We begin, like we always do, with the body—that occupation of space that separates I from us, the problematic corpus forever embalmed with liminality. I am nowhere but not nothing, just as the separation between us is nothing and yet it is not nowhere. And so we try to make something from this corporeal utopia: we fashion language as a means of apologizing for our bodies, for the space they take up and take away from others. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea máxima culpa—just a short step from corporeal to culpable, that indelible link between mind and body by way of confession. We are sorry for the manifestation of thoughts in bodies, and vice (versa): another act of contrition for the impurity of self. It’s how we were taught to be polite—proper Catholic manners.
Early in Marlon Hacla’s second chapbook, Melismas, this reader gets the sense that Hacla must speak, though for him, the stakes seem to be much higher than they are for most, and, perhaps, more violent. But maybe that’s too strong a word. The poet speaks of arrival in an inhospitable place, a place that’s both familiar and foreboding:
After I was returned to the primeval nature
of the ordinary, I felt as if an eruption
of words went off in my chest. I suspected
movement of the divide that stifles the articulation
of whatever it is I let roll across my tongue,
that night has fastidiously gathered from nearby places
Kristine Ong Muslim has authored nine books including The Drone Outside, Grim Series, and Night Fish. Some of her work has been translated into other languages. She has translated Three Books, Walang Halong Biro, and others. Melismas by Marlon Hacla is an upcoming work that she has translated which has a book review coming out this month on the blog. Kristine agreed to answer a few questions about her translation work.
Her work has been translated into French, Czech, Serbian, and Bulgarian. “The translators, who approached me and asked for permission to translate, just happened to be from places in Europe … Except for the Czech-language translation, the French, Serbian, and Bulgarian translators asked for permission to translate the same story,” she explained. Continue reading “Important insights on translation work with Kristine Ong Muslim”
A geography of sex and violence permeates throughout Ephraim Sommers’s Someone You Love is Still Alive. This energetic text presents readers with
contemporary insight into poetic archives that contort racial violence and love, shifting kisses amid murder reports that bend quietly under police badges. Sommers’s pragmatic aesthetic aligns with the vigor of Ai’s fairy-horror narratives in Dread and stands firmly with the dynasty-naming skills displayed in Harryette Mullen’s Sleeping with the Dictionary. Throughout 69 dynamic poems, his use of documentary and investigative poetics incorporates intimate scenarios that engage current topics ripped from contemporary news headlines. Continue reading “Book Review: Someone You Love is Still Alive”
In Michael Credico’s debut collection of short stories, Heartland Calamitous, he takes us from fever-dream to fever dream in a strange and fragmented Midwest. Corpses bloat in backyard pools for days, dissolving alongside a marriage; a bear is taken into a family to replace the son he devoured, only to be devoured by longing; babies are born by being found under the sink; and lovers are turned to goldfish and are flushed away. But behind all the fantastic conceits in this collection remain very real, very poignant questions that will cut readers to the bone. Questions about what it means to be a man, questions about what it means to have a home, what we owe our families, and why these things often hurt more than they should. These are the fables of the modern-day—the stories that place us in myths and dreams that distort the world around us so that we might see it all the more clearly. Continue reading “Strange Landscapes of Loss and Longing in Michael Credico’s Heartland Calamitous”