Ralph Angel is a brilliant poet, master of the laconic veering toward silence. Like his beloved Pierre Reverdy, he writes lines that turn your mind inside out, something always yielding to its opposite, presence and absence intertwine. “I painted the walls and the ceiling an even white. / Then I knocked out a wall.” The words emerge from the white space of the page, hesitant, whispered into the silence, uncertain of return. Melancholy, mysterious, precise. These are poems from Angel’s new book, Your Moon, just launched from Western Michigan University’s amazing press New Issues Poetry & Prose.
- Traffic & Panic: Poems — Ralph Angel
- Blinding: Novel Excerpt — Mircea Cărtărescu
- Empires Drenched in Concupiscent Sweat: A Review of Mircea Cărtărescu’s Blinding — Adam Segal
- Change the Weather/Avoid the Dead: Interview with David Shields — Richard Farrell
- Undersung | Eugenio Montale: Wringing the Neck of Eloquence — Julie Larios
- Calling the Dead to Life | A Review of Lydia Davis’s Can’t and Won’t — Benjamin Woodard
- Uimhir a Cúig |Dánta le Doireann Ní Ghríofa – Poems by Doireann Ní Ghríofa & Videos in Collaboration with Peter Madden
- In Dubai: Essay — Kay Henry
- Ten Ways To Leave: Essay — Melissa Matthewson
- It Is Love, My Frightened Ones, Love: Review of Robin Oliveira’s I Always Loved You — Laura K. Warrell
- Top of the Page
- The Shape of Things to Come: The March Issue
Inside the walnut-paneled car, between the crystal windows that doused the area with prisms and rainbow iridescences, seated on a little chair, was a rubicund, naked woman, blinding in the milky maturity of her skin, who held in her arms, like a swan and just as heavy, an immense butterfly with a thick, velvety body, six nervous legs that ended in claws propped on the woman’s breasts and stomach, a round head with enigmatic eyes, and a proboscis rolled up like a clock spring.
The novel’s binding element is thus not an ordered chronology but a fascinating system of concepts and images. Early on Mircea introduces an idea that soon emerges as one of the novel’s central conceits, that humans “exist between the past and future like the vermiform body of a butterfly, in between its two wings.” However, like a butterfly with just one wing, “we all have memories of the past, but none of us can remember the future.” The strange, spectral energy driving Blinding is a desire for that symmetry denied to us as mortals, the memory of both past and future.
Rothko’s great because he changed the weather for everyone who came after him.” Everyone afterward had to deal with Rothko. That’s the standard I’m trying to hold up for myself and fellow artists. It’s not that I have some minor quarrel with writer X, Y, or Z. The novel is supposed to be something new. That’s what “novel” originally meant. And yet it’s become unbelievably formulaic. I really care about the future of literature, and I’m trying to push it in an exciting direction and away from a dead direction.
Adequate literal translations – yes, those are possible. Brave attempts to reproduce formal elements – rhyme and meter – and make them work alongside the literal translation? Yes, those exist and are laudable. But can we ever hear and know, at a visceral level – heartbeat and hoofbeat – the effect of a poem whose original language is not our own?
In Can’t and Won’t, Davis’s fifth collection, due out next month, the author continues to push the boundaries of narrative. The book is a remarkable, exhilarating beast: a collection that resumes the author’s overall style—rather short narratives, with the occasional longer piece—while simultaneously expanding her vision.
Uimhir a Cúig |Dánta le Doireann Ní Ghríofa – Poems by Doireann Ní Ghríofa & Videos in Collaboration with Peter Madden
Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual poet writing both in Irish and in English. I like to think of this interplay occurring in a type of cognitive marshlands, a ghostly transition zone between water and land with its own unique emotional ecosystem. Doireann’s poems, it seems to me, dwell in that world, and emerge from it like a rare and endangered species might emerge from its wetlands habitat through an early morning, low-lying mist.
Kay Henry’s essay, “In Dubai,” hews, in tone and sentence structure, to the Michaels’ model. She throws in a nice list in the third sentence (suddenly we’re in the land of detail piled upon detail). She eschews narrative connectors and simply presents a series of quick mini-stories. The stories are about people, the surprise and warmth of contact. In a brief space, she describes the human relationships that give the lie to the stereotypes and the racist assumptions that litter public debate.
Inspired by Leonard Michaels’s story “In the Fifties,” “Ten Ways to Leave” by Melissa Matthewson is a lovely, poignant evocation of a relationship in the leaving of it, charmingly written, rich with detail (in so brief a piece), startling and profound in its emotional honesty. And, of course, you can barely see the influence. Such is the nature of influence; good writers take an influence and make it their very own thing.
It Is Love, My Frightened Ones, Love: Review of Robin Oliveira’s I Always Loved You — Laura K. Warrell
Passion may be the very essence of romantic love, as it is of art, thus Berthe and Mary’s torment becomes as vital to their overall happiness as pleasure. The lyricism with which Oliveira conveys this fact – in particular, through dialogue and narration – illustrates the dual nature of love, for instance when Mary and Degas share an intimate moment and she notices that “he smelled of graphite and oil and turpentine; he smelled of work, of Paris, of all of art, everything she wanted.”
This month, in the slider at the top of the page, a selection of craft essays from NC’s Holy Book of Literary Craft, an evolving, expanding, boiling (some would say suppurating) pot of literary advice, craft, structure, technique, videos, marked up texts, exercises, prompts and mindful essays, some of which are just good essays in their own right. We are in the liminal state, somewhere between how-to and literary criticism. At the back of everything is the Russian Formalist idea that literary writing is content filtered through devices. So we study devices, what they are, how they work and how to use them.
I dunno. The new issue! Blindingly good, in fact, with an excerpt from Mircea Cărtărescu’s novel Blinding and a review of same from our Contributor Adam Segal plus a review, by Ben Woodard, of the new Lydia Davis, a story collection called Can’t and Won’t, and, from Ireland (NC’s Uimhir a Cúig series), poems by Doireann Ní Ghríofa along with videos (including a world premiere) in collaboration with Peter Madden, and more, much more.
Vol. V, No. 1, January 2014
- Numéro Cinq at the Movies: Denis Villeneuve’s “Next Floor,” Introduced by Jared Carney
- Character Emotion in the Short Story: Craft Essay — Walker Griffy
- Discontent in the Abode of the Dead: Review of Marek Hłasko’s The Graveyard — Adam Segal
- To Mexico: Fiction — Bill Gaston
- Keats and Identity: The Chameleon in the Crucible — Patrick J. Keane
- Upon Discovering Keir Inches Dead: Poems — John Barton
- Let Us Imagine Lost Love: A Serial Novel | Part Five — Robert Day
- Lichen, Bark & Mr. Smiley: Paintings — Katie DeGroot
- Contraband Dreams: Review of Poetry Collections by Catherine Greenwood, Russell Thornton & David Seymour — Sydney Lea
- Undersung | Marie Ponsot: Wandering Still — Julie Larios
- Tearing the Sacred Book Apart: Poems & Interview — Phil Hall & Ann Ireland
- Uimhir a Cúig | The Angel Said: Fiction — John MacKenna
- Eucalyptus: Novel Excerpt — Mauricio Segura
- What Is Home? | Review of Eucalyptus by Mauricio Segura — Benjamin Woodard
- Saltwater Cowboy: Essay — Joe Milan
- Read Without Interruption: Review of Woman Without Umbrella by Victoria Redel — A. Anupama
- The Sadder It Gets The Funnier It Gets: Interview with Steve Almond — Laura K. Warrell
- When the Critic Creates: A Review of Herbert Read’s The Green Child — Tom Faure
Vol. V, No. 2, February 2014
- Numéro Cinq at the Movies: Alexander Carson’s “We Refuse to be Cold,” Introduced by R. W. Gray
- The Dog and the Sheep: Fiction — Cynthia Flood
- Yes & No: Poems — Catherine Greenwood
- Abominable: Essay — Abby Frucht
- Sex & Death: Essay on the Uncanny — Sydney Lea
- Optical Structures in The Shrubberies: Ronald Johnson’s Cascades | Essay — Denise Low
- Going Home: Art & Essay By Bruno LaVerdiere — Curated By Mary Kathryn Jablonski
- The Plot: Fiction — Trey Sager
- Provocations: Essay on Northern Ireland — Diane Lefer
- Let Us Imagine Lost Love: A Serial Novel | Part Six — Robert Day
- The Provenance of Song: Original Music & Essay — Michael Schatte
- Mama Leukemia: Novel Excerpt | Julián Herbert — Translated by Brendan Riley
- Metaphor as Extratemporal Moment in Robert Musil and Marcel Proust: Essay — Genese Grill
- Can the Feraltern Speak? A Review of Dodie Bellamy’s Cunt Norton — Natalie Helberg
- Uimhir a Cúig | From Out of the City: Novel Excerpt — John Kelly
- The Real Is Experienced in the Body: Interview with Micheline Aharonian Marcom — Jason DeYoung
- The Flood of Recollected Images Begins: Review of Josef Winkler’s Natura Morta and When the Time Comes — K. Thomas Kahn
- After They Told Me I Had Cancer: Essay — J. M. Jacobson