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. Three Poems by Ruth Padel  


The Ballad of First Cell

Born in a deepsea vent. Or carried here
by meteorite. Or, take your pick,
synthesized by lightning
in a reducing atmosphere.

Algae, that’s the word.
The first self-replicating molecule
on Earth. Pulling carbon from organic
substrates, embroidering

a million copies of itself, thick
as autumn leaves on the Chiltern Ridge
or the pure gold bricks
Sheba sent to Solomon by mule

and storing genetic data,
creating the world’s first magic:
of atmosphere to oxygen.

Little Blue-Green,
dreaming like Billie Holiday
for who knows how long
of rhythm, pattern, form,

like something hoping to be heard
in a heart cut open.
Tiny horseman
of apocalypse.


The Arrival of Nucleic Acid

As if from outer space,
like the love which stirs
the sun and other stars
in Dante’s universe.

Like light
shed on quick seas
with enzymatic properties
to catalyze and duplicate.

A triple bracelet
of phosphate, pentose
sugar, one nitrogenous base.


Journey of the Cells

Meet cytoskeleton. A fibre network
of side-rootlets, mini-ferns 
through cytoplasm, protecting shape
like a fringe sewn under the hem

so Cell can move. Why not call her “she”,
watch her wave her longhaired flagella
like the flicker-spray
of spores on mould? Her lamellipodia,

motile fronds
like clematis or jasmine,
power Cell’s division of herself
and all small voyages inside her

performed by vesicle or organelle.
But also, like bison drawn to cross a river,
with microfilaments at the ready,
and little cilia

projecting from her surface, Cell
may well migrate.
Slowly, her front spreads forward,
retracting, ruffling, bubbling.

Determined, like an old soul
moving into heaven
eager to notate
a valediction to the body.