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Nonfiction Feature: 42 Poorly Kept Secrets About Montevideo By Carolina De Robertis

 

42 Poorly Kept Secrets About Montevideo

 

1. Old people.
They spend the whole afternoon on this park bench, watching the water leap in the blue-tiled fountain. They strike up a conversation with you in an instant. Their anecdotes grow to epic proportions, spanning decades, their voices overlapping like a fugue. By the time sunset glows pink behind the Ferris Wheel of Parque Rodó, you are like family.

2. Empty factories.
The buildings are desolate but they take up great space: large, silent, riddled with broken windows.

3. Mate.
Green, hot, bitter. Sucked from a gourd through a metal straw. The family on the stoop, the couple on the beach, the man washing his car—they carry their thermos, pass the gourd, pouring boiled water over green leaves, over and over again.

4. The city.
It contains one million people. By far the largest city in Uruguay.

5. The river.
El Río de la Plata was named after the silver that conquistadores thought they were about to find. The water is not silver; it is brown and thick with silt. It snakes against the city, wide as the sea.

6. Grafitti.
“El sur también existe.” (The south also exists.)
“Que se jodan los Yanquis.” (Fuck the Yankees.)
“¡Viva Tabaré!” (Long live [leftist president] Tabaré!)

7. Poorly kept secrets.
Poorly because no one keeps them from the world. Secret because the world cannot know what it does not see.

8. Maps.
Montevideo can be found on many. South of Brazil, east of Argentina, hovering at the Atlantic. A capital city, drawn with a star.

9. Morcilla dulce.
Sweet blood sausage is a delicacy: a blend of walnuts, sugar, orange peel, pig’s blood.

10. Testículos.
Bull testicles are a delicacy: small, flavorful, no part is wasted.

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Announcing the 2019 Blue Light Books Prize Winner

 

We are thrilled to announce that prize judge Adrian Matejka has selected God Had a Body by Jennie Maria Malboeuf as the winner of the 2019 Blue Light Books Prize! We received a record number of submissions to this year’s prize and are honored to have read so many powerful poetry collections. Thank you all for your submissions and for making this year’s Blue Light Books Prize possible. God Had a Body will be published by Indiana University Press in 2020 as part of the Blue Light Books Series, which includes previous prize-winning collections Fierce Pretty Things by Tom Howard and Girl with Death Mask by Jenn Givhan.

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Poetry Feature: “my home having come to this” By CM Burroughs

 

my home having come to this

In the porn factory, none locks her head in a box. None is trapezed or gagged. Everyone wants to know what my inside looks like. And a transparency about the skin. It is not long before one stops his hinged posture and says, “Look at me. I love you,” which my whole body opens to hear, as if it has been uttered before by someone I loved. I give myself as I’ve given myself to a field at dusk—without distraction or thought. Here. My body, my body’s inside. Here. All its tender. Red pulp.

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Nonfiction Feature: “kafir 1 & 2” By Tarfia Faizullah

 

kafir 1

 

It’s been twenty years since my sister died in the car accident. For twenty years I’ve been telling slightly different versions of her death and the aftermath. None of them are true. All of them are true.

*

Kufrul-‘Inaad is disbelief out of stubbornness. This applies to someone who knows the truth and admits to knowing the truth, and knows it with his or her tongue, but refuses to accept it and refrains from making a declaration.

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One night during college at a party in someone’s dark dorm room, someone decided it would be fun to make a drinking game out of how many things in common we had with our siblings. The lava lamp in the corner made our faces seem like the topographies of far- away planets. “What about you, Tarfia?” he asked.

*

“Throw into hell every obstinate disbeliever,” Allah says a few verses later. “Why are you so stubborn?” everyone in my life who has ever loved me has asked. “Why is it so hard for you to back down?”

*

“I don’t have any siblings,” I said, thrumming the amber neck of the beer bottle with my fingers.

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In verse 50:19 of the Qur’an, Allah says to the disbeliever, “And the intoxication of death will bring the truth; that is what you were trying to avoid.”

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“She’s not dead,” I said when my parents came to visit me in the hospital a few days after my sister had gone into cardiac arrest. My arm was in a sling, freshly plastered hours after surgery that was meant to correct the damage done to my shoulder during the car accident. My mother’s face was a map of bruises. I couldn’t look directly at any of the new countries of her ruptured skin. “She can’t be.”

*

How can death simultaneously intoxicate and bring truth? If the very cells that allow us to experience intoxication stop functioning, how do our brains process, allow, or deny truth? That is to say, truth is like memory in that it is not so much a set of discrete memories as much as it is a set of processes by which we encode, store, and retrieve information.

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“It’s just me and my sister,” I say to the lipsticked and rouged woman ringing up the bottle of perfume I’m buying for my mother at the makeup counter at Dillard’s. It is strange how easy it is to not continue with “…but she hasn’t been alive for twenty years.” “I’m about five years older,” I say, and she lights up. “That’s the age difference between me and my sister!” she says, and I smile and sign my name on the credit card slip with a flourish.

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In many ways, kufr is synonymous with atheism, which is the rejection of a belief in the existence of deity. But is it still disbelief if you are rejecting belief in someone or something that no longer exists?

 

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Mirror Neurons: Interview with Nuar Alsadir

 

Indiana Review is accepting submissions to the Poetry Prize until March 31, 2019. Final judge Nuar Alsadir will select a winner to receive $1000 and publication. Hannah Kesling, our current Poetry Editor, chats with her about the genre, empathy, unconventional ways of “finding” poems. Listen to some of Alsadir’s work here: https://vimeo.com/283671638.

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