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Culture & Literature
The Paris Review

The Paris Review Spring 2019

The Paris Review publishes the best fiction, poetry, art, and essays from new and established voices, and the Writers at Work interviews offer some of the most revealing self-portraits in literature.

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United States
The Paris Review Foundation, Inc.
4 Issues

in this issue

31 min.
ineffectual tribute to len

PETER ORNER After graduate school I hung around another year and drove a cab for Iowa City Yellow Cab. The cab was a boat, a Chevrolet Caprice wagon. I could have put a mattress in the back and lived in it. I didn’t hate the job. I’d sit in the Kroger parking lot and read. If the dispatcher radioed and I liked the sound of the call, I took it. If I didn’t, I went on reading. My indifference didn’t make me popular with Ovid Demanaris. I once asked him, over the radio, whether he’d ever read Ovid, and he said he didn’t answer personal questions. “He’s got some real smutty stuff,” I said. No answer, dead air. I didn’t have to drive a cab. I was broke, and the only…

1 min.
brandon som

Within 電 a field poetics:sky, rain, lightning over la milpa—components in the symbol electricity. A lasso enlazados,an analemma tracingthe migrant dagongmei & ensambladoras from ruralfarms to city factory,working circuiting electrons. To help with my poem,she gave me her needle-nose pliers,the ones she used on the line: a finer pairof fingers to tune or awl—they thread image & song, seam signals, hemHertzian waves, handwork—warp & weft—the Web. With spool of tin solder& hot iron over circuit boardhow might she resemble retablistas in market boothswho condense a votary’sdifficult story & infinite thanks with oil paints on tin sheets?Miniaturists of modernity,how they work the solid state to archive divinity & amplifymessages—doy gracias—acrossthe heavens. Charges apply. Devout commissions—comote llamas—a supplicantin her rebozo, a border crosser & his duffel at their votiveemitters: calls & flames circuitthe same word in Spanish. Ohm’s law in her thumbpressed over a…

8 min.
the murderer

ISAAC BASHEVIS SINGER They all knew him although no one in Bałtów spoke to him and he spoke to no one. Maryan Skiba had served a prison term of eight years for killing his girlfriend, Zocha, because he caught her in bed with a city hall official. Maryan was a fisherman. After his release from the Lublin prison he returned to his former trade. There was a lake around Bałtów that had carp, pike, and tench. It belonged to a nobleman who permitted the fishermen to fish there for a fee. All day Thursday, and Friday until noon, Maryan would stand in the marketplace beside his tub of live fish. It was impossible to haggle with him, as he had almost ceased speaking. He muttered the cost and no one could…

1 min.
kaveh akbar

MOTHERS I ONCE WAS Mother fingers in the mud. Mother begging bowl.Mother lace weaver drumming her web, babieseating her whole. Bleachable mother. Mother apronsmeared with blood and flour. Mother flower. Mother Florida, the wet bone. The marble throne. Mother sent back.Mother bent back curling like script. Mother dependedon light. Mother? Depends on the night. Mother for whom the whole sky. Mother hiding in the curtains, humming too loud.Maggot mother at the shroud. Mother thought it possible. Motherwas wrong. Mothersong. Our Lady Mother of Wet Beds and Aggressive Disgrace. Mother persimmon, name soundsthe way she tastes. Mother, with all of creation fattening.Mother who held on while it was happening.…

16 min.

SARAH MANGUSO I used to be interested in mountains. They moved at a speed I could deal with. They waited for me to catch up. It was like that all my life. Then we moved to California, and after eight years of earthquakes I began to doubt my ability to put things in order. I began to distrust the very idea of order. The mountains were no longer guiding me. On the acupuncture table, waiting for the doctor to return and take my pulse again, I think, I need to write one scene at a time. I can make a list, and then just go scene by scene. It seems like such a great idea, and when I get home and sit down quickly before I need to pick up my son from school, I…

37 min.
the art of poetry no. 103

CARL PHILLIPS Since the publication of his first book, In the Blood (1992), Carl Phillips has generated a body of poetry that is singular for its demanding intimacy, its descriptions of the dissonant energies within a self, and its beauty. Phillips has now published thirteen books of poems, which have situated him among the most influential of contemporary American poets. Phillips’s poems wrestle with themes that seem especially urgent today—identity and race, sexuality and sexual politics, morality in human action and thought. But his poems also feel coolly adjacent to the present, as though—like other poets of great interiority, from George Herbert to Emily Dickinson to Li-Young Lee—he is thinking about timeless questions. If it is often the case that poets, over a life of writing, become more autobiographically revealing in…