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November 2007

Only Connect: World Writing from Iowa

A Witness Disappears
The more she spoke, the darker it became. She plunged into the forest everywhere and she saw the sea. Busy holding on to my thoughts, I can't think, nor can I prevent the images. —Oyster disgorger.…
Translated from French
“The sparks from your firesmoky eyes”
The sparks from your firesmoky eyes kept the room warm for hours, days, weeks, and months. I recognized that feeling: the glow. I recognized that feeling. Although it happened in another time, another…
Translated from Estonian
“The reader casts his shadow over the poem”
The reader casts his shadow over the poem. What did you actually say: The vase is here or The sky is blue? All possibilities bloom in language, the mind hears but what it wants to or what it fears. The…
Translated from Estonian
Read Out Sunday
By Kei Miller
This is how Sue gave her life to God and got back her virginity.That Sunday was church as usual. The same women as always in Jesus hats, their hands raised and their eyes squeezed so tightly shut as if…
“I don’t carry your picture in my purse”
I don't carry your picture in my purse; it burns anyway under my eyelids. Every expression, gesture, intonation, without my even wanting it, is etched— most clearly, your back, when you left…
Translated from Estonian
A Classical Education
By Saša Stanišiç
And Mister Mozart didn't fasten his seatbelt either, the little monster tattled.
Translated from German by Saša Stanišiç & Janet Hendrickson
even ants tremble at nightfall even stones suffer insomnia even moonlight's so polluted men's shadows thin to mist even the mountaintop swells as if ready to blow even the Tang Dynasty fell into…
Translated from Chinese
Flying over God's mountains, canyons, wastelands glimmering with foxfire, graveyards where owls vanish and appear, you drop from the stars like a soul being born, and still bearing the toxins of your…
Translated from Chinese
So many things follow us like the moon, listening for our primal cries. We stop, it stops, while thirty miles ahead bright moonlight floods the brain of a wild animal. Grief rushes through its sorrows.…
Translated from Chinese
At 30
The first ten years of my life, as the moon exposed its silent craters to my small city far below, the streets filled with shouts, gongs and drums drove out devils, my lame uncle cursed in the yard, and…
Translated from Chinese
Gulliver in Icelandic
By Etgar Keret
On my first day, I was overcome with dread. It wasn't even four in the afternoon and the sun had set long ago. They turn on the streetlamps here by two, two-thirty, and in the brief spell of sunshine,…
Translated from Hebrew by Miriam Shlesinger
Almost Parnassus
Now comes the labor of descent. Walking down the wooden stairs of the house, it comes to you, you are descending the slopes of Parnassus— the chips in the white plaster, like feathered clouds, give…
Translated from Albanian
Ten Short Pieces
By Alex Epstein
Who, these days, hasn't woken from a dream of murdering an angel?
Translated from Hebrew by Becka Mara McKay
The Shakes
By Rafael Courtoisie
Now I have to get the fourth glass down me before I can operate. I mean, the fourth glass, filled to the brim, full of the amber stuff. Yes, now I drink the amber, Scotch. Because of my liver, you know.…
Translated from Spanish by Patricia Anne Odber de Baubeta
Underground Flower
There is an orchid that only blooms underground. Because it never shows itself above ground few are said to have seen it. Only white ants can enter the blooms, drawn by the fragrance rising from the runnels…
Translated from Korean
White Birds in a Black Space
He said: You may walk into the spaces of mildness and obedience with the rebellious, the dreamers and the scared; you know that the city has been raped, that everything is permissible, impossible and…
Translated from Arabic
Cutting off a Finger
My mother's finger was cut off by a slamming door. Or should I say that she stuck her finger in it to stop the slicing wind. Honey, don't shiver, just feed the hungry wind this bloody piece of…
Translated from Korean
How Far Does the Light
That pomegranate lives the same life, yearns for the same light. Its pointed scarlet blossom is an open mouth, "Ah," gathering every ray of light. This fall, in my red gums, pain burned belatedly,…
Translated from Korean
Scale and Stairs
If you climbed up the back stairs to the church a piano stood like a sad black animal in a corner of the nave. The child reflected in the black sheen of the piano opened the cover and cautiously began…
Translated from Korean
Only Connect
“Only connect,” E.M. Forster famously advised novelistsóand this is the governing principle of the International Writing Program, which brings the writers of the world to the University…
Translated from English
Tired Theseus
You took down the pale blue garbage bag with yogurt caps, banana skins, colors like tired oil. So much remains after us by the morning, a streak of dust on the bathtub, lipstick on the tiles, your gaze…
Translated from Hungarian
Crying over Light Green
By Ra Heeduk
No, the word “green” is hardly adequate.
Translated from Korean by Won-Chung Kim & Christopher Merrill
Your neckline, like a glacier among the ice-slopes of your skin, displays that it's cold under the surface. Often you look at me. I don't mind. A waning moon is your soul, the sickle thinning…
Translated from Hungarian
The Jungle
It was dark like the inside of a piano, the twanging of the instrument filled your eyes, I said you looked through octaves. The sound is made in the closed coffin, it comes to life in the depth of the…
Translated from Hungarian
Aqua Fortis
You don't deserve the Light. Something after the explosion of the cells arranged for you to bequeath dark water, the quicksilver of life. Life has been lived for you, your merit is limited to words.…
Translated from Hungarian
For the Voice of the Psalms
Hide me in the shadow of your wings, not to be seen in flight, when I would fly with you, not for the eyes is the wing, the eye breaks off the dove- feather on the upstretched muscles. Dirty guano is…
Translated from Hungarian
V. Samsara
By Hana Andronikova
I have always been intrigued by the fact that cows in India are sacred. Unmolested, they roam the streets of towns and villages. In some parts they have a bell round their neck and a jasmine topknot on…
Translated from Czech by David Short
     was it at the Palace of Sport in 1952? a whole school class                           …
Translated from Swedish