The walls of the art gallery behind the rotunda are lined with large paintings of gods and goddesses that loom above the viewer, giving the sense that the mythological figures are larger than life. On its own wall—separate from its goddess-themed counterparts—is an 1817 oil painting by Jacques-Louis David. “Cupid and Psyche” is an arresting image that shows a teenage Cupid smirking at viewers—like he’s letting them in on a joke—as he tosses an arm over Psyche. Both of the painting’s subjects are fully naked. Psyche is asleep, so the viewer can only guess how she would feel if she were to realize how Cupid is showing off his “sexual conquest” by slinging his arm between her breasts.
But after the divorce, he moved back to Belleville. To his old neighborhood, the neighborhood of his youth.
His wife—now ex-wife—hated Belleville. It reminded her of the poor Polish girl she had been. All the years they were together, they lived in Boulogne-Billancourt.
He has a small apartment on the rue du Jourdain. It’s just a few steps from the tabac where he used to buy cigarettes for his father. And it’s practically around the corner from the primary school he attended, on the rue Olivier Métra.
“Night Drive” is from Departures from Rilke (Arrowsmith Press, 2023), poems that repurpose, update, or upend lyrics from Rainer Maria Rilke’s New Poems (1907/08), often leaving Rilke’s premises almost altogether.
Piece appears below in both English and the original Hindi.
There is an inherent quiet music and a brokenness in the story “Sindhu Library” excerpted from Geet Chaturvedi’s fiction Simsim. In its simple external reality, the story thinks with images and situations. There is a delicate textuality in the characterizations that take shape in a kind of leisureliness, be it the old man sitting among tattered books in his library or the balloon woman appearing at the start and end of the story, which is very poetic. I have translated the author’s pauses whenever I could, building a balance between language and sensation, between rhythm and vacuum.
Sometimes visiting a new neighborhood can change your life. While scouting locations for a fashion shoot, filmmaker Naomi Yang happened upon a boxing gym in East Boston. The modest second-generation family business, with its sparring ring and wall of framed black-and-white photographs depicting local boxers, seemed like a great backdrop. Unfortunately, the gym’s owner and head coach, Sal Bartolo, Jr., disagreed, citing aprevious photo shoot that had gone badly, with high heels destroying his mats. There would be no fashion shoots in his gym. Instead, he gave Yang his pitch to all visitors, telling her to come back for a free boxing lesson. In voiceover, Yang confides to us that she did not take the offer seriously and didn’t plan to return. And yet, a few weeks later, she did. Part of her was holding out hope that Bartolo would change his mind. But another part felt drawn to boxing, and Bartolo’s gym would soon become the center of her life. Yang’s documentary tells the story of how this chance meeting at a boxing gym brought her into a deeper understanding of herself, and of the ways bullying forces can leave their mark on places as well as people.