Although it is true that the inhabitants of the U.S.A. have ample cause for pessimism, thanks to Bad Art, Bootleggery and 26,000 lesser degrees of Bunk, it is also true that said inhabitants are the fortunate possessors of a perfectly genuine panacea. Were not this so, throughout the breadth and length of our fair land mayhem would magnify itself to prodigious proportions, burglary would bulge to deadly dimensions, policemen would populate our most secret sanctuaries and such notable nodes of Kultur as New York City would leap en masse to the celestial regions. Unbelievable as it may appear, there might even come a day when not a single campanulate congressman went to sleep on duty and not a single authentic artist starved at his Corona. In short (and to put it very mildly) anything might happen.
But the panacea is genuine. Crime, accordingly, is kept within quite convenient bounds, murder is monotonously punished, unart and nonliquor exchange visiting cards and the dollar bill waves triumphant o’er the land of the free and the home of the slave—all of which is due to the existence of an otherwise not important island, whose modest name would seem to suggest nothing more obstreperous than the presence of rabbits. No wonder learned people state that we occupy an epoch of miracles!
At the outset, one thing should be understood: it is not owing to sociological, political, or even psychological predilections that the present and unlearned writer partakes of the cure in question. Quite the contrary. Like those millions of other so-called human beings who find relief for their woes, each and every year, at Coney Island, he occupies these miraculous premises with purely personal intentions—or, more explicitly, in order to have a good time. And a good time he has. Only when his last spendable dime has irretrievably disappeared and his face sadly is turned toward his dilatory domicile, does it so much as occur to your humble servant to plumb the significance of his recent experiences. Such being the case, there can be no reasonable doubt as to his intellectual honesty re the isle and its amusements, concerning which (for the benefit of all thoroughly unbenighted persons and an unhappy few who are not accustomed to lose their complexes on The Thunderbolt) he hereby begs to discourse. Read More
My first few months as editor have flown by, and I’m excited to share the fruits of this busy summer soon—the Fall issue will go online just after Labor Day.
Much of this summer has also been spent getting to know colleagues up and down the masthead. There are a few people I’ve yet to track down for a meal or a Skype date, but talking shop with the staff, city editors, advisory editors, and the board has been lovely and informative. Through those conversations, I’ve also identified several opportunities for growth, as well as several key editors to help us with that growing. Prime among them is Hasan Altaf, who will start as our managing editor in September. Hasan and I are both excited about his editorial expertise and his commitment to bring new voices to the magazine.
We’ve also appointed novelist Christian Keifer to fill the newly added role of West Coast Editor. Christian’s inveterate energy, good taste, and large network have already proven valuable to my first issue, and we should all be thankful that he connected us with Lawrence Ferlinghetti, whose Art of Poetry interview is now underway.
The ranks of Advisory Editors have expanded. Some of the new additions, like Poetry Editor alum Robyn Creswell, have been contributing to the magazine for years. Others, like new advisory editor Saskia Hamilton, brought us content—unpublished Elizabeth Bishop!—that will appear in my first issue. Christopher Merrill is already working to expand our international reach, so stay tuned.
As a means of introduction, I asked each editor for a bio and a favorite piece from the archive. —Emily Nemens Read More
Hanōkizawa-san tells me to stop the car, and from the backseat points at an anonymous granite cliffside ten meters away. “There,” he says. “That’s where it came from.” We are driving south along a paved road built against the cliffs that fall into the Pacific outside the Japanese village of Yoshihama. He wants to show Yu Wada-Dimmer, our interpreter, and me the origin of the tsunami ishi, or “tsunami stone” that appeared on Yoshihama’s beach when the high waters of the 1933 tsunami receded. The stone, once used as a warning to low-living villagers, was then buried by man in the sixties, only to be unburied when the ocean surged inland once more on the afternoon of Friday, March 11, 2011.
I can just barely discern the scar of a large boulder ripped clean from the crag, but it could be the former home of any rock that has since tumbled to a saline grave. Eighty-five years have passed since 1933. Hanōkizawa is now 89, which means he was a child, four or five, when it happened. “How do you know this is where it came from?” I ask. “Because my father told me,” he replies.
In our column Poetry Rx, readers write in with a specific emotion, and our resident poets—Sarah Kay, Kaveh Akbar, and Claire Schwartz—take turns prescribing the perfect poems to match. This week, Sarah Kay is on the line.
My birthday is coming. It’s not a “big” one—not twenty-one or fifty or a hundred or any other special number—just a regular number in the middle. Honestly, there’s no particular reason I should feel this year is so much more painful than others, but I do. I’m not sure I can describe the feeling—it’s not something to wear purple for, per se. It’s more of a lost feeling: How did I get old? This body is mine and yet surely must also be someone else’s. I want to age gracefully and, most of all, I do not want to become invisible—to myself or anyone else. And I could use some encouragement, a vote of confidence, to know that this is possible. Is there a poem that could help?
In our series Writers’ Fridges, we bring you snapshots of the abyss that writers stare into most frequently: their refrigerators.
The champagne is something I’d never drink alone. I like having it there to remind me of something missing in my social life. It’s been there for over a year, gathering the chill but always welcoming. An ostrich egg was something I’d always wanted, but I didn’t know where to get one. Then I was at Whole Foods and there it sat among the turnips and beets in the produce section. That was three years ago. I’d leave it to my heirs if I had any.
The ground beef and rib-eye steaks are always there, but like the river—never the same.
My refrigerator, I now realize, has a past with little concern for the future. It could be a writer.
You can read the rest of the entries in this series here.
Walter Mosley is the author, most recently, of John Woman, out September 4th from Atlantic Monthly Press.