May 2011


Claudia Apablaza
Birgit Linder
Geraldine Maxwell
María Claudia Otsubo
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Shruti Rao
Ian C. Smith
José-Flore Tappy
John Taylor
Tim Tomlinson
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon

Issue 15 Guest Artist:
Alexis Hunter

President: Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Deputy Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Sampurna Chattarji
Sarah Churchwell
Hollis Clayson
Sally Cline
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Siobhan Harvey
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Laurie Maguire
Willy Maley
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Paschalis Nikolaou
Martha Nussbaum
Sari Nusseibeh
Tim Parks
Molly Peacock
Pascale Petit
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elena Poniatowska
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Élisabeth Roudinesco
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
Rebecca Swift
Susan Tiberghien
John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Three Poems by Birgit Linder  


Simply Darwish, II: Black Rain Storm

The sky suddenly wreaks havoc upon us
And pours down clear from blackened clouds
Flooding the heart’s lingering drought

The outside torrents rap bus windows
Matching my wild heart beating your name
And I take a volume of Darwish out to read

The golden street lights after dusk
flashlight the window one by one
And crystal glow worms drip down my page

Perhaps the couple seeking shelter has
A brittle love made small by passing rain
Or one so strong and rich it expands the sky

Now the heavens are grey and blue and orange
Like cedar forests burning the distance,
Devised by a brilliant craftsman

Black scraps of cloud criss-cross the sky
Like skinny wolves charging at the bloody moon
Suddenly stabbed by a jagged sword

I wade home through water and mud
past brand new cascades dashing down
Water always binds me to your name

I walk behind a singing soul diffusing
into darkened mystery, but Darwish whispers:
A simple black rain storm, no more, nor less



Rumi, or, My Heart is a Vagabond

Rumi is the master of love.
He sent me to you.
He said, “Here is your journey.”
And I lost myself on the way.

You never came to look for me.
Because I am not the purest of the pure.
I am not Absence.
I am nowhere near Tebriz.

Because you are too busy searching
For your enlightenment,
Even if it only is in my love.

You look for the palace of the Sultan,
But my love is an overgrown maze.

You search for agates and coral,
But my heart is only flesh.

You wake the troublemaker

And then let him play next to me.

You search for your soul in a sea full of pearls,
And I only offered you crumbs of bread.

You look for eternal pleasure, joy, and life,

Even if it is only in my love.

You grow wings in your heart,
But I am a white sparrow stuck in mud.

Now my heart is a vagabond,
And if you look for it in me today,
You won’t see a trace of it.

Go, put your head on your pillow.
Leave me burning.

I am already turning to smoke,
Rising toward the sky.

Toward the sky that was supposed
To expand your heart.

You are beautiful,
Even if only it is in my love.

Go, rest your head on your pillow.
Leave me to my own night.



Some Observations in a Coffee Shop in Suzhou

In a cozy café in Suzhou
One can browse The New Yorker and Doris Day.
(Both old, incidentally)
Greece on the wall,
America on the table cloth,
Russia on the liquor list,
Hungary on the phonogram,
And a whole territory on your plate.

You put Mukherjee aside
to watch the trash man drop it all outside.
99% of those on motorbikes are female,
Plus one male with a boy.

They light an oil lamp for you,
to illuminate your continental feast
and your Darjeeling tea.

How many worries you have swallowed so far!
The shop owner lectures you on brown sugar versus Splenda.
You choose headache over hypoglycemia.

The printed table cloths tell humble stories
of Midwestern proprieties.
None of them is your story,
not even the one entitled “All things grow with love.”

Some grow without love.
And some in spite of love.
Like you.

Suspended between clocks and visions,
you know what is out there.
Hanshan Temple.
Red incense burning over grey skies.
Imaginary tranquility
of the kind life does not grant anymore.

The sugar twirls in your hot tea.
What has not settled now,
will not settle.
What has been done, cannot be undone.