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Contributors
 

Meena Alexander
Jeff Barry
Richard Berengarten 1
Richard Berengarten 2
Richard Berengarten 3
Mashey Bernstein
Denise Duhamel
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Aamer Hussein
Neil Langdon Inglis
Laura Moser
Paschalis Nikolaou 1
Paschalis Nikolaou 2
Sean Rys
Maureen Seaton
Bina Shah
Carole Smith
Angela Topping
Julie Marie Wade
Ronaldo V. Wilson

Issue 21 Guest Artist:
Anne Noble

President: Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
Senior Editor-at-Large: Neil Langdon Inglis
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Geraldine Maxwell
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Laura Moser
General Editor: Malvina Segui
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
Marcelo Cohen
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
Tim Parks
Molly Peacock
Pascale Petit
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
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
Daniel Shapiro
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: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

 
Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. 5 Poems from When I Was Straight: Poems (A Midsummer Night's Press, 2014).
by
Julie Marie Wade
 

 

When I Was Straight

1.

There was a man in the moon
& a man at the head of the table.
There was a woman with a dishrag

draped across her narrow shoulder.
Sometimes they were on television,
& the laugh track softened their features,

made me long for them like a summer’s cool rain.

In that first world, the man always drove,
& the woman always read a magazine—
Good Housekeeping or Better Homes & Gardens.

The woman did not know how to work
the lawnmower, & the man did not know
how to work the microwave. They were hesitant

& grateful in the presence of each other’s bodies.

When I see them now, I am too old to be mistaken
for their daughter. The women no longer smile,
pat my hand, promise the right man is soon to

come along. The men do not whistle or nod.
Even the sky grows distant, the new moon turns charcoal
against gray. “It’s getting dark out,” the couples say,

& draw the doors closed, leading to the master bedroom.



2.

It was a shame. It was a phase.
It was a secret.

I wanted every man I met.
I courted danger on the dance floor.

I was insatiable.
I was indiscriminate.


My lifestyle was visible in my hair cut,
my choice of shoes, the tattoos I didn’t have.

I was insatiable.
I was flamboyant.


I couldn’t get enough—lipstick,
laundry detergent, sexy lingerie.

I bought in bulk. I stocked my shelves.
Some thought me unnatural.

I was insatiable.
I was derelict.


At times, I found myself unable to stop
talking about it. Flaunting.

I was insatiable.
I was reckless.


The doctor felt certain I would outgrow it.
The pastor worried for my soul.

What shall I do in the meantime? I wondered.

For some, it was the most interesting thing
about me.



3.

It was like a game of Red Rover, &
someone was always being sent over,
flung out into the field of un-belonging
& struggling to break back in.

The team that called you didn’t want
you, & the team that had you
couldn’t keep you. No one was
content to run or stay put.

So was it any surprise that when
they shouted, “Red Rover! Red Rover!
Send Julie right over,” my feelings were
mixed? Relief split hairs with regret.

Pumping my legs as hard as I could,
I broke clean through their tightly knit line.
The trouble was, I never stopped running.
I never turned back & joined hands.



4.

I could tell my mother how
I wanted her to brush my hair
& braid it through with ribbons.

I could tell my father how
I loved baking cookies &
pinning damp clothes on the line.
That I liked folding napkins & saying grace
& dressing my dolls for dinner.

But I could not tell them I was also
the kind of girl who walked up slides
in muddy sneakers, who threw stones

at the slats of neighbors’ fences,
& spit through the lattice when she thought
no one was looking.

That when I saw a NO TRESPASSING sign,
I thought of it more as an invitation.

In other words, I learned early on
about the double life. How you could
smile brightly into someone’s face,

saying “Yes” when you meant “No,”
“True” when you meant “False,”
your sticky fingers crossed behind your back.



5.

A ruler was called a straightedge

Straight talk was smart talk

A straight man was funny by proxy

Sober people walked straight lines

A straight face was useful for poker

Straight-laced was superior to rash

Straight As were the standard for achievement

The righteous path was called The Straight & Narrow

Good girls were always straight as an arrow

With a straight bat was the way to play sport

A straight-shooter never minced words

Peter told Wendy straight on till morning

Do you follow me? Did you get it all straight?