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A Public Space

No. 13

Amy Leach on the sounds of a weekend; Martha Cooley on the strangeness of loneliness; Robert Sullivan on the beauty of usefulness; Dubravka Ugresic on overcoming emptiness; Denis Donoghue on Eliot, Dante, and Shakespeare; Nora Krug's Kamikaze; Bennett Sims's ekphrases; Anne Carson's Q & A; John Ashbery's Rimbaud; fiction by Tash Aw and Stuart Dybek; poems by Cathy Park Hong, Alain Mabanckou, Adam Zagajewski, and others; and introducing Miroslav Penkov.

Table of Contents


If You See Something

Never More Green: Amy Leach on the Sounds of a Weekend

Sunday Morning “You are the music. While the music lasts,” wrote T. S. Eliot, and while I am playing a song I believe the song. It’s more interesting to change with the music than to play sarcastically.

Amy Leach


If You See Something

Life Sentences

How I’d like to know everything that man knows, just not in the way he knows it.

James Guida


If You See Something

Sublime, Revised

The warning, as ever, is also a promise: This program contains subject matter and language that may be disturbing to some viewers.

Leslie Jamison


If You See Something

Ekphrases: Bennett Sims on the Edge of Death

There is a famous photograph taken at the edge of death: inside a car parked by the sidewalk are all manner of large dogs, looking directly into the camera.

Bennett Sims



The Letter

It's not like Grandmoms is urging me to steal from the British.

Miroslav Penkov




It was the shape of an arrowhead: sleek, sharp, fast.

Tash Aw



Trees and the Bronx

Public art in New York, as in all vibrant cities, has a lot to do with spectacle.

Robert Sullivan



I Liked Marie

Denise walked past her lover’s wife’s car each evening.

Martha Cooley



Overcoming Emptiness

It needs to be said up front: I’m not a karaoke fan.

Dubravka Ugresic




In December 1943, 20-year-old Ena Takehíko was drafted into the Japanese imperial navy.

Nora Krug



Phrases from Illuminations

Once the world has been reduced to a single dark wood for our four astonished eyes

Arthur Rimbaud




Streets seem abbreviated / by the heat, the ease of seeing.

Adam Zagajewski



Two Poems

Here, in the advent  / of the third-to-last  / season of the very / long war, we grow / accustomed.

Allison Titus



The Twenty-Four Complications

The life of the party slits its wrists.

Nick Twemlow



You Who Are On Your Way Over There

You who are on your way over there / Toward what was once an azure blue dream, / My sun the closest shadow / to another’s shadow

Alain Mabanckou



Moth Light

The twilight landscape comes on  / and one channel of a thousand lights the window.

Jason Labbe




near the quays / wet lightless / day thickened

Barbara Claire Freeman



Two Poems

I dreamed of regicide though there is no king.

Cathy Park Hong



Three Poems

Several years ago the poet and translator Murat Nemet-Nejat approached me with an entertaining offer: take his translations of Orhan Veli, the great poet of modernism in Turkey, and make new poems out of them.

Orhan Veli



Ghost Q & A

Q do you know you’re a ghost

Anne Carson



Four Deuces

You play the buggies, too? I noticed you studying that racing form like it’s a rich uncle’s will. Yeah, I know that look, like it’s a chess game and you’re Bobby Fischer thinking so many moves ahead it’s like he can see the future. Tell you, there was a time I could close my eyes and pick a winner like I was following my finger around a Ouija board.

Stuart Dybek



Eliot’s Shakespeare

In The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism Eliot joked that the only pleasure he got from reading Shakespeare, when he was a boy, “was the pleasure of being commended for reading him; had I been a child of more independent mind I should have refused to read him at all.”

​Denis Donoghue

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