The spring 1991 issue includes fiction and poetry from Indonesia. The stories from Indonesia have been gathered by guest-editor John McGlynn, and our publication of them was special on two accounts. First, it coincided with the Festival of Indonesia, which was celebrated throughout the U.S. in 1992. Second, in printing these works, we helped to introduce Indonesian writing to a new audience. The highly popular, vibrant, and varied literature of Indonesia had been achieving recognition in Europe, but relatively little of it had been translated into English and still less had appeared in the United States. Indonesian authors in this issue include Seno Gumira Ajidarma, Goenawan Mohamad, Hamsad Rangkuti, Toenggoel P. Siagian, Sitor Situ Morang, Pramoedya Ananta Toer, Putu Wijaya, and Umar Nurzain.

In addition, we include fiction from America—some stories unusual in terms of genre, and others more traditional. In this issue, “Batteiger’s Muse,” by Gordon Weaver, and “The Absence,” by Allan Johnson, are fine short stories in the traditional sense. On the other hand, “Public Anatomy,” by Thomas Farber (whose story collections, as well as his book on writing and the writing life, Compared to What?are familiar to many readers) is what he calls a “non-fiction fiction.” With Phil Damon’s “Lost and Found in the Holy Land,” we thought you might enjoy a glimpse into New Age writings, rare to literary magazines. Damon’s writing is decidedly literary, having appeared in many reviews and anthologies such as Best American Short Stories.

Also among the American writing is an essay by W.S. Merwin, “The Tree on the Hill”; poetry from Peggy Shumaker, David Baker, Linda Hogan, and Adele Dumaran; and a poetry symposium, “For Whom Does the Poet Write,” in which twenty American poets respond to Fred Chappell.
Spring 1991
(vol. 3, no. 1)
246 pages

 

 

“While slicing onions, Mirah accidentally cut her hand. She screamed and popped her index finger into her mouth. But then, shocked, she took it out again. Her wet finger was pale. Blood raced from the wound and began to drip from her finger. Mirah was stunned: her blood was white!
    “In the tales of the shadow theater, the only character with white blood was Prince Yudhistira, the hero of pure heart and the eldest child of the Pandawa family. The color of his blood was not only a symbol of his majesty; it was a guarantee that upon his death he would enter heaven. Because he eschewed violence and because he was always willing to sacrifice for others, Yudhistira had been blessed with white blood.”

—from “Blood” by Putu Wijaya

“Dawn was breaking beyond the forest. Still drowsy, I saw it from behind the awning of the boat whose motor roared like a hungry dragon. The journey still wasn’t over. When had I left Tenggarong? The Kelinjau River twisted and turned amid the forest on either bank, sometimes with denuded patches heaped with piled logs. For a day and a night I had lounged about in this boat. I thought we would soon arrive at Muara Ancalong. In my notebook I wrote ‘a journey to examine my heart.’ My fantasies had evaporated, taken by the wind to wherever it would carry them. I thought of Jakarta, of the many-colored lights along the streets, of a hostess’s bawdy laugh during a disco number at a bar.
    “A hornbill flapped its way across the river. At that very moment, Sureni, the steersman’s wife, stuck her head out from behind the mosquito net.
    “‘How far along are we?’”

—from “The River’s Song”
by Seno Gumira Ajidarma

“If you happen to be an expert in some distinct field of learning such as the order Physallidae or cuneiform script, no doubt there are sections of the British Museum that seem to be not just repositories but models of human knowledge, reflecting, proving, serving as emblems of its orderly and progressive nature. The institution originated, after all, in the middle of the eighteenth century and is still haunted by the spirit of that age—in Europe—of achievements at once grand and contained, a time marked there by a faith in symmetry and an adulation of Reason—a word that those generations used to describe their peculiar view of what they thought was everything.”

—from “The Tree on One Tree Hill”
by W.S. Merwin

detail of Taxonomy. Crustacea and shells
on nineteenth-century mathematics text.
Photograph taken by Rosamond Purcell
in Rijksmuseum van Natuurlijke Historie,
Leiden, 1990.

John Dory (Zeus faber) on music, 1990
photo by Rosamond Purcell

Rosamond Purcell, of Boston, Massachusetts, has two books of natural history specimens, Illuminations, A Bestiary (W. W. Norton, 1986, text by Stephen Jay Gould), and Finders, Keepers, a study of collectors (W. W. Norton, fall 1991, text also by Gould). She has exhibited work widely in Europe and the United States and has done work for Smithsonian magazine. This spring she is a visiting lecturer at the Carpenter Center, Harvard University. One of her favorite commercial assignments was Hidden Wonders, a 1991 calendar of her photographs of treasures from Bishop Museum in Honolulu. She tells us, “My attraction to the crossing over of science into art, as well as my fascination with museum displays, has led me in recent months to a desire to more closely link words, photographs, and objects. I find the appearance of animals and human methods of preservation rich in metaphor and strange in beauty.”
About the guest editor: John McGlynn is the editor and translator of numerous works of Indonesian literature, including A Taste of Betel and Lime: An Anthology of Poetry by Indonesian Women; Reflections of Rebellion: Stories from the Indonesian Upheavals of 1948 and 1965; Suddenly the Night, a collection of poetry by Sapardi Kjoko Damono; Shackles, a novel by Armijn Pane; and On Foreign Shores: American Images in Indonesian Poetry.