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Online Feature: “The Parable of the Fish” by Marilyn Chin

The IU Arts & Humanities Council will host writer Marilyn Chin next week for China Remixed, IU’s first Global Arts & Humanities Festival.

Indiana Review is proud to share a story she originally published with us in Indiana Review 24.1, Spring 2002.

The delightful music paired with the matter-of-factness of the Grandmother explaining the history of oppression, takes us through a deep personal history. We land on the preparation of a delicious carp deftly, with a gut punch at the end of “The Parable of the Fish,” with a mastery of exactitude present in all of Marilyn Chin’s work.

 — Su Cho, Editor

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Grandmother, how do you know that the fish are happy? Irreverent polyp-of-a-child, how do you know that I don’t know that the fish are happy? Well, grandma, you’re not a fish. You cannot know what fish know. Well, my ignorant gnat-of-a-girl, you are not I, how do you know that I don’t know what fish know.

One day she fetched me from school and said, “Let’s take a stroll through our honorable mayor Willie Brown’s mansion. The Gold Mountain News said that he wants all of his citizens to visit his new Japanese water garden.” So we took the #25 bus and transferred to a #85 bus at the Montgomery station where she bought me a cold can of Coke from a machine. I knew that it was going to be a special day.
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Microreview: Rochelle Hurt’s In Which I Play the Runaway

In Which I Play the Runaway by Rochelle Hurt (Barrow Street Press, 2016)

Rochelle Hurt’s second poetry collection, In Which I Play the Runaway, does more than summon narratives of origin and growth—the poems command another language with a new alphabet of “boxcar beats,” of fluorescence, linoleum, of living inside “this hissing kettle of a house.” In impossibly small spaces, Hurt demands the creation of another sight, reckoning with the speaker’s unflinching desires.

The book layers itself with self-portraits in which the speaker imagines herself as something else. The images build upon one another until it almost becomes too much, yet the poems pace themselves accordingly. In “Poem in Which I Play the Cheat,” the speaker tells us about the origins of her love. She asks us to

 

“understand before it began before that—

Sun as first love: when I was small”

and eventually says

“What I mean is that I fall in love with surfaces.”

 

I am stunned by how these stories accumulate to form an expansive landscape of the self. I read this collection when I was traveling, and even though these poems spread across various locales, the central voice does not waver through its changes, growths, and revelations. Hurt’s poetry has the power to transform a constrained space into one of power. For example, “Halfhearted,” one of the collection’s prose breaks, ends with this:

“But here’s where I got a break: on the seventh day of each week I lived in the pit of myself. Houseless, husbandless, I slept outside, balanced on a rock—tough, whole, unable to be consumed by any desire. On those nights I was happy.”

In Which I Play the Runaway begins with a “last chance” and ends with “honesty” Through this journey, the self is made resilient, each time more complicated than before. Hurt converts the impossible into a real possibility and in so doing, makes the truth undeniable. This collection is a must for anyone thinking of transcendent landscapes and the intense making of the self.

 

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Online Feature: “Property Lines” by Kathryn Nuernberger

A pink azalea is the kind of thing that bushes up into a wild mess if a generation passes without pruning, and then a zealous man can pick at it bough by bough until it’s just one more stump to mow over. It’s the kind of thing that would come springing back from such a stump though, if someone let the grass go again.

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#IRDarlings 2017 Poetry Prize Twitter Contest Winner!

Indiana Review is proud to announce the winner of our 2017 #IRDarlings Twitter Contest! We received some great tweets and after careful deliberation we chose one winner who will receive an IR prize pack and free entry to our 2017 Poetry Prize.

Join us in congratulating the winner, E. B. Schnepp!


Runner-up SJane Sloat will receive an IR Prize Pack and Twitter love.

Thank you to everyone who participated! Make sure to submit your polished poetry to our 2017 Poetry Prize by April 15th, 2017!

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Online Feature: “Remedies” by Talin Tahajian

You were the color of a dove & I don’t know what to do
about that. I have never understood how to cup my hands

& take communion. Like a faithful daughter, I carry this
with me. I stab it with feathers & pray until it is covered

in gems. I rinse it in the river that knows my blood, wring
it out beneath a full moon. I know nothing about bird calls.

I know nothing about meat. Bless the river & all the fish
we poisoned. Foreign fluids. Bless the red birches forced

to watch. I want to burn something, so I char the flesh
of a catfish & think of myself. Girl as carp. Small tragedy

with freshwater pearls. I baptize myself in this water
& I see myself float in this water. Somewhere, a flock

of crows & I don’t hear anything over the soft breath
of river fish as they touch me in places that don’t exist.

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This poem appeared in Indiana Review 37.1, Summer 2015.

Emily Corwin (Poetry Editor): Talin Tahajian’s poetry is tender, melodic, and sensuous. I can never get enough of her writing, especially this poem—the way she explores faith through images of birds, water, fish. This poem sweeps me up like the river running through it. If you have not read Talin’s work, you definitely should—her poems are necessary and gorgeous and exactly what you need.

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Talin Tahajian grew up near Boston. Her poetry has recently appeared in Kenyon Review Online, Indiana Review, Best New Poets 2014 & 2016, Salt Hill Journal, Passages North, Columbia Poetry Review, and Washington Square Review. She’s the author of two chapbooks, The smallest thing on Earth (Bloom Books, 2017) and Start with dead things (Midnight City Books, 2015), a split chapbook with Joshua Young. She edits poetry for the Adroit Journal and is currently a student at the University of Cambridge, where she studies English literature.