Aug 212016

01.Something fully itselfSomething Fully Itself: Dave Kennedy (detail)

It just tickles the hell out of me, watching an issue come together. Divine serendipity, or Fate, or blind luck, or, what I prefer, amazing intelligence and taste on the part of our collective masthead.

The other day Rikki Ducornet wrote and suggested I look at an artist she’d met named Dave Kennedy. I found him, wrote to him, and behold! He’s really something. He does large scale photo, photocopy, and junk collages (I guess you would call them) based on ideas of identity and reappraisal he picked up on the streets in the projects when he was a kid. “What are you?” people used to ask him. (He’s Native American, African, and Italian yet undefinable.) So now he makes art out the things that don’t look like art, that aren’t conventionally recognized as having aesthetic merit, and he talks a line of theory that sounds like our patron saint Viktor Shklovsky in a North American mode.

Dave Kennedy A view to a passageway_working_ 2Dave Kennedy

My mother is Italian and Eritrean, and my father Native American. I didn’t look like one ethnic group or another, and I would walk these multicultural city blocks alone, looking for someone else like me. It was common for people to make assumptions as to what I was: Mexican, Samoan, Black. “What are you?!” My response to these objectifying guesses and questions is embedded in my practice and my exploration of an expanded view into unseen subjectivities. —Dave Kennedy

But “What are you?” is an electrifying question. In this issue, we have work from an Irish poet, Mexican writers, an African-American poet, an English short story writer, Canadians, Australians, Americans, a Navajo, a Romanian, an Argentinian, a Catalan, and a Belgian. We have French poems translated into English by an Indian-American. And more!

What tickles me most about this issue is in fact its global diversity. This was always part of the vision at NC (read our non-existent vision statement for clarity on this), to create an indefinable (furiously undefined) mix that doesn’t recognize boundaries or conventions (even the conventions of unconventionality). Contact with the Other is exciting, gets your blood up, is good for you (well, if it doesn’t kill you—always a distinct possibility, though not on NC).

We like it that NC exists online, in the ether, without a defined regional base. It sits firmly in the nation of very smart and creative people.

teixidorEmili Teixidor

Also in this issue, Joe Schreiber (redoubtable, indefatigable, wise) reviews Black Bread by the Catalan writer Emili Teixidor. We will have an excerpt for your edification.

As elements of sadness, grief, and anger slowly begin to work their way into our hero’s voice, it easy, as a reader, to feel a sense of loss; it is as if we have allowed ourselves to grow up again alongside him. —Joseph Schreiber


Riiki DucornetRikki Ducornet

We have bloody, mythic long poem “White Quetzal” by the above-mentioned Rikki Ducornet, for whom NC is becoming a second home. (A delightful and unlooked for outcome.)

Some awakened in the place named White Bone House
with broken jaws, forcibly initiated
into a dark knowledge. —Rikki Ducornet

Denise Evans DurkinDenise Durkin

After a much too prolonged hiatus, Denise Durkin returns to theses pages with a handful of poems from her heart.

Look at the papers on my desk huddled
under their blanket of dust. Almost
hear the words disappear – blown into
the dry well of what will be forgotten –
—Denise Durkin

2014-06-02-Merwin1W. S. Merwin

Allan Cooper delivers an eloquent and wise review of W. S. Merwin’s new collection.

W. S. Merwin’s Garden Time is a book about aging, about the practice of trying to live one’s life in the present. The recurring themes are loss and old love, memory and forgetting, and a kind of precognition that the whole of what we are was with us from the beginning —Allan Cooper

garden time

4. With Uncle Henry's boys at The Knoll c.1950Elizabeth Thomas “With Uncle Henry’s boys at The Knoll c.1950” from her memoir.

Australian Elizabeth Thomas is back with the third installment of her memoirs of an outback childhood. The most charming thing you’ll ever read. And she has such a collection of old photos. Wonderful to see and wonderful to look also at her earlier contributions.

‘Now change that needle often,’ Auntie Essie says, ‘or you’ll ruin those records.’ She’s not happy that we’re playing with the gramophone in the big lounge room with its elegant arm chairs and those large round Jap-silk cushions of scarlet and midnight blue. I expect she wasn’t allowed in there when she was growing up. But my Uncle Henry said, ‘Of course they can play in there. It isn’t a morgue!’ —Elizabeth Thomas

L_Writer. Elizabeth ThomasElizebeth Thomas

bojan louisBojan Louis

And a discovery. A fresh, gritty, new voice. Navajo short story writer Bojan Louis.

He couldn’t see No-Lee or the kid, but discerned Jared’s frightened sobs, the twist of a plastic cap against glass. He listened as No-Lee swallowed hard twice, twisted the cap back on. Heard the whoosh of something tumbling through the musty cave air and shattering near the kid’s noise. No-Lee laughed, gagged from the effort. Phillip rose and rushed into the black toward the sound; arms bent ninety at the elbow, hands curled to grasp what he could of No-Lee. —Bojan Louis

SydneyLeaSydney Lea

And Sydney Lea is back with poems of aging and wonderment, elegant, effortless, and elegiac.

To watch that band of vultures
coast along their thermal this morning
is to marvel at elegance and composure–
no need to repress old platitudes
about the birds as tokens
of my doom.

—Sydney Lea

Paul McMahon colourPaul McMahon

From Ireland this month, we have beautiful, trenchant poems by Paul McMahon.

I was standing beside one of the cremation paddocks
at the burning Ghats in Varanasi. A pyre was blazing –
bruise-black smoke rose up into the vacant sky

—Paul McMahon


And our own translator-in-residence (who usually specializes in works translated from Tamil) A. Anupama turns a deft hand to rendering Baudelaire’s Les Fleur du Mal.

Dear mortals, I am lovely, like a dream made of stone,
and my breast, upon which all are bruised in their turn,
inspires in poets especially a love that burns
solid, eternal and mute as radium, pure matter alone.
—Charles Baudelaire translated by A. Anupama

Anu2A. Anupama

Author's Photo colorSusan Aizenberg

And yet more poetry! From the scintillating Susan Aizenberg.

Until very near the end, it played and played.
Paternity Court, followed by Judge Judy,
in the afternoon — fineh mentshn, you’d say,
tsk-tsking and laughing at the unfaithful
men and small-time grifters, shaking your weak head
at this crazy new world. Nights, there were movies,
or docs on PBS, though you mostly missed
the endings, adrift on morphine and Xanax.
—Susan Aizenberg

Erika MihalycsaErika Mihálycsa

Also in this issue a new short story from the Romanian writer/translator Erika Mihálycsa, dense, witty, acutely observed.

Supercilious is the word, it crossed the translator’s mind, as she stepped out of the bathroom half a beat too early and caught in her husband’s look, beside the habitual let’s-drop-it-mom resignation, a new, yet unseen quality, a parry of the foibles: not now, she’ll hear us. It was not the first occasion when she caught her husband at it. —Erika Mihálycsa

The Path of the Jaguar cover image

Stephen Henighan is a Canadian writer and translator, an old friend of the magazine. He returns this time with an excerpt from his novel The Path of the Jaguar, just out in September. Read it and buy the book.

Mist condensed around her head. She felt the child’s twisting far down in her entrails as though it were marooned in a place beyond her reach. The Maker, the Modeller, Sovereign Plumed Serpent, wrought the world out of mist. Her mind strayed through the spaces beyond that haze when the mountains rose out of the water and the first people were fashioned out of corn and took the name B’alam. —Stephen Henighan

Henighan on ferry on Lake NicaraguaStephen Henighan on ferry in Lake Nicaragua

MLbuganvilias1 (1)Mónica Lavín

From Mexico (yes, we’re getting enough Mexican material on a regular basis that we’re almost ready to declare it a regular feature—Number Five in Spanish!), we have two short stories in translation from a lovely writers, Mónica Lavín.

Rose emerged naked and round on the shore, the sparse down of her sex dripping, her breasts pink and large, while the boy and the girl, separated, avoided looking at each other. The women shouted to Wayne not to urinate, which he was doing in a sumptuous arc, on the water where everyone was swimming. And Wayne took off running after his sister. —Mónica Lavín translated by Patricia Dubrava

Lewis ParkerLewis Parker

And from England, Lewis Parker comes back to NC with an hilarious and spot-on send-up of American election practices, which can and must be read in the context of the current campaign. A must read.

“The F.E.C.’s lawyers said making voters recite speeches would breach voter registration laws, although there is a movement in Alabama campaigning to make all registered voters reel off two pages of the Independence Day screenplay from memory.”—Lewis Parker

And there is more! (Always there is more). Rob Gray will return with another NC at the Movies. Jason Lucarelli reviews Naked by the Belgian writer Jean-Philippe Toussaint and Frank Richardson reviews Zama by the Argentinian Antonio Di Benedetto.




Aug 022016


Douglas Glover, Theatre Passe MurailleShelagh1






Click the link below to listen to the spectacular Shelagh Shapiro interviewing the irrepressible (irrendentist, irresponsible…) Douglas Glover, editor at NC, about the magazine and various and sundry topics guaranteed to trigger his loquacious streak.

Douglas Glover/Numéro Cinq – Interview #410: A conversation with Douglas Glover, founder, publisher and editor of the online magazine Numéro Cinq.

Link: Write The Book » Douglas Glover/Numéro Cinq – Interview #410 (7/25/16)


Aug 012016

Tomoe-Hill22Tomoé Hill

In the slider at the Top of the Page this month, we’re featuring a handful of our rather vast and growing selection of memoirs. They are wonderfully different in subject matter — childhood, breakups, suicide, the difficult passages of youth, the enigma of a lost father, and the deaths of loved ones — and just as wonderfully different in style and imaginative reach, from the searing passion of Michael Bryson’s account of his wife’s death by cancer to Robert Day’s whimsically fond memories of his mother’s last summer. These are gorgeously human and humane documents. Read them and you’ll get a sense of why the magazine exists and persists. We are doing important work of the heart.

Jul 252016

CaptureMark Rothko’s 1953 “Untitled: Purple, White, and Red.”

It’s almost August, summer is on the wane, the sun is setting toward the south, the great thunder clouds have been parking over Elmore to the northwest of an evening putting on a show of fireworks unlike anything I’ve ever seen, and now, you know, another issue is coming out, something chimerical in this one, a non-conformist issue forged around fiction by Curtis White and major essays on the great Catholic activist Dorothy Day and Ralph Waldo Emerson’s iconic “Self-Reliance” (which I read for the first time when I was 13 in the bathroom at the farm in Waterford because my mother made me). And more!

Who else brings you such strangeness?

Curtis White is an essayist, social critic and fiction writer out of the school of Laurence Sterne and Rabelais, that is, his style is unorthodox, playful, witty and knowing  but not necessarily a pomo faddist. In the piece we have for August, he riffs on the American-Mexican western, jumping off Cormac McCarthy’s diving board, into, well, something different. Think: cowboys likening the ur-American landscape to a Mark Rothko painting. Think Blood Meridian and Joseph Cornell.


So, tired but dogged, they saddled the horses and cut the girl loose from her stake. She rubbed at the raw welts on her wrist but climbed quickly on to her horse without complaint. She was in withdrawal from one or more opioids, and so was starting to think that the best thing for her was to arrive somewhere, anywhere. She was a hard girl after the long months in the criminal camp on the desert floor, and she’d seen her share of addicts piled on the ground their bones clattering like castanets. She was a girl who paid attention and learned, Jake gave her that, but he also knew he’d have to treat her without pity. Pity was something he didn’t have time for. So what if she had some bloody welts from the leather cords. Let her keep still then. —Curtis White

Curtis WhiteCurtis White

1968Dorothy Day

Laura Michele Diener returns to these pages with a mega-essay on Catholic-feminist-moral icon Dorothy Day who hitched her traditional theological loyaties to just about every advanced 20th century social movement.

She fought on the cusp of practically every crucial social movement of the twentieth century—against the war in Vietnam, against the Atom Bomb, on behalf of Civil Rights, labor, and suffrage. She didn’t just live as a Catholic, she lived according to Gospels, stripping herself of her possessions because Christ had commanded it, loving the poor—truly loving them, which was an act of will, because the poor, up close, can be horrifying. —Laura Michele Diener

Laura Michele Diener author photoLaura Michele Diener

Self-Reliance cover 500pxCover image for The Domino Project’s edition of “Self-Reliance,” 2011.

Emerson_engraving_1878_cropped3Ralph Waldo Emerson

Pat Keane returns to his beloved Emerson whose controversial essay “Self-Reliance” let loose the demons and angels of our contemporary idolatry of the self, from hippies to self-help libraries. But what was he really saying?

Stylistically, Emerson is so committed to polarity that his powerful yet ambiguous texts are full of overstatements and qualifications, swerves and counter-swerves. In the second half of many lectures and essays, he takes away with the left hand what he has just given with the right. As he notoriously proclaimed in our main text, “Self-Reliance,” a “foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds” (E&L 265). His disciple Walt Whitman was never more Emersonian than when (in “Song of Myself” §51) he asked a rhetorical question and responded audaciously: “Do I contradict myself?/ Very well, then, I contradict myself./ (I am large. I contain multitudes)”—to which Emerson’s German disciple, Friedrich Nietzsche, responded: “It is precisely such ‘contradictions’ that seduce one to existence.” —Patrick J. Keane

Patrick J Keane 2Patrick Keane

Evan Levander-SmithEvan Lavender-Smith

Also in fiction in August, we have a witty, insistent (those insistent, obsessive parallels), off-the-wall (in the best possible sense) short story from Evan Lavender-Smith.

I have a question.


—Why do you say always shoot when I say I have a question?

—Shoot. It means go ahead and ask your question. Shoot, fire away, lay it on me. Ask your question.

—It does?

—Yes. What did you think it meant?

—That you were tired of me asking you so many questions. Like, oh no, here we go again. Like, you know, shoot.

—Evan Lavender-Smith

RilkeRainer Maria Rilke

Allan Cooper, who last graced these pages extolling the poems of Frank Stanford, returns with brand new translations from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies.

But because being truly alive is difficult: because the fleeting
things of the world need us, and in a strange way
call out to us. And we’re the most fleeting of all.
Each living thing is here once, that’s it. And we
live once. But to have been here
once, completely alive here–
to have been a part of this world–nothing can take that away.

—Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Allan Cooper

allan cooperAllan Cooper

Zazil by Mari H. Res+®ndizZazil Alaíde Collins

From Mexican we have poems from the dazzling young writer Zazil Alaíde Collins with an interview by Dylan Brennan. The original Spanish translated by Cody Copeland.

Words are crabs
Buried in the deep.

Shipwrecks speak
in seashells.

The wind sings its syllables
of whispered names.

—Zazil Alaíde Collins translated by Cody Copeland

Susan Gillis

From Canada, Susan Gillis graces our pages for the first time with a gorgeous, powerful paean to a city, the poem formed around a central image, a towering construction crane seen from the poet’s window.

Boom, traveller, plumb, hook, cab – I will miss the yellow crane when the building is finished.

The crane has just lifted a load of steel I-beams and lowered them to a point I can’t see, though I can see the figures of people walking along the roof.

Days close in on a wasp’s nest of days.

Is there a procedure for emptying myself?

As when the sky suddenly empties and resurges toward a storm.

—Susan Gillis

Carolyn Ogburn pens here a review of Ben Lerner’s The Hatred of Poetry.

We might not have initially considered the comparison, but Lerner introduces it: “why not speak of it — fucking and getting fucked up was part of it, is, the way sex and substances can liquefy the particulars of perception into an experience of form. The way a person’s stutter can be liquefied by song.” Like sex, like speech itself, poetry is forever seeking purchase in the real, yet exists only in “the glimmer of virtual possibility.”

—Carolyn Ogburn

Carollyn OgburnCarolyn Ogburn

Cynthia photo Shawnigan lakeCynthia Flood

And one of our favourite fiction writers Cynthia Flood recounts a horrible true-life experience with amnesia.

Each August, my family rents a lakeside cottage at Shawnigan. Swim to the island and explore, row to the island for a picnic, canoe there with the dog anxiously aboard — everyday activities.

With my teenage grand-daughters, one afternoon I stepped into the refreshing lake-water, all sparkly in the sun, and began to swim.

Next: I am lying flat, wearing a blue hospital gown. A voice says, “We’ll take her up to the ward now.”

—Cynthia Flood

Daniel Lawless 2Daniel Lawless

Daniel Lawless contributes whimsical, heart-felt poems, contemporary and vibrant with personality.

Or are you still thinking about that half-dressed dancing girl
With her scorched toddler-mind, how childishly beautiful she was
Making jewelry out of a snake,
The aroma of her pale breasts and the illicit thought
Of kissing them, taking them topped with Lychee Love Sauce
Into your mouth?

—Daniel Lawless


Lawrence Sutin sent in an essay on that perennial question “What is Reality?” and, of course, as you would expect, his answer is pure Sutin-esque whimsy.

We are not constructed to agree. The uniqueness that we claim we each possess, the distinctive consciousness we feel to be within ourselves and not within others, is very real in its billions upon billions of subtly human variations. Whether a meal is well-cooked or sadly dry, whether a city street is a triumph of order or a stream of chaos, these are questions that become unanswerable when asked of a human array of tasters and observers. And most of us have experienced being on both sides of the same question. The street we found charming one day becomes a biting snake the next. The person we thought we would love forever becomes a thought that we cannot imagine we ever thought, not really.

—Lawrence Sutin

Margaret NowaczykMargaret Nowaczyk

Margaret Nowaczyk is a writing student with Caroline Adderson. She wrote this story based on the exercise I give in the short story structure essay in Attack of the Copula Spiders. The result was so astonishing, Caroline straight away shot off an email to me.

The first time he saw Adèle she was dancing on a chair at their med school orientation party. She wore autographed boxer shorts from an upper classman, the prize token for the scavenger hunt; a wide grin – all teeth – split her face, thick brown hair parted in a bob on the right. As she shook it off her face her eyes met Bentley’s and she winked at him, her face an invitation. Bentley felt his face grow hot.

They were sleeping together a month later. Bentley, virginal, realized right away that Adèle was much more experienced than he would allow himself to imagine. Her lipstick on his penis – kissing it, biting it, sucking it she smeared the crimson on the pearly pink of his shaft and foreskin. He pushed aside thoughts of the unnamed men, their greedy hands, their probing tongues and dicks that knew Adèle better than he did.

He realized then that he would never let go of her.

—Margaret Nowaczyk

moya_nina_subinHoracio Castellanis Moya

Ben Woodard reviews Horacio Castellanis Moya’s Revulsion: Thomas Bernhard in San Salvador.

A blistering novella that satisfies the darkness clouding the cynical side of our souls.

— Benjamin Woodard



And Ted Deppe contributes lovely poems.

Start off singing a madrigal, return
with words a girl wrote on a wall
of a concentration camp, set to music
by Górecki. I didn’t learn he’d died
until the next day, but lingering
beneath such sadness, I didn’t need
to know. The music
stopped, I walked on,
and the lights in the valley
were candles in a starless church.

………………………………………………………—Ted Deppe

Though there is more, as always. NC at the Movies. Jason DeYoung reviewing the latest by Rikki Ducornet. Check out the issue when it starts to appear August 1st.



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 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

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.