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. Grandma by John Haynes  

She’s always been old, in life, in long death,
wearing her son’s old Barnstaple grammar school blazer
out there weeding his garden when he was away,
keeping his house clean for him to come back,
Wilfred Pickles on the radio, Morning Service, cats,
the Old Codgers column in the Daily Mirror.

Among  the old letters and cards there’s no picture,
though there are of the others, her ‘bosom friend’,
all her sisters, brother Rees who did well, cousins
like  Clem, who was a banker in The Gold Coast,
nothing of Father, though, the lay clergyman.

But there’s ‘Joe, the man I nearly married’ and about whom
she talked on and on to me when I was with her
on those school holidays they were still on tour,
Joe in the thick cardboard with the photographer’s name
on the back in green, the address in Hereford,
whom she didn’t marry, but his father instead,
and was no longer a ladies maid in that big house in Ludlow.

And when he died a few years later, and she was left
a single mother, owning a whole wool shop
setting her hips against the brass ruler along the counter
and saying I’ll do this for his sake, and so she did.
We had Christmases there with the wicker  chair
by the fire, Home Teacher behind glass doors
in the book shelf, Children’s Encyclopaedia
got even a little rich, enough to send me to those schools
I hated, never recovered from,  that survive
now in this compulsion  to write, as I write her,
even perhaps out of the same absence, not felt at the time.

She came up and read to me after the were wolf film
when I couldn’t sleep,  took me to church
all that long walk, she in her strongly planted sandals,
knelt with me by the bed to say our prayers,
making welsh cakes that Dad liked slightly burnt
and Mum turned her nose up at, and didn’t want her
but when she came, where else was there ? -  till later,
at the home where Dad had to drive all the way
to Devon to visit her, when he could, his home,
the address of that shop which he’d always write out
when trying out one of my new fountain pens,
and on the tape recorder you could still hear the Devon,
‘debn’ as he’d say, and in her still the Brecon Welsh

going out into the garden so angry that the birds
had eaten all the blackcurrants off the bush
because the net wasn’t fine enough (the badminton net
Dad had scrounged from Four Wing Sports Store
he’d run with the great Bert Williams in the war)
and then next year, as she was getting ‘old’ old,
that firm jawed triumph when she defeated them
and came in with a whole bowl glittering and untouched.

I reached out and took one, hard as a bullet.