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Andrew Blackman

How does a literary text come into being? Is it born from mad inspiration, or from the labor of a logical mind?

Pablo M. Ruiz explores these questions in Four Cold Chapters on the Possibility of Literature (Leading Mostly to Borges and Oulipo) (Dalkey Archive, 2014), but he also ends up doing much more. He takes us on a journey through literature from Aristotle to Queneau and, being a knowledgeable and enthusiastic guide, he can’t resist taking the scenic route and pointing out interesting landmarks along the way. The result is a digressive, meandering, occasionally frustrating and yet utterly absorbing book.

"Two Visitors" by Abdulla Pashew

TIR staff

Translated from the Kurdish by Mewan Nahro, Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse, and the author

I host a dusky visitor
I do not dare picture her as my motherland
but she is as sweet
Her voice is the shelter of an arbor
and the meadow of her breast
smells of sweet clover 

In the corner
an idea crouches
undoes its braids
and combs them, stroke after stroke
stealthily, deliberately
cutting through the haze of my depths
like Gathas’ beams 

Oh, God
Two lovers
in the same moment? 


The Gathas are 17 hymns that were composed by Zarathustra. They are sacred texts of Zoroastrianism, an ancient religion in the Kurdistan region. 


Galway Kinnell's "Fisherman," from the archives

TIR staff

Solitary man, standing
on the Atlantic, high up on the floodtide
under the moon, hauling at nets
which shudder sideweays under the mutilated darkness:
the one you hugged and slept with so often,
who hugged you and slept with you so often,
who has gone away now
into that imaginary moonlight
of the greater world, perhaps looks back at where you stand abandoned
on the floodtide, hauling at nets
and dragging from the darkness
anything, and feels tempted to walk over
and touch you
and speak
from that world to which she acquiesced so suddenly dumbfounded
but instead she only sings
in the sea-birds and breeze that you imagine you remember but that you truly hear
as the dawn breaks in streaks across the fish-flashed water.

"You think" by Abdulla Pashew

TIR staff

Translated from the Kurdish by Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse and the author

You think
my poems
are simple as roadside stones
You think
my words
are not astronauts, but earthbound children
What can I do, my heart?
Images and thin ideas
shimmer for a moment
and die like fireflies
in the black nights of gardens and orchards
I can only catch those
which tire and fall
like autumn leaves  



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