Kei Lim

Jamali Kamali Airborne in History


Image of plaster ceiling with red and blue sunbursts and floral forms

This story about how history and imagination infect one another unwittingly began a week after I arrived in Delhi for a month-long writing residency. The Sanskriti residents were told that we would have a chance to visit the newly restored Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb. It was about to open to the public. O.P. Jain, the founder of Sanskriti, was a major supporter of the restoration, thus this outing.

Our bus arrived at an overgrown park entrance where we traipsed alongside a river full of plastic garbage, climbed through hills of brush, stumbled over unrestored ruins, and finally arrived on top of a hill, a plateau, where the Jamali Kamali Mosque and Tomb stood. At its entrance, a brand-new sign informed visitors that the tomb held the remains of Jamali, a sixteenth-century Sufi court poet and saint, and a person named Kamali whose identity was unknown. The conservator of the restoration would guide us at the site. 

When we entered the small space of the tomb, I was stunned by its beauty. Two white marble graves sat side by side on the floor. The red and blue circular ceiling was decorated with sunbursts and floral forms carved in plaster. A band of Jamali’s verses encircled the ceiling. The conservator spoke, “Some have thought Kamali was Jamali’s wife or perhaps his brother. Others have thought that Kamali was a disciple of Jamali, the saint. The undisputable fact is that both were men. A symbolic pen box, traditionally a sign of a male, is carved on each of their tombs. It is believed, through our oral tradition in Delhi, that Kamali was Jamali’s homosexual lover.” 

“But,” I said, “the new sign out there that you just put up says his identity was unknown.” 

The conservator explained that in India a public sign would never mention homosexuality.

Jamali Kamali Airborne in History

Two Poems from The Spring of Plagues


Translated from the Portuguese by HEATH WING


Translator’s Note:

Translating the poetry of Ana Carolina Assis can best be described as an ebb-and-flow process. By this I mean that her poetry seems to possess its own current, with waters that rise and recede from one line to the next. Tapping into this current is precisely what proved key to translating Ana’s poetry. Like many contemporary Brazilian poets, Ana largely favors the omission of punctuation, often creating ambiguity in how a line or stanza should flow. She also does not capitalize proper nouns. In English, I maintain the lack of capitalization, including

Two Poems from The Spring of Plagues

Excerpt from Tell Me How It Ends


This piece is excerpted from Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli, a guest at Amherst College’s 2023 LitFest. Register for this exciting celebration of Amherst’s literary life.

Valeria Luiselli's headshot: brown woman in a blue jacket against a metal grate.

“Why did you come to the United States?” That’s the first question on the intake questionnaire for unaccompanied child migrants. The questionnaire is used in the federal immigration court in New York City where  I started working as a volunteer interpreter in 2015. My task there is a simple one: I interview children, following  the intake questionnaire, and then translate their stories  from Spanish to English. 

But nothing is ever that simple. I hear words, spoken in the mouths of children, threaded in complex narratives. They are delivered with hesitance, sometimes  distrust, always with fear. I have to transform them into  written words, succinct sentences, and barren terms.  The children’s stories are always shuffled, stuttered,  always shattered beyond the repair of a narrative order.  The problem with trying to tell their story is that it has  no beginning, no middle, and no end. 

Excerpt from Tell Me How It Ends

Excerpt from Cheap Land Colorado


This piece is excerpted from Cheap Land Colorado: Off-Gridders at America’s Edge by Ted Conover, a guest at Amherst College’s 2023 LitFest. Register for this exciting celebration of Amherst’s literary life.

 Ted Conover's headshot: white man in red and black plaid flannel against a dark background Book cover of Cheap Land Colorado


It begins with a moment of contact—of driving up to a homestead and trying to introduce yourself.

The prospect is daunting: a lot of people live out here because they do not want to run into other people. They like the solitude. And it is daunting because many of them indicate this preference by closing their driveway with a gate, or by chaining a dog next to their front door, or by posting a sign with a rifle-scope motif that says, “if you can read this you’re within range!”

The local expert on cold-calling is Matt Little, charged by the social service group La Puente with “rural outreach.” Matt has let me ride around in his pickup with him so that I can see him in action. Distances between households on the open Colorado prairie are great, which gives him time to explain his approach, which he has thought about a lot, as he does this every day and in three months has not gotten shot.

Excerpt from Cheap Land Colorado



Image of Rosalind Hobley's Swimmer Cyanotype Print

Swimmer Cyanotype Print by Rosalind Hobley.


A man swims to the left of Julia, and a woman to the right. They are blurs of misted goggles, the glint of a silver, latex cap. They flip like sleek fish at the pool’s wall.

Julia is sure they are having an affair. The two showed up at the same time, splitting the three-lane pool with Julia, who had gotten used to swimming alone. At first, she resented the wake of their bodies in the water—that reminder of competitive sport. She watched as they left the pool, noticing the nod, a touch as they crossed paths at the changing room doors.           

Julia is a night swimmer. She likes the pool’s cool indoor lights and the way the black winter sky beyond the glass windows feels framed and distant. The goggles distort her peripheral vision—creating a blue shadow that she imagines as one of the sea creatures she and James used to visit at the aquarium when they first met.

If James were at home, she would tell him about the swimmers, but he is in New Zealand, studying the impact of climate change on a fur seal colony.

Under water, Julia feels the shudder of the commuter train as it passes.

Compression, airway, breath.

Be the stranger who will save your life—


January 2023 Poetry Feature: New Poems by TC Contributors



Table of Contents:

          Julia Kolchinsky Dasbach
                        —Amygdala Means Almond

            Bryce Berkowitz
                        —The Writers’ Bench in Gapped Couplets

            Deborah Gorlin
                        —The Trouble with Rivers

            Matthew Carey Salyer
                        —The Devil, His Own Self
                        —The Penguin Classics

January 2023 Poetry Feature: New Poems by TC Contributors

Effluent of the Affluent


Sewer Bed Beach, Nantucket, MA


We are losing this place twice over: first to money, and then to sea. There are ways to quantify these losses: only 3,200 bushels of scallops were caught this past winter and more than $2 billion in real estate transactions were recorded last year. My parents aren’t sure where they should be buried; all the graveyards in all the towns we have ever lived will one day be inundated. I imagine horseshoe crabs trolling along the bottom, pausing to read the names etched on headstones.

All over the island, it looms: this is the end of something. I walk along the dune-tops, what’s left of them, at the very end of South Shore Road. Over one shoulder is the Atlantic; endless. Over the other are the sewer beds. A sandy strip separates the two. Second homes are not the only creatures perched precariously on eroding shorelines. Our wastewater treatment facility hangs in the balance.

Effluent of the Affluent

Translation: The Wangs’ Other Child


Translated from the Spanish by NINA PERROTTA

Story appears in both English and Spanish


Translator’s Note

One of the first things that struck me about this short story by Mario Martz—and one that I kept in mind as I translated—was the question implicit in the title. Who is the Wangs’ other child?

It seems fairly obvious that the main child, the one who stands in opposition to the titular “other child,” is Mei, the Wangs’ twenty-something daughter, who disappeared while visiting Central America. Mei’s likely murder is what sets the story in motion, prompting the Wangs to move halfway across the world to a country that’s entirely foreign to them.

Translation: The Wangs’ Other Child