October’s the thick, sticky middle of my stuff season. I long to see the leaves flaming and falling on the Leelanau Peninsula; In the mornings I want sour cherry preserves on my toast and in the evening, after dinner and a walk in the brisk, fragrant airs, I want donuts from the Franklin Mill. Now that I don’t own a car I find myself fantasizing about a particular stretch of I-75, a corridor that begins north of Wolverine and runs 30 or so miles to the southern anchorage of the Mackinac Bridge, the largest steel suspension bridge in the Western Hemisphere, a cobalt-and-cream behemoth, every bit as lovely as the Golden Gate. Give me a Detroit-made Corvette ZR-1 and I could tear that road to shreds.
In the conclusion of my book Dancing in the Street: Motown and the Cultural Politics of Detroit, I described the fanfare that surrounded the fortieth anniversary of Motown Records, which included a commemorative compact disc boxed set, an ABCTV documentary miniseries, and a special Motown halftime show at the Super Bowl. The show culminated with Martha Reeves singing her signature song, “Dancing in the Street.” As I noted, “[b]y the time the song reached one of its most famous lines, ‘Can’t forget the Motor City,’ nothing seemed more forgotten than Detroit, Michigan, Motown’s birthplace.”
The poems “War” and “Ruins” are from Adonis’s latest book, Warraq Yabi‘u Kuttub al-Nujum (Printer of the Planets’ Books). Largely composed of leisurely prose meditations interspersed with lyrical flashes, the book draws on the poet’s memories, especially his childhood in Qassabin, Syria. Adonis adroitly recaptures a child’s sense of wonder, as well as a child’s anguish and fears. The books seems also a tribute to the villagers of Qassabin, to a dignity that seems to emerge from a naturally philosophical outlook and a practical resourcefulness that compliment each other. Tender and poised, the poems never veer into nostalgia or sentimentality. Perhaps the counterweight to Qassabin are the poems from a sequence titled “Dictionary” including the two poems presented here, where the dictionary serves as a context for the poet’s memories and provides a premonition of future violence and destruction.
(photo by Shadi Enbashi | juxtapoza.com)
This issue of MQR brings together academic essays, high-level journalism, personal narratives, fiction, poetry, and visual art responding to the transformations of Jewish experience in the United States during the last fifty years, and, speculatively, extending into the twenty-first century. We offer writings that respond to the multiplicity of representations, cultural forms, fashionings and refashionings, that have defined the experience of Jews in America and continue to compel debate. These include works by Jews and non-Jews that engage contemporary controversies in the fields of politics, sociocultural dynamics, the arts, and the relation of Jewish life in America to other historical periods, other geographical places.