International fiction by Adonis and Yossel Birstein, and poetry by Jorge Esquinca; Minister Nate Klug on the intersection of ministry and poetry; and an interview with the acclaimed writer George Saunders on his evolving faith journey. Plus, Gregory Wolfe shares his influential encounters with Annie Dillard; Molly McCully Brown sheds light on shadows of doubt in her personal essay; and Lauren F. Winner reviews new works by Aviya Kushner and Carol Harrison. With poetry by Anya Krugovoy Silver, Pádraig J. Daly, Robert Cording, and more.
Gregory Wolfe, Annie Spans the Gap
Jorge Esquinca, Nostalghia
Maurice Manning, Lent
Diane Glancy, The Lord Spoke to the Fish
Julie L. Moore, Full Thunder Moon
W. Brett Wiley, A Conversation with George Saunders
Molly McCully Brown, Bent Body, Lamb
Adonis is the author of numerous collections of poetry, including Adonis: Selected Poems (Yale, translated by Khaled Mattawa), Mihyar of Damascus: His Songs (BOA), and If Only the Sea Could Sleep (Green Integer). His awards include the first ever International Nâzim Hikmet Poetry Award, the Norwegian Academy for Literature and Freedom of Expression’s Bjørnson Prize, the highest award of the International Poem Biennial in Brussels, and the Syria-Lebanon Best Poet Award. He has taught at the Sorbonne, Damascus University, and the Lebanese University and lives in Paris.
Elizabeth Altomonte holds graduate degrees from Yale Divinity School and the Norwegian Academy of the Arts. Currently, she is completing a book of linked stories, The Magister, on Corita Kent, Martin Buber, Dorothy Day, Thomas Merton, Dag Hammarskjöld, and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
Dan Bellm has published three books of poetry, most recently Practice (Sixteen Rivers), winner of the 2009 California Book Award. He teaches translation and poetry at Antioch University Los Angeles and translates poetry and fiction from Spanish and French, including Jorge Esquinca’s book-length elegy for his father, Description of a Flash of Cobalt Blue (Unicorn) and The Song of the Dead by Pierre Reverdy, forthcoming from Black Square Editions.
Yossel Birstein (1920–2003) was born in Poland and immigrated to Australia in 1936, where he married Margaret Waisberg, a refugee from Germany, who has since translated many of his books and stories. He served in the Australian army during World War II, and the family moved to Israel in 1950. He worked as a shepherd in Kibbutz Gevat and later in banking, which became the background of his novel The Beneficiaries, and as an archivist at the Hebrew University. His novels and stories in Hebrew have received numerous awards, including the Israeli Prime Minister’s Prize.
Molly McCully Brown is the author of The Virginia State Colony for Epileptics and Feebleminded, which won the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize and will be published in 2017 by Persea Books. Her poems and essays have appeared or are forthcoming in Connotation Press, TriQuarterly Online, Kenyon Review, The Rumpus, and elsewhere. Raised in rural Virginia, she is currently a John and Renée Grisham Fellow in poetry at the University of Mississippi.
Robert Cording is professor emeritus at College of the Holy Cross, where he was the Barrett Professor of Creative Writing. His collections of poems include Common Life, Walking with Ruskin, Only So Far (all from CavanKerry), and A Word in My Mouth: Selected Spiritual Poems (Wipf & Stock).
Pádraig J. Daly is an Augustinian friar based in Dublin. His most recent collection, God in Winter, was published by Dedalus, Dublin, in 2015.
Jorge Esquinca has published twelve books of poetry, most recently Cámara Nupcial (Wedding Chamber), and numerous books of poetry in translation, including work by Pierre Reverdy, Adonis, Anne Carson, and W.S. Merwin. He has received Mexico’s top poetry award, the Aguascalientes Prize, a national Poetry Translation Prize, and Spain’s Jaime Sabines Spanish-American Poetry Prize.
Gordon L. Fuglie, a UCLA-educated art historian, began his career at the J. Paul Getty Museum, continued at UCLA’s Grunwald Center for the Graphic Arts, and then directed the Laband Gallery at Loyola Marymount University. He currently works as an art journalist and independent curator.
Diane Glancy is professor emerita at Macalester College. Her recent books include Fort Marion Prisoners and the Trauma of Native Education (Nebraska), Report to the Department of the Interior (New Mexico), and three novels from Wipf & Stock: Uprising of Goats, One of Us, and Ironic Witness.
Hana Inbar is the daughter of Yossel and Margaret Birstein. Born in Melbourne, Australia, she grew up in Israel and has also lived in the United States, where she met her co-translator, Robert Manaster. She now lives in Kefar Sava, Israel, with her husband, the photographer Benjamin Lapid. In retirement, she is studying the untranslatable meanings that underlie the Hebrew Bible.
Nate Klug is the author of Rude Woods (The Song Cave), a modern translation of Virgil’s Eclogues, and the poetry collection Anyone (Chicago). He has won the Ruth Lilly Fellowship from the Poetry Foundation and the Theodore Roethke Prize from Poetry Northwest. He works as a minister in the United Church of Christ (Congregational) and has served churches in Connecticut and Iowa. Currently pastor and artist-in-residence at Orinda Community Church, he lives in Berkeley, California.
Robert Manaster is a poet and translator whose poems have appeared in many journals, including Rosebud, International Poetry Review, The Literary Review, and Spillway. His translation, with Hana Inbar, of Ronny Someck’s The Milk Underground (White Pine) has been awarded the Cliff Becker Book Prize in Translation. He lives in Champaign, Illinois.
Maurice Manning’s next book of poetry, One Man’s Dark, will be published by Copper Canyon in 2016. He teaches at Transylvania University and lives with his family on their farm in Kentucky.
Khaled Mattawa’s collections of poetry include Tocqueville (New Issues), Amorisco, and Zodiac of Echoes (both from Ausable). He has also published book-length translations of the work of Amjad Nasser, Fadhil Al-Azzawi, and other contemporary Arabic poets. His awards include Pushcart Prizes, the PEN Award for Literary Translation, and NEA, Guggenheim, and MacArthur fellowships.
Maureen McGranaghan is a poet, playwright, and fiction writer. Her play Blood of the Bear won the Southern Playwrights Competition, and her work has been performed in several cities. Her chapbook of poetry Attached to Earth was published by Finishing Line.
Nicole Miller’s fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Image, Guernica, Fence, Atlas Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Two Serious Ladies, NANO Fiction, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, Juked, and elsewhere. She has received residencies from the Wassaic Project and the Marble House Project and was the 2011–12 Milton Fellow at Image. She lives in Brooklyn, New York.
Julie L. Moore is the author of Particular Scandals, published in the Poiema poetry series by Cascade Books. Her other books include Slipping Out of Bloom (WordTech) and Election Day (Finishing Line).
Anya Krugovoy Silver is the author of three books of poetry, The Ninety-Third Name of God, I Watched You Disappear, and From Nothing (all from Louisiana State). She was named Georgia Author of the Year in poetry for 2015. Recent poems have appeared in Harvard Review, Georgia Review, New Ohio Review, Saint Katherine Review, and Five Points. She teaches at Mercer University.
W. Brett Wiley is an associate professor of English and director of the honors program at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. He has published essays on Wendell Berry, Ernest Hemingway, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and is at work on a book about the spiritual aspects of George Saunders’s short stories. He thanks his student assistant Rachel Harmon, who diligently transcribed the interview.
Lauren F. Winner’s books include Girl Meets God (Algonquin), Mudhouse Sabbath (Paraclete), Still, and Wearing God (both from HarperOne). She has written for the New York Times Book Review, Washington Post Book World, Publishers Weekly, and Christianity Today. She teaches at Duke Divinity School and serves as Vicar of Saint Paul’s Episcopal Church in Louisburg, North Carolina.
The author thanks her colleagues Paul J. Griffiths and Ross Wagner for help with this essay.