May 212015

From Stanley Kubrick’s Lolita

No. 6 on the Numéro  Cinq all-time top ten stats list is Bruce Stone’s passionate and erudite defense of Vladimir Nabokov in the face of posthumous attacks against his novel Lolita and imputations of sexual scandal in the author’s makeup. This is a must-read essay for Nabokovians and for all writers who write risky work, opening themselves to the possibility of personal attack. It is fiction after all, but some readers and self-serving critics will always forget that.



Beyond the artificial provinces of literature, the real world also supplied the writer with no shortage of material. First, there is the actual crime of Frank Lasalle, mentioned by Humbert in Lolita, and tracked down by scholars; in 1948, Lasalle abducted thirteen-year-old Sally Horner and traveled with her cross-country for over a year, just as Humbert does with his captive. Then, there is the case of Professor Henry Lanz, Nabokov’s colleague during his brief stint at Stanford in 1941 and possible model for both Gaston Godin, the chess-playing pederast in Beardsley, and maybe Humbert himself; in the words of Leland de la Durantaye, Lanz “married his wife in London when she was fourteen” and “allegedly revealed to Nabokov the wild array of his pedophile adventures.” In the same vein, Cornwell notes Nabokov’s close reading of Havelock Ellis’ famous case history, “The Confession of Victor X,” whose Russian narrator “develops from precociously over-sexed adolescent debauchery […,] through a lengthy period of abstinence in Italy, which finally degenerates into paedophilia, voyeurism and masturbatory obsession amid Neapolitan child prostitution.” Cornwell even cites Nabokov’s reaction to the confession, in a letter to Edmund Wilson, who had introduced him to Ellis’ work:

I enjoyed the Russian’s love-life hugely. It is wonderfully funny. As a boy, he seems to have been quite extraordinarily lucky in coming across girls with unusually rapid and rich reactions. The end is rather bathetic.

Read the entire essay at Nabokov’s Exoneration: The Genesis and Genius of Lolita — Bruce Stone » Numéro Cinq

May 202015

Michael Schatte

A year ago we featured a splendid song/essay combination by the gifted guitarist and composer Michael Schatte. You can read it here: The Provenance of Song: Original Music & Essay — Michael Schatte (Vol. V, No. 2, February 2014). The song Michael premiered in the magazine and wrote his essay about is called “Our Sun Sets Early,” and now it’s featured on a brand new Michael Schatte album called Turn Back the Vikings. You should check out the song, words and music, on NC, and then check out the album itself. Michael’s a monster guitarist — I know because we did a mini-reading and music tour together a few years ago. But he’s a poet, too.

Listen here brother when I tell you what I tell you
‘Bout the sea, ’bout the sea, ’bout the sea
Your smug little chuckle’s gonna meet my knuckle
If you cry conspiracy
The water’s gonna boil over fires from hell
Oh the heat, oh the heat, oh the heat!
Pantheon judges holding ancient grudges
And Apollo plays a war beat



May 202015

Brianna Berbenuik

Tied for No. 7 in the all-time pop list is Brianna Berbenuik’s essay on Bret Easton Ellis and Post-Empire in Vol. II, No. 7, July 2011. Brianna is a hoot and a half. Her first essay for NC was a piece on visiting Las Vegas and going to a shooting store to try out machine guns. This particular essay was so insightful that Bret Easton Ellis himself drove the stats by tweeting about it. At the time, Brianna had not finished her undergrad courses and was working as a transcriber at a Victoria police department. I miss her.



North America is crumbling and it is denial vs. realism. Entitlement complexes everywhere are being challenged. The indoctrinated children of Empire do not like this. It might be worth noting that Empire children are largely made up of baby boomers, who are now, as a collective generation, being blamed for shitting on the most recent generation’s chances at the American Dream. Or to put it more succinctly, lying about the American Dream, and becoming a generation of greedy liars who killed their grandchildren to feed themselves. It’s a harsh depiction but this is how Post-Empire eyes might see it.

Ellis has boiled down these concepts into useable, and I’d like to say palatable terms – and these terms are coined for and owned by the masses. This is not academic theory with complex ideologies that must be distilled in condescending pablum form for consumption of the uneducated. Hell no – Empire and Post-Empire are the observances of those who can’t or haven’t accessed the Ivory tower; these concepts come from “the bottom up.” And academic arrogance? That is so fucking Empire.

Read the rest via In Hell We All Burn Brightly: Bret Easton Ellis’s Empire vs. Post-Empire — Brianna Berbenuik » Numéro Cinq

May 202015

Entropic FC

R W Gray

After almost five years of empty promises in which Douglas Glover has listed almost every expensive Scotch brand name he could Google, our own NC at the Movies Senior Editor R. W. Gray has had to resort to raising funds for his own expense account and has now published his second collection of short stories,  Entropic (NeWest, May 2015).

Gray will be appearing across North America in support of this collection, so make sure to stop by and see him when he’s in your neck of the woods!

About the Book:

In his second collection of stories, author and filmmaker R.W. Gray once again finds the place where the beautiful, the strange, and the surreal all meet—sometimes meshing harmoniously, sometimes colliding with terrible violence, launching his characters into a redefined reality.

A lovestruck man discovers the secret editing room where his girlfriend erases all her flaws; a massage artist finds that she can alleviate her clients’ pain in more ways than one; a beautiful man invites those who want him to do whatever they wish with his unconscious body; and a gay couple meets what appear to be the younger versions of themselves, and learns that history can indeed repeat itself.

“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.” ~ Douglas Glover, author of Savage Love and Elle

“Writing about the body is difficult because bodies are difficult: they are beautiful and awkward, strong and vulnerable, and if they frame the soul, they also house a host of unspiritual urges. Entropic, R.W. Gray’s second collection of short stories after 2010’s Crisp, is all about the body, and Gray hones in on all of these contradictions with writing that is as visceral and demanding as its subject.” ~ Julienne Isaacs, The Winnipeg Review

“Gray’s stories of unfulfilled need dance the line between unnervingly erotic and darkly familiar. Reading Entropic is like peeking at the dark space in your heart, hoping to see a light.” ~ Chelsey Stuyt,

May 202015

Jacob Paul and Van Goose

covers small

Shadow NC contributor Jacob Paul will host a reading and performance for his novel, A Song of Ilan, and the album, Dark Rather Than Tan, composed by Van Goose to accompany Jacob’s reading.

Where: The Hive, 20 Cook St., Brooklyn NY

When: Friday, May 22
7:59pm – nothing happens.
8pm – doors time – appetizers, drinks and shmingeling.
9pm – show time. Jacob will read and Van Goose will make some sounds, joined by notable drummer, Yula.
10pm – Dj set? maybe… play by ear.

Douglas Glover writes: “Jacob Paul’s A Song of Ilan is tour de force of structural experiment that leaves not a thread untied and moves from beginning to end a mesmerizing if not say horrifying fatality. Ilan, once an Israeli soldier, shot a suicide bomber to death in a cafe; ten years later, alcoholic, spiritually paralyzed, he turns himself into a suicide bomber, haunting the New York subway system with explosives under his coat, the only truth he knows, the only way to God. A spectacular book, beautiful in its rhymes, daunting in its ethical interrogation.”

The book and the album will be available for sale.

The event is FREE, however, a $5 suggested donation to cover costs will be mostly appreciated.

What is the music of the “genesis of the terrorist impulse?” The text lost in lamentation, song amongst songs? What happens when album and novel are overlaid, palimpsest of troubled verse and synthesized troubadour? Hear it live, at Brooklyn’s Hive, when Van Goose plays from Dark Rather than Tan and Jacob Paul reads from A Song of Ilan, novel and album conjoined to celebrate the release of both. And, rumor has it, Yula will be joining Van Goose (Shlomi Lavie) on drums. Dark party, groove-on gettable function, celebration, performance. Don’t miss it.

Jacob Paul’s novel Sarah/Sara was named by Poets & Writers as one of 2010’s five best debut fictions. His writing has appeared in Hunger Mountain, Western Humanities Review, Green Mountains Review, Massachusetts Review, Seneca Review, Mountain Gazette, The Rumpus, Fiction Writers Review, Numéro Cinq Magazine, and USA Today’s Weekend Magazine. A former Oppenheimer Funds product manager, he now teaches creative writing at High Point University in North Carolina.

Van Goose (Shlomi Lavie) is a musician and music producer based in NYC who played with Arik Einstein, Berry Sakharof, Marcy Playground, Nanuchka, Habiluim, among many others. As a music producer he has worked with Radiator King, Yael Kraus, Yula Beeri and more. He writes and performs his own music under the name Van Goose as well as Dolchnakov Brigade.

Regarding Dark Rather Than Tan, Van Goose states: “I’ll be honest, when I was first asked by Jacob Paul to write music to go along with his book, I found the idea quite odd. Later, when I began reading the book, little melodies and textures started flooding my head. Really wanting these melodies to kindly leave my head, I immediately returned a call to Jacob and agreed to take the challenge. I started writing this album as soon as I began reading the book and finished it when I finished reading the book. Given the fact that this album was written exclusively for a book, you might ask, ‘I have the book and the album, what do I do now?’ The way I see it, there are no strict rules but only a suggestion — try to read the book and listen to the album. The other way around isn’t bad, either.”

About A Song of Ilan, Buffalo’s Public writes: “A Song of Ilan is in three parts, which tell interwoven narratives. While an Israeli soldier, Ilan shot and killed a would-be suicide bomber in a café. The memory of this event, which centers on the spectacle of the female bomber’s body before and after death, haunts him throughout the novel. He feels the gamut of contradictory post-traumatic emotions, including guilt, pride, shame, and despair… The novel’s prose does a remarkable job of conveying the obsessive self-criticism and anguish of its protagonist. When Ilan is finally indistinguishable from the suicide bomber he killed years ago, the reader realizes that Paul has managed to illustrate the genesis of the terrorist impulse. For Ilan, its roots lie in an overpowering need for God and an inability to live in the rigid confines of orthodoxy.”


May 192015


NC’s prescience and taste is validated once again in the announcement just out that László Krasznahorkai has won the 2015 Man International Booker Prize.

We published our contributor Eric Foley’s review of Krasznahorkai’s novel Seiobo There Below in the September 2013 issue. See the review here: Unbearable Beauty: A Review of Seiobo There Below by László Krasznahorkai — Eric Foley.

We also just published a selections of poems by one of Krasznahorkai’s translators, George Szirtes in April issue of the magazine. See those poems here: The night I spent my last nickel to call Steve: Poems — George Szirtes.


The Hungarian author László Krasznahorkai, whose sentences roll out over paragraphs in what his translator George Szirtes has called a “slow lava flow of narrative, a vast black river of type”, has won the Man Booker International prize for his “achievement in fiction on the world stage”.

Chair of judges Marina Warner, the academic and writer, compared Krasznahorkai’s work to Kafka – the author’s own personal literary hero – and Beckett. “I feel we’ve encountered here someone of that order,” she said. “That’s a trick that the best writers pull off; they give you the thrill of the strange … then after a while they imaginatively retune you. So now we say, ‘it’s just like being in a Kafka story’; I believe that soon we will say it’s like being in a Krasznahorkai story.”

The biennial Man Booker International is worth £60,000, and is intended to honour a living author for their body of work, either written in English or available in English translation. It has gone in the past to Ismail Kadare from Albania, Chinua Achebe from Nigeria, two Americans, Philip Roth and Lydia Davis, and one Canadian, Alice Munro.

Read the rest at Man Booker International prize 2015 won by ‘visionary’ László Krasznahorkai » The Guardian

May 192015

Wendy VoorsangerWendy Voorsanger

At seventh spot, another tie (I have to call it a tie when they are just a few places away from each other), and this one might surprise you, too. NC was never meant to be a snooty and exclusive enclave for aesthetes and highbrow thinkers despite the fact that, um, we are happy aesthetes and highbrow thinkers. We always wanted the aesthetes and highbrow thinkers to be grounded in a common humanity, not the common culture of pop but the common culture of daily living where there remains some dignity. So we invented our Childhood series, our What It’s Like Living Here series, our My First Job series — all meant to be grounded firmly in place, a place. And it turns out that these essays are amongst our most popular. Readers like down-to-earth, well-written pieces about ordinary places, about what is or might become familiar, about what has significance because it is lived in and loved.

Wendy Voorsanger was on the masthead briefly and wrote several thrilling and unique pieces for the magazine. See especially her photo essay on the Burning Man and her own novel-on-skin costume for that event. But she also wrote this charming little essay on San Mateo, where she lives. What is lovely here is that she took the time to counter presuppositions and replace them with history and with insights into the city’s public art (often overlooked in the tourist brochures): the “Indian maidens” in bas relief on the post office, library murals and even a mosaic on the front of the Bank of America building. These are examples of the special touches that made this piece come alive and continues to draw in readers.


Wendy Voorsanger at Burning ManWendy at Burning Man


I like to think the Ohlone spirits inhabit us, teach us how to live, appreciate our land and each other.  I imagine their bones scattered deep beneath my home. I imagine them wandering the hills in the midnight fog wraithlike, their pacific whisperings coming through my window as a sea breeze as I sleep.  But then I also imagine the ghosts of the Spanish buried alongside the Ohlone and figure they have something to say, too.  And I wonder how much of our culture is simply a lingering imprint of those who came before.

To outsiders, San Mateo might seem like an irritatingly superficial, “laid back” place.  I’ll admit, I enjoy my superficial pleasantries, not always taking the time to dig beyond surface connections with people.  And I do often hang out in nature; our Bay Ridge and Peninsula open space district encompasses over 60,000 acres in 26 wilderness preserves.  But most people in San Mateo don’t really fit into that familiar “laid back” Californian caricature.  Being relaxed is just an image we carefully cultivated, consciously or subconsciously.  In fact, on the contrary, San Mateo is a diverse mix of locals and transplants from around the country (and the world), mixed together into an insanely intense stew of over-achievers and perfectionists.

Read the rest via What It’s Like Living Here — Wendy Voorsanger in San Mateo » Numéro Cinq

May 182015


Every site has pieces that are popular for the wrong reasons. At No. 8 on the NC all time stats list is, well, an amusing eccentric, an outlier, something not within the stadium grounds. It’s a little blog post I put up when a Toronto journalist Jeet Heer wrote that my novel Elle portrayed a human having sex with a bear. I have been accused of many things, but this one was flat-out wrong, as anyone who has read the novel knows. Jeet Heer compared Elle with Marion Engel’s novel Bear, which also won the Governor-General’s Award and which does have a woman romantically entangled with a bear. In any case, I thought it was funny and blogged about it and then Jeet got in touch and we met and had a good laugh and NC published an essay he wrote. Walrus Magazine, which had published his erroneous post, eventually took it down (so the link is dead). Nonetheless the post I wrote continues to be very popular; I can only assume this is because we’re getting hits from people doing bestiality searches on Google. NC has become a go-to site for bear-human sex porn, even though such searchers will inevitably be deeply disappointed to themselves in literary trivia (name all the novels that feature sex with bears). I still love the cute bear image that goes with the post.



As Katherine Monk points out in her book Weird Sex & Snowshoes, Canadian filmmakers are notable for their interest in outré forms of passion. Think of the acrobatic sexual positions displayed in the movies of Atom Egoyan, David Cronenberg, and Denys Arcand.

I’m wondering whether a similar fixation on erotic outrageousness isn’t also a running theme in Canadian literature: after all, the Governor General’s Award has twice been given to novels that feature a woman having sex with a bear (Marian Engel’s Bear and Douglas Glover’s Elle). [My emphasis.]

In many ways, bears make a natural sex symbol. With their hairiness, burliness, and wary aggression, bears embody a certain ideal of rugged Northern masculinity (notably among a subset of husky gay men). The image of ursine/human mating is redolent of both folklore (Beauty and the Beast) and mythology (the many occasions when Zeus took an animal guise in order to seduce a nubile maiden).

—Jeet Heer

Read the rest via “…novels that feature a woman having sex with a bear…” » Numéro Cinq

May 172015


No. 9 in the NC TOP TEN COUNTDOWN is John Proctor’s essay on the list essay — “7 Things I Learned from Reading 15 List Essays” — published in Vol. I, No. 4, May 2010, making it one of the earliest craft essays to appear in the nascent magazine. “7 Things” is a preliminary exploration of the territory. It has proved remarkably popular over time, actually gaining momentum in the last year or so, which makes sense: people read the essay and pass it along to other readers who pass it along.



That the term “List Essay” might not be precisely correct. David Blakesley wrote a review of Reinventing Rhetoric: The Dialectic of List and Story by John D. O’Banion, in which he sums up O’Banion’s admixture of the list story like this:

List is the form of discourse utilized by logic or systematic thought; story is the form utilized by narratival thought… In their application, “List records scientific truth, with logic providing tests of a List’s accuracy and universality. Story embodies aesthetic ‘truth’ (meaning), with narration providing guidance in revealing and discovering such situationally bound meaning.”

It’s important to point out here that the list essay is a different entity than the list story, since technically the essay is a non-fiction form that usually contains elements of both systematic and narrative style. So by this reasoning, almost every essay is to some degree  a systematic-narratival or list-story essay – the only “list essays” would be the ones that don’t employ any narrative. With this in mind, I’d propose the title systematic narrative essay. Aesthetically it’s not as concise as “list essay,” but I think it actually rolls off the tongue quite nicely. And the process itself of reading a bunch of unrelated essays and attempting to delineate precepts that they all follow is itself an example of the tightrope walk between narrative thought and systematic application, as each of these essays does tell a story, most of them intensely personal, and my attempt here is to figure out some analogous connections between their systematic methods of telling those narratives.

via 7 Things I Learned from Reading 15 List Essays — John Proctor » Numéro Cinq

May 172015


We continue to experience interruptions at NC. We went down twice yesterday. But as far as I can tell, we’ve been online since some time yesterday afternoon. Right now we are limping along with most of the plugins, as they are called, disabled. Our precious and elegant hovering footnotes are not working, for example.

The language of disruption is fascinating. It has evolved into several (competing) narratives, involving Apaches, zombies, the undead, the defunct, the runaway, the unstoppable, the infinite, and the bad boy. Yes, apparently in server-land, NC was a bad boy yesterday. And you thought technology was devoid of poetry!

The tech person(s) at the hosting company said we had spawned an unsettling number of processes that had somehow not ended correctly and had spun loose from the main program (and thus became “ownerless”) and were continuing to process endlessly, perhaps also reproducing. These took up more and more space on the server memory until it was choked and stopped working. Since they haven’t ended correctly and are ownerless, no one can stop these things, and the only way to get rid of them is to turn off the system. (Jonah says the best way is to turn off and restart the server, but the hosting company won’t do that, as far as I can tell, because we share server space with other sites.) The system software is Apache. So twice yesterday because of NC, the host had to kill Apache, thus making NC a “bad boy.” Yes, this is the way they talk, in an affable non-confrontational way, of course.

These runaway processes (called runaway processes, too) are called “zombie processes” or defunct processes. They are the undead who refuse to be killed and rise in rebellion against the living forces of logic and reason. They create chaos and disruption.

You would not think such things could exist, but they are created in moments of change and conflict (the human metaphor keeps expanding). Somehow I triggered the zombie when I upgraded WordPress three days ago. I also upgraded the database but for some reason that failed (who knows what happened or what the status is now). In itself, that possibly triggered the rise of the zombies. But the tech people (still calling me a bad boy by implication) think one or more of the plugins we use is having a conflict with the new WordPress software. The plugins are subsidiary add-on programs written by freelancers, not WordPress. They provide a myriad of extra functions (like those lovely footnotes; but even the spam filtering software is a plugin). But they are not always kept up to date with the new WordPress upgrades and sometimes they have bugs (another metaphor) of their own that cause conflicts.

Maybe you all know these words, but it’s fun to write them out and own the metaphors that proliferate in the land of technology. We live, still, in a world of myth and fantasy.

Meantime, keep your eyes open and please report anything you see amiss on the site.


May 162015

Somewhat flustered and mystified by yesterday’s site failure, we now continue our top ten countdown of the current all-time most popular posts on NC. Tied with Richard Jackson for the No. 10 spot (that’s out of something like 3,000 posts) is Jason Lucarelli‘s masterful and comprehensive (indeed, something of a foundational document in Lishian studies) essay “The Consecution of Gordon Lish: An Essay on Form and Influence” from  Vol. IV, No. 2, February 2013. This was Jason’s first contribution to NC. He has since joined the masthead. His latest piece for us was an interview with Diane Williams.

Again, one is surprised. Jason’s essay is about the art of composition, specifically a difficult technical concept Lish calls “consecution,” which is nonetheless crucial to his theory of how stories are invented (not by thinking of plots so much as inventing an attack sentence and recursively unpacking its implications). Lish has been tremendously influential. A whole generation of American writers have grown up under his tutelage. And yet his ideas are little understood beyond the people he actually taught. Jason Lucarelli has provided a valuable resource for people who want to study The Way of Lish.



The start of any story is in its initial sentence, the goal of which is to create interest and draw readers into the world of the story while also announcing, in some way, the essential desire, topic or structure of the story. Lish calls the initial sentence of a story an attack sentence. In a set of class notes transcribed by Tetman Callis, a student who enrolled in one of Gordon Lish’s private fiction workshops, Lish is quoted as saying, “Your attack sentence is a provoking sentence. You follow it with a series of provoking sentences” (Lish Notes, 15). By provoking sentences Lish means sentences that initiate intention, action, opposition, and conflict—all words on loan from Douglas Glover.

Lish continues, “You take the initial sentence, your object, and you extrude and extrude, unpack and unpack, reflect and reflect, all in ways thematically and formally akin to the ways in the attack, the opening, the initial sentence” (Lish Notes, 41). In other words, the attack sentence starts the riff of the narrative, then what follows pushes the narrative forward through a kind of narrative logic that says whatever comes to the page must be a function of what is already present on the page. Consecution is about unpacking or revealing more and more of what is implied—the natural conflict, the innate conflict, as indicated by Lish—in what has already been written.

Lish refers to the process of querying the preceding sentence for what might be profitably used in composing the next sentence as refactoring. Refactoring is the mental process of finding a better or clearer way to word something through continually reinventing upon the initial conditions established in the attack sentence of the story. Think of refactoring as sentence-by-sentence refining, or exposing and excavating of details in the text only hinted at in the prior sentences. The objective of each successive sentence of the narrative is not to fill the narrative space with inconsequential details, but narrative details that further develop character, motive, and conflict.

via The Consecution of Gordon Lish: An Essay on Form and Influence — Jason Lucarelli » Numéro Cinq.


May 152015

I dunno. I clicked a button because WordPress wanted me to upgrade. Everything looked good. Then WordPress demanded that I upgrade the database. This mystified me, but I am trusting, gullible and naive in the extreme. You all know this about me. You all wonder why I am the one in charge.

First we got a beautiful error message saying there was an internal server error. And, though the site was up, with menus and buttons down the side, there was no content, just an error message.

With the help of tech support, I tried to revert to before the upgrade. Briefly, there was a window of hope. The site came up. One plugin did not seem to be working. I went to the gym to decompress.

When I came back, the page was blank, as it has remained since. Apparently, there is NO CONTENT. I mean I used the FTP access to look and the content folder was empty. I am now uploading what I hope is a complete backup folder, all the text, formatting and images.

If this doesn’t work, well, it could be the end of a beautiful thing. Who could know how fragile a thing it is?

In the morning, we’ll see where we are. Currently, some of the site is back online, but I don’t trust it, and none of the plugins are working.


May 142015

Behind the scenes at any literary site, there are stats. They mark the invisible winds of readership, the whims of the interested, literate masses. We don’t see our readers; some make comments here or on Facebook, even Twitter. But mostly they are invisible and mysterious. But we see the stats, which are, yes, more or less accurate (who knows?). On any given day we can see how many people looked at the site and what they looked at, and there are cumulative counts as well. For NC, this is somewhat complicated by the fact that we switched to a self-hosting site after about the first year and a half of existence. That split the stats. Old site stats and new site stats. But generally speaking the stats for the new site have now superseded the stats for the old site and are representative. This gives us a chance to filter the stats from various perspectives. We can see what’s popular, though not why it’s popular. And this can lead to diverting hours spent pondering the mystery of those invisible winds.

So over the next  few days, I want to share with you the Numéro Cinq ALL TIME TOP TEN LIST in all its glory and puzzlement. These are the pieces that have had the most readers since the time they were published. I think they may surprise you.

At Number 1o (out of well over 3,000 published pieces), we have a statistical tie (they are about 10 readers apart). But the first is Richard Jackson’s marvelous essay on poetry and translation — “Translation, Adaptation and Transformation: The Poet as Translator” — published in Vol. II, No. 3, March 2011. Is this not a little astonishing? An erudite, dense and even difficult essay on poetry and translation so high on our reading list? What this exercise has taught me is RESPECT THE READER. We have some marvelous people following the magazine. An eccentric and judicious crowd of readers. We love them all.



Why translate? Kenneth Rexroth, one of the most influential translators, writes in his essay, “The Poet as Translator,”– “The writer who can project himself into exultation of another learns more than the craft of words. He learns the stuff of poetry.” Translation is at the heart of poetry– a poet like Rilke writes in his “Ninth Elegy” that when the poet

returns from the mountain slopes into the valley,
he brings, not a handful of earth, unsayable to others, but instead
some word he has gained, some pure word, the yellow and blue
gentian. Perhaps we are here in order to say: house,
bridge, fountain, gate, pitcher, fruit-tree, window–
at most: column, tower….But to say them, you must understand,
oh to say them more intensely than the Things themselves
ever dreamed of existing.

via Translation, Adaptation and Transformation: The Poet as Translator — Richard Jackson » Numéro Cinq.


May 132015

Just back from a wild swing to the farm to oversee vast excavation and pipe-laying to repair the tenant house (twice burned down, but the original house was the first on the farm; ancient stone foundation dating to before 1850, we also found the remains of what must be the original well) plus swing to Toronto to see Jonah (hiked down the Humber River to the lake and back). Many pictures, no theme, my brain is a scattered mess.

Re. the pipe. We had a line locator come out to locate the old line, which he didn’t manage properly. So we had to follow the old pipe with the backhoe, a lovely serpentine hole with a couple of false tangents and trial digs here and there. Kind of interesting and delicate, especially at the very end when we were sure we were close to the main pipe. These digging photos are of purely documentary interest. No one made a map the last time the pipes were put in, and now I have pictures. Otherwise, I will spare you the details.




May 072015

Darren Higgins

It’s a huge pleasure to announce that Darren Higgins is joining the Numéro Cinq masthead as a Contributor. This is in part a recognition of his brilliant contributions to the magazine already, and also a nod to his ongoing commitment to making this a vibrant community of the arts.

Darren Higgins is a writer, editor, and artist living in Waterbury Center, Vermont, with his wife, two sons, and a cat who never comes when she’s called. A graduate of the Vermont College of Fine Arts, he has written poems and stories for a variety of publications, essays for a couple of local newspapers, and commentaries for Vermont Public Radio.

Contributions so far:

I’m a Big Fan of the Joyful Solution: Interview with Jen Bervin — Darren Higgins

Words on Stone, Eggshells, Feathers, Etc.: Poems, Art & Interview with Jody Gladding — Darren Higgins


May 062015


This is the end of the world writ small. No ultimate global destiny is described here. Instead Yuri Herrera’s Signs Preceding the End of the World explores the fate of a young woman as her world is changed when she experiences firsthand the journey many of her compatriots have taken to the “other side,” to the nation of anglos, the place that changes everyone, because it robs them of their mother tongue and skins them of their identity and power. A slim novel with a narrative large in scope, it refreshes the immigrant’s crossing with a tale worthy of our time, one simple in its telling, but complex in its rendering. With themes touching on economics, power, gender, sexuality, language, and cultural differences—along with vivid metaphors and ancestral allusions—Herrera has written a novel that connects the contemporary with the timeless…. —Jason DeYoung

Read the rest at 3AM Magazine here.

Jason DeYoung

Jason DeYoung


May 062015

R W Gray

Numéro Cinq‘s Senior Editor R. W. Gray (filmmaker, screenwriter, short story writer extraordinaire, also editor of our amazing, unique NC at the Movies series) has just published his second short story collection, Entropic (NeWest, May 2015). Of which I wrote:

“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.” —Douglas Glover

You can read the title story — “Crisp” — of his first collection here to get a taste.



Apr 302015


Congratulations to Doireann Ní Ghríofa on the publication of her first English language collection of poems, Clasp (Dedalus Press). Doireann, of course, featured early on in Uimhir a Cúig (in collaboration with Peter Madden). At the time, I spoke of the cognitive impact of bilingualism upon the creative process: “Although the written poems appear on the page in a single language, the thought processes to create them are borne of a far more complex interplay. 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…”

In her recent article, Writing Through Windows (published on,) Doireann speaks of another transitional zone, the place that a window separates: “Writing given me this strange quirk, of discovering potential windows framing everything I see. These windows and the process of gazing through them is what gifts me my poems. When I sit down to write, I rest my head on the sill, I get so, so close to the glass that I can see the song my breath sings there, and I peer at the poem that lies beyond the window. Through looking at what lies beyond the glass, I create a poem from what is hidden within.

In writing my newly-published book, Clasp, I peer through a multitude of windows in an attempt to explore a multitude of absences. In these poems, I was interested to see whether I could speak about an absence by describing what remains. It’s a strange paradox, but similar to the idea of trying to describe a silence using words, in order to create a sense of absence, one must sketch all the things that remain, the edges that define the hole, if you will. By seeing what’s through the window, you can also see what is not.

doireann imram 2014 3

Doireann’s book, not surprisingly, has been receiving great attention:

In Southward (New Writing From Ireland): Clíona Ní Riordáin reviews Doireann Ní Ghríofa’s newest poetry collection (… be sure also to enjoy the whole online issue and explore Southward’s archives too!)

On RTE’s Arena (April 10) listen to Kathy D’Arcy’s review

Read Doireann’s article from The Irish Times “…on writing Clasp and what became of Airt Uí Laoghaire’s horse”

Or listen to Doireann on  The Poetry Programme (April 25) speak about and read from her collection

You know what they say, you can’t get too much of a good thing!

—Gerard Beirne

Apr 302015

Genese GrillPhoto by Rebecca Mack

Top of the Page for the month of May: Genese Grill, our resident Musil, Proust, and Modernism expert, currently riding a wave of publishing success with her translation of Robert Musil essays Thought Flights (Contra Mundum Press) to be launched May 10 in New York. Click her name here and check out her NC Archive Page. Not to be missed are her essays on Proust and Musil, Musil and Wittgenstein, and Modernism/Primitivism. She’s been a wonderful addition to our farflung masthead.