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A Public Space

No. 02

Lauren Redniss illustrates a star of the Ziegfeld Follies; Nam Le in Cartagena; Maile Chapman on the sinking of the Bit Forgive; Amy Leach on the dramatic life of the sea cucumber; Reality Invented: a portfolio on Russia by Natasha Randall with Andrey Platonov, Vladimir Arkhipov, Daniil Kharms, Olga Zondberg, and others; David Mitchell's Acknowledgements; poems by Laurie Sheck, Srikanth Reddy, Benjamin Paloff, and others; and introducing Corinna Vallianatos.

Table of Contents


If You See Something


As of January 27, 2006, Western Union discontinued its telegram services, thus sounding the death knell for one of the first forms of more or less immediate long-distance communication.

Ander Monson


If You See Something


I was just watching Don Letts’ excellent punk documentary Punk Attitude, and within ten minutes it had underscored a very key idea: the punk spirit ultimately boils down to a resounding, life-affirming NO.

Michael Azerrad


If You See Something

A Practical Solution to an Inconvenient Truth

The artist Mary Mattingly started working on the Water Pod and the Wearable Water Home a few years ago: “I was just really scared.

Mary Mattingly


If You See Something

In Memoriam

I owed my father a thousand dollars for twelve years.

Christopher Sorrentino




These 900 pages would not exist without Johnny Ball.

David Mitchell



A Civilizing Effect

Edith told herself she wasn’t going to date now that she was a grandmother.

Corinna Vallianatos



Century Girl: The Living Star of the Ziegfeld Follies

Doris joined the Ziegfeld Follies Chorus at a salary of $10 a week.

Lauren Redniss



from The World

He would have no objection to the study of nations.

Srikanth Reddy



Two Poems

When we consider everything we’ve failed / to do, does it really matter that our progeny / will know us only by the lists of things / we intended to buy?

Benjamin Paloff




What and what and what and what / reiterate the clouds

Devin Johnston



Trilce LVI

Everyday I wake blindly / to work so as to live

César Vallejo



Two Poems

As if he once was someone’s son / but not now.

W. S. Di Piero



Tea Party

There remain whispers. These were, are.

Bin Ramke



Portami Il Girasole

Bring me the sunflower so that I might / transplant it into burning fields of alkali

Eugenio Montale



Two Poems

Sarcastic reparations     find Chile on the map     find Oshkosh / find the family farm

Ann Lauterbach



Notes on the Earth Seen from Space

Over and over the word fragile.

Laurie Sheck



Bit Forgive

This morning I received a letter ostensibly from my friend Niklas Nummelin.

Maile Chapman




In Cartagena, Luis says, the beach is gray at dawn.

Nam Le



Russia—Reality Invented

I used to think of Russia as a giant and unfortunate jellyfish—a hapless invertebrate, throbbing with ancient cells, which keeps having skeletons dropped on it from above: “Become this!”

Natasha Randall



The Macedonian Officer

As an ordinary ancient day began and the sun lit up the tense green of the country, Firs was summoned to the Tsar of Kutemalia.

Andrey Platanov




Vladimir Arkhipov is a self-taught artist who works in the genre of objects and installations.

Vladimir Arkhipov



Dragomoshchenko: Untitled

No one recognized me.

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko



Letters: A Translator and a Poet Discuss the Russian Language

You might have been expecting a note from me sooner than this!

Arkadii Dragomoshchenko



Schemata Rhetorica

some people passed across freshly fallen / wet snow and where their soles / touched down / the earth turned dirty black

Sergey Zavyalov



A Pseudoclassical Landscape

“A dangerous battle is taking place in the air…”

Elena Fanailova



Kuzmin: Untitled

in a TV report / about the victims of the war in Chechnya / there are shots from a hospital

Dmitry Kuzmin



The Soldier Ay Bee Cee

… along the shore of the noisy sea walked the soldier Ay Bee Cee.

Alexander Vvedensky



Two Poems

The old horseradish, he already longs For nothing, I mean, this strangeness.

Sergey Gandlevsky



Kharms: Untitled

How easy it is for a person to get tangled up in insignificant things.

Daniil Kharms




The quiet water swayed at my feet.

Daniil Kharms



On Public Grounds

Come over here towards me, if you please.

Olga Zondberg



All Cities Are Now Identical

“In Europe, in past centuries, a judge put on a black hat to proclaim a verdict,” I tell the next group.

Olga Zondberg



Please Do Not Yell at the Sea Cucumber: Three Essays on Nature

We were each like a tree grown in a cage.

Amy Leach

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