The International Literary Quarterly

November 2009


Ilya Bernstein
Françoise Brodsky
Joanne Rocky Delaplaine
Jorge Edwards
Tsvetanka Elenkova
Maria Filippakopoulou
Geoffrey Hartman
John Haynes
Rebecca Jany
David Kinloch
Ruth Padel
Peter Robertson
John Schad
Chris Serio
David Trinidad
Lidia Vianu
Stephen Wilson

Volta: A Multilingual Anthology
(One poem: 92 languages)

Issue 9 Guest Artist:
Jean Macalpine

Founding Editor: Peter Robertson
Art Editor: Calum Colvin

Consulting Editors
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 Boulossa
Rachel Bowlby
Svetlana Boym
Peter Brooks
Marina Brownlee
Roberto Brodsky
Carmen Bugan
Stanley Cavell
Hollis Clayson
Sarah Churchwell
Kristina Cordero
Drucilla Cornell
Jill Dawson
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
Molly Haskell
Beatriz Hausner
Valerie Henitiuk
Kathryn Hughes
Aamer Hussein
Djelal Kadir
John Kelly
Martin Kern
Mimi Khalvati
Joseph Koerner
Annette Kolodny
Julia Kristeva
George Landow
Chang-Rae Lee
Mabel Lee
Linda Leith
Suzanne Jill Levine
Margot Livesey
Julia Lovell
Alberto Manguel
Marina Mayoral
Ben Marcus
Paul Mariani
Richard McCabe
Campbell McGrath
Jamie McKendrick
Edie Meidav
Jack Miles
Susana Moore
Laura Mulvey
Azar Nafisi
Martha Nussbaum
Sari Nusseibeh
Tim Parks
Clare Pettitt
Caryl Phillips
Robert Pinsky
Elena Poniatowska
Elizabeth Powers
Elizabeth Prettejohn
Martin Puchner
Kate Pullinger
Paula Rabinowitz
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan
James Richardson
François Rigolot
Ritchie Robertson
Avital Ronell
Carla Sassi
Michael Scammell
Celeste Schenck
Sudeep Sen
Hadaa Sendoo
Miranda Seymour
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

Associate Editor: Jeff Barry
Associate Editor: Neil Langdon Inglis
Assistant Editor: Ana de Biase
Assistant Editor: Sophie Lewis
Art Consultant: Angie Roytgolz

Click to enlarge picture Click to enlarge picture. Five Poems by Ilya Bernstein  


Downstream from all this spilled blood
Will they find new ways to love the past?
Will they conclude just as we conclude
That the past is worth a backward glance
When it overflows like a bleeding wound?

Downstream from this fine-grained dust
That flies in our faces and in our eyes
Will they recall as we recall
All that fire has refused to burn?
Will they find new ways to love the past?

I walk down a street that has roots
Where a man anticipates love
And the events that unfold in pedestrian time
Are rooted in rituals of a slower kind
As surely as truth is rooted in truth.

Downstream from these day-old winds
Will they tell themselves, as we tell ourselves,
That the air in their lungs
Is no deeper than the air in anyone’s lungs?
And with time-honored beliefs, will they honor time?

Downstream from all this,
Will they ask themselves, as we ask ourselves,
What their ancient liberties were, what their future ones will be?
Will they find new ways to love the past?
Will they find new ways to love the past?


What’s Left

What’s left of the wind of a hundred years ago
Blows in fits and starts
Caught by fortunate ones who turn a corner
To find an old wind blowing in their faces
For a moment. Why it happens to blow
Down my street right now
Neither I nor anyone else would know.
The wind of a hundred years ago leaves thousand-year traces.
And the fingers that made the world out of clay,
Not even they —
Not even they could probably unravel all the gusts and blasts
That bring the wind back to its old places.


Sweet Grapes

Precise words are precious things,
Sweet grapes are a good life.
A man is subject to many different thirsts
Not the least of which is the thirst for love
But foremost among them is the thirst for memory.
So close your eyes and go to sleep
And dream about enduring things
And things that linger mysteriously in the world
Like propagating waves in deep water.
Precise words are precious things,
Sweet grapes are a good life.


I Saw My Lady Weep

I thought I saw my lady weep
Glistering tears. I thought I saw her weep
For the bitterness of our lives. For we labor in mystery
And we labor in bitterness. We command
Artificial things to become natural things
But memory refuses to take them and nature rejects them.
Fields are deserted and wasted, dwellings are abandoned, churches are in ruins —
The sword remains the first memory we have of existence
And the blowing of the wind over an open stretch of water.
I saw my lady weep glistering tears
For we labor under the yoke of undiscoverable laws
And there is weariness in the face of chaos.



As our footsteps slant, so shall the soles of our shoes
And whatever freedom we have known
In the act of planting a foot —
Whatever freedom has been ours —
Will be taken away from us by and by,
Will be taken away one fine day
When the shoe leather that our footsteps
Have set aslant by wearing it down
Shall itself set our footsteps aslant

On these pavements of solid ground.