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MQR contributor Jaimy Gordon wins National Book Award

Jaimy Gordon, who to her surprise just won the National Book Award for her novel Lord of Misrule, called me up the week before the award ceremony, when she was still just a nominee. She’s published a couple pieces in MQR, so I was happy to hear from her—and pleased to discover the reason for her call.

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Let the Mystery Be: Steve Orlen (1942 – 2010)

by Dilruba Ahmed

There’s a song that my husband likes to sing to our son at bedtime. It’s not a traditional bedtime song, by any means, but sung slowly and softly, it’s sweeter than any lullaby I know. And few things are quite as delicious as hearing a two-year old sing lines such as

Everybody’s wonderin’ what and where
They all came from
Everybody’s worryin’ ’bout where they’re gonna go
When the whole thing’s done
But no one knows for certain and so it’s all the same to me
I think I’ll just let the mystery be

with both great expression and the lisps and omissions characteristic of toddler speech. I thought of this song when I heard the sad news that poet Steve Orlen had suddenly passed away. During a class in Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, Steve once concluded an insightful discussion of Anthony Hecht’s “A Hill”—a poem that grapples with the mysterious workings of memory—by saying something like, Once in a while, something jumps out from your unconscious mind and scares the s**t out of you.

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Don't Eat the Mango: South Asian American Poetry

by Dilruba Ahmed

I’m a sucker for shiny objects—scarves, bracelets, candy wrappers—and drawn to nearly anything bearing deep, saturated colors. Had I encountered Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry in my local bookstore, I would have been magnetically attracted to the book’s rich magenta cover, which is embellished with a U.S. map suggesting the sheen of an embroidered sari. But even a quick peek into this new collection from the University of Arkansas Press proves that the volume is not just eye candy. With titles such as “September 10, 2001,” “The Mascot of Beavercreek High Breaks Her Silence,” “Urdu Funk: The Gentle Art of Subtitles,” and “Generica/ America,” the collection’s table of contents hints at the diversity of voices and themes among contemporary South Asian American poets.

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Don’t Eat the Mango: South Asian American Poetry

by Dilruba Ahmed

I’m a sucker for shiny objects—scarves, bracelets, candy wrappers—and drawn to nearly anything bearing deep, saturated colors. Had I encountered Indivisible: An Anthology of Contemporary South Asian American Poetry in my local bookstore, I would have been magnetically attracted to the book’s rich magenta cover, which is embellished with a U.S. map suggesting the sheen of an embroidered sari. But even a quick peek into this new collection from the University of Arkansas Press proves that the volume is not just eye candy. With titles such as “September 10, 2001,” “The Mascot of Beavercreek High Breaks Her Silence,” “Urdu Funk: The Gentle Art of Subtitles,” and “Generica/ America,” the collection’s table of contents hints at the diversity of voices and themes among contemporary South Asian American poets.

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On the Read Again

I love being read to. I also love reading aloud. I relish the permutation of reading that is shared. And, in my experience, the opportunity for shared reading tends to crop up in delightful and unexpected ways when I’m on the road.