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.
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.
by Marshall Walker Lee
Welcome to the end of news, or at least the end of news as I know it. This week the New York Times introduced digital subscriptions for US readers of the Times online, a move which the paper has been planning for at least two years. Starting Monday, March 28, visitors to NYTimes.com, as well as users of the Time’s smartphone and tablet apps, will be limited to 20 discrete page views per month. That’s 20 slideshows, articles or videos—20 clicks!
by Joshua Edwards
Headlines cycling. War, officially-forgotten diseases, hot-shot bailouts, shameless status updating, neglected continents, orchestral indie pop grandeur, absurd year-end best-of lists. It was not a good 12-month stretch for most ideals, people, or animals, it seems. I’ve spent some time thinking of possible names for this past year, and the one that rings truest is “Deepwater Horizon.” What a beautiful, grandiose construction of such simple terms. How snugly it fits our dreams gone awry, our hope misremembered! It would make a fine vintage for a Château Mouton Rothschild, perhaps best enjoyed while eating hors d’oeuvres on the set of the next James Bond film. But enough about the past and its attendant regrets. Instead of a backward glance, I’d like to speculate on the coming year, and I’ll do this with the aid of an online version of the I Ching (which I predict will enjoy a resurgence in 2011, among younger American poets at least). Below are some questions I’m curious about, followed by enticing excerpts from the I Ching replies (Richard Wilhelm translation into German translated by Cary F. Baynes into English, 1950) and my (ridiculous) extrapolations.