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. Two Poems and a Psalm by Geoffrey Hartman  


Passing By

I saw them take a man from the cross.
Very sturdy, with even the rot solid
they had to wrench, torture, and ply
a thorn-torn flesh from the sky’s board.
Some workers below, shouldering blindly,
were shouting to take it the hell easy
with such a dead weight. The careful shroud

Inserted between back and bloody beam
clutched the descendings of a body
that angled about neck, waist, and knees
macabrely, yet masked the thighs.
No one complained, murmured, or wept:
those dismantling the gibbet, younger men,
were business-like, or strangely hurried;

Other faces, in ambush, could not make room,
already etched by grief and elder gloom;
and of two women, standing well back,
only their eyes glowering in the dusk
spoke, like waters, as they followed him
into the sun’s terse halo, to
a pit of light deeper than understanding.

Closer than all who watched, a citizen
stood alert, fatly blinking, legs apart,
steadier than a soldier’s challenge or
the cross: he also saw without seeing,
his glance reflected neither shame nor haste,
disinterested as a camel in a death
that would open any imagination.

I was curious to know what crime the corpse
had committed, but no one seemed to care
about the bearded, not unbeautiful face,
only to dispatch the dead in good order,
to lay the body carefully from sight
with lavings, myrrh, and linen grave-clothes:
so I too committed his face to the earth.



Break bow and string
they must not express the beat,
not this time.
For I have taught my soul to stand alone
what then shall I do,
what, tell me, with myself?
It is a rock, and all increase

I have not shut these ears in vain,
not this time.
Can a human tune speak true
give eyes, ears, and a wind-sown field,
make the barren bear
dedicated to an unhorned God?
If still the rock bears
who has anointed its head?

I have taught myself to stand alone
neither to feed nor excrete.
The earth is full
it roars to my ears
it whips oceans of sight
even silence breeds.
Dream, despair,
have eaten the proud day.

I say to myself, “We are Awake,”
the belly laughs
teeth grind as in a sleep.
Hush, the stars are unhusked:
she lies unveiled
her skin
toward desire’s edge
her lashes dark spears
dawn at the hem of her skirt.
I say to desire, “Full Tide,”
the quivering blades
have reached the blood of the air
drained like a cup.

My soul, who has anointed you,
are you still thirsty like the east winds,
or sated, ready to be poured out?
Whose dark dew floods you and I do not know it?
I dream: a golden sheaf
a beanstalk shoots to pierce heaven,
a mantle of praise
suits the swollen navel.

Is it visible at last
the inwrought face
formed once for all
without instruments
out of a unique ore
and icy love?



Green is our sacred mountain
there is a voice on the Green
a pueblo people dances there
like cars once around it.
The skyline becomes sky again
awnings flutter in the wind
walks plant the liberated streets
with randomness. Shops open
as coffeehouses and markets of life.
All people are street people
and hymn highways that were.
The tax base withers away
loafs are baked in the sun.