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February 2005

Love, Literally

Yes, we know a love issue in February is a bit trite--still, our featured writers are anything but. In Hafid Bouazza's "Paravion" and Najem Wali's "Edward and the First Geography Lesson," erotic love is twinned with an even stronger obsession with travel and escape. Love is soaked in memory in Luminita Mihai Cioaba's soulful Gypsy peregrinations in "The Lost Country," Franziska Gerstenberg's Russian-romanced "Borschtsch," and Alawiyya Subuh's bottomless Lebanese well of emotion in "Maryam of the Stories." There is the weird fetishism and sly humor of Fatima Yousef Al-Ali's "A Man's Staff" and Calvino-esque fabulism of the spirals of Alberto Ruy-Sánchez's "Secret Gardens of Mogador." Our new poetry editor, Ilya Kaminsky, has shared with us some of his own passions: the great Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva; David Young and Jiann I. Lin's new translations of Tang master Du Mu on the agony of lost love; and Chilean Oscar Hahn's elegy for the end of summer and other old flames.

A Man’s Staff
By Fatima Yousef al-Ali
I don’t know why I was upset when my husband reached for the stick, grasping it and starting to twist it around. I gave him a warning look, but Ahmad is extremely proficient at avoiding my warning…
Translated from Arabic by William Maynard Hutchins
from The White Fly
By Abdelilah Hamdouchi
The White Fly (2000) is the first Arabic detective novel translated into English. Set in contemporary Tangier, Morocco, the narrative follows Detective Laafrit as he investigates the case of four dead…
Translated from Arabic by Jonathan Smolin
from Maryam of the Stories
By Alawiyya Subuh
The whole city gave up on sleep that night. Explosions sealed up ears and filled the city sky, turning the anticipated weekend into a nightmare. Then Monday came and the shelling calmed, so I goaded my…
Translated from Arabic by Nirvana Tanoukhi
from The Secret Gardens of Mogador: Voices of the Earth
By Alberto Ruy-Sánchez
In The Secret Gardens of Mogador: Voices of the Earth, Alberto Ruy-Sánchez transports his readers once again to Mogador, ancient name for the Arabic city of Essaouira on the Atlantic coast of Morocco,…
Translated from Spanish by Rhonda Dahl Buchanan
"I really didn't do anything," a woman sobbed. "I didn't even go near a factory. I've never once been to a strange rally," the woman shouted. "I have no interest in…
Translated from Korean
By Luminita Mihai Cioaba
Just as the sun rises every day, giving its light to the earth, so day after day, year in, year out, we Roma travel on, without knowing where we are headed but following the road that lies before us.…
Translated from Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin & Cristina Cirstea
August Song
My love many things could have happened in August but will not happen many fireflies could have shone in your eyes but will not shine and the month of August will be buried without pomp or circumstance…
Translated from Spanish
Coming Home
My little boy pulls my coat as if he's asking "Why did you take so long to get back home? who were you fighting with all those months and years just to win that prize of snow-white hair?"…
Translated from Chinese
By Franziska Gerstenberg
Laura and Alexander met at the billiards bar where Laura is a waitress. Laura spots Alexander the minute he walks in, she still believes in love at first sight. Alexander doesn’t say a word to anyone,…
Translated from German by Edna McCown
By Hafid Bouazza
Listen.What sounds like a call for silence-shhh!-is really the sound of the wind in the trees, a rumor whispered through the leaves by many tongues. And could that chirping of invisible birds be gossip?They…
Translated from Dutch by S. J. Leinbach
from The Lost Country
By Luminita Mihai Cioaba
The Gypsy Princess and the NightingaleThe truth is that, in the days of yore, the Gypsies had a country. Now they keep searching for it in vain, the wheels of their wagons wearing ruts in the roads as…
Translated from Romanian by Adam J. Sorkin & Cristina Cirstea
“To kiss a forehead is to erase worry.”
By Marina Tsvetaeva
To kiss the lips is to drink water. / I kiss your lips.
Translated from Russian by Ilya Kaminsky
From “The Belly of the Atlantic”
By Fatou Diome
He gave me everything: the secret of letters, of numbers, the key to the world.
Translated from French by C. Dickson
Edward and the First Geography Lesson
By Najem Wali
I still remember him like it was yesterday: a small man, elegant in his own special way, entirely different from traditional men's elegance, such as is found in a suit and tie. He used to buy his…
Translated from Arabic by Jennifer Kaplan
Poems for Parting
By Du Mu
Too much love / somehow became / no love at all
Translated from Chinese by David Young & Jiann I. Lin