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February 2005

Love, Literally


Yes, we know a love issue in February is a bit trite--still, our featured writers are anything but. In Hafid Bouazza's "Paravion" and Najem Wali's "Edward and the First Geography Lesson," erotic love is twinned with an even stronger obsession with travel and escape. Love is soaked in memory in Luminita Mihai Cioaba's soulful Gypsy peregrinations in "The Lost Country," Franziska Gerstenberg's Russian-romanced "Borschtsch," and Alawiyya Subuh's bottomless Lebanese well of emotion in "Maryam of the Stories." There is the weird fetishism and sly humor of Fatima Yousef Al-Ali's "A Man's Staff" and Calvino-esque fabulism of the spirals of Alberto Ruy-Sánchez's "Secret Gardens of Mogador." Our new poetry editor, Ilya Kaminsky, has shared with us some of his own passions: the great Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva; David Young and Jiann I. Lin's new translations of Tang master Du Mu on the agony of lost love; and Chilean Oscar Hahn's elegy for the end of summer and other old flames.


Listen. What sounds like a call for silence-shhh!-is really the sound of the wind in the trees, a rumor whispered through the leaves by many tongues. And could that chirping of invisible

Edward and the First Geography Lesson

I still remember him like it was yesterday: a small man, elegant in his own special way, entirely different from traditional men's elegance, such as is found in a suit and tie. He used to

from The Lost Country

The Gypsy Princess and the Nightingale The truth is that, in the days of yore, the Gypsies had a country. Now they keep searching for it in vain, the wheels of their wagons wearing ruts in


Laura and Alexander met at the billiards bar where Laura is a waitress. Laura spots Alexander the minute he walks in, she still believes in love at first sight. Alexander doesn't say a

from Maryam of the Stories

The whole city gave up on sleep that night. Explosions sealed up ears and filled the city sky, turning the anticipated weekend into a nightmare. Then Monday came and the shelling calmed, so

A Man’s Staff

I don't know why I was upset when my husband reached for the stick, grasping it and starting to twist it around. I gave him a warning look, but Ahmad is extremely proficient at avoiding

from The Secret Gardens of Mogador: Voices of the Earth

In The Secret Gardens of Mogador: Voices of the Earth, Alberto Ruy-Sánchez transports his readers once again to Mogador, ancient name for the Arabic city of Essaouira on the Atlantic

“To kiss a forehead is to erase worry.”

To kiss a forehead is to erase worry. I kiss your forehead. To kiss the eyes is to lift sleeplessness. I kiss your eyes. To kiss the lips is to drink water. I kiss your lips. To kiss a

Poems for Parting

1 So slender and so graceful not much more than thirteen the tip of a cardamom branch in spring just about to bud ten miles down the Yangzhou road and the spring winds were blowing

August Song

My love many things could have happened in August but will not happen many fireflies could have shone in your eyes but will not shine and the month of August will be


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