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June 2015

The Queer Issue VI

​This month we present the sixth installment of our annual Queer Issue. Connections are missed and made, families are rocked and communities are formed, and characters circle each other and the truth in prose and poetry from around the world. Sweden’s Ester Roxberg describes her father’s gender transition and her family’s subsequent transformation. Czech writer Zuzana Brabcová shows a woman leaving her husband to arrive at new understanding, and the Slovak Zuska Kepplová sets her troubled lovers on an idyllic beach at the end of Europe. Taiwan’s Chi Ta-wei puts Debussy’s famous pastoral to an urban narrative. Sylwia Chutnik’s garrulous apartment-dwelllers are fascinated by their “lady-man” neighbor. Giancarlo Pastore’s elusive florist and his smitten customer channel the Victorians to say it with flowers. Cameroon’s Max Lobe shows an immigrant mastering a louche Geneva. And in poetry, Pedro de Jesus sees the truth, and Dragoslava Barzut’s lesbian protagonist buries her parents and her past. Our special feature showcases Icelandic poetry, translated and introduced by 2015 PEN/Heim Translation Grant awardee Meg Matich.

Connections, Missed and Made: The Queer Issue
By Susan Harris
As I write, the Irish people have just approved a constitutional amendment in favor of same-sex marriage, the nineteenth country to recognize this right. In the US the television program Transparent,…
By Giancarlo Pastore
I’d never found the plant or flower that could serve as punctuation.
Translated from Italian by Wendell Ricketts
A Faun’s Afternoon
By Chi Ta-wei
The hand of the pocket watch winds on with a sound like mocking laughter.
Translated from Chinese by Dave Haysom
From “The Year of Pearls”
By Zuzana Brabcová
Translated from Czech by Julia Sherwood & Peter Sherwood
By Sylwia Chutnik
How could anyone accuse Mr. Pawlikowski of something so awful?
Translated from Polish by Sean Gasper Bye
From “The Memory of a Secret”
By Ester Roxberg
What do we know about our parents? They’re never anything but parents. They do what parents do, listen but never speak. Help you up but they themselves stay down. One day you’ll start to wonder…
Translated from Swedish by Saskia Vogel
By Zuska Kepplová
She laughed and calmly walked naked to the end of Europe.
Translated from Slovak by Magdalena Mullek
If I could live on the vision without trying to say it
By Pedro de Jesús
What’s real isn’t this thing or that thingmy presentsthat you gave awayonce they lost the weight and sheenof being givenand became no morethan fragile objects.What’s real isn’t…
Translated from Spanish by Dick Cluster
Mountain Hike
By Gyrðir Elíasson
The tallest mountain on Mars is 24 kilometers highand I have climbed it in my dreams. I rememberthe view from the peak: magnificent;the blue planet swam in the half-twilight of evening.I seem to remember…
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
Jerking Out of Rotation: Four Icelandic Poets
By Meg Matich
Given that its language is spoken by fewer than 350,000 people across the world, Iceland manages to publish an astonishing volume of poetry, reflecting the country’s nearly 100 percent literacy…
The Death of My Parents in the Village
By Dragoslava Barzut
The funeral meal—all of the relatives and neighbors have come.I don’t know any of them.The death of my parents in the village, it played out long ago in the future.I cannot summon the memory.…
Translated from Serbian by Paula Gordon
The Avenging Whip
By Max Lobe
In my line of business, people don't talk much.
Translated from French by Ros Schwartz
By Magnús Sigurðsson
Let me / help you / said the ape.
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
Black Sea
By Magnús Sigurðsson
In memory ofJónas Þorbjarnarson (1960-2012)1.The dark kaiser’s ship,deep-keeled, cuts the waterfrom headto head,breaksand sinks.       *The one whois here…
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
Austurvöllur on the Day of the Wake
By Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir
Friday. A summer day. The sun shines.Everyone takes off socks and sweaters and jeans. Beautiful girls spread out blankets on thegrass.Beautiful girls have a good day, a summer day. When evening falls,…
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
Another Letter to Mister Brown
By Kristín Svava Tómasdóttir
Did you never get my letter, Mister Brown?it was aurora pink and glittery and I poured perfume from the tester all over itMister Brown, “I’m just a girlstanding in front of a boyasking him…
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
Fragments from the Guidebook of the Dead
By Gyrðir Elíasson
Fragments from the Guidebookof the Dead                        First daytrip/ KolafjöllNo…
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich
Bus Sequence
By Arngunnur Árnadóttir
Bus IWednesday arrives and my only thought is that I’m looking forward to taking the bus at noon. I didn’t know there would be days like this—days when the only thing I look forward…
Translated from Icelandic by Meg Matich