March 22, 2019KR Reviews

March 2019 Micro-Reviews

Miguel Ángel Bustos. Vision of the Children of Evil. Trans. Lucina Schell. co·im·press, 2018. 304 pages. $19.95.

Vision of the Children of EvilVision of the Children of Evil brings the words of Argentinean visionary and poète maudit Miguel-Ángel Bustos for the first time to the Anglophone reader, in a translation by Lucina Schell. Bustos’s searing visions are deeply personal and mystical, revealing to us a poet and surrealist who dabbled in what Arthur Rimbaud called “’the alchemy of the word,” giving his prose-poetry a revolutionary political dimension previously only attempted and theorized by European surrealists like André Breton. (Fantastical Fragment #1 reads “We have traded our destiny as gods for that of businessmen.”)

Bustos was a journalist and revolutionary, an austere drifter traversing South America, and a lover. Bustos prophesied not only the catastrophic Junta that benighted his native Argentina—he also seems, eerily, to have predicted his own forced disappearance and execution, in the darkness of the El Vesuvio concentration camp, under a regime bent on snuffing out the luminaries of his generation. A sense of that paranoid self-prophecy manifests in Fantastical Fragments like “I sense the dark snout that awaits me [. . .] the death that awaits me,” evoking the police-hounds. Or “I already know there is a tiger near me and he watches me at length. But I’m clever enough to pretend I’m not aware of his existence. Only in his way will he not devour me.” The poet struggles with a visionary faith, the excruciating pain ennobled by Catholicism, mixed with sensuality and eroticism:

All mothers kill their sons with the knives of their nipples.

When you feel pure to me, as the color of water that trembles in dreams, I’ll kiss your sex so that a goldfish will be the cry that closes your lips.

Schell’s meticulous work shows a translator steeped in Argentinean culture and history, even in the peculiarities of Argentine Spanish. Schell’s interpretation connects deeply with the messianic poet and original text, translating with a detective’s curiosity for the circumstances wherein this poet wrote, of “Sabbat dust and oblivion.”

The focused translation recalls Argentinean conductor Daniel Barenboim’s theories on the ethics underlying faithful musical interpretations of dead composers: balancing imagination, intimacy and compassion. —AD

Wingston González. No Budu Please. Trans. Urayoán Noel. Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018. 24 pages. $7.00.

No Budu PleaseIn a recent conversation with Sarah Clark and Erik Isberg, which explores, among other things, modes of translating in various diasporic contexts, 최 Lindsay speaks to processes that generate “excess, multiplicity,” that, through generating ways of (mis)translating across power structures embedded in language, “corrode . . . in [their] faithfulness to the original.” I thought about this a lot while reading Wingston González’s No Budu Please, translated by Urayoán Noel, which not only calls into question the relationship between the original and its translation, but also that between the author and their mother tongue. This becomes visible in the book’s layout—González’s poems and Urayoán’s translations are not printed in opposition to each other, but rather on flip-sides of the book—also in the way both authors resist conventional uses of Spanish and English, exposing the way “los postisos recuerdos de la istoria [da false memories of histury]” are reproduced in language, reframing “faithfulness” as an assimilatory gesture with colonial roots. Looking at a poem like “O la palabra de dios [Or Da Word of God]:

esta es la istoria del pueblo garinagu. mariposa desgracia robotica negra flamenco posa de piedra el sielo caribeño desir el berbo mas colokial del mundo. el Cadejo en la sima la sima de la sal y en la sima de eya los barcos. señores señoras. el ruido de un helefante. [dis is da story of da garinagu people. butterfly robotic misfortune black defiant pose of stone da caribean sky say da most colokial berb in da world. da Cadejo in da depths da salty depths an adobe da depths da ships. jentlemen ladies. da noise of an elefant,]

the reader becomes immersed in many levels of sonic/semantic-play inflected through González, the Garifuna poet from Guatemala City who refuses, as Noel recently put it, to “translate what’s in Garifuna” into an easily recognizable Spanish, and through Noel, who brings the cultural reference point of a Puerto Rican poet/translator/scholar living in the Bronx. Translation here becomes not a means of producing equivalencies between diasporic vernaculars, and flows, but instead of resisting the violently singular notion of equivalency—“no    no    no. me esplota el poder. el tema del poder. [no    no    no. pawer eksploits me. da matter of power]—and toward its other: the multiple, the composite. —AA

Kim Hyesoon. Autobiography of Death. Trans. Don Mee Choi. New Directions, 2018. 110 pages. $16.95.

Autobiography of DeathLiving through the military dictatorships and uprisings of South Korea’s post-war period, and writing from a present marked by continued corruption among society’s highest ranks, Kim Hyesoon’s Autobiography of Death addresses and gives voice to the swirling and incalculable mass of those whose lives were ended unjustly. In this collection, a main sequence of forty-nine poems darts and flutters through its lines, emulating the moth-like touch of the dead on the world, and the ricochet against the boundaries imposed by death itself.

Prominent in the text is the address to a plural “you,” which, translator Don Mee Choi notes, is “the death we see reflected in [. . .] a sea of mirrors.” Death speaks of itself and the throng who become it. It accuses of complicity, yet is comfortingly familiar:

(from “Orphan”)

Not God, you’re a square

You grow up calling death Mommy
You drink deathjuice, counting the grains of death

You’re the square’s servant

(and from “Commute”)

But you roll your eyes the way the woman did when she was alive
and continue on your way to work as before. You go without your body.

Death in these poems happens because of us; it is not a supernatural caricature, like a Grim Reaper, but more a property of the world, a consequence of our mismanagement. In the poem, “A Doll,” an unnamed person, like so many others in the book, comes through and takes you from a stroller, leaving your doll, your body minus you, behind. In “Commute,” we are told that “Death is something that storms in from the outside.”

The main sequence is followed by one long poem, “Face of Rhythm,” which reflects themes similar to the earlier section, though it does so from a more intimate, embodied speaker. The speaker is suffering, turning and aching within its “I,” getting “prescriptions for this and that,” caught in the bounds of death without release from the bodily work of suffering. From this sufferer’s perspective, too, comes a greater license for playfulness without any loss of critical capacity: “Prince’s agony is princess, princess’s pain is nameless.” —TG

Al-Husayn Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khālawayh. Names of the Lion. Trans. David Larsen. Wave Books, 2017. 72 pages. $18.00.

Names of the LionIn Arabic, the lion has more than five hundred names: sometimes he is al-Dilhāth, other times al-Aṣbaḥ, al-Ghādī, or al-Muqaṣmil. . . . For some, this exemplifies the gaudy excess of language; for others, it proves Arabic’s unparalleled precision. For translator Dave Larsen, the names themselves become poetry: al-Dilhāth becomes “Who Strides Unflinching into Battle;” al-Aṣbaḥ: “Whose Coat is the Color of Dawn;” al-Ghādī: “The Morning Apparition;” al-Muqaşmil: “The Brutal Shepherd.”

Larsen’s Names of the Lion is the first English translation of Persian-born grammarian Al-Husayn Ibn Ahmad Ibn Khālawayh’s tenth-century Arabic text. The list of names comprises one of the few extant chapters of Ibn Khālawayh’s lexicographical work Kitāb Laysa fī kalām al-‘Arab (the Book of “Not in the Speech of the Arabs”—as in, “In all the speech of the Arabs . . . there are no names for the lion besides what I have written for you”). Larsen’s lyrical rendering of each name, based on extensive research into its etymological and cultural roots, does justice to its lexicographically-meticulous source, while at the same time creating something entirely new. The translator’s introduction situates the text in Ibn Khālawayh’s life and work, while the translations unfold the meaning contained in each name with poetic clarity.

The heart of this book, however, lies in its margins: many of the entries are paired with footnotes, which contain a story of their own. While the list of names registers the lion’s historic place in collective imagination and material realities, the footnotes tell the tale of a translator’s encounter with language. In order to elucidate the sometimes obscure connection between a name and the beast it names, Larsen goes beyond etymology. Woven throughout his notes are linguistic musings and quarrels, pre-Islamic history and legends, and stories of the Prophet. Through these notes, Larsen bears witness to the act of translation itself: a practice that demands both rigorous investigation and creative imagination.

The names of the lion, obsessively enumerated, become a poetic meditation on language’s exuberant attempts to convey the ineffable. Yet through its five hundred epithets, the creature itself does begin to take shape and the reader comes face to face with the lion: so glorious in myth, so awful in reality. —PC

Anne Kawala. Screwball. Trans. Kit Schluter. Canarium Books, 2018. 160 pages. $14.00.

ScrewballWhat exactly is Anne Kawala’s Screwball (the indispensable deficit)? One long poem? A novella? The screwball-like trajectory of this exciting survivor’s tale consists of a huntress-gatheress, a child, a baby, a golden retriever named Dzeta, and a zigzag of eruptive languages. Its impressive collision of French and English results in new words and meanings by way of gasket-like commas, hyphens, and emboldened text: “the / h,eart,henware) dé,faill,ence / ses affres se crachent / then / profondément trempées et / her corsetry gut,skewer,s the heart / mouillées—attendent see,k / ceramic her biscuit—dipped / voi-s,e / wet, baba, / s’embrocher / skewered by / sucré sué / droplets sweating / of earth through, varnish, its / pearly surface.”

Kit Schluter, the noticeably careful translator of Screwball (first published in France in 2016), has replaced moments of the original work’s untranslated English with instead untranslated occurrences of French. This necessary reversal attempts to recreate the alienating effect of the original. One might even come to understand such an effect to be the “indispensable deficit” in question. What happens when it feels like you don’t have enough languages inside of you? Screwball is a whirlwind exercise in such feelings. It’s true that English is the most prominent language in this translation, but as English readers come across various untranslated instances of French, German, and Malagasy, a desire for more languages—more meaning—will become undeniable. “Instincts, you know, they don’t learn themselves. That’s why I’m asking if you have an idea, some hunch?”

Additionally, Screwball contains an assortment of astrological charts, photographs, paintings, maps, and diagrams that often mirror its narrative: “The huntress-gatheress moves away from the path, hodgepodge of branches, lianas, leaves, undergrowth, living and dead, stick held in front, brushes aside, weaving . . .” Just like the huntress-gatheress is forced to move from her familiar path, Kawala will at times prompt readers to read in atypical ways (i.e. holding the text up to a mirror or physically turning the book to continue reading). Excessive and imaginative, this is a survivor’s guide to language barriers, translation, gender, violence, and various techniques of seeing. —PC

Luljeta Lleshanaku. Negative Space. Trans. Ani Gjika. New Directions, 2018. 135 pages. $16.95.

Negative SpaceNegative Space, by Albanian poet Luljeta Lleshanaku and translator Ani Gjika, is a collection of poetry unlike most others. Having lived under house arrest during a Stalinist regime, Lleshanaku writes poetry that enstranges everyday objects and images of people, imbuing them with a sense of wonder most would ignore or simply not see. The choice of title is revealing; “negative space” is the space around or between the subject of an image that creates an interesting or artistically significant shape, which then comes to be considered the real subject of an artwork. Lleshanaku seeks out these in-between spaces, unraveling their mystery and somehow freezes them in time.

In the title poem of the collection, the poet encourages us to focus on “the unsaid” or “gestures . . .” These negative spaces take many forms, each of which reveal hidden meanings we may have a tendency to overlook, distance in relationships, or the purgatory between life and death, or life-in-death, as she writes: “I learned to read the empty spaces the dead left / behind . . .” or another form, of potential energy waiting to be discharged: “negative / spaces where I can find little historical rest / but also where utter ruin may originate.” Within the death and destruction of dictatorships throughout history, of freedoms limited, of hearing “don’t” over and over again, Lleshanaku shows us that negative spaces are “always fertile” despite historic, political, and personal betrayals.

Even the statues and monuments to history’s heroes we’ve built, our Julius Caesars who came, saw, and conquered, are still the same vulnerable human beings, “who, with bulging eyes and a knife at his throat, / spoke his last: ‘You too, Brutus?’” Lleshanaku’s ability to connect disparate people, objects, and places, such as John Coltrane, Vincent Van Gogh, and her daughter, within a single poem, with an invisible yet sensical thread is the mark of a highly skilled writer who has mastered her craft.

For Lleshanaku, time’s passing is inevitable, but she slows it down, personifies it, and shows us how it’s always playing games with us. We cannot catch up with it or control it, though we may try. Yet, this is not a point of despair. Lleshanaku shows us that even when there seems to be “no hope left,” we learn from history, the legacies left behind, the living statues of war, photographs of stoic faces—the words become a testament to survival: “we turn objects into art— / a sermon we leave behind / for the generations to come.” —SS

Alejandra Pizarnik. The Galloping Hour. Trans. Patricio Ferrari and Forrest Gander. New Directions, 2018. 91 pages. $16.95.

The Galloping HourThe Galloping Hour, by Alejandra Pizarnik and translators Patricio Ferrari and Forrest Gander, gathers for the first time, and in English, all the poems and prose which the Argentine writer produced in French. The poems in The Galloping Hour bring to light many of Pizarnik’s gravest concerns: intimacy, sex, night, physicality, and the suffering of being.

All night I hear the noise of water sobbing. All night I make night in me, I make the day that begins on my account, that sobs because day falls like water through night.

The book, arranged in three distinct sections, presents Pizarnik’s writings bilingually, and includes poems, facsimiles of her French manuscripts, as well as a selection of drawings from her four years living in Paris. Each displays a different modality and showcases the nuanced character of Pizarnik’s work. This editorial decision by Ferrari and Gander allows the reader a unique window into lyrical, and often weighty subject matter. The included facsimiles grant the rare gift of seeing the poet’s words in her own penmanship. The book’s one etching, which brings to mind the abstract, calligraphic works of Cy Twombly, features a lone, haunting couplet:

I recall the wind, the lilacs, the gray, the perfume, the song,
and the wind, but I don’t recall what the angel said.

Pizarnik, who lived a nocturnal life at 30 rue Saint-Sulpice in an attic facing the back of a seventeenth-century Roman Catholic Church, came to Paris in search of a literary life in the footsteps of French surrealist poets like Charles Baudelaire, Arthur Rimbaud, and Comte de Lautrémont. She spent the rainy Parisian nights of the early 1960s channeling obsessions of solitude, madness, and death. After returning to Argentina, Pizarnik died at the age of thirty-six of a deliberate drug overdose, leaving behind a uniquely textured body of unpublished work.

I offer myself awfully
abyss frost
I offer myself
you frighten me
I offer myself
I don’t give a fuck

It is a privilege to read, for the first time in both English and French, the darkly beautiful writing of Alejandra Pizarnik. —ZCK

The Popol Vuh. Trans. Michael Bazzett. Milkweed Editions, 2018. 265 pages. $16.00.

The Popol VuhI read Michael Bazzett’s new translation of the Mayan creation epic The Popol Vuh (the first version in verse since the original K’iche’ was transcribed in the mid-sixteenth century) alongside his 2017 poetry collection The Interrogation, also published by Milkweed. It’s likely the two projects overlapped, and I find some useful parallels in Bazzett’s sensibilities as poet-translator, as one way of looking at his translation.

In The Popol Vuh, doubling occurs not just in character pairings and genealogical cycles (the Framer and Shaper make the world, the hero twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque descend from two brothers), but in the most central dualities of existence: death and life. Poems like “The Two of Us” in The Interrogation are reminiscent—the speaker of the poem is a mutable “me not you”—and many other poems similarly turn on the idea that “I is another.”

Along with this doubling in both books comes a fluidity of sexuality. Bazzett’s speaker does not inhabit one fixed gender:

it turns out I’m a beautiful
woman and the book
of my life is graced

And much of The Popol Vuh also seems wonderfully unconcerned about gendered distinctions between the gods, who are described both in singular and plural: “And so they are called Heart of Sky. / And this is said as the name of the god.”

The humor and lightness in the language of both books are of a piece—it feels good in the mouth/ear, close to the body and to real speech. Characters in The Popol Vuh say breezily, for example: “Sounds good!” or “I’m in too deep,” and they run “like hell.” A similar-sounding voice in The Interrogation says: “It’s okay,” “Point taken,” “Fucking A, man.” Though poems in The Interrogation vary in form, many are fairly narrative and use three- and four-beat lines, as does Bazzett’s Popol Vuh—helping it read pleasurably as story.

Both are in awe of the creative power of language itself. In The Interrogation: “There is no limit to what I can do with these words / but the words themselves.” In The Popol Vuh, words are woven, changed, carried, left behind. The Framer and Shaper speak “the world into being / with luminous words and clear truth,” and the measure of one’s spirit is in one’s word:

Climb, then, to the face of the earth.
You will not die. You have entered
into the word.

In its form and tone, its multiplicity and fluidity of identities and its meta-textual commentary on language, Bazzett’s translation of The Popol Vuh feels as fresh and of-the-moment as his poems. Of course it does—they’re all his poems. —KV

Yannis Ritsos. Monochords. Trans. Paul Merchant. Tavern Books, 2017. 148 pages. $17.00.

MonochordsPaul Merchant’s translation of Yannis Ritsos’s Monochords delights with meditative and at times riddle-like notes that, like a musical chord, linger in the air after the pianist’s fingers have alighted from their keys. These 336 one-line poems, published in modern Greek in 1980, though individually slender, accrue deeper meaning in a paratactic whirlwind of addition as the reader moves on to the poems that follow. In his deft handling of what is essentially the form of fragmentary poetry, Ritsos engages with many poetic traditions, ancient and modern, simultaneously. Written in the village of Karlovasi on Samos, these poems reach through time to craft poetry from history and experience. These monochords are spiritual and poetic successors to the akousmata, the tradition of the Pythagoreans of preserving their teacher’s words as aphorisms. In the 188th poem of the collection, Merchant translates: “The night always behind my pages, that’s why my poems shine so brightly.” The word translated as “brightly” is λάμπρουνε and it carries echoes in Greek of “clear,” “distinct,” and especially when applied to people, “illustrious.” Ritsos’ implicit personification of these monochords as individuals bridges the gap between his political imprisonment by the military junta of the late 1960s and the mythical past he often alludes to as in monochords 89 and 90: “I entered the wooden horse with a sword and a mirror. / The beautiful corpse on its pyre, horse races, and the men’s great lament.” Perhaps this is a reference to the funeral of Achilles’ lover Patroclus, but Ritsos’s unmooring of context makes each poem as applicable to any situation in any space or culture by engaging in an aphoristic tradition reminiscent of the poetic pronouncements of the Cumaean Sybil or of poets like Sappho and Stesichoros. —JA

Ryoko Sekiguchi. Adagio ma non troppo. Trans. Lindsay Turner. Les Figues Press, 2018. 110 pages. $17.00.

Adagio ma non troppo“Why does the way follow the words and not the other way around?” For two people to coincide in a city—for lovers to meet—requires so much more than a semantic agreement. The assertions of cartography, place-names, dates, and times offer little buffer against the contingencies of attention, intention, and anticipation that make or break the desired encounter. And because the encounter is always destination, arrival is at once completion and curious ellipse: “At the moment when our lips touch I think: this moment in which we encounter each other, really, the only space where we don’t have to wait for the hour to approach boldly, face-on, what happens there, between meetings, in general?

The thirty-six movements that comprise Adagio parallel the thirty-six letters Fernando Pessoa addressed to his fiancée Ophelia Queiroz between March 1, 1920 and January 11, 1930. But the correspondence these two texts beyond their numerical count is enigmatic. Sekiguchi’s fragments recall Roland Barthes, Sei Shonagon, Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, and Pessoa’s own pensive, rambling meditations on and in Lisbon in their varyingly brief, aleatoric, digressive, and contemplative qualities. At once drifting and precise, directional but without an apparent destination, Adagio presents a peripatetic, aleatoric meditation on desire, correspondence­—in both senses, as inherent connection and active exchange­—and the precarious, delightful, heartrending art of establishing contact.

Published by Les Figues in triple-facing translation—Sekiguchi’s Japanese and French self-translations interleaved with Lindsay Turner’s English—Adagio ma non troppo reads the way it feels to skip across undulating terrain, an appropriate texture for a meditation on desire, correspondence, and triangulation. The book also performs the very dilatory, deflective, focalizing powers of descriptive language it contemplates, moving deftly between the room, the street, and the page, and between vision, memory, and speculation. Ecstatic cascades of images enact description as a pleasure in and of itself, the latent gift of poetic language—“the image of an encounter that whirls as if dancing.”

At every step, Adagio considers the resonances and parallels between writing, walking, reading, seeing, navigating a city and approaching the distant beloved. You should read this book if you miss someone; you should read it slowly, loopingly, looking up and around you, adagio—slowly, ma non troppo—not observed too strictly. —JY

Miyó Vestrini. Grenade in Mouth. Trans. Anne Boyer and Cassandra Gillig. Kenning Editions, 2019. 106 pages. $14.95.

Grenade in MouthIt’s hard for me to read Grenade in Mouth, the inaugural English translation of avant-garde Venezuelan poet Miyó Vestrini, without hearing the echo of co-translator Anne Boyer’s essay “No.” Boyer writes, “Death as refusal requires as its material only life, which if rendered cheaply enough by the conditions that inspire the refusal, can become precious again when selectively and heroically deployed as a no.” If anything, Vestrini is known as a premier poet of death, drawing frequent comparisons to Sylvia Plath. Death is ubiquitous here, but the poems in Grenade in Mouth enact Boyer’s notion of refusal, alchemizing death into a fiercely political act.

Vestrini is easy to categorize as a confessional poet, yet the poems often allude to their own performativity and signal the author’s awareness of potential posthumous readings of her work. In “Beatriz,” the eponymous character “did not want to participate in the grotesque ceremony / of eulogizing decadence.” Even so, Beatriz artfully stages her suicide, covering the mirrors and making the bed with satin sheets. Ultimately, the poem transforms into Beatriz’s farewell note: “Writing is not important, she wrote, / and signed her name in small print, / believing it apocryphal.” Similarly, the Villon-esque “Last Will and Testament” rides the line between bluntly confessional and boldly performative when the speaker wryly proclaims, “No one / that I know / has deliberated on their own disappearance.”

Vestrini died by suicide in 1991, but her political project of refusal seems as relevant as ever. Boyer and Gillig give anglophone readers access to Vestrini’s voice in all its brash and brutal grandeur. “The Walls of Spring” in particular speaks to contemporary issues of war, climate change, and totalitarian governments:

I will not teach my child to work the land
nor to smell the tang of the earth
nor to sing hymns.
He will know that there are no crystal streams
no clean drinking water
His world will be hellish downpours
and dark plains

“The Walls of Spring” shows us the heart of Vestrini’s dark project. She argues for a negative capability that, though agonizing, may at least provide the materials for a revolutionary act, an heroic no. “He will have the memory that we never had,” she writes in the poem’s final lines, “and will believe in the violence / of those who believe in nothing.” Some readers may see Vestrini’s work as a kind of Gesamtkunstwerk that culminates in its author’s death. For me, Grenade in Mouth is more interesting for its unresolvable tensions, exalting in decadence and austerity, joy and horror, and refusal and revolution. —ZA

Xeixa: Fourteen Catalan Poets. Trans. Marlon L. Flick and Francisca Esteve. Tupelo Press, 2018. 148 pages. $19.95.

Xeixa: Fourteen Catalan Poets“What a memory so vast, for a poem so small,” observes the speaker of Manuel Forcano’s poem “Hydra,” effectively summarizing the task of selecting who might speak for over half a century of Catalan poetry—a task taken up by Francisca Esteve and Marlon L. Flick, co-translators of Xeixa: Fourteen Catalan Poets. The publication of this anthology is not only timely, but urgent; considering statistics from the Three Percent Database, only four books of Catalan poetry have been published in English translation in the last ten years, two of which by the same poet. The arrival of this anthology thus quadruples the number of Catalan poets published in English.

Xeixa spotlights a broad range of poets whose diverse voices remain noticeably distinct in translation. Generationally, these poets were born either prior to or during Franco’s dictatorship, but began writing from the 1960’s through our present, when restrictions on language had begun to loosen or had already been eliminated. Giants such as Antònia Vicens, Joan Margarit, and the late Màrius Sampere stand alongside younger poets such as Jordi Valls Pozo. Notably, despite the formal and thematic variation, the memory of forty years of cultural and linguistic repression consistently haunts the anthology. A tension between silence and speech continually announces itself, drawing our attention to the silences these poets break through their writing, often self-consciously—take, for example, Sampere’s “Times of Pre-existence”: “This voice, I know this voice. [. . .] This silence, I know this silence.” It is nearly impossible to not read these poems politically, particularly post-October 2017, when the future of Catalonia and its political leaders is evermore uncertain.

Religious irreverence—a position not entirely untethered from the memory of the dictatorship—is another recurring trope, with Ponç Pons’ deliciously sacrilegious “Bible Stories” forming one of the anthology’s highlights. Here, the Foreman at the Tower of Babel’s construction site, disappointed with his workers, announces, “To be the biggest and the strongest, if we want an empire, / it has to have command of only one leader and one language”—again demanding a political reading. Jesus has second thoughts about his life’s trajectory: “I’d like to be a simple carpenter, make a family,” and burned-out fallen angels coin what has quickly become my new favorite insult: “Everyone is just a puff of shit.” —GM


Alexis Almeida is the author of I Have Never Been Able to Sing (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2018), and the translator of, most recently, Marina Yuszczuk’s Single Mother (Spork, 2019) and Dalia Rosetti’s Dreams and Nightmares (Les Figues, 2019). She currently teaches at the Bard microcollege at the Brooklyn Public Library and runs 18 Owls Press.

Jordi Alonso is currently a Gus T. Ridgel Fellow in English at the University of Missouri where he is a PhD candidate. His work has appeared in numerous journals. Honeyvoiced, his first book, was published by XOXOX Press in 2014, and his chapbook, The Lovers’ Phrasebook, was published by Red Flag Poetry Press in 2017.

Zack Anderson holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame, where he interned for Action Books, and an MA from the University of Wyoming. He currently works as an English teacher and bookseller in Denver, Colorado.

Phoebe Carter is a literary translator and PhD student in Comparative Literature at Harvard University, where she studies Arabic and Spanish-American literatures.

Paul Cunningham is the translator of Sara Tuss Efrik’s Automanias (Goodmorning Menagerie, 2016) and The Night’s Belly (Toad Press, 2016). He edits Deluge and co-manages Radioactive Cloud with Jake Syersak. He holds an MFA from the University of Notre Dame.

Arturo Desimone, writer and visual artist, born in 1984 on the island Aruba which he inhabited until the age of twenty-two, before emigrating to the Netherlands. He later relocated to Argentina. His work has appeared in numerous journals, including Círculo de Poesía, New Orleans Review, Island (Tasmania), Moko, and in his column-series on Latin American poetry for the former Drunken Boat poetry review.

Tyler Green is a poet, editor, and translator from the Russian, currently working on an anthology of translations of the poet Dmitri Prigov, the Gulag notebooks of Varlam Shalamov, and a manuscript of his own poems.

Zoe Contros Kearl is a writer and translator. She is an MFA candidate and writing fellow at Columbia University and holds a BA from New York University’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study.

Gabriella Martin is a literary translator from Spanish and Catalan, and a PhD candidate in Hispanic Studies at Washington University in St. Louis, focusing on the critical theory and practice of translation in the context of Iberian literatures.

Sanam Shahmiri is a PhD student in Literature at Illinois State University, where she teaches and serves as Managing Editor/Event Coordinator for SRPR. A Sutherland Fellow and McNair Scholar, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Michigan Quarterly Review, Cimarron Review, Northridge Review, and Pair Shaped.

Kelsi Vanada translates from Spanish and writes poems. She has collaborated on translations of Swedish poet Marie Silkeberg, and her translation of The Eligible Age by Berta García Faet was published by Song Bridge Press in 2018. Kelsi is the Program Manager of ALTA.

Jean Yoon is a writer and artist currently based in Seoul, Korea.