The International Literary Quarterly
Contributors

Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Donald Adamson
Diran Adebayo
Nausheen Ahmad
Toheed Ahmad
Amanda Aizpuriete
Baba Akote
Elisa Albo
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Rosetta Allan
María Teresa Andruetto
Innokenty Annensky
Claudia Apablaza
Robert Appelbaum
Michael Arditti
Jenny Argante
Sandra Arnold
C.J.K. Arkell
Agnar Artúvertin
Sarah Arvio
Rosemary Ashton
Mammed Aslan
Coral Atkinson
Rose Ausländer
Shushan Avagyan
Razif Bahari
Elizabeth Baines
Jo Baker
Ismail Bala
Evgeny Baratynsky
Saule Abdrakhman-kyzy Batay
Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov
William Bedford
Gillian Beer
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Ilya Bernstein
Mashey Bernstein
Christopher Betts
Sujata Bhatt
Sven Birkerts
Linda Black
Chana Bloch
Amy Bloom
Mary Blum Devor
Michael Blumenthal
Jean Boase-Beier
Jorge Luis Borges
Alison Brackenbury
Julia Brannigan
Theo Breuer
Iain Britton
Françoise Brodsky
Amy Brown
Bernard Brown
Diane Brown
Gay Buckingham
Carmen Bugan
Stephen Burt
Zarah Butcher McGunnigle
James Byrne
Kevin Cadwallander
Howard Camner
Mary Caponegro
Marisa Cappetta
Helena Cardoso
Adrian Castro
Luis Cernuda
Firat Cewerî
Pierre Chappuis
Neil Charleton
Janet Charman
Sampurna Chattarji
Amit Chaudhuri
Mèlissa Chiasson
Ronald Christ
Alex Cigale
Sally Cline
Marcelo Cohen
Lila Cona
Eugenio Conchez
Andrew Cowan
Mary Creswell
Christine Crow
Pedro Xavier Solís Cuadra
Majella Cullinane
P. Scott Cunningham
Emma Currie
Jeni Curtis
Stephen Cushman
David Dabydeen
Susan Daitch
Rubén Dario
Jean de la Fontaine
Denys Johnson Davies
Lydia Davis
Robert Davreu
David Dawnay
Jill Dawson
Rosalía de Castro
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Patricia Delmar
Christine De Luca
Tumusiime Kabwende Deo
Paul Scott Derrick
Josephine Dickinson
Belinda Diepenheim
Jenny Diski
Rita Dove
Arkadii Dragomoschenko
Paulette Dubé
Denise Duhamel
Jonathan Dunne
S. B. Easwaran
Jorge Edwards
David Eggleton
Mohamed El-Bisatie
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Johanna Emeney
Osama Esber
Fiona Farrell
Ernest Farrés
Elaine Feinstein
Gigi Fenster
Micah Timona Ferris
Vasil Filipov
Maria Filippakopoulou
Ruth Fogelman
Peter France
Alexandra Fraser
Bashabi Fraser
Janis Freegard
Robin Fry
Alice Fulton
Ulrich Gabriel
Manana Gelashvili
Laurice Gilbert
Paul Giles
Zulfikar Ghose
Corey Ginsberg
Chrissie Gittins
Sarah Glazer
Michael Glover
George Gömöri
Giles Goodland
Martin Goodman
Roberta Gordenstein
Mina Gorji
Maria Grech Ganado
David Gregory
Philip Gross
Carla Guelfenbein
Daniel Gunn
Charles Hadfield
Haidar Haidar
Ruth Halkon
Tomás Harris
Geoffrey Hartman
Siobhan Harvey
Beatriz Hausner
John Haynes
Jennifer Hearn
Helen Heath
Geoffrey Heptonstall
Felisberto Hernández
W.N. Herbert
William Hershaw
Michael Hettich
Allen Hibbard
Hassan Hilmi
Rhisiart Hincks
Kerry Hines
Amanda Hopkinson
Adam Horovitz
David Howard
Sue Hubbard
Aamer Hussein
Fahmida Hussain
Alexander Hutchison
Sabine Huynh
Juan Kruz Igerabide Sarasola
Neil Langdon Inglis
Jouni Inkala
Ofonime Inyang
Kevin Ireland
Michael Ives
Philippe Jacottet
Robert Alan Jamieson
Rebecca Jany
Andrea Jeftanovic
Ana Jelnikar
Miroslav Jindra
Stephanie Johnson
Bret Anthony Johnston
Marion Jones
Tim Jones
Gabriel Josipovici
Pierre-Albert Jourdan
Sophie Judah
Tomoko Kanda
Maarja Kangro
Jana Kantorová-Báliková
Fawzi Karim
Kapka Kassabova
Susan Kelly-DeWitt
Mimi Khalvati
Daniil Kharms
Velimir Khlebnikov
Akhmad hoji Khorazmiy
David Kinloch
John Kinsella
Yudit Kiss
Tomislav Kuzmanović
Andrea Labinger
Charles Lambert
Christopher Lane
Jan Lauwereyns
Fernando Lavandeira
Graeme Lay
Ilias Layios
Hiên-Minh Lê
Mikhail Lermontov
Miriam Levine
Suzanne Jill Levine
Micaela Lewitt
Zhimin Li
Joanne Limburg
Birgit Linder
Pippa Little
Parvin Loloi
Christopher Louvet
Helen Lowe
Ana Lucic
Aonghas MacNeacail
Kona Macphee
Kate Mahony
Sara Maitland
Channah Magori
Vasyl Makhno
Marcelo Maturana Montañez
Stephanie Mayne
Ben Mazer
Harvey Molloy
Osip Mandelstam
Alberto Manguel
Olga Markelova
Laura Marney
Geraldine Maxwell
John McAuliffe
Peter McCarey
John McCullough
Richard McKane
John MacKinven
Cilla McQueen
Edie Meidav
Ernst Meister
Lina Meruane
Jesse Millner
Deborah Moggach
Mawatle J. Mojalefa
Jonathan Morley
César Moro
Helen Mort
Laura Moser
Andrew Motion
Paola Musa
Robin Myers
André Naffis-Sahely
Vivek Narayanan
Bob Natifu
María Negroni
Hernán Neira
Barbra Nightingale
Paschalis Nikolaou
James Norcliffe
Carol Novack
Annakuly Nurmammedov
Joyce Carol Oates
Sunday Enessi Ododo
Obododimma Oha
Michael O'Leary
Antonio Diaz Oliva
Wilson Orhiunu
Maris O'Rourke
Sue Orr
Wendy O'Shea-Meddour
María Claudia Otsubo
Ruth Padel
Ron Padgett
Thalia Pandiri
Judith Dell Panny
Hom Paribag
Lawrence Patchett
Ian Patterson
Georges Perros
Pascale Petit
Aleksandar Petrov
Mario Petrucci
Geoffrey Philp
Toni Piccini
Henning Pieterse
Robert Pinsky
Mark Pirie
David Plante
Nicolás Poblete
Sara Poisson
Clare Pollard
Mori Ponsowy
Wena Poon
Orest Popovych
Jem Poster
Begonya Pozo
Pauline Prior-Pitt
Eugenia Prado Bassi
Ian Probstein
Sheenagh Pugh
Kate Pullinger
Zosimo Quibilan, Jr
Vera V. Radojević
Margaret Ranger
Tessa Ransford
Shruti Rao
Irina Ratushinskaya
Tanyo Ravicz
Richard Reeve
Sue Reidy
Joan Retallack
Laura Richardson
Harry Ricketts
Ron Riddell
Cynthia Rimsky
Loreto Riveiro Alvarez
James Robertson
Peter Robertson
Gonzalo Rojas
Dilys Rose
Gabriel Rosenstock
Jack Ross
Anthony Rudolf
Basant Rungta
Joseph Ryan
Sean Rys
Jostein Sæbøe
André Naffis Sahely
Eurig Salisbury
Fiona Sampson
Polly Samson
Priya Sarukkai Chabria
Maree Scarlett
John Schad
Michael Schmidt
L.E. Scott
Maureen Seaton
Alexis Sellas
Hadaa Sendoo
Chris Serio
Resul Shabani
Bina Shah
Yasir Shah
Daniel Shapiro
Ruth Sharman
Tina Shaw
David Shields
Ana María Shua
Christine Simon
Iain Sinclair
Katri Skala
Carole Smith
Ian C. Smith
Elizabeth Smither
John Stauffer
Jim Stewart
Susan Stewart
Jesper Svenbro
Virgil Suárez
Lars-Håkan Svensson
Sridala Swami
Rebecca Swift
George Szirtes
Chee-Lay Tan
Tugrul Tanyol
José-Flore Tappy
Alejandro Tarrab
Campbell Taylor
John Taylor
Judith Taylor
Petar Tchouhov
Miguel Teruel
John Thieme
Karen Thornber
Tim Tomlinson
Angela Topping
David Trinidad
Kola Tubosun
Nick Vagnoni
Joost Vandecasteele
Jan van Mersbergen
Latika Vasil
Yassen Vassilev
Lawrence Venuti
Lidia Vianu
Dev Virahsawmy
Anthony Vivis
Richard Von Sturmer
Răzvan Voncu
Nasos Vayenas
Mauricio Wacquez
Julie Marie Wade
Alan Wall
Marina Warner
Mia Watkins
Peter Wells
Stanley Wells
Laura Watkinson
Joe Wiinikka-Lydon
Hayden Williams
Edwin Williamson
Ronald V. Wilson
Stephen Wilson
Alison Wong
Leslie Woodard
Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese
Niel Wright
Manolis Xexakis
Xu Xi
Gao Xingjian
Sonja Yelich
Tamar Yoseloff
Augustus Young
Soltobay Zaripbekov
Karen Zelas
Alan Ziegler
Ariel Zinder

 

President, Publisher & Founding Editor:
Peter Robertson
Vice-President: Glenna Luschei
Vice-President: Sari Nusseibeh
Vice-President: Elena Poniatowska
U. S. General Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
London Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Geraldine Maxwell
New York Editor/Senior Editor-at-Large: Meena Alexander
Washington D.C. Editor/Senior
Editor-at-Large:
Laura Moser
Argentine Editor: Yamila Musa
Deputy Editor: Allen Hibbard
Deputy Editor: Jerónimo Mohar Volkow
Deputy Editor: Bina Shah
Advisory Consultant: Jill Dawson
General Editor: Beatriz Hausner
General Editor: Malvina Segui
Art Editor: Lara Alcantara-Lansberg
Art Editor: Calum Colvin
Deputy General Editor: Jeff Barry

Consulting Editors
Shanta Acharya
Marjorie Agosín
Daniel Albright
Meena Alexander
Maria Teresa Andruetto
Frank Ankersmit
Rosemary Ashton
Reza Aslan
Leonard Barkan
Michael Barry
Shadi Bartsch
Thomas Bartscherer
Susan Bassnett
Gillian Beer
David Bellos
Richard Berengarten
Charles Bernstein
Sujata Bhatt
Mario Biagioli
Jean Boase-Beier
Elleke Boehmer
Eavan Boland
Stephen Booth
Alain de Botton
Carmen Boullossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Jenni Calder
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Marcelo Cohen
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Junot Díaz
André Dombrowski
Denis Donoghue
Ariel Dorfman
Rita Dove
Denise Duhamel
Klaus Ebner
Robert Elsie
Stefano Evangelista
Orlando Figes
Tibor Fischer
Shelley Fisher Fishkin
Peter France
Nancy Fraser
Maureen Freely
Michael Fried
Marjorie Garber
Anne Garréta
Marilyn Gaull
Zulfikar Ghose
Paul Giles
Lydia Goehr
Vasco Graça Moura
A. C. Grayling
Stephen Greenblatt
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Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
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David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
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François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
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Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
Kapka Kassabova
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Lydia Liu
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Thomas Luschei
Willy Maley
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Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
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Edie Meidav
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Robert Pinsky
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James Richardson
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Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
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Celeste Schenck
Daniel Shapiro
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
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Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
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Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
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John Whittier Treat
David Treuer
David Trinidad
Marjorie Trusted
Lidia Vianu
Victor Vitanza
Marina Warner
David Wellbery
Edwin Williamson
Michael Wood
Theodore Zeldin

Assistant Editor: Sara Besserman
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Conor Bracken
Assistant Editor: Eugenio Conchez
Assistant Editor: Patricia Delmar
Assistant Editor: Lucila Gallino
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Assistant Editor: Krista Oehlke
Assistant Editor: Siska Rappé
Assistant Editor: Naomi Schub
Assistant Editor: Stephanie Smith
Assistant Editor: Emily Snyder
Assistant Editor: Robert Toperter
Assistant Editor: Laurence Webb
Art Consultant: Verónica Barbatano
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz


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The Power of Prose:
Burning Down The Tower
A story by Peter Robertson
 

 



It was, I recall, a morning like any other. As the alarm clock rang, I aimed to cheat time by burying my head even more deeply within his arms, but the minutesí inexorable rush would not be stemmed and, my desire defeated, I balanced myself precariously on the edge of the bed, and then stood up.

Beneath me, framed by a packet of Rothmans cigarettes and a dog-eared detective novel, Martin reclined, his fingers reaching out longingly for a recent presence. My gaze, that would not be deflected, fastened on his taut, prone flesh, adorned with a riot of black hairs that ran downwards from the small of his back.

With just twenty minutes left to shower, shave, and prepare a makeshift breakfast, I still could not bring myself to leave his side and, perching again somewhat perilously on the bed, I lingered to behold this man who had been my mainstay, almost from the moment I had arrived in the city, exchanging the snow-laden hills that girded the Scottish village for the all-too-familiar drip-drip-drip of the London rain.

Against the elements, we had holed ourselves up in a small terraced house that with others formed a dismal row to add to the endless rows, running to type in their drab uniformity, and that shut out the view of the park in a more salubrious neighborhood.

And then came the day, made possible through a friendís kind agency, and throwing my thoughts initially into disarray, that Martin floated the idea of our moving to the tower. There was much to be said against it, not only the monolithic eyesore itself, or our shared fear of heights, but also the incessant rattling of windows in the wind, the dreaded descent of the elevator as it plunged seemingly unchecked into some void, and the plausible best friend who might push one, and not so inadvertently, from the balcony.

But we were tired of our dismal abode, with its cramped quarters, damp patches, and infestations by mice and, given that we could secure the flat in the tower with just one monthís rent in advance and no need for a deposit, a boon as only a meager amount could be scraped together between my dead-end clerical job and Martinís scant income from private maths classes and hours of servitude in the local bar, we quelled our worst fears and decamped to the ether, our shattered bodies coiled up at night against the storm-driven deluge.

All too aware that my reverie was eating away at each precious second, I headed to the kitchen to place two eggs in the pan, willing them to boil before their time. No sooner out of the shower than in it, I recouped some time by not shaving-these days, stubble was all the rage, anyway. Taking a last look at the bed on which Martin lay, as if moribund, I did not have the heart to rouse him from his slumber to say goodbye, and closed the door behind me without a sound.

I was relieved not to encounter any of our more talkative neighbors, as the metallic tube, with each thud compounding my terror, shuddered down the twenty-one floors. But soon enough, any relief I had felt at leaving the tower was offset by the torrent of rain that lashed down from the sky, and that forced me, as I waited for the bus, to seek shelter under an archway.

On its arrival, I boarded the double-decker and, climbing the stairs, made my way to the back where, sitting down, I wiped the condensation from the window. As the lumbering juggernaut continued to thread its way through the narrow streets lined with pock-marked houses, I found myself wondering whether, in my haste, I might not have left the door of the flat ajar.

I aimed to still my worst fears by reminding myself how anxious I had felt of late, driven to distraction by my mundane job, with its long hours, repetitive tasks, and derisory pay. But my apprehension loomed large as I pictured the two eggs in the pot atop the flame that I may have neglected to extinguish, and that reached out menacingly towards the tea cloth too close for comfort on an adjacent kitchen surface.

Desperate to dispel my manic fancies, and with the sound of Martinís voice a phone call away, I fumbled in my jacket pocket but, for all my frantic searching, the device was nowhere to be found. In my panic, I wondered if it had fallen out or been stolen but, remembering that I had left it charging on the bedside table, I told myself that I was running too late to go home to retrieve it.

My thoughts turning to my job, I realized that I could not endure one more day of having to ingratiate myself with my boss, mouthing pleasantries that had by now worn threadbare and, before the bus had turned into the street where the office was located, I had alighted.

I made my way to a nearby square and, drying the filament of rain, sat on a bench. Beyond the merry-go-round and swings, a few boys hollered, playing with a football. One of them came up to me to ask for a cigarette and, telling him that I did not smoke, I extended a few coins for him to buy a loose one in a local store. Thanking me, he shuffled off to rejoin his friends.

I headed down the pathway that led to the canal, and in no time was face-to-face with a boarded-up shop that had once sold Ūtems for boats. To avoid being soaked by yet another downpour, I stood under an awning and watched the rain pummel the lichen-covered water.

A barge, tethered to its moorings, scarcely stirred, and such was the gloomy scene before me that I was revisited by images from a Charles Dickens novel I had read at school, where I had done well at English, and sufficiently so to have gone to University, but I had felt no desire to study further.

As for my work, I would phone the next day to explain that, faced with an unforeseen family problem, I would not be returning. In a day or two, I would look for another temporary position and aim to stick it out for a couple of weeks.

Martin would be surprised to find me home before him but, as always, he would give me his support, making me a consolatory dinner with the vegetables, rice, and curry powder to be found in our kitchen cupboard. We even had a cheap bottle of wine in the fridge that would, as we listened to chill-out music, set the seal on our sleep.

I made the most of a lull in the rain, retracing my steps to the bus stop, and a few minutes later I was homeward-bound.

Through the damp window, the life that was being played out in the streets below struck me as a horizon devoid of all color.

Getting off the bus at the crossroads a few blocks from my destination, I was bewildered by how stiflingly hot the afternoon had become, its parched air sticking in my throat. Turning the corner, I looked towards the tower, but was blinded by the dense curtain of smoke that clogged the air. I could not bring myself to dwell on the conflagration with Martin, who would never be replaced, no doubt reduced to ashes, and not to mention all the men, women and children, their arms flailing in despair at the concrete slabs as, poised on the knife edge of window sills, they were forced to make the infernal choice between incineration and hurling themselves into an abyss of empty space. And all because I had not had the presence of mind, on boiling two eggs, to put out the flame.

If brought to book, would I admit to such negligence, or abscond to a far-flung continent, seeking refuge in a false identity and, so that my cover would not be blown, learning to master an alien tongue without any trace of a foreign accent, but in the end, beleaguered in this outpost, only to be flushed out as I cower before the banging on the door?

Waking with a start, I see that it is not any such door, but a high wind shaking the window. I cough as Martin, heading towards the balcony, drags on a cigarette. Its stub by now in free fall, he returns and, dabbing the sweat from my forehead, clambers into bed. Sidling up beside him, I lay my head on his shoulder, and once again close my eyes.

"The Power of Prose"