A man was sad—for himself, maybe for someone else, maybe he had lost something, or someone—so he hired some workmen to erect a monument. He was not surprised when they came calling early one morning, while he was still in bed, but he was surprised when, with a practiced slash, the foreman opened his chest. “We build the monument inside,” the foreman said. “But who will see the monument?” the man protested. “It’s a monument for feeling, not for seeing,” the foreman replied.
Michigan Quarterly Review is pleased to announce that it has awarded this year’s trio of literary prizes to the authors of an amusing—and poignant—story about strangers in the strange land of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, an elegant poem on perspectives during a balloon flight, and a gritty poem listing the detritus of life at a Detroit high school.
Elizabeth Alexander on black experimental poetry, Marian Crotty on the borderline lover, Ilan Stavans on immigration and authenticity, James Morrison on Jonathan Strong, Laurence Goldstein on Philip Levine
Fiction by Peter Ho Davies, Massa Makan Diabaté, Janis Hubschman, Lia Silver, Jonathan Strong
Poetry by Randy Blasing, Todd Boss, Martha Collins, Rick Hilles, Patricia Hooper, Joe Wilkins
fiction by Peter Ho Davies
Perhaps because he had no singing voice, Pop leaned forward to twist the dial when Nelson Eddy came on to do “Song of the Vagabonds.” “What, Saul,” my mother called from the doorway, giving a wiggle of her hips, “you got something against a little music?” but my father shushed her so sharply I looked up from my books. He was bent close to the radio, his eyes on us, but wide and unseeing. “We interrupt this broadcast.” It was the first bulletin.
Things moved fast after that. There was a banging on the floor below—Mrs. Z—and my father hurried down. By the time he’d run back up there were drumming feet overhead and in the halls, the din stilled only momentarily for a statement from the Secretary of the Interior. But where was the President? How I yearned for the calm “Good evening, friends” of one of his fireside chats.
“C’mon, already!” my father cried when he reappeared. “To the basement.” My mother ran to wake Milt and I followed her, looking around wildly for something to save. What was my most valuable possession? My magic apparatus, of course. I’d been given a set—trick deck, silk scarves, and my prize, an oboki box for coin tricks—for my Bar Mitzvah. I snatched the lot up, along with the reel of invisible thread, and stuffed it in my pockets. I could hear my mother trying to explain about the Martians to Milt. “The Martins?” he asked sleepily, scratching the toes that peeked out of the end of his cast. “Who are the Martins?” And then my father was there. “Forget Martians, Edith. Never mind that. These radio fellows don’t know bupkis. It’s Germans. See if it ain’t.” Until then I’d not been so afraid. I didn’t know anything about Martians. But Germans … I could see it in Milt’s saucer eyes … Germans were real.
by Marshall Walker Lee
Bu that was ’41. In 1937, when Agee posted his list to the folks at Guggenheim, he was awe-struck, still a Southern boy in NYC , a writer entering maturity. He was 26, the age that I am now, and despite the Great Depression, in 1937 Agee must have seen the world as almost unbearably vibrant, a great and full spirit house. Even in the depths of the Depression (in fact, it was because of the Depression), the WPA allowed artists like Agee, who used Roosevelt’s New Deal money to underwrite his trip to Alabama, to see themselves as members of a kind of populist-avant-garde, the first generation of American artists to have access not only to the remote corners of our continent (air travel and the highway systems were moving out of their respective infancies) but also to a wide variety of new technologies and media, including moving pictures and magnetic tape sound recording. The spirit of Agee’s “Plans for Work,” the full text of which I will not reproduce here in the hope that you, dear gentle reader, might seek out your own copy of Agee’s Short Prose, sees in his era’s media the seeds of a kaleidoscopic new art, one that would embrace within the body and mind of one artist a great plurality of interests and techniques.