All posts tagged: poetry

January 2020 Poetry Feature

Poems by JOHN FREEMAN, MARCUS SCOTT WILLIAMS, MEGAN PINTO, and REILLY COX.

New work by our contributors:

John Freeman  |  Translation in Paris

marcus scott williams  |  meadow on Wabash

Megan Pinto  |  The Blind

Reilly Cox  |  Silence of the Lambs: A Matter of Height

 

TRANSLATION IN PARIS
By John Freeman

There are no editors in the café
called Les Éditeurs. There’s not
a single novelist in the Saint-
Germain store gilded by novels.
There are no beasts of the chase
paddocked in the park, but that’s what
the West Germanic word—parrukmeant.
It took the overrunning of London
by its immigrant population in 1680
to turn the word into the spot we’d
park humans, so they could stumble
around in bewilderment at how time
is translation, change is nature’s rime.

January 2020 Poetry Feature
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Marie-Andrée Gill: Poems in Translation from SPAWN

Poetry by MARIE-ANDRÉE GILL
Translated from the French by KRISTEN RENEE MILLER

Poems appear in both French and English.

Translator’s Note

to lick the skin of the water / with a tongue I don’t speak

Marie-Andrée Gill’s Spawn is a surprising, colorful, virtuosic collection. Its brief, untitled poems span ’90s-kid nostalgia, the life cycle of fresh-water salmon, a coming of age, and the natural landscape of the Mashteuiatsh reserve, centered on Lake Piekuakami—a site of recreation and commerce, a reminder of conquest and ecological decline, a symbol of the ancient world, of sex, of the cycles of life. These poems are tightly interdependent, and Spawn could truly be read as a single, braided, book-length poem. But I want to focus here on a theme that became especially vital to my project of understanding and translating the book: recovery of language.

Marie-Andrée Gill: Poems in Translation from SPAWN
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Saudade

By DIPIKA MUKHERJEE

Itaparica, Brazil
Itaparica, Brazil

The voluptuousness of misery

—Machado de Assis

In Itaparica, the beach broods
under ruddy sky. Two fishermen
and I search waves spitting
shells: ribbed green, a crown
for a queen; a conch; an obelisk;
a whorled shell; a thin swell
pink modica of a disc.

Saudade
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December 2019 Poetry Feature: New Poems for the Holiday Season

New poetry by ADAM SCHEFFLER and MEGAN PINTO

 

Table of Contents:

Adam Scheffler, “Checkout”

Megan Pinto, “Faith”

 

CHECKOUT

A poem can’t tell you what it’s like
to be 83 and seven hours deep
into a Christmas Eve shift
at Walmart, cajoling
beeps from objects like the secret
name each of us will never
be sweetly called, can’t show
you her face and eyes like the
night sky, or the white-haired
man wearing reindeer horns,
mumbling into his collar’s
static-y radio-gadget; a poem
can only mention her eyes,
shocking blue, like desert
pools, the red & white of her
Santa hat, or take note of the
little carts carrying each beached
customer to the doom of their
product; but a poem can place
this curse upon the Waltons:
that they be given her job
manning the conveyer as it
rattles its barren Torah through
miles of product, or be given a list
of every item they sell, and be
made to wander like Israelites
back and forth through their
endless stores until they find them,
until their heads and toes grow
lighter, and Christmas music
lifts and carries them & lifts
and carries them, like each
one is a burst suitcase of
money blizzarding open.

December 2019 Poetry Feature: New Poems for the Holiday Season
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Immigrants in Years 2070, 2081, and 2097 Must Furnish the Following Documents

Two poems by FISTON MWANZA MUJILA

Translated from the French by J. BRET MANEY

 

Translator’s Note

As xenophobic arguments about merit-based immigration and “migrant caravans” intensify in the US, and as desperate boatloads of refugees cross the Mediterranean, poetry of (im)migration and border-crossing plays a crucial role in bearing witness and resistance.

Immigrants in Years 2070, 2081, and 2097 Must Furnish the Following Documents
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November 2019 Poetry Feature: Ron Welburn

Poems by RON WELBURN

Please welcome back The Common contributor Ron Welburn.

Contents:

  • Marginal Note for Historical Revision
  • Pretty Memory
  • Analog to Ancestry

 

MARGINAL NOTE FOR HISTORICAL REVISION

“Neither Huguenot nor Timucuan gained much
from the other. The Huguenots tried to convert
the Timucuan to Protestantism. The Timucuans
taught the Huguenots to smoke tobacco.”

(Charles Hudson, The Southeastern Indians, 1976. p. 429)

November 2019 Poetry Feature: Ron Welburn
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LDR

By BERNARD FERGUSON

the great ramble of the roads toward the airport, the flight
up & down the flight of stairs inside the house in which
i work now, inside the city & its parks that sprawl long & point
toward the river, which points toward an ocean, the soft hush of the air
conditioning unit above my bed, the drop of rain against my window

LDR
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Pilgrimage to A Killing

By R. ZAMORA LINMARK

Dear friend, take me to where they dragged you.
Show me the plaza flanked by homes made
of hollow blocks, plywood, rusty tin sheets—
anything to keep rain and flies out.
Point to me the CCTV that followed you
across the basketball court with its torn nets
and kids scrambling home to screaming mothers.

Pilgrimage to A Killing
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Labor Day: Brighton Beach

By NATHAN MCCLAIN

How lovely, at last, to have nothing to do but sit, shirtless, in my collapsible chair, reading Gerald Stern’s American Sonnets, and lovely to sit, beer in my lap, just a little tipsy, lovely, too, to ignore beauty, or desire, or whatever, the young woman unfolding her nylon tent, smacking each stake into the sand with her sandal’s heel, slipping discreetly into her swim suit, though I could watch the plane zip past, tugging a banner for Wicked, which there was still time to see if you wanted, or the sailboat glide slowly by, and it was a good day for sailing, a good day, so I didn’t have to think about sorrow or loss, though, let’s face it, I did, how not to—the old man missing a left leg—not how it happened, or when—but if it gets easier, you know, living with it, crutch snug under each armpit, and Jill had been gone a long time to warm her goat curry, then further out, a jet ski, like a straight razor, slits the water’s surface, Carmen already asleep under a sun hat.

Labor Day: Brighton Beach
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