Jul 082016

Bursey book

Our special correspondent Jeff Bursey, reviewer & fictionist, has a new book out, a selection of his book reviews.

Neglected and obscure writers are at the fore in this incisive collection of critical essays. Centring the Margins is a collection of reviews and essays written between 2001 and 2014 of writers from Canada, the United States, the UK, and Europe. Most are neglected, obscure, or considered difficult, and include Mati Unt, Ornela Vorpsi, S.D. Chrostowska, Blaise Cendrars and Joseph McElroy, among others.

Jeff Bursey

Jeff Bursey is a literary critic and author of the picaresque novel Mirrors on which dust has fallen (Verbivoracious Press, 2015) and the political satire Verbatim: A Novel (Enfield & Wizenty, 2010), both of which take place in the same fictional Canadian province. His forthcoming book, Centring the Margins: Essays and Reviews (Zero Books, July 2016), is a collection of literary criticism that appeared in American Book Review, Books in Canada, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, The Quarterly Conversation, and The Winnipeg Review, among other places. He’s a Contributing Editor at The Winnipeg Review, an Associate Editor at Lee Thompson’s Galleon, and a Special Correspondent for Numéro Cinq. He makes his home on Prince Edward Island in Canada’s Far East.

Jun 302016

poetry logo 2

I went to pick a “best of” selection of the poetry that has appeared in the magazine. Dumb idea. There is no best of. Poem after poem is apocalyptic, brilliant in its own way, profound, inspired. Astonishing things lurk in our archives. I got carried away just looking, reminding myself over and over of a line, a turn, a phrase. In the end I put these few up on the slider at the top of the page. Poems from Nigeria, Hungary, Canada, Pakistan, England, Ireland, and America. The entire posse — breathtaking. God’s work.

Jun 242016

IMG_7601Rikki Ducornet scroll detail.

McDonald inspired by Ducornet 2 (1)Margie McDonald work in response to Ducornet scroll paintings.

Rikki Ducornet is a phenom, protean, experimental, fearless. I invited her to send some work to NC and she responded that she hadn’t any new writing. Most of her energy was going into painting scrolls. My ears perked up at that. It’s always interesting when an artist confesses to something out of the ordinary, to taking a turn, like the knight’s move in chess. What paintings? What scrolls? I asked.

That led to 1) a very funny email conversation about scrolls, Pompeii (new technology allowing archeologists to read burned up scroll libraries), and Pompeiian pornography, and 2) a stupendously beautiful gallery of collaborative art work in the July issue. It turned out that Ducornet and her friend, Newfoundland-born sculptor Margie McDonald, are working together toward a show next year. Ducornet is painting on huge 25-foot paper scrolls and McDonald is creating sculpture out of, well, picked up materials. The two are influencing one another. And the work is explosive, obsessive, fugue-like, original, inspirational and free. Ducornet calls it CRAZY HAPPY, and it is. These two women are on fire.

Ducornet & McDonaldMargie McDonald & Rikki Ducornet

Lance OlsenLance Olsen

But going in exactly the opposite direction, we have in the coming issue an excerpt from My Red Heaven, a novel in progress by the great experimental (“metamodern”) prose writer Lance Olsen. The excerpt will make you weep. Olsen calls the book a love song to Berlin in 1927, that is Berlin as it begins to descend into the chaos that led to Nazism and Hitler. It is about the slaughter of innocence (and innocents). The writing is pristine. It will stun you.

For just under a minute Delia will remember bounding at those birds in her dream, feeling as if she is just at the gray edge of waking up again, and then she will be over. —Lance Olsen

Version 6Julie Trimingham

Also in this issue, Julie Trimingham is back with an essay on whales, dreams, sex, and President Obama. Trimingham just never goes at things in a conventional way. Her directness and capacity for self-revelation are the heart of her art. She can shatter you with a line.

When I was pregnant, I had a dream. A dream of sex and a killer whale. Of sex with a killer whale. —Julie Trimingham

photo: Barbara Weissberger, 2016Eric Moe, photo by Barbara Weissberger, 2016

Also in this issue, continuing her revelatory series of interviews with contemporary composers, Carolyn Ogburn talks to Eric Moe (we have music, too).

Then I moved up, pretty much in chronological order: Beethoven, Brahms, Bartok, Schoenberg…and then at some point I was running out, and I was hungry for more. And I wasn’t entirely satisfied with what there was, so, at that point, I figured it was time to write it myself. —Eric Moe

StratfordTrainCirca1971Mary Rykov circa 1971 on the Stratford Train

And Mary H. Auerbach Rykov in Toronto contributes a new My First Job essay to our ongoing series. Rykov sent this in during our brief open window for submissions. It’s a delightful little memoir of Toronto in the early 1970s (Rykov was a budding folk singer in Yorkville as well as a walk-on librarian).

My favourite task was shelving books from the trolley carts in the back of the library stacks where my reading was not so easily disrupted. I read everything from Herodotus’s Histories (all nine volumes) to Ionesco’s The Bald Soprano and Abbie Hoffman’s Steal This Book. I didn’t steal the books; I read them. —Mary H. Auerbach Rykov

anita-desai-1Anita Desai

Anu Kumar contributes a magnificent and compendious essay on the work of Anita Desai.

It is through her characters, like Matteo, in Journey to Ithaca, that Desai tries to explore in turn the contrary pull of renunciation (as opposed to living the householder’s life). She suggests that renunciation too is a bond of a kind. — Anu Kumar

anu northeast reviewAnu Kumar

Yannis LivadasYannis Livadas

And we have quirky, surprising poems from the Greek experimental poet Yannis Livadas (our first contribution from Greece).

Of all the dubious elements of the abyss
The boomerang ideas
I most appreciate,
Which return dazzling
To their one and only locus.

—Yanis Livadas

John Gould 2016John Gould

Canadian short story writer John Gould specializes in writing very small stories, carved out of stone, with a kick.

Meaningless, that was the key. To mark death you had to make a sound that carried no meaning at all, that was in fact a constant obliteration of meaning. Mr. Neziri was mourning himself, articulating his oblivion before it arrived. But what of those, such as Stan’s own mum, who couldn’t muster the strength or the vision for this task? Who would cry out for them? —John Gould

Kinga Fabo 2016Kinga Fabó

From Hungary, Kinga Fabó sends poems in translation — sexy, surprising, veiled, dark.

The client is the same man.
Hiding in my shadow.
Matters not what I say or do.

There is no love: Spring’s been postponed.
It might be hiding in my shadow.
Snip. I’ll cut you up, you false thread.

—Kinga Fabó

Jordan-Smith-1Jordan Smith

New poems also from Jordan Smith who has appeared in the magazine many times, poetry and prose, and has always made us better.

The smell of Islay whiskey, sharp sea air, iodine and cold
Spray smoking over rocks. With that in my head, I don’t care much
About the crazed varnish, about the old bow’s thinning hair.
Just this sudden brightness in the fine part of the tune,

That would be worth singing about, if it weren’t already song.

—Jordan Smith

Desktop5From top left clockwise: Tracy Proctor, Megan Okkerse, Whitney Lee, & Sheela Clary

And a special treat: four startlingly direct and emotional list essays from four students in a workshop I taught last winter. These started as exercises but turned into something more. New authors to watch for: Tracy Proctor, Megan Okkerse, Sheela Clary, and Whitney Lee.

And, yes, there is more. A new NC at the Movies, poems by our own Mary Kathryn Jablonski, also Jason DeYoung reviews Vaseline Buddha by the South Korean author Jung Young Moon (we have an excerpt)  and Joseph Schreiber reviews Life in the Court of Matane by French-Canadian author Eric Dupont (with an excerpt as well — such a wealth of fiction in this issue).

Maybe more. Who knows?


Jun 222016

From the archives, something special: Paul Curtis’s essay on Lawrence Durrell’s Alexandria Quartet. I bring this to your attention because it is typical of the very best pieces we publish in that they become MORE popular and MORE read over time. They become go-to essays on the Internet, linked, recommended, and cross-posted.

Here’s a paragraph from my introduction to the essay:

Like Paul Curtis, as a young writer I was enthralled by Lawrence Durrell’s four astounding novels — Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive & Clea — together known as the Alexandria Quartet. I can’t count the vivid snippets of scene and dialogue that still float up in my mind: especially the end of Clea when the painter’s wounded hand can suddenly “paint” as here healthy hand had never been able to do or the moment when the feckless journalist (a minor character throughout) returns from war in the desert, a tan, golden warrior who has suddenly found his place in existence. Yes, I love the transformations at the end of the quartet, when time suddenly moves forward. I loved the mysterious and ineffably sad hand prints on the brothel walls, Justine’s mad search for her stolen child, and Pursewarden’s epigrams (I began to learn to write epigrams reading The Alexandria Quartet). There are so many things I tried to copy here as a beginning writer (the faux Einsteinian structure and the Pursewarden endnotes, for example), so many ideals inhaled and transformed to my own uses.

Read the entire essay at Revisiting Lawrence Durrell’s The Alexandria Quartet — Paul M. Curtis | Numéro Cinq

Jun 212016


Here’s an intriguing look at Ben Marcus’s New American Stories anthology (from last year — I am a little slow these days) and the long shadow Gordon Lish casts over the scene. See if you can guess the authors of these first sentences (and then think about Lish’s famous “attack sentences”). And then read Jason Lucarelli on Lish’s compositional theory (Lucarelli’s essay is mentioned in the article).


You can feel it in the first lines — Lish famously calls first sentences the “attack sentence” and reportedly tells students, “Your attack sentence is a provoking sentence. You follow it with a series of provoking sentences.”Here are some opening sentences from New American Stories (I’ll identify the writers later):

1.) Davis called, told me he was dying.

2.) “What you got there, then?”

3.) “Just let me out of here, man,” said Cora Booth. “I’m sick. I’m dying.”

4.) Four of them were on one side of a dim room.

5.) Like in the old days, I came out of the dry creek behind the house and did my little tap on the kitchen window.

6.) “What are you doing?” a guy asked her.

7.) It was the day before his cousin’s funeral and Del ended up at the Suds washing his black jeans at midnight.

8.) Once, for about a month or two, I decided I was going to be a different kind of guy.

9.) “I don’t know why I committed us to any of those things,” Otto said.

10.) The day I got my period, my mother and father took me to pick my madman.

11.) I know when people will die.

12.) Root canal is one fifty, give or take, depending on who’s doing it to you.

Read the rest at The Mumpsimus: Notes on the Aesthetics of New American Stories

Jun 092016


It’s a great pleasure to let you know that Donald Quist has a book of nonfiction — Harbors — coming out with Awst Press. The book is available for pre-orders here. One of the essays included in Harbors appeared first on Numéro Cinq in our What It’s Like Living Here series. You can read it here (the book version has been somewhat rewritten):

What It’s Like Living Here — Donald Quist in Bangkok

Selections from What It’s Like Living Here are currently featured in the slider at the top of the magazine’s front page.


Jun 062016


Our Senior Editor Gerard Beirne, who is all things Irish to us (he edits the monthly feature Uimhir a Cúig — it means No. 5 in Irish) plus an amazing poet and fiction writer, has just been shortlisted for the $10,000 Danuta Gleed Literary Award for his first story collection In a Time of Drought and Hunger, (Oberon Press).

Here is what the jury had to say:

“Place has a starring role in Gerard Beirne’s In a Time of Drought and Hunger, specifically a Cree community in northern Manitoba. A typical Beirne story feels like it’s been underway for ages and that you’re just catching up with it now. One character is obsessed with what kind of fur coat to buy; another meets a young woman who might be Charles Manson’s daughter. Fates collide with often unpredictable results: fools and wise men, hunters and those who are just plain doomed. What all these people have in common is that they’re so richly drawn that any one of them could fill a novel. Beirne writes with a curiosity throbbing with energy, bordering on obsession.”

We published one of the stories in NC here. Here’s what I wrote:

“What a River Remembers of its Course” is a story from NC Senior Editor Gerard Beirne’s brand new story collection In a Time of Drought and Hunger just out with Oberon Press in Ottawa. Gerry and his wife Eilish, when they first came to live in Canada from Ireland, moved to Norway House in northern Manitoba. The stories in this book stem from that experience, the north, the alienation of the people (native and poor whites) from the land, the poverty, and the isolation. Oberon is a great old  Canadian Press. They have published two books of mine and continue to publish the annual Best Canadian Stories volume, which I used to edit. “What a River Remembers of its Course” is the story of a river and a dam and a native protest occupation told from the perspective of a white man who came north to build the dam and married a native woman who later died, the dam, the protest and the marriage forging a mesh of relations, guilt, and responsibility, the peculiar fraught moral climate of the colonial north.

Drought and Hunger from pdf-large

Jun 052016



The Firehall Arts Centre in Vancouver has announced its 2016/17 season, and Elle, the play adapted from dg’s novel by Severn Thompson, will be there.

From Toronto, Theatre Passe Muraille’s Dora Moore Award nominated ELLE, adapted from Douglas Glover’s award-winning novel, tells the story of a French noblewoman abandoned on the Isle of Demons (off the coast of Newfoundland) in 1542.


Jun 042016

R W Gray

Rob Gray, intrepid Senior Editor and the man who month in and month our produces those NC at the Movies pieces, has just won the $25,000 Thomas Raddall Fiction Award for his marvellous short story collection Entropic.

Here are the jury notes:

“Each story in R. W. Gray’s edgy, inventive collection is a gem in and of itself, sparkling with its own wit and inner logic. These are stories that render the intangible tangible, taking us over the edge but never hitting bottom. They explore our deepest desires and anxieties and explode them to arrive at unexpected but weirdly connected and coherent conclusions. Gray’s economy of language expands the universe as we travel seamlessly in and out of our inner, chaotic thoughts into the surreal realm of dreams.”

I wrote a cover blurb. It went like this:

“R. W. Gray writes like nobody else; risky, edgy, erotic, subversive, even macabre short stories, very contemporary, coded with solitude, but reaching for myth, always beautiful and astonishing.”

Rich Farrell reviewed the book here. Here’s a bit of what he wrote:

“Gray is deconstructing the weight-bearing walls of the Western canon, subverting its appeal, questioning its meaning. Homer and Joyce and Christ himself are fair game, because in many ways, we remain trapped by these myths. Using an uncanny narrative, Gray reminds us that great stories can never be fully told or defined. We have wandered into the wonderful, swirling stew of entropy, where Gray challenges the very expectation of what a short story can do. He reexamines form, whether taking the conventional love story and twisting it into a macabre meditation on Christ, or turning the Odyssey into a journey with no end. You will walk away shaken, unsteady, but absolutely enthralled.”

Entropic FC

Jun 012016


In the slider at the Top of the Page this month we’re featuring selections from our massive trove of What It’s Like Living Here essays. The What It’s Like Living Here series began as an attempt to create community, to humanize the staid old brand of the literary magazine. Instead of just faceless usernames, readers could actually tell us who they are by telling us about the place where they live. It’s turned out to be, hit for hit, the most popular feature in the magazine. Witness the fact that just last month, Sean Selway’s essay on living in Hamilton, Ontario, brought in over 2,500 visitors in two days. So for the June issue we are featuring just a small selection of these wonderful essays. You can always go back to the main What It’s Like Living Here page to read more.

May 272016

image001Toyen — Amid Long Shadows, 1943

It’s the June issue. I woke up this morning thinking the MAY issue in my head and made coffee and thought about it and said to myself, No, it’s June coming up. And what happened to May? And then the dog looked at me weirdly.

I am exhausted of superlatives. The May issue squeezed the last ones out. I did not think we could surpass the May issue. May was spectacular. But then events give me the lie. June is spectacular, too. What do you do with things like that? I dunno.

The image above is from Paul Pines’ essay “Dinner with the Fisher King,” the fourth and final chapter of his magnum opus on, yes, the Fisher King of legend, the wounded king of a desolate land. (All the previous chapters have appeared here — another book on NC.) A therapist as well as a poet and scholar, Pines has dedicated these essays to delving the roots of creativity, his own personal journey as an artist, the psyche, and the mysterious images the human race has dreamed in its past, obscure and luminous, the shadows among which we dwell.

“I woke with these lines from ‘The Kingfishers’ in my head…then couldn’t stop thinking about Amfortas.”

“In Wagner’s Parsifal,” Carol comments. “Amfortas is a baritone wounded by his own holy spear.”

“Wolfram’s Amfortas betrays his duty as Grail keeper by killing another knight, who leaves him with a wound that won’t heal. His pain is almost unbearable. Only fishing eases it.”

“Until Parzival appears to heal him.” —Paul Pines

Patrick Modiano Nobel announcement 2014

Victoria Best returns to the pages of NC with a brilliant essay on Patrick Modiano, the surprise 2014 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. It’s a compendious and yet personal essay on Modiano that will leave you hungry to read his work.

When Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize for literature, not very many people knew who he was. This was a delicious irony, if you had ever read any of his novels. Modiano’s work, when seen as a whole, is like a patchwork quilt, his books forming a coherent design, related by pattern, theme, and sometimes character, each one revolving around a fugitive, enigmatic narrator. —Victoria Best

Victoria Best small photoVictoria Best

Bydlowska BluePhoto by Jowita Bydlowska

Jowita Bydlowska returns with a stellar, shocking, deeply sad (as in driven to your knees and stunned with sadness) short story. I won’t tell you any more. It should shock you afresh.

WHEN I COULD finally stand up, my husband ushered me out of that room.

I was wearing bloody pads. I was numb. I wanted to turn around and come and get her. A mistake has been made.

“You’re just in shock,” he kept saying.

I walked like an elderly person. He grabbed my upper arm gently but firmly, walked me faster. —Jowita Bydlowska

Jowita BydlowskaJowita Bydlowska

OsuDavid Ishaya Osu

We have also new poems from the Nigerian poet, David Ishaya Osu. Sentences fragments and welded into lines (sentences and lines work in a mysterious tension with one another) that are both ebullient and tragic.

kill a dance & enjoy
your body stands
like candlelight

because this is a bag of echoes—come on,
now that you have drunk too
much silence… —David Ishaya Osu

A. AnupamaA. Anupama

Our own A. Anupama, poet, essayist, translator, returns with more of her delicious translations from classical Tamil poetry. Erotic and sometimes comic couplets. Her translations are among our most popular published pieces.

I dreamt he made love to me. When I woke,
he swiftly entered my heart.

In this waking life, he offered me nothing. Yet I ached when in my dream
my love evaporated from my longing eyes. — Translated by A. Anupama

George SzirtesGeorge Szirtes

Also new poems from the incomparable George Szirtes, poet and translator, roots in Hungary, living in England. He writes perhaps the most beautiful Twitter feed I have seen, mixing what are almost diary notes, scraps of poems and prose.

You know
what you want but
something gets in the way,
he said and laughed again, then took
a drag.

It is
not just yourself.
It is some other thing
you must deny and so you do,
he said. —George Szirtes

Sister Stephanie and Sharon, 4 and 7 croppedSusan & Sharon

Sharon McCartney is back, yes. Each of her books is unique, a divine eccentric, carved out of marble of her own life and past. This one is called Agonal and Preterminal, which are words from a medical report on the condition of her sister, who eventually days after unspeakable years. These lines will rip your guts out. But then what is poetry for?

Susan appears agonal and preterminal.

From a neurological consult report dated September 18, 1979,
11 days before she dies.

I have to look up agonal.
Of or related to great pain.
As in the agony of death.

She was in pain.
I never thought about her being in pain. —Sharon McCartney

Sharon McCartneySharon McCartney

A D JamesonA D Jameson

A D Jameson is new to NC, a brilliant young writer of the newest new wave of American experimentalism, call it fiction of the Anthropocene.

You’ve probably heard about me. I was murdered by women. It’s OK. I had it coming. I deserved it. And it made me kind of famous. I’m pretty famous. My death was all over the evening news. It was the murder of the decade, a ratings sensation. The details are not for the faint of heart. They’re fairly gruesome. Sheila used a frying pan to bash in my head. Antonia tore open my throat with a paring knife. The coroner, later, couldn’t determine who struck first. I wish I could shed some light on the subject, but it was a blur. A whole lot of things were happening at once. —A D Jameson

SydneyLeaSydney Lea

Contributing Editor Sydney Lea returns to NC with a reminiscence about his college days, a friend he made, and an epic poem he never read (and regrets). Eloquent, elegant, mixing the every day with a sense of eternity.

I’d sometimes be the diner’s only customer in the wee hours, and so it was that, after about three weeks of showing up at his establishment, I was let into a real confidence from Spiro. He stressed that his revelation was not to be shared with anyone. The man’s dearest wish, it turned out, was to complete the epic poem he’d long been working on, Sixty Steps from Yale. He’d accumulated more than seventy pages of manuscript, all of them in Greek, and all composed, he claimed, in genuinely Homeric fashion. —Sydney Lea


Helwig photoDavid Helwig

And David Helwig, who has been contributing translations and poems since the beginning of time (I mean the beginning of the magazine), also returns with poems, also redolent of death and the astonishment of days. Come to thing it, this is a somber issue, yet so lively. The paradox of existence over and over.

The chalk-blue walls shape
this afternoon of favoured ghosts,
mysterious harmonies of the heartbeat,
the many years, day by day
from the astonishment of birth
to the astonishment of death.—-David Helwig

And there is more, as always. Contributing Editor Ann Ireland has a profile of Los Angeles musician Alan Church Brown, a.k.a. the band Sea Wolf; from translator Brendan Riley, we have “Aspirin,” a short story by the Mexican writer Julián Herbert; and from Contributor Mary Kathryn Jablonski, a profile (plus refugee photographs) of the Lynne M. Browne.

The inimitable (and fast-becoming a necessity at NC) Joe Schreiber reviews Thomas Bernhard’s Goethe Dies; Jeff Bursey reviews So Much for Winter by Dorthe Nors; and Tom Faure reviews the latest Anne Tyler.

There may be more. I have surprises. Actually, surprises surprise me. And Rob Gray will be here with another NC at the Movies as well the latest installment of Gerry Beirne’s amazing Irish feature Uimhir a Cúig.


May 232016


Okay, this is one of those, you know, things that come out of the blue. Tom Greene, VCFA’s president, called me from his car this morning to tell me they had launched a new Vermont College of Fine Arts Artists Development Fund based on a $1 million donation from the Martin Foundation. Part of the fund, a fund within the fund for writers, authors, and publishers, is named after me.

Douglas Glover Fund

The announcement just went up on Friday. You can find the relevant VCFA web page here. And you can download Artists Development Fund brochure here.

Naturally, I am nonplussed, amazed, bemused, and touched. I am grateful to the Martin Foundation for singling me out like this. It’s a terrific honour. I hope the fund inspires and supports many, many great writers in the future.

There is, of course, backstory here. But so far the donor wishes to remain anonymous, and I won’t blab.



May 152016



Micheline Lanctôt and Le Rédempteur, image via Radio-Canada

Actress, director, writer, translator Micheline Lanctôt picked my novel as one of the indispensable books last month on French language CBC Radio. The word they used on air and on their website is “incontournable.” The novel in question is my book The Life and Times of Captain N., first published by Knopf in New York where Gordon Lish was my editor. The French version was published under the title Le Rédempteur  (the redeemer, which was its working title most of the time I was writing it, oddly enough). The translator was the redoubtable Daniel Poliquin who went on to be a prolific novelist himself (this was back in the early 1990s).

Micheline knows my work intimately. She translated my book of stories 16 Categories of Desire into French. It was published as Seize Sortes de Désir. She’s a wonderful actress and director. Long before I actually met her, or even thought of meeting her, I knew exactly who she was, having been entranced with her performance on the screen in The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz (1974), where she played the French-Canadian love interest opposite Richard Dreyfus.

View the complete list of indispensable books @ Ici on lit at Radio-Canada.


May 152016

Carollyn Ogburn

It’s a deep pleasure to announce that Carolyn Ogburn is joining the NC masthead as a contributor. It’s long been a fantasy of mine to open up a music wing of the magazine. We’ve had some sporadic pieces now and then, some wonderful in their own right, but never anything continuous or systematic. Now Carolyn has come along to fill the niche. From now on we should have a semi-regular stream of really good music pieces, interviews mostly to begin with. She’s already done two (see below), and they’re terrific, opening up a whole new experience for our readers and giving us an entry into a new art form. Carolyn is my dream hire: competent, dependable, very smart about music, a good writer, and she can handle WordPress!

Music in the Anthropocene: Interview with Composer Nathan Currier — Carolyn Ogburn

Random Walks: Interview with Composer Ivan Seng — Carolyn Ogburn

Carolyn Ogburn lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina where she takes on a variety of worldly topics from the quiet comfort of her porch. Her writing can be found in the Asheville Poetry Review, the Potomac Review, the Indiana Review, and more. A graduate of Oberlin Conservatory and NC School of the Arts, she writes on literature, autism, music, and disability rights. She is completing an MFA at Vermont College of Fine Arts, and is at work on her first novel.

May 082016

MetanoiaClick on the image to go to the publisher’s page.

I am a little slow on this. Putting the magazine out is one thing. But then there is keeping up with the GOOD NEWS.

Sharon McCartney is probably the poet (along with Sydney Lea) we have  published most often in NC. McCartney poems published here were picked for Best Canadian Poetry in both 2012 and 2013. Then in November, 2014, we published a long poetic sequence called Metanoia, which has just now (April) been turned into a gorgeous, small book and published by Biblioasis.

Here’s a teaser from the Biblioasis book description:

T.S. Eliot and Tennessee Ernie Ford, Buddha and Jesus, Jung and Heidegger. Love, solitude, obliteration, the ocean and a sad neighbor who feeds pigeons. Metanoia is an aphoristically narrative poem that engages all of these, a book-length meditation on transformation, enlightenment, on opening one’s eyes. McCartney’s work evinces that journey, the junket into the self.


“So much is revealed in so few words … It’s a book that feels light, but its delivery is heavy, and worthy of contemplation … McCartney is merciless in exposing vulnerability, but also builds an intimacy integral to Metanoia’s achievement.”—Quill & Quire, starred review

The book includes a lovely acknowledgement:

Metanoia originally appeared, in a slightly different version, in the November 2014 issue of Numéro Cinq. Sincere thanks to Douglas Glover and everyone at Numéro Cinq.

A couple of informal observations:

  1. This isn’t the first book we’ve published in the magazine. We just did Sam Savage’s Collected Poems last month. We also published a complete novel by Robert Day as a serial. And Pat Keane’s essay (also last month) is essentially a book-length piece.
  2. Sharon McCartney is something else, a poet with a personal vision who, in work after work, digs deeper into the exposed tissue of her own soul.
  3. The best news of all: We have more Sharon McCartney poems coming in the June issue.


May 012016

Gary Garvin

Top of the Page this month — Gary Garvin, a superbly talented writer, just now beginning to get traction with the publishing establishment, with essays appearing recently in Fourth Genre, TriQuarterly and Web Conjunctions among others. But at NC we’ve known about him all along. His work began appearing here in the second issue of the magazine back in March, 2010. He published several pieces in that first year of our existence, including a wonderful essay about basketball great Stephen Curry and a What It’s Like Living Here essay about Cupertino and Silicon Valley, Then he went away, only to come roaring back in 2015 with that amazing story “In the Garden.” He returns this issue with an essay on modernism, Mies van der Rohe, architecture, and, yes, Lego models. Garvin is ferociously intelligent, an obsessive perfectionist, a humanist, a social critic, prophet, and radical thinker. I’ve called him a genuine American original — I’ll stick with that.


Apr 252016

NC diagram

NC 2nd floor planSketch and Lego floor plan of the Mies van der Rohe Brick Country House

Superlatives are out the window. I have no more. How many times can you say you’re astonished, gobsmacked, and catatonic from the sheer explosive freshness and quality of the writing before it becomes the ordinary?

It has become the ordinary.

I am astonished, gobsmacked, honoured, and not quite catatonic (but close) from the sheer explosive freshness, inventiveness, passion and quality of the writing in this issue. In December, we had a lengthy, comprehensive interview with Gabriel Josipovici, celebrated novelist and author of the book What Ever Happened to Modernism? (we called the interview “The Mind of the Modern”). In the new May issue, we have, mirabile dictu, a mysterious and uncanny excerpt from Josipovici’s work-in-progress My Brother.

gabriel-josipoviciGabriel Josipovici

How long should I wait? For it sometimes happens that he forgets that we are playing and lies down somewhere and falls asleep. Or opens the fridge and makes himself a sandwich, then sits down with a magazine to eat it. And when I finally come across him and ask him what has happened he looks at me blankly. Don’t you remember? I say. We were playing. You were supposed to find me.

That was yesterday, he says. —Gabriel Josipovici

Gary GarvinGary Garvin

From Gary Garvin, who has been writing for the magazine since the first issue (you can watch him age in his photographs), we have a uniquely powerful and beautifully eccentric essay on Modernism, architecture, Mies van Der Rohe’s famous Brick Country House and, yes, Lego models (meticulously built by the author himself). Garvin is a true American original, not to be missed.

It’s the sketch of the floor plan that most captured attention. It reflected aesthetic interests of the time—Cubist ideas about space—and acted as a visual manifesto. And it has sustained interest ever since. It appears on the cover of the recent third edition of William Curtis’s Modern Architecture Since 1900, serving as gateway to the subject. The sketch is a work of art in its own right, reminiscent of De Stijl paintings, in fact has been compared to one. The figure has the power of a sign, an ideogram that captures a principle, concise and complex, that represents an essential understanding of the world, or the way we might want to see it. Or it could be taken as a symbol for the creative act, or a model for prose. Or a picture of thought itself, of both a theory and method combined, interrelated. —Gary Garvin

Genese GrillGenese Grill

And from our own masthead in the form of author-translator Genese Grill, we have wise and erudite meditation on Modernism and the construction of meaning in which she coins the phrase “the categorical imp” — a mischievous combination of Kant’s Categorical Imperative and Poe’s “imp of the perverse.”

The categorical imp of the perverse is a hybrid of Kant’s categorical imperative (“Act only in accordance with that maxim through which you can at the same time will that it become a universal law”) and Poe’s “imp of the perverse” (a force that will suddenly act in seeming opposition to reason). This strange imp will leap about in the following pages amid all manner of philosophical confusion and try to sew together again the patches of thought that have been ripped apart, but in motley fashion; for she is but a poor sewer for such complicated quilting and, besides, the seams will, in the best of circumstances, burst again and require some new arrangement. —Genese Grill

Tomoe HillTomoé Hill

Tomoé Hill’s essay “Apple and Pear Trees” is one of the best things we have published in the line of personal essays, and maybe that’s not even what it should be called. It’s unique and powerful and never what you would expect. It’s about leaving, moving, arousal, sexual melancholia, and books — just to start with. It drips with sex and sadness; it makes you feel and think.

Myth is steeped in sex: how it transforms us, in both wonder and fear. We pursue and are pursued. How would a lover now come to me? Not in a shower of gold or the guise of a swan, but in those languorous hours where my mind, restless in a sleeping body, imagines the softness of sheets as skin, my heat creating the ghost of past lovers, future ones next to me. —Tomoé Hill

solieKaren Solie

The poet David Wojahn has penned for this issue a lengthy, luminous, and laudatory (and incidentally funny: see his lovely little aside on reading other readers’ annotations in old books) review of his latest discovery, the poetry of Canadian Karen Solie whom he compares to Berryman, Lowell and Vallejo.

When I read Karen Solie, I’m reminded of my first encounters with Berryman’s Dream Songs, Lowell’s Life Studies, or Vallejo’s posthumously published poetry. The books seemed unrelentingly astonishing, had a skewed but insistent sense of moral gravitas, and demanded a response that was as physical as it was intellectual. —David Wojahn

wojahn_david-photo-5-2013David Wojahn

Momina use this photoMomina Masood

For the first time ever in the magazine, we have poetry from Pakistan, surprising, razor-sharp verse from a young writer, Momina Masood, who will make her mark.

I have been
The virgin you were promised
for good behaviour,
And a sizeable body count.
But I have left Eden (some of us do get out) —Momina Masood

Zsofia Ban by Dirk SkibaZsófia Bán

From Budapest, we have Zsófia Bán’s short story “Transit of Venus” translated by the inimitable Erika Mihálycsa.

Well to this you just can’t say no. I have a heart too, even if a bit stony. Come now, here’s this stony, loving, cabby’s heart of mine. Take it. Shred it to pieces. —Zsófia Bán translated by Erika Mihálycsa

13_Nathan_Kind_Currier_t700Nathan Currier

For this issue, Carolyn Ogburn has interviewed the composer Nathan Currier. We have sound files and videos, a new music extravaganza.

But since those first flutes were fashioned out of vulture bones several tens of thousands of years ago, all music has intrinsically spoken to our interaction with Nature around us, and our Anthropocene era is defined by a cataclysmic pulse signal being fed into the whole Earth System, caused by us – as stupid and dangerous an experiment as has ever been conducted. —Nathan Currier

Mary ByrneMary Byrne

The Irish fiction writer Mary Byrne (living in Paris) contributes a sly, witty, disturbing, mordant, comical short story.

It was Bea who said, “But she was far too young to die from the heat!”

“Not the heat,” said the Queen of Hearts. “The loneliness.” —Mary Byrne

Betsy book pics 2013 - 147Betsy Sholl

From Betsy Sholl, new poems, an alphabetical invention, intricate and sublime.

…as if faith—or fate—

is all detour and surprise, stepping out
to find the way back in. —Betsy Sholl

Denise LowDenise Low

More poems, too, from Denise Low in Kansas. Homage poems and found poems. To die for is “Labels from the Field Museum,” which aches with life and loss.

9 July 1881
xxxxxBush on this day: collector
xxxxxat Blue Island, Cook Co.
one female buff-

xxxxxand tangerine-feathered

December 11, 1883
xxxxxwithin the specimen drawer
xxxxxone iridescent crimson ♂ male
xxxxxneck twisted to uncertain sight —Denise Low

Shawn SelwayShawn Selway

From Hamilton, an industrial city on the shore of Lake Ontario, Canada’s Rust Belt, Shawn Selway raps out a brilliant What It’s Like Living Here essay.

Looking east from Pier 8, where the tugs are snugged at night, those domes you see are grain storage bins. Beyond, behind the laker, are the mills, half-idled now as U.S. Steel gets on with killing Stelco, the homegrown competitor it bought a few years back. Their latest stunt is to persuade a judge to relieve them of paying certain medical benefits to their pensioners. We inhabit a lampoon of capitalism. Marx would certainly get a laugh out of the view: the mountain of capital left to rust unused, and just beyond, a second mountain, still alive with fire and action and thriving alongside the corpse of its former rival. I sometimes think of writing him, you know, the way Auden wrote to Byron, to give him an update. —Shawn Selway

And after that, there is more: new poems by Ingrid Ruthig, book reviews from Jason DeYoung and Joseph Schreiber, a new NC at the Movies from Rob Gray, a new bit of the green from Gerry Beirne (Uimhir a Cúig)…

I’m impressed. I’m not easily impressed. But this one impresses me.

It may be our best issue yet.


Apr 232016

Logo large

All good at Numéro Cinq Magazine. We’re still at zero for security issues on the Google Search Console. I have updated the magazine security software and we have a new caching engine.

The new security software delivers email alerts when someone tries to sign into the site, and so I see all the IP addresses for people who don’t have a correct username. It’s a bit chilling sometimes. My username was pretty generic and somehow someone guessed it or found it out. And last night there were over a hundred attempts to log in with that username (now defunct) without the correct password, of course. These attempts came from all over the world (so you know it’s a bot, not likely a real person). They started in Saint Petersburg, Russia, thence to Uruguay, then South Korea. Then they just came up everywhere. I am told that this is what’s called a brute force attack and is part of the background noise of the Internet.

Pretty soon I am going to turn off the email alerts. They are a bit too unnerving to watch. Truth is this has been happening all along and I just never noticed.

The good news is that the security software locks each one of these IP addresses out.


Apr 202016

Looks like we might be clear. The site redirect malware is gone. And the Google security alert now reads:

Security Issues

Currently, we haven’t detected any security issues with your site’s content.

I am redoing our internal security setup and that also includes changing the site’s caching software. So please bear with us if the site seems a little slow. We should have everything ironed out by next week.