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
Lavinia Greenlaw
Lawrence Grossberg
Edith Grossman
Elizabeth Grosz
Boris Groys
David Harsent
Benjamin Harshav
Geoffrey Hartman
François Hartog
Molly Haskell
Selina Hastings
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
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
Alberto Manguel
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Marina Mayoral
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Toril Moi
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Martha Nussbaum
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Geoffrey Robertson
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Daniel Shapiro
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
Daniel Shapiro
Mimi Sheller
Elaine Showalter
Penelope Shuttle
Werner Sollors
Frances Spalding
Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak
Julian Stallabrass
Susan Stewart
Rebecca Stott
Mark Strand
Kathryn Sutherland
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

 

Photo Credit: Giovanni G. Gómez García
FEATURED INTERVIEW:
Daniel Shapiro interviewed by Manuel Martínez Novillo
 

 



Daniel Shapiro is author of the poetry collections The Red Handkerchief and Other Poems (2014), Woman at the Cusp of Twilight (2016), and Child with a Swan’s Wings (2018), all published by Dos Madres Press. He is also the translator of Tomás Harris’s poetry collection Cipango (Bucknell University Press, 2010; starred review in Library Journal); Roberto Ransom’s short-story collection Missing Persons, Animals, and Artists (Swan Isle Press, 2018); and Araceli Tinajero’s memoir Kokoro: A Mexican Woman in Japan (Escribana, 2018). He has received translation fellowships from PEN and the National Endowment for the Arts. Shapiro serves as Editor of Review: Literature and Arts of the Americas and as a Distinguished Lecturer in the Department of Classical and Modern Languages & Literatures at The City College of New York, CUNY. He is currently working on a novel, provisionally titled Strange Paradise, set in 1920s California. Shapiro’s poems and translations have appeared in Interlitq. Manuel Martínez Novillo, an author, graduate student at New York University, and contributor to Interlitq, conducted this interview at Shapiro’s CCNY office on April 17, 2019; in it they discussed his work as a poet, editor, and translator.

I want to start with a fairly personal question. How did literature enter your life?

My entry into literature was through poetry. I really started writing poetry when I was in college. As an undergraduate I was an English major at San Diego State University. I had some excellent instructors there. One of them was Glover Davis, with whom I took poetry workshops. Glover had been a student of the poet Philip Levine and was a very tough task-master. What he taught us, what he taught me, was to really focus on imagery. Concrete imagery: using images in a very specific, concrete way. And that’s something that I still do today. During that time, I had another instructor, Carolyn Forché, who introduced us to a lot of Latin American writers, to international literature. That was when I started to read Latin American poets like Pablo Neruda.

Then I did my M.F.A. at the University of Montana. I studied with the poet Richard Hugo, who’d been a student of Theodore Roethke. One of the many things that I learned from Hugo—something that should have been obvious to me—was that words are sounds. Words have texture; they aren’t just meaning. Later I moved back to New York, and took poetry workshops in various places, including The Writers’ Community; one was with Joan Larkin, who encouraged us to express ourselves with emotional honesty.

My next question is about your second book, Woman at the Cusp of Twilight, which is a collection of poems that deal with the history of your family. Why did you write the book? Was it an homage? Was it research?

It’s probably both, and hopefully something more, too, because I don’t want it to be just memories of my family. The material in the book has taken several forms in my writing over the last ten years—non-fiction, poetry, and fiction. But to begin at the beginning: When I was growing up, my grandparents had a print hanging in their living room called The Winged Aureole. It was an image of a young girl in a garden with doves flying around her. Very idealized, very naïve. I think it was an early twentieth-century image. I always confused that young girl with my mother, for some reason, I suppose because my mother always described her childhood as very idyllic. My mother’s family was always presented to me in a special way; there was something almost mythical about them. They had all Biblical names, for example: my grandmother was named Esther, my mother, Shulamith; her brother, Solomon, and her sister, Judith, just to name a few of them. There was this larger-than-life quality to them.

So I started reflecting on this view of them, idealized in certain ways, and I realized that there was a really dark side, too. Some, like my aunt Judy, had had very sad lives. And I wanted to explore all that material in its totality. So, I started out writing a series of vignettes about that, non-fiction, which turned out to be a good lead-up to other manuscripts using this material. Then a friend told me that the vignettes had too many characters in them, that they were too hard to follow, so I decided to write a series of poems, each focused on a particular photograph of a member of my maternal family, or on a family anecdote. That’s how that poetry collection began. Lately I’ve been exploring this material more in fiction, but that’s a whole other conversation.

There’s also something very interesting about the book, which is that as you tell these stories about your family, you also provide a portrait of U. S. history.

There is a historical context to many of the stories behind the poems. My family was Jewish. They fled pre-Soviet Russia in the late nineteenth century. My great-grandfather Max, for example, reportedly left to escape conscription, boarded a ship in Hamburg, and came to New York, like so many others. In one very emblematic story, which is recounted in one of the poems, he was meeting my great-grandmother, Elke, when she arrived at Ellis Island. She was carrying a baby, my great-uncle Abe, but more importantly to the story, she was wearing a sheitel, one of those orthodox wigs. Max suddenly pulled her wig off, threw it in the East River, and proclaimed: “We’re in America now!” I thought that that was revealing about who they were: Jewish but also American. There are also poems in the collection that touch on political and cultural figures such as FDR, Stalin, George Gershwin, and Isadora Duncan.

Some critics have made comparisons between Woman at the Cusp of Twilight and Edgar Lee Masters’ Spoon River Anthology. From a perspective of creative writing, I have a question related to that. Like Masters, you wrote a lot of poems that are spoken by other people, or characters. Was that hard to do?

Yes, Spoon River was definitely a model for this book. My motivation was to discover and recreate my characters’ world, using Masters’s classic as a guide. When I was younger, I used to like the concept of persona poems. In fact, they were very popular when I was in graduate school in Montana. I got into speaking through other voices in poems, which wasn’t that hard for me to do. That strategy seemed right for the poems in this collection, so I returned to it, to create a panoply of voices. I guess that I was trying to find a point of identification with each of my poetic speakers—my great-grandparents, my mother, aunts, and uncles—and also to create a collective portrait that spoke to larger themes.

When looking for material in those stories and photographs, at what point did you feel that you had found something valuable to work with?

As I said, I started reflecting on all these family photographs and all the colorful anecdotes I’d heard. As far as the latter, my grandmother and mother told me some of them; my father, too. I mentioned the one about my great-grandmother’s wig; another concerned my grandfather, William, who’d attempted to develop a black rose. There was also the story about my mother being bullied as a young girl. Her family was the only Jewish one on the block—there was only one black family there, too, by the way—in a neighborhood in Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, in the ’30s. In the story, she stands up to a group of kids who taunt her on the way to school, mocking her name, Shulamith, and shouting anti-Semitic epithets; it ends with her taking them on one by one and hurling them into a snowbank, then continuing to school. I invented some details but the basic story remained the same in the poem, which I titled “A Lesson.” The individuals in many of these stories must have felt a sense of pride, I think, and I also felt proud to acknowledge and imagine them through the poems, to claim them as my own.

Going back to what we discussed earlier, there are a lot of people in my family who don’t remember all these things and a lot of those family members have now died. My mother just passed away a couple of months ago, in fact. I thought when I was contemplating the various projects: all this is going to disappear; these people are going to disappear; I have to do something about it, but not just as an obligation. I felt inspired about the idea of keeping them alive through my words, and through theirs too, since I include quotes by them in the texts. They weren’t famous people, but as I thought and wrote about them, they became larger-than-life to me. I wanted to give them a way to live on.

You are the editor of Review, a magazine dedicated to literature and arts in Latin America and the Caribbean. The last issue of the magazine, for instance, focuses in Rubén Darío and Modernismo. How you see the work of an editor? Is your work as an editor related to your creative work?

I started working many years ago on Review, which at that time was published by the Americas Society (it’s now published by Routledge in association with The City College of New York). My background was in writing and American literature and some Latin American literature too. When I got the job on Review, I was suddenly engaging with amazing people. Alfred Mac Adam, the renowned translator and critic, was the editor of the magazine at that time. I learned a lot from both him and his wife, Barbara Mac Adam, our copy editor; and from Lori Marie Carlson the managing editor in those years. They were incredible mentors, and there was also a plethora of others I had exposure to—translators Gregory Rabassa, Edith Grossman, and Suzanne Jill Levine, to name a few; and writers including Carlos Fuentes, Octavio Paz, Elena Poniatowska, and Mario Vargas Llosa, as well as countless other iconic and younger authors, as well numerous scholars in the field. I was fairly young when I started working on Review and absorbed as much as I could from all those I was privileged to work with in various capacities. I started as an assistant and gradually worked my way up to managing editor and then editor, a role I continue in to this day. It was and is a seminal publication—a comprehensive source for scholars and students of Latin American and Caribbean literature; the latest issue focuses on Darío and Modernismo, as you mentioned; subsequent issues will focus on contemporary Chilean writing, the Arab presence in Latin American literature, and on highlights from Review through the years.

I see editing and writing as interconnected. Both nourish each other. As an editor you basically do everything: you conceptualize, you write, you translate, and you edit, of course. You have to oversee all the various functions, and you have to organize the material presented, which is one of the biggest challenges. All of these are skills that are necessary as a writer too. I think that my writing skills have improved through editing. Editing teaches you to put things together, to decide where to place individual texts and groupings of texts; you need a sense of organization on various levels. In writing, you have to organize and make those kinds of decisions, too. In poetry, for instance, you have to think about word-order, organize stanzas, and employ effective transitions. In fiction, you have to coordinate diverse elements—point of view, character, plot, etc.—and develop them from beginning to end. These are all skills that feed each other.

You also translate Latin American literature, both for book publication and for the magazine. And you have a long relationship to Latin American literature. As a Latin American myself I would like to know what you’ve found interesting about Latin American writers.

My translation work grew out of my experiences as a writer and editor, particularly on Review magazine. My main translation projects have been the poetry collection Cipango, by Chilean writer Tomás Harris; the short-story collection Missing Persons, Animals, and Artists, by Mexican author Roberto Ransom; and a memoir titled Kokoro, by my colleague Araceli Tinajero, here at CCNY. And, yes, I translate occasional texts for Review, though many are assigned to other translators.

I’m about to teach a course on translation next semester here at CCNY, the first time that I’ll teach translation, in fact. So, I’ve been thinking a lot about the subject. In a book I’ve been reading by the translators Elizabeth Lowe and Earl Fitz, they discuss the first reception of Latin American writers in the United States in the 1960s. It was a period, according to the authors, when there was a kind of flatness in American (that is, U.S.) literature, at least in some respects. And suddenly the Latin American Boom came to the fore and caught the reading public’s attention. All these Boom and other writers started to appear in translation at that time: In fiction, Borges, Cortázar, García Márquez, and so many more; poets like Neruda and Vallejo, not to mention writers from Spain like García Lorca.

All that reflects my own first experiences reading Latin American literature. There were exciting U.S. poets at the time—Robert Lowell, Sylvia Plath, John Berryman, Theodore Roethke. But Latin American poetry (as well as fiction) offered something else. It may sound like a cliché, but it was really exotic to me and to a lot of other readers, too. It gave me something that I didn’t have, something that I didn’t glean from any other writing. Neruda, for instance, is a whole universe in and unto himself. He’s probably the poet who’s influenced me the most. My experience reading Latin American literature, along with my work as a writer and editor, naturally led me to venture into translation myself.

Last question. You mentioned that you are going to teach a course on translation. Can you provide some further thoughts on the matter?

There’s a lot that’s been written on translation and while I don’t consider myself an authority on the subject, I’ve had some practical experience translating books, as mentioned, so I can approach it from that angle. Very broadly speaking, for people who don’t speak more than one language, translation is a window to other peoples and cultures, not to mention to a wealth of literature from numerous other traditions outside the English language. Translation provides a great service: it helps bring people and cultures together and helps us understand each other better. What could be more important, especially at this time? Translation is the bridge that makes that possible. Let alone the role it plays teaching about language on every level—the language being translated from as well as one’s own native tongue. I hope to convey all that and more to my students next fall.



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