A Public Space
On the battlefield with Li Ling; Petina Gappah in Zimbabwe with the Mupandawana dancing champion; Tracey Hill in transit; Samantha Hunt gets noticed; Naomi J. Williams goes to sea; Yiyun Li gossips; John Wray and Matt Dojny take a sightseeing tour of New York; Denis Donoghue revisits history; poems by Suzanne Buffam, Mahmoud Darwish, Jennifer Moxley, Adrienne Rich, and others; and introducing Sara Majka.
Table of Contents
If You See Something
Little Ears, Little Eyes
I love to hear that another memoir has been exposed as a big phony.
If You See Something
You are never happier than when you’re in transit.
If You See Something
Did You Hear?
The neighborhood where I grew up and where my parents still live is one of the apartment compounds built in the 1950s in Beijing.
The Mupandawana Dancing Champion
When the prices of everything went up ninety-seven times in one year, M’dhara Vitalis Mukaro came out of retirement to make the coffins in which we buried our dead.
The Atmospheric Railway
The train carrying Neville back to Hampshire was formed of ten coaches and was scheduled to divide at Eastleigh, where the front five carriages would proceed to Poole, while the rear five branched off toward the New Forest.
Impossible Sightseeing, Part One: New York City
In the early 1980s, faced with rapidly dwindling shelf space in their seven tiers of stacks, the New York Public Library at Forty-Second Street—the one with the lions—prevailed upon the city to fund the construction of a gargantuan book storage annex thirty feet under the grass and London plane trees of Bryant Park.
Illustrations by Matt Dojny
Powers of Recuperation
A woman of the citizen party—what’s that— / is writing history backward / her body the chair she sits in / to be abandoned repossessed
I do not acknowledge it, though it is mine.
The Dead of Winter
I had not felt so / tired so early in the day / since last winter
The time and place and manner of my death are three facts that / don’t exist yet.
On the typographic bushes of the poem down a road leading neither out of things nor to the mind, certain fruits are composed of an agglomeration of spheres plumped with a drop of ink.
Translated from the French by Beverly Bie Brahic
The bird is a little machine for forgetting / The freight trains that pass my house
The Museum of Nature
The earth’s humus is made fertile / through the worm’s anus.
Through an Opening
It was as if they’d stepped into the head / of a wind god, / and gotten trapped there and, / within captivity, made a space they could / sometimes recognize.
Be Careful: The Poet’s Skin is like that of a Frog
There is a way in which / I can be distracted / from what matters.
Blackbirds, then other voices.
Translated from the German by Okla Elliott
Lines of Refusal
Nothing here, just the sound of the heat, the sound of the cars, / nothing, nothing
And, Not Content with Circumscription, Spreads.
though I may not recognize the places I have / seen it, it is still an ornament, an ornament / known well; I know its name, I traced / those lines, and feel easy now about it.
The other side of the mountain / collects / and even cultivates / its mystery
On the Last Evening on this Earth
On the last evening on this earth, we sever our days / from our trees, and count the ribs we will carry along / and the ribs we will leave behind
Translated from the Arabic by Fady Joudah
Saint Andrews Hotel
In 1963, an eleven-year-old boy named Peter Harville was committed to a state mental hospital in the western part of Massachusetts, far from the island where he grew up.
Lamanon at Sea
It is the afternoon of August 26, 1785, and Jean-Honoré-Robert de Paul, chevalier de Lamanon, has just returned to the Boussole, exhilarated and exhausted after a successful ascent of the Peak of Tenerife.
A Word on “Li Ling”
On Atsushi Nakajima's masterpiece.
In the ninth lunar month of Tianhan 2 (99 B.C.E.), during the reign of Emperor Wu of the Han Dynasty, Commander of the Cavalry Li Ling led a force of five thousand foot soldiers north from the border fort of Zheluzhang.
A Novel Including History
Denis Donoghue discusses the law of dreams
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