Sep 012015
Tiara Winter-Schorr2

Tiara Winter-Schorr

At the Top of the Page each month we bring back a selection of some of the most exciting pieces we’ve published in Numéro Cinq. This is part of our campaign to keep the spotlight on our writers and artists, to make sure their work is not forgotten (at too many sites, once you’re off the main page, once you drift into the archives, only Google can find you).

This month we’re featuring a handful of memoirs from our Childhood page, essays by Tiara Winter-Schorr, Eric Foley, Hilary Mullins (with photographs by Bill Hayward), Patrick Deeley, Kim Aubrey, and Keith Maillard. These are beautifully written, poignant, and even shocking evocations of the life of children–innocence, betrayal, loss.

We’ve been gathering this memoirs almost from the magazine’s first issue. There are many more, and more to come. Please take a moment to visit the Childhood page and leaf through them all.

with my brothers

Kim Aubrey and her brothers

Aug 262015
Women wearing crinolines set on fire, ca. 1860

Crinolines set on fire, ca. 1860, lithograph

Burning women. It’s not a joke. Remember Miss Havisham burning to death in Great Expectations? This happened a lot in the 19th century due to the presence of open fires, candles, oil lamps, and highly flammable undergarments for women. I know this because I looked it up after reading Julian Hanna’s essay “Death by Fire: The Secret of the Wilde Sisters” in the NC’s September issue. Part memoir, part detective story, “Death by Fire” details Hanna’s investigation into Oscar Wilde’s half-sisters (kept hidden away by the family) who both burned to death at the same party. One sister caught fire, the other tried to save her and was fatally burned as well. Gruesome reading, not only because of the fire deaths, but also because it tells you a lot about the social fate of women. Hanna writes so well, it’s a mystery how something so awful can lift the heart.

But the issue is also chock full of fiery women of a different sort, the metaphorical sort.

Gabriela Mistral

Gabriela Mistral

Julie Larios returns with another of her Undersung series, a lovely and personal essay on the Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral, whose poems are a wonderful surprise to me — every one of Julie’s essays in the series is a surprise and a doorway into delight, but Mistral is something else. If you read anything in this issue, read this essay. And then go out and track down Mistral’s poems.

The series of poems called “locas mujeres” (crazy women), which includes some of my favorites, was published in Lagar (Winepress), Mistral’s last book of poems. By then, she had lost not only her lover but several friends and a well-loved adopted son to suicide. I have an unpublished manuscript of poems for adults titled “The Madwoman”; it’s only natural I would be drawn to those poems of Mistral’s. Looking at a woman’s perspective on the ordinary objects and routines of this world, once she has some kind of emotional and mental dislocation, is intriguing to me, though not quite as personally motivated as it was for Mistral.


Fleda Brown

The last time Fleda Brown appeared in the magazine she was writing essays (“Unruffled” and “Books Made of Paper“) and being treated for cancer. Now she returns as a poet, a fiery woman in her own right. writing about, among other things, cancer treatment, a plangent cry of spirit over death.

The molecule that oddly binds to a cell’s
hollow tubes, that holds them in paralysis, that stops
…………..their wild replication.

That requires all the bark from one rare yew
in the old-growth forests of the Pacific Northwest to save
………… person. Also the home

of the rare northern spotted owl.
Now you’re up against the press of need, of cost.
………….The bloody essence, the drug-war


From translators Brendan Riley and Susana Fabrés, we have heart-aching poems by the brilliant Catalan poet Rossend Bonás Miró, who hollows you out with precise moments of pain and then makes them beautiful.

How to describe the tense
and tightly wrapped pain
a dark cocoon
after a definitive separation?

The wind carries away the work of years
and the intimate pleasure of mutual company.

Mark Jay Mirsky

Mark Jay Mirsky

A rare, rare treat, and something of a coup for the magazine — we have a splendid short story by the legendary Mark Jay Mirsky who founded the journal Fiction, in 1972 with Donald Barthelme and Max Frisch (among others). Mirsky has been its editor-in-chief ever since (dg can’t even calculate in his heard how many years that is — a lot). Mirsky has published several works of fiction as well as academic tomes. His latest novel is called Puddingstone He is also something of a Robert Musil expert, having edited the English edition of the Diaries. It’s a privilege for us to have him here.

Her nose twitches. She is still insecure about not attending an Ivy League institution. Good! It’s unfair, cruel, but for a moment you have her. “‘Laughing among themselves,’ Dante tells us, the women exchange secrets in the street. One of their schoolmates is now locked behind the bedroom doors of marriage, but she, Beatrice, obviously confides to these abettors of Love, instructors in the arts of mystical courtship. Dante has advertised his broken heart. Prepared himself with wan expression, suppressed groans as these daughters of the best families approach. Courteously, he pretends to encounter them by accident.

Kathy Page2

Kathy Page

And we have a new story “Open Water” by Kathy Page, about free diving and life.

In training, the body is pushed beyond its limits. It suffers, then reconstitutes itself. Muscles strengthen and develop a tolerance to lactic acid. Lung-capacity increases. The heart grows in size. At the same time, understanding of the stroke accumulates. Young swimmers begin with a general impression, and move into the detail. As each new element is assimilated, the swimmer reaches a plateau, or even loses ground before progressing further. The mind too must remake itself.

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges

Something new for NC, a venture into the discourse of politics, globalization, and revolution. Tom Faure does a spritely,  erudite, and superbly intelligent job of reviewing Chris Hedges new book Wages of Rebellion: The Moral Imperative of Revolt.

Hedges posits that revolutions happen, not when the people are subdued by total abjection, but rather when they have had a glimmer of hope. Raised expectations follow technical innovations and a rise in the standard of living—this is when the failings of the state, and its all-too-frequent efforts to smother dissent, fuel the fire of rebellion. Much of the battle is invisible, residing in the language and metaphors of the people.

Martin Dean

Martin Dean

Urban, urbane, dystopian poems from Londoner Martin Dean —

God that desperate lust to write won’t go until
you give up hope and then at last /can/ write, dispossessed
and outsidered, lost,
your legs take you, and what you hunted
is with you everywhere.

16_BBallengee_w_great turtle

Brendon Ballengée

We also have another terrific artist interview from Darren Higgins. This time New York-based artist and biologist Brandon Ballengée is the subject, his art a nexus of history, biology, ecology, and nostalgia (for what is erased, lost, extinct).

Last spring’s Armory Show in Manhattan brought welcome attention to Brandon’s work, specifically to one of his various ongoing projects, Frameworks of Absence. Since 2006 he’s been researching animals that have gone extinct in the Americas over the past four centuries, selecting prints contemporaneous with the species’ demise and then painstakingly cutting the creature’s image from the page, leaving a hole.

There are holes everywhere.

Larry Fondation

Larry Fondation

Also an essay, a novel excerpt, and two short stories by the American experimental writer Larry Fondation. The essay is a statement of the author’s theoretical concerns, especially for what he nominates the ensemble novel. He writes stories that evidence his interest in poverty and contemporary dystopianism.

We fuck in the dark hotel. Nobody’s paid the electric bill, nor for running water. Darkness is so romantic, candlelight hard to find. Moonlight is scarce. Her thighs are so pale they shine.

Nothing changes.

Little changes.

Everything changes.

The tent I pitch is not my own.

There is more, much more; Ben Woodard’s review of the latest Mia Couto, a new NC at the Movies, Natalie Helberg on The Story of O, and a new Uimhir a Cúig.

And maybe even more than that! All is flux, as Heraclitus said.


Aug 262015




Richard Farrell

When the American general Curtis Lemay orders the firebombing of Tokyo in spring of 1945, America’s doctrine of warfare changes forever.  Hunger Mountain has just published Numéro Cinq Associate Editor Richard Farrell‘s new story “Total War” in its August Masculinity Issue. “Total War” chronicles the “deadliest night in human history,” when the Japanese capital city was reduced to ashes and more than 100,000 men, women, and children were incinerated. This apocalyptic raid unfolds from the perspectives of a bomber pilot, an opium addicted peg-legged adjutant, and three Chamorro boys on the island of Guam.

Remiker slides his palm along the silver B-29’s smooth, sizzling belly. He counts a dozen flush rivets with his finger before climbing through the forward hatch. A third-generation West Pointer, he carries a creased photo of his wife and two young sons in his flight suit pocket, tucked between his survival knife and crew light.

A year ago, Remiker was an instructor pilot in Oklahoma; now he’s a war-seasoned aviator. He loves the job. He loves his crew like family. He loves flying the complex sixty-ton bombers—the newest planes in the war. He loves the long hours in flight, the procedures and planning. He even loves the risk, the fight, the chance to stare Death in the eye and not flinch. He’s figured out how to use fear to his advantage.

“All the great ones loved fear,” his father once told him. And so he does.

Remiker’s father tasted mustard gas under Blackjack Pershing, and his grandfather took a musket ball in the neck holding Jubal Early’s line at First Manassas. Remiker doesn’t think his brand of valor measures up to his heritage and he’s the first to say so. For an officer with a Distinguished Flying Cross, Silver Star, and Purple Heart, this is hardly a logical conclusion, but he never sidesteps his own shortcomings.

Remiker climbs up a narrow ladder through a twelve-foot tube that leads to the cockpit. Inside, the sweltering plane melts like a candle, spicing the air with aromas of hydraulic fluid, engine oil, and canvas seating. There’s also a stronger odor today, an overwhelming blast of kerosene coming from the bomb bay. 

Read the rest at Hunger Mountain.

Aug 232015

Douglas Glover has a brief window open for a small number of selected private writing students.  Authors interested in having a prose ms consult or studying with dg on an ongoing basis, please send particulars (writing background, project description) to Don’t send your ms with your initial communication.




Aug 192015

via Science Daily

Gosh! Who would have thought, given how peacefully humans live together today, that our ancient ancestors practiced massacre, torture, and rape, that there are mass graves dating back thousands of years? We certainly have come a long way!

(This is from my morning reads. Couldn’t resist. Suits my mood.)


Besides various types of (bone) injuries caused by arrows, they also found many cases of massive damage to the head, face and teeth, some inflicted on the victims shortly before or after their death. In addition, the attackers systematically broke their victims’ legs, pointing to torture and deliberate mutilation. Only few female remains were found, which further indicates that women were not actively involved in the fighting and that they were possibly abducted by the attackers.

The authors of the study thus presume that such massacres were not isolated occurrences but represented frequent features of the early Central European Neolithic period.

Read the rest at Science Daily: Massacres, torture and mutilation: Extreme violence in neolithic conflicts

Aug 112015


There is a tide and time in the lives of chickens, as there is in the lives of men and women. Many of you have watched the rise and fall of the hen population on the farm with amusement and sympathy. But things have gone south. In late spring, a Cooper’s Hawk took the third to last hen. Then the second to last fell sick and died (they were all getting old for chickens). And finally Jean broke her hip a few weeks ago (um, she’s 94), putting an end to plans for repopulation. Chickens are social animals and aren’t happy on their own. While Jean was AWOL in the hospital, I got in touch with Amber Homeniuk, poet (see her poems in the current issue) and Jean’s favourite chicken expert, who offered to rescue ours.

Here we have images and video of the last moments. Amber came prepared with a chicken carrier, also sliced grapes and chicken feed. And you can tell from the video what a gentle and reassuring animal wrangler she is.

Below the video is a collection of images Amber put together of the first moments at the other end of the exchange.

More about chickens than you ever wanted to know, right? But I’ll miss them. Surprising, sociable creatures. Nice to have around the place.



welcome, Jean's hen!

Welcome, Jean’s hen! Images by Amber Homeniuk


Aug 092015
Macbeth Consulting the Vision of the Armed Head, 1793.

Macbeth and the witches by Johann Heinrich Füssli

Camille Paglia (Reuters)

Camille Paglia (Reuters)

CBC Radio aired an interview with Camille Paglia a week ago. Outrageous, inspiring, gets your blood up. Betwixt the interview bits are sound bites from a lecture and forum Paglia did at Stratford on Shakespeare’s “dark women.” This leads to all sorts of extra curricular discussion of feminist criticism, contemporary critical attitudes, the trigger warning culture, and much, much more.

Here is the CBC interview. You have to go to the CBC site and click on their audio player.

And below is the video of the Stratford event in its entirety.

YouTube Preview Image

Aug 082015


Due to ongoing death threats, drive-by shootings, kidnappings, lawsuits, federal investigations, vehicle repossessions, and debt collections, the usual fare of literary magazine publication, Numéro Cinq has relocated its headquarters to a hardened bunker somewhere in Vermont. For your edification, a selection of the usual boring Vermont vistas taken from the backdoor, looking west toward Camel’s Hump, the Worcester Mountains, and Mount Mansfield. Also some woodsy shots with dogs. Neighbours report a “small” 300-lb black bear living across the road. DG needs a new camera for this.

The best part is that nobody can find him.



Morning clouds


Very early, about 5am


Evening clouds


Another morning,  need better camera



dg and Lucy

dg and Lucy, very first editorial conference at new HQ

Aug 082015


It’s an epic pleasure, a bliss, an intemperate delight, to announce that English author, critic, and editor Victoria Best is ascending to glory, joining the masthead  at Numéro Cinq as a Special Correspondent. Her first contribution — a profile of the Scottish novelist Janice Galloway — appears in the current issue. Much more is promised. Under her benign influence, we will be less carping and curmudgeonly. There will be more tea and less Talisker (or maybe the other way around).

Anyway, it’s exciting news.



Victoria Best taught at St John’s College, Cambridge for 13 years. Her books include: Critical Subjectivities; Identity and Narrative in the work of Colette and Marguerite Duras (2000), An Introduction to Twentieth Century French Literature (2002) and, with Martin Crowley, The New Pornographies; Explicit Sex in Recent French Fiction and Film (2007). A freelance writer since 2012, she has published essays in Cerise Press and Open Letters Monthly and is currently writing a book on crisis and creativity. She is also co-editor of the quarterly review magazine Shiny New Books (

Aug 062015


Karen Mulhallen

You read them first here, but Black Moss Press has just published the definitive final version of Karen Mulhallen‘s Code Orange poems, now titled Code Orange, An Emblazoned Suite, in a unique bilingual edition, with a French translation by Nancy Huston (the title of which is Une Suite Blasonnée). A gorgeous, gorgeous, one-of-a-kind book.

When we first published the poems on NC, I wrote:

Code Orange is a hospital term, a warning to staff indicating a bomb threat, a radioactive spill, a person with mental issues is loose in the halls of the hospital. Sometimes it means everyone should evacuate a soon as possible. Karen Mulhallen’s “Code Orange Emblazoned Suite” is among other things a meditation upon the possibility that we are living in a Code Orange world, that we should all get ready to evacuate, though in the event she finds moments of beauty even in the midst of war.

…………………..…some old god
rising  tall below the Red City,
or his companion, younger, seated still
smiling archaically before the caves

Karen Mulhallen is an old friend, a child of Souwesto (as am I), that triangle of cultural territory that stretches south of Toronto to Windsor and north to Alice Munro country. She is a Blake scholar, founder and publisher of Descant Magazine in Toronto, and a prolific poet, undersung, protean, brilliant. I edited her collection of selected poems Acquainted With Absence and wrote the introduction, which you can read here, and tells you all you need to know.


Aug 052015
Gordon Lish photo by Bill Hayward

Gordon Lish photo by bill hayward

Tim Groenland has written a compendious and measured account of Gordon Lish’s editing practice (fascinating images of pages edited — Nabokov, for example) and influence, minus the Raymond Carver hysteria. The essay builds on some of the work we’ve published at NC, including Jason Lucarelli’s ground-breaking texts “The Consecution of Gordon Lish: An Essay on Form and Influence” and “Using Everything: Pattern Making in Gertrude Stein’s ‘Melanctha,’ Robert Walser’s ‘Nothing at All,’ and Sam Lipsyte’s ‘The Wrong Arm’” plus my own audio interview “Causing Damage — Captain Fiction Redivivus: DG Interview With Gordon Lish.” All are quoted in Groenland’s piece, putting NC at the front of the wave of new interest in Lishian studies.


Here’s a teaser from the Groenland essay:

These studies make it clear that Lish was, in certain ways, “the minimalist in the machine” in Carver’s work (Churchwell n.p.) and it is clear that he applied similar techniques to the work of other young writers of the period: Lish was instrumental in the early careers of Barry Hannah and Mary Robison, for example, making him an essential figure in the development of what was variously known as “minimalism”, “Dirty Realism”, and “the new realism” (or, to use Mark McGurl’s recent formulation, “lower-middle-class modernism”) in the early 1980s (32). Michael Hemmingson has shown that Lish edited Barry Hannah’s fiction extensively throughout the late 1970s and early 1980s: he reports, for example, that the manuscript drafts for Hannah’s novel Ray (1980) are “a confusing, sloppy mess” and that Lish’s editing work here involved carefully rearranging sections into narrative coherence, much as Max Perkins did for Thomas Wolfe’s major novels (Hemmingson 490–491; Berg 119–130, 223–228). Lish performed line editing on photocopies of Hannah’s stories taken from the journals in which they had been printed, just as he did with Carver’s work: in several cases, the journal in question was Esquire, meaning that the editor often saw Hannah’s work through several iterations and could refine his vision of the stories in different stages. Hannah’s attitude to these changes was markedly different from Carver’s, and in a 2004 interview with the Paris Review he was unambiguous in his praise:

Gordon Lish was a genius editor. A deep friend and mentor. He taught me how to write short stories. He would cross out everything so there’d be like three lines left, and he would be right . . . This is your good stuff. This is the right rhythm. So I learned to write better short stories under him. (Hannah, “Art of Fiction 184”)

Read the entire essay @ Irish Journal of American Studies.

Aug 012015


Numéro Cinq features works in translation in every issue, poetry and prose. Authors  always get top billing, but at NC we try to honour the translator as well. Our translation contents page lists the work alphabetically under the name of the translator, which, I think, is unique.

This month in the slider at the top of the page we’re headlining the work of Brendan Riley (who is a repeat offender here at NC), also our own Genese Grill, the prolific Elizabeth Harris, Jennifer Marquart, the great poet in his own right Pierre Joris, Marilyn McCabe (also a poet, who translates a poem and sings it for us), A. Anupama (another longtime member of the masthead and massive contributor of poems, essays, and translations), Shushan Avagyan, Richard Jackson (another terrific poet on his own and the contributor of a very popular essay on translation), and David Helwig (his translation of Chekhov was our first).


Jul 262015

Click on the image for more information

Fides Krucker

Fides Krucker

It’s NC’s diva issue, named in honour of Julie Trimingham’s luscious, bumptious, delightful interview with vocalist Fides Krucker who plays a mermaid in  DIVE, a work she co-created with writer Richard Sanger and composer Nik Beeson, based on The Professor and the Siren by Giuseppe di Lampedusa. DIVE will be performed in Toronto July 30-August 9. Don’t miss it, but read the interview, too.

The mermaid I play in DIVE is amoral. (With the exception of Disney’s Ariel I imagine all sirens and silkies live somewhere outside of human rights and wrongs). She is fun to inhabit, she gets to break all sorts of vocal rules, and she will have a great costume. In the script she tells us that she is Lighea, the daughter of Calliope. No little mermaid here…she is descended from the biggest muse of all.

You know, a mermaid is utterly undomesticated. She is not domiciled. She inhabits the ocean. She lives far beyond of my idea of ‘house’. To bring her to life I have to use this house, my body. —Fides Krucker

Janice Galloway via The Scotsman

Janice Galloway via The Scotsman

We also have Victoria Best’s wonderful profile of the great Scottish novelist Janice Galloway, whom I interviewed when I had a radio show back in the mid-1990s (before most of you were born). So Janice and I go way back (not that we kept in touch). Victoria Best is a newcomer to Numéro Cinq and will shortly be joining the masthead. We’re looking forward to some fantastic pieces from her.

Janice Galloway was born in 1955 in Saltcoats, Scotland, to a mother who ‘thought I was the menopause’. In the mythic version Galloway tells in her memoir, This Is Not About Me, which might be the true one for all she knows, her mother was unaware of the pregnancy until her waters broke, perhaps in denial of the freedom-busting, life-ending truth. The young Janice is never in doubt about her status as nuisance. ‘If I’d kent, she’d say, her eyes narrowing. If I’d just bloody known.’ —Victoria Best


Greg Mulcahy

Jason Lucarelli, from the wilds of Pennsylvania, makes a return to NC with an insightful and provocative interview with Greg Mulcahy, whose first story collection came out with Knopf in 1993, the same year my novel The Life and Times of Captain N came out with Knopf. Gordon Lish was the editor for both books; Lish sent me a copy of Mulcahy’s book at the time and I have always kept it in my library. (See, it’s a small world and people keep reconnecting in odd ways.)

Mulcahy’s fiction is, as Noy Holland says, “funny, in the way that wisdom, plainly spoken, is funny.” Through his characters’ agonies he reveals the ruse of our surrounding world, and their rock bottom falls propel each consecutive sentence—the content carried through fictive syntax. His sentences slide, stop on a dime, fragment, run on without punctuation, run over you, leave you breathless, bewildered. Sam Lipsyte says, “Reading Greg Mulcahy’s sentences is like watching the best slalom skiers in the world dare the universe a crazy millimeter at a time,” and it’s a ride that leaves you on the other side, as brave and as dangerous, but with new truth. — Jason Lucarelli

Liz Howard

Liz Howard

Natalie Helberg takes a break from the arduous vicissitudes of her doctoral program to review Liz Howard’s first collection of poems.

Liz Howard’s debut collection of poems, Infinite Citizen of the Shaking Tent, is astonishingly capacious: It is an extended metaphor for the mind. It is a fiery, radiant rollick through language. It is a meditation on Indigenous lineage and muted origins. It is the type of hard, crystalline speech which illuminates the social-scape from its gutters, a song gifted by an absolute Other, eerily coalescing at the junction of race, class, and gender. The poems which make it up celebrate the natural world while simultaneously attuning themselves to the toxicity of its rivers. —Natalie Helberg

Louise Bak

Louise Bak

And the Toronto poet and provocateur (also radio personality) Louise Bak has poems in this issue, dense, cumulative, innovative, mesmerizing.

…marquise galloons on card, with longdashed globe. pouter’s
heta uma at weight of breath near to bangle’s ballchain and
adhesive streaked, a cut more inside the edge of a glass tile
over wicking of donut bail’s not fabricated to be repeatedly
opened and closed on below ear hair, in press on square of
agloe, made-up map trap. adjustment of centring hold with
town labels, route lines, to pleated details on shoulder of a
shirt, lain in a used hide-a-bed’s straightening of three way
zip through crotch, in who else was looking and what was
being seen, smooths of agglomerated cork, willable sound —Louise Bak


Jeremy Brunger

Jeremy Brunger, in his second essay for the magazine (and there will be more), has the unmitigated gall to start a disquisition on Nietzsche by mentioning the great one’s small ears.

For a man with such little ears, Friedrich Nietzsche heard a multitude of deep pulses within the heart of European culture. The great despiser of liberalism and humanitarianism was also no less than the great despiser of conservatism and capitalism. As is the case with many important thinkers in the Western canon, Nietzsche’s dislikes greatly outnumbered his likes, just as the contradictions in his thought served to develop them all the better. Adoring power, he hated the powerful of his time for their unearned privileges. Adoring culture, he hated the cultured milieu of his time for their abiding philistinism. Adoring the sanguine bigotry of nineteenth-century society, he hated anti-Semites and the Darwinian biology that Herbert Spencer would later develop into a lethal social philosophy. His reputation in the popular consciousness is inaccurate as often as it is unflattering. —Jeremy Brunger

Amber Homeniuk

Amber Homeniuk

Amber Homeniuk is a modest chicken rancher (she recently adopted my mother’s last hen—more on this another time), also an up-and-coming poet (we published some of her tobacco-farming poems earlier) with a wry wit and a talent for close observation of the southern Ontario countryside where she lives.

Oh old boy

you’ve taught me all you can,
your dousing days are done.

Lie down with your snout at the stream
to rest in woods behind my brother’s house.

Let season’s green weave through your nest of sticks,
set age along the top of your white brow
with sutures fused, full sagittal crest

and quiet
those sore worn teeth. —Amber Homeniuk


Brianna Berbenuik

Brianna Berbenuik used to be a contributor the to the magazine, then took a hiatus, wandered in the wilderness, worked in a police department, and now has returned from the outer dark with amazing, dark, violent fiction.

There are two cameras in the interview room and you are a voyeur. Face view. Full view.

Face view shows only the face of a young man, twenty-something, who killed a woman by beating her, and then throwing her in the trunk of an old car and lighting it on fire after dousing her and the car with gasoline. Before he closed the hood to the trunk, he took one last long look at the girl.

Full view. The girl’s mother is brought into a room to face her daughter’s killer. —Brianna Berbenuik


Louis Armand

Louis Armand contributes an excerpt from his new novel Abacus, evoking a childhood in this native Australia, brash, funny, and real.

The teachers were all standing out the front singing the nation’s praises while all the kids just mumbled along not knowing the words, they’d only ever heard it on the tellie when someone on the swimming team won a medal at the Commonwealth Games. “Australia’s suns let us rejoice,” what was that supposed to mean? But when the spastic girl did her thing everybody suddenly went silent. Three hundred kids sweating under the hot sky in turd-brown uniforms, waiting to see what Old Cricket Bat’d do next.—Louise Armand


Sunrise by the Ocean, Vladimir Kush

Paul Pines continues his  exploration of the nexus of myth, psychology, and poetry with a masterful look at the legend of the Fisher King and Charles Olson’s great poem “King Fishers”.

What enters is as much shape as sound, ideas like iron filings on a magnetic field. The field becomes an ocean, the magnet a star. Fish swim below or break the surface. Constellations in space dance without touching. This ghost in the room I think of as Pedrolino has awakened a ghost in me. I see myself standing beside Amfortas, the Fisher King, in the Pole Star watching a king fisher dive. How did Amfortas end up in my boat, both of us in the stern waiting for Parzival or his equivalent? Olson’s poem, “King Fishers,” which influenced me as a young poet, has set up an inexorable call to the obsession of my later years, the wounded Fisher King! —Paul Pines


Paul Pines

Timothy Dugdale

Timothy Dugdale

Timothy Dugdale has sent another terse, realistic short story. This one tackles of the difficult subject of race and immigration.

The black man exploded. “I will not sit down. I have been sitting down. I’m finished sitting down. This country must not sit down!” He pointed at the father. “You will not infiltrate.” And then he pointed at the women on the chairs. “And you, you will not breed.” He turned and sauntered away in dignified pique.—Timothy Dugdale


Spring: watercolor/oil pastel/graphite on paper 11”x15”.

Kate Fetherson, ambidextrous, as it were, has a hybrid poetry and painting piece in this issue (she sings, too, but not in this issue — literally, a diva. Does that mean she is tri-dextrous or just a multitalented renaissance woman?).

…out of myself, a stranger to the usual
conflagrations, and dream we muscle

through buoyant water as seals slapping
backsides. Our flippers splash each

other’s whiskery snouts as we loll
in sunlight we didn’t earn. When I open

my eyes, there’s music again. I stroke your stubbly
beard and dream of the Sargasso sea. —Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston

Kate Fetherston

And, as always, there is more! For sure, we’ll have a new Numéro Cinq at the Movies from the inimitable R. W. Gray and a new Uimhir a Cúig, featuring writing from Ireland curated by the equally inimitable Gerard Beirne.

Jul 152015
Elle at Theatre Passe Muraille

Click on the images for more information.

I checked the Theatre Passe Muraille website this morning and found the 2015-2016 season announcement. And at the top of the announcement page there is this lovely poster announcing Severn Thompson’s adaptation of my novel Elle, which, as you all know, won the Governor-General’s Award and was a finalist for the Dublin IMPAC Award.

This isn’t a surprise, of course. I saw a tiny workshop preview of an opening to the play at a festival in Toronto in August, 2013, and Severn Thompson has been in touch all along. But it is lovely to see the announcement up and the dates set.

Book the date!



Severn Thompson

Severn Thompson

Elle by Douglas Glover

Jul 132015

The Brooklyn Rail

Here’s another dyspeptic comedy, a cracked romance (there is a dark, dark love angle), from the hand of Douglas Glover, just published in the July-August issue of The Brooklyn Rail. What to expect? Well, the protagonist’s name is Drebel, a combination of dreadful and rebel. Click on the link below the teaser or the cover image above to read the entire piece.

Drebel started when he was fourteen organizing a grocery shopping service for the elderly in his neighborhood. He charged a flat rate per bag, accepted gratuities, and handled the cash exchange between the grocery store and the old people. Once he gained a customer’s trust, he would skim a percentage off the change, especially when the old man or woman couldn’t see that well. He would smile winningly while counting out the money; the old folks loved having a young person to socialize with. Seeing themselves reflected in his eyes, they thought they were smart, plucky oldtimers. Later, he was able to arrange a small quid pro quo from the supermarket manager’s petty cash to steer his customers away from competitors. He never bought bulk or generic. When an elderly party insisted on cheaper brands, Drebel would shrug and say the store was out. He watched for customers whose memory was failing and preyed on them, lifting a hundred dollar bill from the open purse or pocketing an expensive watch from the sideboard. Once he swiped a handful of silver cutlery from a drawer, sweeping it into his courier bag and clanking out the door. But he had trouble fencing the forks and spoons, and he was really only interested in the cash. He couldn’t help becoming fond of the old woman who said she would put him in her will, though he knew she wouldn’t. He didn’t take any offer of warmth or affection personally. He knew the old people were wrapped tight in their narrow lives, narrower and narrower as they grew older. They could be just as devious and mean as the next person. Drebel noticed how the codgers took a perverse pride in trying to shortchange him, arguing over the receipts, shaving the tip. “Here’s another quarter, son. Oh, drat. I thought I had another quarter. Next time?” He didn’t care. All he wanted was his cut, the skim.

Read the rest at The Brooklyn Rail.

Jul 122015


Robert Day

Numéro Cinq is always an adventure, a game of firsts. The first this, the first that. Now Robert Day‘s essay series Chance Encounters of a Literary Kind is being published (the end of the month) by Serving House Books and that is a first of a high order, the first ever book composed entirely of work that appeared in Numéro Cinq first (you can see I am obsessing on the word “first”). This is a proud moment for the whole community and an inspiration to the many who have contributed regularly and brilliantly to the magazine. I foresee more such NC-inspired books. (Actually, Robert Day’s novel, Let Us Imagine Lose Love, first serialized on NC, will be published in the fall as well, but I will do a separate announcement about that at the appropriate moment. The man is on a roll!)

I wrote an introduction — entitled “Exit, Pursued by a Bear” — for the Serving House Books edition, an honour and a pleasure (he opines) that you all get to share right now.


Exit, pursued by a bear

Robert Day and I met something like 35 years ago in a University of Iowa classroom. He was the teacher, I was a student. He strode into the room and proceeded to the blackboard where he wrote, in large capital letters, from one side of the room to the other: REMEMBER TO TELL THEM THE NOVEL IS A POEM. Outside of class we got to know each other a bit. He once said, pressing the elevator button instead of climbing one slight of stairs, that if God had meant us to use stairs he would not have invented elevators. I was on the cusp of a truly disastrous relationship just then. Day said to me, “Get out of there. For every day you spend with her now, it’ll take you another year to get out of it.” Ask me if I listened to him. One afternoon we spent kicking tires at a Jeep dealership. And one day he talked to me about the novel I was working on, a conference that must have lasted all of 20 minutes but somehow managed to open up the novel and show me its hot, beating heart, which hitherto had failed to reveal itself to me. That was a lesson I did listen to.

Now, many, many, many years later we have congregated again through the magical intervention of the Internet and the online magazine I materialized Numéro Cinq. We hadn’t been in touch in years; we still haven’t actually seen each other since 1981. But we continue to exert gravitational force upon each other’s lives in ways that are astonishing and delightful. The long and short of it is that I began to publish Robert Day. A short story first. Later the story became a novel. I published the entire novel. Then I published a memoir about his mother, a tender, sweet essay about her suspicion of the French, Day’s love of Montaigne, and the summer she died while he was traveling in France.

Then Day invented a new form, the Chance Encounters of a Literary Kind essays, brief, whimsical, sometimes touching, reminiscences about his brushes (often friendships) with literary greatness. The first one he wrote and tried out on me was about the poets John Ashbery and Tadeusz Rozewicz. He didn’t meet them; they met in his mind, and in a conversation with a friend over a kitchen table in Kansas. But the collision was sparkling in its reverent irreverence and the insights spawned in the erotics of juxtaposition. But it was also airy, gossamer-thin, a playful and informal thing, a little jeu d’esprit that took itself not very seriously, yet with flashes of seriousness and wit. Day asked me if I wanted more of these. He projected a series. He made a list. He wrote: “I’d like to keep the “Chance encounters” real–that is, what I stumble into or on to as I lead my literary life; there should be x of them the rest of the year because I poke around in these matters often these days, and, like any fiction writer, stories (and chance literary encounters) happen to me.

I have my favorite moments. Day and Raymond Carver quoting Jack London back and forth to each other. Day’s sweet evocation of the life-philosophy of poet William Stafford, who once advised his young daughter, “Talk to strangers.” This is in an essay that goes on to ponder our current Age of Fear, the prevalence of surveillance, and our willingness to submit to precautions that cheat us of human relations.

I also adore Day’s piece on screenwriter Walter Bernstein, especially Day’s expert interventions in an early script for the movie The Electric Horseman. Day being from Kansas, Bernstein considered him the expert on cowboys and horses. “Somehow Walter had learned the word hackamore (probably from an East Coast riding friend) and so I had to take the hackamore off all horses and put bridles and bits back in their mouths.” And, of course, the “Exit, pursued by a bear” stage direction from The Winter’s Tale that pops up unbidden and like fireworks in Day’s essay on Sarah Palin and going to see a production of Coriolanus.

The buzzword these days for someone who wanders about poking idly into things (and being brilliant and witty about them) is flâneur. But when I read Day’s essays I think, not of Walter Benjamin, but of the waggish early 18th century essays of Joseph Addison and Richard Steele and the journals they published, The Tatler and The Spectator, whose purpose it was “to enliven morality with wit; and to temper wit with morality.” Day’s essays are intelligent, literate conversation at its best—all too rare these days—written with aplomb in the author’s trademark amiable and self-ironic style.

     —Douglas Glover

Jul 092015

slavoj zizek

From the cradle of democracy, we see a glimmer of defiance in the face of globalization, the IMF, and the so-called rationality of the market. Now if we could just elect Bernie Sanders…

Ah, but this is a story from a day or two ago. This afternoon, Greece looks like caving in.


The No in the Greek referendum was thus much more than a simple choice between two different approaches to economic crisis. The Greek people have heroically resisted the despicable campaign of fear that mobilised the lowest instincts of self-preservation. They have seen through the brutal manipulation of their opponents who falsely presented the referendum as a choice between euro and drachma, between Greece in Europe and “Grexit”.

Their No was a No to the eurocrats who prove daily that they are unable to drag Europe out of its inertia. It was a No to the continuation of business as usual; a desperate cry telling us all that things cannot go on the usual way. It was a decision for authentic political vision against the strange combination of cold technocracy and hot racist clichés about the lazy, free-spending Greeks. It was a rare victory of principles against egotist and ultimately self-destructive opportunism. The No that won was a Yes to full awareness of the crisis in Europe; a Yes to the need to enact a new beginning.

Read the entire essay at The New Statesman



Jul 082015

Fernando SdrigottiFernando Sdrigotti

NC’s inimitable London-based Contributing Editor Fernando Sdrigotti has a new essay on the futility of writing and why he still does it just up at Gorse online.

Book after book after book thrown into this worded jungle—a hoard that could be a waking counterpart to a Borgesian wet dream. Fiction books and books on writing fiction. Photography and art books and books on photography and art. And so on: most forms of expression and myriad words of meta-dialogue, some of them even justified or at least nicely edited and with colourful covers. Nothing escapes this total library: no corner of the universe or the mind is left unaccounted for. It is a hideous totality for it is an ordered totality, filtered through the minds of who knows how many marketing specialists; it is effective as a selling platform but it is a desert of anonymity for the diminished names on the shelves. Were I ever to be asked for a writing tip, something born out of this experience would be my choice: walk into any gigantic bookshop and think whether you can face being one more name lost in this desert of words.

Read the rest at Fernando Sdrigotti “On the futility of writing (and writing in spite of it all)” @ Gorse

Jun 302015

SSEY 01-2A page from SSES” ‘SSES” “SSEY’  by Chaulky White. Chaulky White is the pen name given to the combined effort of Derek (R) & the late Kevin White.

Numéro Cinq has a long suit in book art, art made from books, hybrid book art, and text off the page. Much of this is due to Nance Van Winckel who has gradually built here a grand digital exhibition hall of amazing art and artists, names like Derek white at Calamari Press, Marilyn R. Rosenberg, Ingrid  Ruthig, and Todd Bartel. That’s not a total list either. And, on the principle that “if you build it, they will come,” other artists have seen what we are doing a find a way to join in. I think especially of Paul Forte’s contributions to the magazine, including the gorgeous images from a show — Transformed Volumes — he curated in 2013. These are the artists featured this month in the slider at the Top of the Page.

Jun 252015

Fernando  Sdrigotti

Numéro Cinq‘s intrepid Contributing Editor Fernando Sdrigotti has a piece in the UK Guardian today, blowing the lid off a frightening literary copyright CRIMINAL case in Argentina. This could happen to you.


More likely than not to be aware of this Borgesian playfulness, Argentine author Pablo Katchadjian decided in 2009 to remix one of Borges’s most renowned short stories The Aleph, keeping the original text but adding a considerable amount of his own writing. The result was the short experimental book called El Aleph engordado (The Fattened Aleph), published by a small underground press in a short run of 300 copies. An unfortunate consequence of Katchadjian’s literary experiments is an ongoing lawsuit initiated in 2011 by Maria Kodama, Borges’s widow and fervent guardian of his literary estate.

Last week the Argentine literary world was shaken by the news that Katchadjian has now been formally charged with the un-literary sounding crime of “intellectual property fraud”.

Read the entire piece at Re-working Borges is a legitimate experiment, not a crime — Fernando Sdrigotti @ Guardian UK