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September 2011

Homage

Amateurs borrow, professionals steal, and this month we're accessories after the fact, presenting a collection of pieces based on, alluding to, and just plain pinched from the work of others. Our contributors target writers from a variety of countries and eras to mimic and riff on, and subvert plots, characters, and the authors themselves. Venezuela's Slavko Zupcic finds theft can be fatal. Eduardo Halfon traces the steps of Hemingway in Paris. Mexico's Guadalupe Nettel channels Haruki Murakami. Lion Feuchtwanger Prize-winner Michael Kleeberg introduces a lighthearted Heidegger. Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas honors his fellow poets Álvaro Pombo, Eugenio Montejo, and Antonio Gamoneda, while Dutch poet Nachoem Wijnberg meets bards of the Song and Tang Dynasties. Lúcia Bettencourt keeps watch at Marcel Proust's deathbed. Algeria's Mohamed Magani talks fishing with Richard Brautigan; Muharem Bazdulj conflates a Serbian classic with a British bestseller; and Christopher Kontonikolis proves that form follows function in his odes to ancient Greece. If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, these subjects receive the most honest compliment of all.

Elsewhere, we present a group of contemporary Polish poets, selected by the critic Grzegorz Jankowski, including new poems by Jacek Dehnel, Julia Fiedorczuk, Justyna Bargielska, Edward Pasewicz, and Piotr Sommer.
 

A Beethoven Chronology
By Yu Jian
On a certain day in a certain month of the Enlightenmentclear skies      light winds out of the southwesthigh in the low 70sBeethoven is born in a bedon a certain day in a certain…
Translated from Chinese by Steve Bradbury
Multilingual
Immanuel Kant
By Yu Jian
The smallest citizen of Königsbergspent a lifetime parasitically attached to his timepiecewhose faultless clockwork      began to turn at precisely 5 a.m.when not another…
Translated from Chinese by Steve Bradbury
Multilingual
Requiem
That day—I remember it clearly, I had decided while I was waiting for the bus into town: I would steal a book. When it finally came, I sat next to a woman who was coming from the hot springs; so…
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
Bonsai
Our bodies are like Bonsai trees. Not one innocent leaf can grow freely, without being viciously suppressed, so narrow is our ideal of appearance —Khyentsé Norbu   After I got married,…
Translated from Spanish
Never Any End to Hemingway
By Eduardo Halfon
Well here we are, he wrote to Anderson, as he lay there, smoking. He liked typing letters from his bed with the black Corona on his lap. And we sit outside the Dome Café, opposite the Rotonde that’s…
Translated from Spanish by Daniel Hahn
For Antonio Gamoneda
By Juan Antonio Masoliver Ródenas
I wanted to write like AntonioGamoneda, so I went to Leónand, after visiting the cathedralto ask God to forget me,I arrived at the poet’s house.Maestro, I said, tell me,reveal to me the secret…
Translated from Spanish by Samantha Schnee
Multilingual
For Álvaro Pombo
We are accomplices and accomplices have no reason to embrace or kiss or mourn their own dead or ours.  We live in endless complicity with shameful times that have become scars and ashes in our memory. …
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
For Eugenio Montejo
Serene, Salinas, grows the air and decks itself in beauty and unaccustomed light when consummate music sounds steered by your knowing hand.      Tr. Michael Smith     …
Translated from Spanish
Multilingual
I Wish I Had a Master
               for S.F. I wish I had a master to teach me how to live, to eat with knife and fork as well as to write poems he’d tell me how the…
Translated from Polish
Double Fishing
  Trout Fishing in America writes to Barbel Fishing in Algeria Arlington, Virginia November 14, 1989 [ . . . ] I could go on to tell you all about the trip that came next, dear BFA, and you wouldn’t…
Translated from French
from “A Garden in the North”
Dr. Heidegger, the adjunct lecturer, lived in a rented room on a back courtyard off the Friedrichstrasse, above a brothel, and one can say that he kept an open house. At the age of seventeen, with a high-school…
Translated from German
Marcel Proust’s Last Three Days
November 16, 1922 Marcel listened to his neighbor’s grandfather clock striking the end of one more November day. Celeste had assured him that it was impossible to hear any clock in his room, but…
Translated from Portuguese
On Tao Qian
Tao Qian on Tao Qian: He likes to read and is satisfied with the most simple of explanations. When he understands what something means, he is so happy he forgets to eat. Su Dongpo on Tao Qian: He writes…
Translated from Dutch
Multilingual
Alterity
The rules are clear: no place to mill about. There’s no such thing as comfort for unhappy men. He leaves the tall house and passes through the eye of the blizzard, insignias unpinned, his neck exposed…
Translated from Polish
Multilingual
only i am
it'll happen via levels and verticals, you won't even notice before a cluster of tongues has ground you, smelt from your body a thimble for death. you have no chance without me. only i am cruelty-free:…
Translated from Polish
Timon vs. Newton
By Christopher Kontonikolis
Timon and Newton were arguing about fruit. Netwon said: “I prefer the apple since I discovered gravity while peacefully dozing under the shade of an apple tree.” Timon shot back with stinging…
Translated from Ancient Greek by Andrew Barrett
Multilingual
Adjectival Poem
Amazing spring, warm, humid and full of backlit trees in various colors, even if it’s still unclear which ones, except for the rhododendron, which one way or another stays in shape, though it’s…
Translated from Polish
Multilingual
Du Fu
Du Fu says of himself that he was a child prodigy, that he was writing poetry when he was seven or eight years old. When he’s over forty, he will be a great poet. What he can think about, he can…
Translated from Dutch
Multilingual
The Other Letter
On a cool spring morning in 1995, in the mess hall of the Bihać base of UNPROFOR, Lazar Saveljić, nicknamed “Lazo,” got into an argument with Lieutenant Leon Fields. This thirty-year-old…
Translated from Croatian
Multilingual
Bugging
And of course the birds go on chirping, and how! Even if they’re not chirping. Bah, wires can chirp almost as well, so it’s easy to confuse them. It’s altogether loud and sensuous, almost…
Translated from Polish
Multilingual
Su Dongpo and the Trick he says he Learned from Tao Qian
The simplest way to find tranquility: keep starting over in a different way. He knows nothing about those who find tranquility, free from what surrounds them; he’s never met anyone like that. Let’s…
Translated from Dutch
Multilingual
Utensils Shrink
children grow, no doubt happily verbs swell before your eyes or burst their seams, everything does something to be happy inevitably. In Studio “Bernardi,” Łódź, 17 Piotr-…
Translated from Polish
Multilingual
Timoniad
Sing, Muse, of that misanthrope, who was homeless and forever wandering, since he had yet to chop down his fig tree. In the city he ignored the many routine evils of most men as he strove to keep alive,…
Translated from Ancient Greek
Multilingual
Old-Fashioned
By Edward Pasewicz
And then she died on us, utterly. The leg dead, the foot rough. The bend of the knee glows with emptiness. And the belly’s warmth turns to ash, a black sachet filled with down. Even the cigarette,…
Translated from Polish by Benjamin Paloff
Multilingual
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