. Kennedy
Raphael Allison’s poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Tin House, Painted Bride Quarterly, and the Harvard Review.
M. C. Armstrong (“Air Jordache”) recently embedded with SEAL Team 4 in Haditha, Iraq. He reported extensively on the Iraq War for The Winchester Star. He is the winner of a Pushcart Prize in fiction. His fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Esquire, The Missouri Review, The Gettysburg Review, and other journals and anthologies. He is the lead singer for Viva la Muerte. He lives in Greensboro, North Carolina.
Erin Belieu (poetry) is the author of four poetry collections, all from Copper Canyon Press, including Slant Six coming in fall of 2014.
Rebecca Chace (“Looking for Robinson Crusoe”) is the author of the novel Leaving Rock Harbor, the memoir Chautauqua Summer, and Capture the Flag, a novel she adapted into an award-winning short film with director Lisanne Skyler. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, New York Times Review of Books, the Huffington Post, NPR’s All Things Considered, The Common, Post Road, and other publications. She is assistant professor of creative writing at Fairleigh Dickinson University.
Peter Conners (poetry) has published six books of poetry, fiction, and non-fiction. His new book, JAMerica: The History of the Jam Band and Festival Scene, will be published by Da Capo Press in fall 2013. He lives in Rochester, New York, where he works as publisher of the non-profit literary press BOA Editions.
Aleš Debeljak (poetry) has published eight books of poetry and twelve books of essays, which have been translated into thirteen languages worldwide. His most recent book is Without Anesthesia: New and Selected Poems. He has won the Preseren Foundation Prize (Slovenian National Book Award), the Miriam Lindberg Israel Poetry for Peace Prize, the Chiqyu Poetry Prize in Japan, and the Jenko Prize. Debeljak teaches in the Department of Cultural Studies at the University of Ljubljana in Slovenia.
Gabe Durham (stories) is the author of a novel, Fun Camp, and an ebook, Locked Away. Other writing appears in Mid-American Review, Puerto del Sol, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. He lives in Los Angeles.
Farrah Field (poetry) is the author of two books of poetry: Rising and Wolf and Pilot, as well as the chapbook Parents. Her poems were selected for The Best American Poetry 2011. She lives in Brooklyn where she co-owns Berl’s Poetry Shop.
Mark Gozonsky (essays), an English teacher, has published “The Edith Wharton Inside Me” in Identity Theory and “The Warmth of Vinyl” in Corium. He lives in Los Angeles with his wife, and with their twin daughters when they’re not away at college. Mark is a UCLA Writing Project fellow working toward an MFA in creative Writing at Antioch University LA.
Elizabeth Harris’s (translation) fiction translations appear in numerous literary journals and in anthologies. Her translations include Mario Rigoni Stern’s novel Giacomo’s Seasons and Giulio Mozzi’s story collection This Is the Garden. She is currently translating Antonio Tabucchi’s novel Tristano is Dying. She is an associate professor of creative writing at the University of North Dakota.
Brian Henry (translation) is the author of ten books of poetry, most recently Brother No One. His translation of Aleš Šteger’s The Book of Things won the 2011 Best Translated Book Award for Poetry. He has received numerous awards for his work, including fellowships from the NEA, the Howard Foundation, and the Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
Troy Jollimore (poetry) is the author of At Lake Scugog: Poems and Tom Thomson in Purgatory, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. As a philosopher he has authored On Loyalty and Love’s Vision. He has published poems in The New Yorker, McSweeney’s, Poetry, The Believer, and elsewhere, has received fellowships from the Stanford Humanities Center and the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference, and is a 2013 Guggenheim Fellow.
Thomas E. Kennedy’s (translation) thirty books include, most recently, his Copenhagen Quartet: In the Company of Angels, Falling Sideways, Kerrigan in Copenhagen and, next year, Beneath the Neon Egg. He has also recently published Getting Lucky: New & Selected Stories, 1982–2012. His stories, essays, and translations appear regularly and have won an O. Henry and Pushcart Prize and a National Magazine Award.
Jennifer Kronovet (poetry) is the author of the poetry collection Awayward. She is the co-translator of In Her White Wake, the selected poems of Yiddish writer Celia Dropkin, due out in the fall. She teaches poetry and translation at Washington University in St. Louis.
Poet, dramatist, artist, and musician Federico García Lorca (1898-1936) (poetry) is considered the most important literary figure of twentieth-century Spain. He was born in the village of Fuente Vaqueros, just outside the city of Granada, in 1898 and was assassinated by Nationalist forces at the outset of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. His poetry is read by millions and his plays are still performed on stages throughout the world.
Monica McClure’s (poetry) chapbook, Mood Swing, is forthcoming from Snacks Press, Inc. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in the Los Angeles Review, Lambda Literary Review’s Spotlight Series, The Awl, and elsewhere. She curates the Atlas Reading Series and teaches in New York City.
Amy McNamara’s (poetry) novel Lovely, Dark, and Deep received the 2013 IRA Children’s and Young Adults’ Book Award. Her poems have appeared in The Drunken Boat, Versal, and many other journals.
Pablo Medina (translation) was born in Havana, Cuba. He is the co-translator, with Mark Statman, of García Lorca’s Poet in New York. He is also the author of the poetry collection The Man Who Wrote on Water and the novel Cubop City Blues, among other works. He teaches at Emerson College in Boston.
Diane Mehta’s (“A Double Sort of Likeness”) poems, essays, interviews, and articles have appeared in Slate, Prairie Schooner, AGNI, The Believer, BOMB, and many other publications. She lives with her son in Brooklyn and is writing a novel about mixed-race parents in 1946 India.
Giulio Mozzi (“On the Publication of My First Book”) lives in Padua, Italy. His numerous books include six story collections and a long poem, which have been translated into French, Russian, Dutch, German, and Japanese. He works as an editorial consultant and a creative writing teacher. He is also well-known for his literary blog, Vibrisse. “On the Publication of My First Book” appears in Mozzi’s story collection This Is the Garden, forthcoming from Open Letter Books.
Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904-1973) (poetry) won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. His bilingual book All the Odes, edited by Ilan Stavans, is due out in October.
Henrik Nordbrandt (poetry) published his first collection, Poems, in 1966 at the age of twenty-one. Since then he has published more than thirty-five books, primarily collections of poetry, but also essays, a novel, a memoir, a children’s book, and a Turkish cookbook. In 1980, Nordbrandt was awarded The Danish Academy Prize and in 2000 the Nordic Council Literary Prize—the highest distinction a poet can receive in the five Nordic countries—for his collection, Dream Bridges.
Morgan Parker (poetry) has had poetry featured in numerous publications, including Painted Bride Quarterly, PANK, Forklift, Ohio, Vinyl Poetry, and the anthology Why I Am Not A Painter. In 2013, she was a finalist for The Poetry Project’s Emerge-Surface-Be Fellowship. A Cave Canem fellow, Morgan lives with her dog Braeburn in Brooklyn.
Joseph Rathgeber (poetry) is a writer and high school English teacher from Clifton, New Jersey. His fiction has been published or is forthcoming in Fourteen Hills, J Journal, North Dakota Quarterly, Main Street Rag, Aethlon, and elsewhere. His poetry has been published or is forthcoming in Ellipsis, Assaracus, Hiram Poetry Review, Blue Collar Review, and Spillway, among other journals. He has recently been nominated for a Pushcart Prize.
Sejal Shah (“The Half King”). Her stories and essays have recently appeared or are forthcoming in The Kenyon Review online, Brevity, Web Conjunctions, Denver Quarterly, and The Drunken Boat, among others. Currently, she lives in Rochester, NY, and teaches creative writing at Writers & Books, a nonprofit literary center.
Ilan Stavans (translation) is Lewis-Sebring Professor in Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College. His edition of Pablo Neruda’s All the Odes will be published in October.
David Thomas (poetry) is a playwright and a scriptwriter in addition to being a novelist and a short story writer. The literary prizes he has been awarded include the prix de la Découverte 2009 de la Fondation Prince Pierre de Monaco for his collection of short stories, La patience des buffles sous la pluie, and the Prix Orange du livre 2011 for his first novel, Un silence de clairière.
Matthew Vollmer (“Checkout”) is the author of Future Missionaries of America, a collection of stories, and inscriptions for headstones, a collection of essays, each crafted as an epitaph and each unfolding in a single sentence. With David Shields, he is co-editor of Fakes: An Anthology of Pseudo-Interviews, Faux-Letters, Quasi-Letters, “Found” Texts, and Other Fraudulent Artifacts. He directs the undergraduate creative writing program at Virginia Tech.