Just three months ago, when we released the spring issue of the New England Review, we noted that it came together “before.” It was March, and the coronavirus had just begun unmaking the world as we knew it. Now, with the release of our summer issue, we again note that the new issue came together “before”—before the great racial reckoning catalyzed by the murder of George Floyd. Even in NER’s home state of Vermont you can hear the ground shifting, as local police, school children, food coops, land conservation groups—seemingly everyone—struggles to recognize and articulate the role racism has played in making them what and who they are and how they might dismantle that.
Such huge changes over short periods of time put into great relief the relative slowness of literature. The time it takes to write is immeasurable, and the time it takes to publish can be months, even years. But what first might look like a shortcoming is also a strength: the slow-brewing process allows a writer’s experience, imagination, rumination, and even flashes of understanding to find their way into language, and to shift and settle as time passes. Just as activists, journalists, and politicians need the immediate place of the public sphere and the freedom of the press, writers and artists need freedom from the immediate, and from the public eye, to express the complexities of what it is to be human now, in the past, and in the imagined future—including, of course, the deep experience of race.
With the release of this issue, NER 41.2, we offer a collection of poems, stories, essays, and translations that have long been brewing. Written, edited, and organized “before,” this offering reaches across time and space. This summer issue extends deep into the past, with translations from ancient Greek, historical fiction featuring Alfred Nobel, and an essay/collage about Virginia Woolf and Elizabeth Bowen. It imagines the future with speculative fiction, and crosses the Atlantic to bring together 15 contemporary poets from the UK. Read selections online or, better yet, order a copy in print or ebook today.
FICTION Hugh Coyle • Ryan Eric Dull • Rachel Hall • Lou Mathews • Laura Schmitt • Avigayl Sharp
POETRY Emma Bolden • Kevin Craft • Jehanne Dubrow • James Hoch • David Keplinger • Esther Lin • David Roderick • Joannie Stangeland
NONFICTION Indran Amirthanayagam • Stephanie Burt • Zoë Dutka • W. H. Hudson • Marshall Klimasewiski
TRANSLATIONS Gemma Gorga translated by Sharon Dolin • Alberto Prunetti translated by Oonagh Stransky • Archilochus, Callimachus, & Alcan translated by Dan Beachy-Quick
FEATURE 15 contemporary British poets, edited by Marilyn Hacker
COVER ART “Brick Lane” by Deric Ch’ng