c o n t r i b u t o r s  


Chris Agee was born in 1956 in San Francisco and attended Harvard University, where he studied with the poet and translator Robert Fitzgerald. He is the author of two books of poems, IN THE NEW HAMPSHIRE WOODS (1992) and THE SIERRA DE ZACATECAS a third, FIRST LIGHT, was a finalist for the National Poetry Series (U.S.), 2000. A guest editor of Poetry Ireland and Metre, he also co-edited a double issue for Poetry of contemporary Irish poetry (Oct.-Nov. 1995), and an anthology, SCAR ON THE STONE: CONTEMPORARY POETRY FROM BOSNIA A selection of his poems will appear in the forthcoming THE BOOK OF IRISH-AMERICAN POETRY, edited by Daniel Tobin. “The Balkan Butler” and “The Stepinac File” will appear in his collection of Balkan essays, JOURNEY TO BOSNIA, to be published in Sarajevo later this year. He teaches at the Open University in Ireland and the School of Politics, Queen’s University of Belfast, and divides his time between Ireland, New England, and the Balkans.

Michael Biggins (translator) is librarian for Slavic and East European Studies at the University of Washington Libraries in Seattle. His translations include the novels NORTHERN LIGHTS and MOCKING DESIRE, by Drago Janar; the memoir PILGRIM AMONG THE SHADOWS, by Boris Pahor; and a number of shorter pieces from Slovenian and Russian.

Hubert Butler  (1900-1991) was born and died in Kilkenny, Ireland. He was educated at Charterhouse and St. John’s College, Oxford, and subsequently worked for the nationally-organized Irish County Libraries. During the 1920s and ‘30s he taught and traveled in Egypt, Russia, the Balkans, and the Baltic countries. Upon his father’s death, in 1941, he returned with his wife, Susan Margaret (Guthrie), to Maidenhall, his family home, where he lived for the next half-century. Their daughter, Julia Crampton, lives in the United States. An historian, translator, amateur archeologist, and essayist, Hubert Butler published in a number of Irish journals; in 1968, with Lord Dunboyne and George Butler, he founded The Butler Society. His first book, a scholarly investigation, was TEN THOUSAND SAINTS: A STUDY IN IRISH AND EUROPEAN ORIGINS, Kilkenny: Wellbrook Press, 1972. His essays were published thereafter by The Lilliput Press of Dublin in four collections: ESCAPE FROM THE ANTHILL, 1985; THE CHILDREN OF DRANCY, 1988; GRANDMOTHER AND WOLFE TONE, 1990; and IN THE LAND OF NOD, 1996. An English collection is THE SUB-PREFECT SHOULD HAVE HELD HIS TONGUE, AND OTHER ESSAYS, London: Viking Press, 1990. In France, Butler’s work was introduced by Joseph Brodsky, in L’ENVAHISSEUR EST VENU EN PANTOUFLES, tr. Philippe Blanchard, preface by Joseph Brodsky, Paris: Anatolia Editions, 1994. At Brodsky’s urging, a selection of the essays drawn from the four volumes brought out by The Lilliput Press was published in the U.S. as INDEPENDENT SPIRIT, New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1996.

Suzanna Crampton was born in New York City in 1963, and was raised on both sides of the Atlantic, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S.A. and County Kilkenny, Ireland. Since 1996 she has pursued photography as an art-form, being self-taught and inspired by the Latin meaning of the word photography: “drawing with light.” Among her works are the series influenced by dance called “Drawing With Light Playing With Shadows” and her studies of music collectively titled “Sights of Sound.” The images exhibited here are from her series “Fauna,” a solo exhibition of which was held during the Kilkenny Art Festival, August 2000. They were achieved using reverse-processing. The subject is photographed with transparency film, the exposures are developed as negatives and then returned to the original process and printed as transparency film, so that the colors and contrast attained are the opposite of reality. No computers were used in the process, only slide film and a Nikon camera. More of her work can be seen at Artvitae.

Bridget Flannery was born in Cork in 1959. She graduated with honors from the Crawford College of Art and Design, Cork, in 1981, winning the Student of the Year Award for painting. Since then she has exhibited in group and solo exhibitions not only in Ireland but also in Europe and New England, where she lived for a number of years. The images in this issue were part of a solo exhibition in February 2000 and were inspired by travels in Northern Europe, especially Finland and the North Friesian island of Sylt during the winters 1997 to 1999. The paintings are of mixed media, a collage of Tibetan and Nepalese handmade papers, acrylic, watercolor, and natural pigments, and can be seen at Artvitae

Her solo exhibition “The Possibilities of Stillness” will be held at the Ashford Gallery, R.H.A, Dublin, from 25 October to 25 November 2001.

Hua Li, formerly a reporter for Radio Beijing, earned a graduate degree in political science in the United States, where she has lived for the past ten years. She imports furniture from China. “Hua Li” is a pseudonym.

Gretchen McCullough was raised in Harlingen, Texas. After graduating from Brown University in 1984, she taught in Egypt, Turkey, and Japan. She earned her M.F.A. from the University of Alabama in 1995, and was awarded a Fulbright Lectureship to Syria for 1997-99. Excerpts of her novel, THE CLEOPATRA SCHOOL, have been published in The Texas Review and The Alaska Quarterly Review. A radio essay about her experiences in Syria aired in April 2000 on “All Things Considered.” “The Sugar House,” a fifteen-minute play, will be performed at the Famous for Fifteen Theatre Festival at the American University in Cairo, where she teaches in the Freshman Writing Program.

B. Z. Niditch is a poet, playwright and teacher. His work has appeared in Anthology of Magazine Verse & Yearbook of American Poetry, Columbia: A Magazine of Poetry and Art, The Literary Review, Denver Quarterly, International Poetry Review, Hawaii Review, Le Guépard (France), Prism International, and Je june (Czech Republic), and in “Recommended Reading,” Archipelago Vol. 3, No. 3. CRUCIFIXION TIMES, a book of poems, was published recently. A selection of his work appears on “The World of B. Z. Niditch.”

Toma  alamun was born in 1941 in Zagreb, Croatia, and raised in Koper, Slovenia. He has a degree in Art History from the University of Ljubljana. Before devoting himself to poetry he worked as a conceptual artist. Since the publication of his first book, POKER (1966), he has published thirty collections of poetry in Slovenia, and is now recognized as one of the leading poets of Europe. His honors include the Preeren Fund Prize, the Jenko Prize, a Pushcart Prize, a visiting Fulbright to Columbia University, and a fellowship to the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa. He has also served as Cultural Attaché to the Slovenian Consulate, New York. His work has appeared in numerous international journals and, in English translation, in the following (selected) collections: THE SELECTED POEMS OF TOMA  ALAMUN (The Ecco Press, 1988); THE SHEPHERD, THE HUNTER (Pedernal Press, 1992), THE FOUR QUESTIONS OF MELANCHOLY (White Pine Press, 1997), and FEAST (Harcourt Brace, 2000). The selection of poems in this issue is from THE BALLAD OF METKA KRAOVIC, tr. Michael Biggins. (Prague: Twisted Spoon PressP.O. Box 21, Preslova 12, 150 21 Prague 5,Czech Republic). He is married to the painter Metka Kraovic.

“X”: The author of AGENT NINE is currently undercover. Comments and inquiries may be sent in care of Archipelago. Book One, “Alice’s Adventures Overseas,” has appeared in seven installments in Archipelago. We regret to say that Part 7 is the final episode in this journal and look forward to congratulating the author when an enlightened publisher brings out this delightful book.



News of Our Contributors

Maria Negroni: ISLANDIA, a book-length poem translated from the Spanish by Anne Twitty, has just appeared in a bilingual edition published by Station Hill Press. Passages exploring the island existence of exiled Nordic heroes and their bards, the skalds, alternate with reflections by the author's own persona – a contemporary poet exiled in Manhattan. Esther Allen has described it as “an extraordinary cycle of poems written in two very different and contrasting forms – the Nordic, masculine, epic style of the prose poems and the Mediterranean, feminine, mannered lyric style of the others.” Selections from other books by Maria Negroni, also translated by Anne Twitty, appeared in Archipelago, Vol. 1, No. 1 and, Vol. 2, No.4. ISLANDIA can be ordered through Consortium or 1-800-283-3572, or directly from Station Hill.

Katherine McNamara, the editor of Archipelago, is the author of NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH: A JOURNEY INTO THE INTERIOR OF ALASKA, a work of non-fiction just out from Mercury House. Excerpts appear in Jack Magazine and Archipelago Vol. 2, No. 3. Copies can be ordered from Consortium Book Sales and Distribution  or 1-800-283-3572, on-line, or in your independent book store.




Emergency Money for Writers


Professional writers and dramatists facing financial emergencies are encouraged to apply for assistance to the Authors League Fund, founded in 1917 and supported with charitable contributions. The writer may apply directly to the Fund, or a friend or relative may apply on behalf of a writer who urgently needs money to pay medical bills, rent, or other living expenses. Though the money is a loan, it is interest-free and there is no pressure to repay it. The applicant must be a professional writer with a record of publications and a U.S. citizen. For an application or more information, contact the Authors League Fund, 330 W. 42 St. New York, N.Y. 10036-6902. Telephone: 212 268-1208; fax 212 564-8363.


The Euro-San Francisco Poetry Festival 2001

The Euro-San Francisco Poetry Festival 2001 is a collaborative presentation of the San Francisco offices of the Goethe Institut Inter-Nationes, the Istituto Italiano di Cultura and the consulates of Belgium, Norway, Spain and Sweden along with the San Francisco Art Institute, Small Press Traffic, Intersection for the Arts, and the Poetry Center and American Poetry Archives.

The Euro-San Francisco Poetry Festival brings European writers reading in their own languages and in translation to share stages with local Bay Area poets. The festival will take place between Thursday, April 26 and Sunday, April 29. In addition to readings, the Festival will publish (with the support and imprint of the City Lights Foundation) an anthology of the participating writers.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, April 26, 7:30 p.m. Presented by San Francisco Art Institute, at SFAI Lecture Hall, 800 Chestnut St., between Leavenworth and Jones. Dacia Maraini (Italy), Volker Braun (Germany), Joanne Kyger (U.S.A). Admission $6 ($4 SFAI members, students from other schools; free to all SFAI students).

Friday, April 27, 7:30 p.m. Presented by Small Press Traffic, at Timken Hall, California College of Arts and Crafts, 1111 8th St. on the corner of 8th, Irwin and Wisconsin, a block north of 16th St. Johanna Ekstrom (Sweden), Angel Gonzalez (Spain), Barbara Barrigan (U.S.A), Marc Cholodenko (France), admission $5 (free to SPT members and CCAC students, faculty, staff).

Saturday, April 28, 2:00 p.m. Presented by Intersection for the Arts (at 446 Valencia St. between 15th and 16th Sts. Manuel Mantero (Spain), Massimiliano Chiamenti (Italy). Stefaan van den Bremt (Belgium), AndrÈ Baca (U.S.A), Admission $5 (suggested donation).

Saturday, April 28 7:30 p.m. Presented by the Poetry Center & American Poetry Archives, at Unitarian Center, 1187 Franklin, at Geary. Tor Obrestad (Norway), Katarina Frostenson (Sweden) Lutz Seiler (Germany), Taylor Brady (U.S.A). Admission $5 (suggested donation).

Sunday, April 29 1:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m. Presented by San Francisco Art Institute (at SFAI Lecture Hall (see above). Euro-San Francisco Poetry Festival Closing Reading. A group reading with participating European poets and translators and featuring San Francisco poets AndrÈ Baca, Barbara Barrigan, Bill Berkson, Taylor Brady, Norma Cole, Joanne Kyger, Denise Newman, Michael Rothenberg, Leslie Scalapino, Cedar Sigo, Hugh Steinberg, Tarin Towers and Elizabeth Treadwell, as well as German poet Philipp Schliemann, former San Francisco Poet Laureate Lawrence Ferlinghetti and current San Francisco Poet Laureate Janice Mirikitani.


Letters to the Editor



An enthusiastic e-mail letter

To the Editor:

A few weeks ago a Swiss film maker approached me with a request to translate the scenario of a documentary film about Annemarie Schwarzenbach. A colleague of hers, a German journalist who is hoping to interest American institutions in mounting an exhibition about A.S., also got in touch with me. Seeing the film, looking at her photographs, reading excerpts from her novels and travel books, discussing her with the journalist, all amounted to a sort of crash course in the life and work of Annemarie Schwarzenbach. You can imagine my surprise at seeing her name on the list of contributors to the current Archipelago.

This evening I received an enthusiastic e-mail letter from a man in Kansas who had read and loved “The Storm.” I’m not used to hearing from readers at all. It was a pleasure.

Joel Agee

Joel Agee received the Helen and Kurt Wolff Prize for his translation of Heinrich von Kleist’s PENTHESILEA (deCapua Books/HarperCollins). His story “The Storm” appeared in Archipelago Vol. 4, No. 4. An excerpt from Annemarie Schwartzenbach’s LYRIC NOVELLA, tr. by Isabel Cole, appeared in the same issue.


The flash of words versus the flash of imagery?

To the Editor:

Novelists writing for TV? Oh, I think it’s part of the American writing mythology: Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Odetts, Parker, Benchly, and others working in the industry. Novelists who are writing in Hollywood are at the golden extreme, lying around in the Beverly Hills clover. So, what’s that writing life like? It’s the question every aspiring writer has at one time or another: what’s it like to be on the inside?

I have seen TV shows that have more to say than any short story in Zoetrope or the New Yorker. I wonder whether the constraints of money and taste in TV are any worse than the ruling fashions of multi-culti- and PC-writing are in the book industry. Each industry has its own skew toward the market that in turn blinds it to life in this United States.

I know I’m rattling along here, but consider: I’m willing to bet that you, like me, often think that our pop culture is driven by rock and roll and NFL football. That’s what the NY and LA media tell us over and over, subtly through programming, and obviously through magazine and newspaper coverage.

But that’s a mistaken impression. Country music sells ten times the volume of rock and roll; and NASCAR racing has ten times the business of NFL football. As far as representing the country as it really is, we are living in an upside-down media world.

We are living in the great sentimental age of the book, but could it be that the brash media of TV and movies take over simply because they can do what words do not? And didn’t literature begin in theater, and isn’t immediate representation what we crave for our literary experience? The flash of words versus the flash of imagery?

Avery Chenoweth

Avery Chenoweth is the author of WINGTIPS Johns Hopkins Press), a collection of linked stories.


No Bitterness, No Recrimination

To the Editor:

It took me a while to “read” the on-line version of Archipelago. I discovered (from the technical point of view) that I can read but not print the whole issue. Maybe it has to do with my system, but it doesn’t really matter. The reading gave me a fine view of Archipelago, its international scope, and its slant toward political matters, human rights, abuse of power and its corrupting nature. Given my background, I can relate very well to these issues and wish that many people read more about these subjects and meditated on their implications.

What I like particularly of Archipelago Vol.4, No.3, is the lack of preachiness. That we read about the above subjects just because the writers are good writers and whatever we learn from them happens because of their lyricism, subtlety, sophistication. I don’t detect bitterness, though the above subjects can easily lend themselves to bitterness and recrimination.

I hope what’s good about Archipelago will spread and affect change.

Renata Treitel

Renata Treitel's “The Burden of Silence” appeared in Vol. 4, No. 3. Her translations from the Italian of poems by Rosita Copioli will appear in the next issue. She is also the translator of Rosita Copioli, SPLENDIDA LUMINA SOLIS / THE BLAZING LIGHTS OF THE SUN (Sun and Moon Press).


The Making of Saints

To the Editor:

I was much interested in your reading of Paul Celan, line by line. I undertook, years ago, the study of German just to be able to read Celan in the original. I will have to read the biography you mentioned, along with GLOTTAL STOP, the new translation of some of his poems by Heather McHugh and Nikolai Popov. Some of their translations were in our summer issue but are gone now from our pages, as the German publisher Suhrkampf, which owns all of the rights to Celan’s work, I believe, only gave us permission for six months’ posting.

I understand, too, your ambivalence toward the Pope. I became a Catholic as an adult, converting when I was 26. My mother was a fallen-away Catholic, an odd case in that it was her marriage to my father that kept her out of the church, and that, once they divorced, after almost thirty years of marriage, she was able to go back; the divorce, and her going back, occurred in the couple of years after her conversion. And yet, I, took, have fallen away, for all of those reasons that you touched upon. I found myself recently much disturbed by the reading of HITLER’S POPE, a disturbance expressed in these two poems that I send you. I hope they don’t seem too strong. I have a sense from your writing of a certain evocative exactitude and silence.

Rebecca Seiferle

Rebecca Seiferle is the editor of  The Drunken Boat.

The essays to which she refers are “The Blank Page,” in Endnotes, Vol. 4, No. 4, and “The Poem of the Grand Inquisitor,” Endnotes, Vol. 4, No. 3.


The Making of Saints

A peasant girl who roots in the mud

for the unfailing spring becomes one,

not because the trickle of water eventually

overfills the grotto, not because her neighbor’s

baby, thrashing his limbs, on his back

in the desperate puddle, cries out with restored

health and life, not because a bonfire of crutches

will be left at the site which was once the village dump,

not because anyone who stands beside the girl

can see the lady to whom she speaks, and not because

of her fervor which only grows as the laughter

swells around her, but because the girl will name

the Lady as the Immaculate Conception, on a day–

o careful scrutiny of the calendar!–just days before

the Pope in Rome announces the Doctrine

of the Immaculate Conception, a doctrine

that will be twin, hinge, foundation

to the new Doctrine of his own Infallibility,

and, which this girl, digging in the mud of Lourdes–

the dolt of her class, a very idiot according to the sisters,

empty as the earth itself filling up with water–

will become the cornerstone of.

                                              —Rebecca Seiferle


“A lonely man in his greatness”

Pius XII, who for some unknown reason

always hated flies,rotted in his coffin.

He who had been crowned with such ceremony,

glittering in a bejeweled, ascetic pose, had

the tip of his nose fall off while he reposed

in state. He who had such a delicate stomach

that trains of food stuffs traveled with him

and yet who, as Europe starved, faced

every heaping plate as if opening a warrant,

who was so parse, he said nothing of the Jews,

who smelled of the absence of all scents,

who lifted his arms in a gesture ofimmolation

and said nothing for the Jews, who had himself

filmed carrying a lamb on his shoulders, who

required that no human presence should mar

his daily stroll in the gardens, whose odor

of sanctity was antiseptic doused on his hands

and linens, from whom the workers hid

in the bushes rather than disturb the pure white wraith,

who would not sanctify those who smoked

or uttered a single curse, who would say nothing

to the Jews, rotted in his coffin. The doctor

who tended to his strange undiagnosed ailments

embalmed his body with a technique

that failed like the Concordant with Hitler,

though, in a sense, it was successful,

elevating the absolute power of the Pope,

as his coffin was elevated through the streets

of Rome. As the trinity of coffin, one nested

inside the other, passed from the caecum

of St. Peter’s, past the appendix of the archives,

to the colic streets, through the gates of Ileum,

the bowels of the city itself, strange noises,

of belches, flatulence, erupted from the corpse

of the Angelic Shepherd–like the earth

in many places in Europe, even in 1958

still rising and falling to the noises of death.

                                          —Rebecca Seiferle


“Woman Driving a Car”

To the Editor:

A fire of ideas has resulted from one small section of Cornelia Bessie’s article about Lev Dodin and the Maly Theatre Company:


Once, when I was driving him somewhere I caught him looking at me as though he were studying a painting called “woman driving a car.”

I began to tinker on-line with gazes/sight/perspective/art/and iconography; hours later found an illuminating piece on why there is no perspective in Persian miniatures, or in Muslim art at all* learned about the iconography of women’s gazes in Christian art, in an exhaustively argued but fine thesis by a feminist scholar+; and, while I was at it, skimmed the long history of theories of sight and read up on the discovery of perspective – all the while thinking about Lev Dodin’s gaze in that car. I recalled that the power of the ‘gaze’ in Western art is such because our world is Greek-based and their approach to life was visual, unlike the Middle Eastern world where it is audial. Hardly my idea – I think it is Auden’s; but it struck home while learning how to look at Muslim art last night, where perspective was not just ignored, but forbidden.

Some of the last decade I spent involved with peoples who long ago came from further east, or east and south – Estonians and Lithuanians. Their cultures remain strongly audial: they like their difficult, musical, very old languages spoken with care and precision; are much given to choral singing, opera, drama – all the oral arts, important not only in the Baltics but to a wide swath of peoples to the east and south. The plastic arts until recently were embellishments, repeated motifs carved, painted, woven and sewn on items for practical use and, like language and music, eminently portable, for these once semi-nomadic peoples. It is the ear which defines this east-to-southeast imagination most comprehensively, not the eye. On the Aegean Peninsula, the Greeks viewed life rather differently and, as a result, so do the rest of us in much of the Western world.

Arguments over where light comes from and how we see have been in contention since Plato and Aristotle, with Platonic thought leaning somewhat farther east, later to strongly influence Christology and Western religious art. From Eros to the arrows of Mary’s penetrating gaze is one smooth line, passion redirected for mystical purposes. The idea behind this fills Western libraries and has since the founding of the monasteries: you gaze on beauty or pathos and the emotion engendered leads by stages to the Ideal or to God, or it does not (Plato and Aristotle still arguing). Is the eye the gateway to the soul? Dangerously so, to religious thinkers of the Middle East, where worshipping an object or representing the Almighty is proscribed in two major religions. There, the ancient spoken Word is sacred, true all the way to India. Despite the Christian Bible’s In the beginning was the Word, the Western Christian cannot feel its aural impact, unable to hear the original and not inclined to, where the syllables are direct lines to G_d for Judaism and Islam (and to any devout Hindu). For others of us, the Aramaic is missing, and so is our belief in the elemental, transforming power of the spoken word. West and north of the Aegean, we’ve gone instead with the power of the eye.

When perspective was first discovered and applied to art, the Individual separated himself out forever from the undivided world and stood complete, which worried the Church Fathers but not the Humanists, who felt we could now continue what the Greeks had started. This discovery of perspective was greeted with much greater alarm farther to the east and south, where it was thought to cut the viewer apart from God, throwing him out of the picture, as it were, and so its use in art was forbidden. Those flat placements in Persian miniatures are to protect the devout from the ‘evil of perspective.’ If things looked more real, the viewer would be too much recalled to himself and miss the point, which was union with G_d. The Word seemed far more reliable– the ear more tractable than the eye.

And so, to me, Lev looks at Cornelia Bessie, on that ride, in a slightly Eastern way, just long enough for the reader to catch the alchemy in that focus. They do not move much – and cannot speak for lack of language; it’s all in line-of-sight. She thinks he sees her as a painting, but I think he imagines her speaking lines as on a stage (perhaps his). He’s hearing spoken words. For some, meanwhile, his gaze has set off a roar of recognition to do with Christian iconography, but it’s now turned upside-down, for a woman’s sanction to look at all is here reversed. A physically powerful but gentle bear of a man regards a calm woman, one who happens to be in charge of the vehicle. At the same time, we gaze on him as she cannot (partly because she’s driving: a nice nuance on the female gaze averted), but also because he’s not staring at us.

Lev looks at her, she says, “as though he were studying a painting called ‘Woman Driving a Car.’” He is our vehicle for seeing her, but the gaze rebounds, for Lev looks nothing if not apostolic, himself, like an enormous saint squeezed into this car; until it all begins to seem a mild send-down of centuries of Christian art. Now add the reader, that orphaned witness, and the ghost of perspective comes along, too. Lines of sight multiply to aggravate the geometry, until the scene in the car– with the East contemplating the West, and the West imagining the mind of the East but from a very Western point of view – accomplishes exactly what the clerics of both would wish. The target is the same. We may have overcome our prodigal status, here in the West, with the spread of the printed word – Gutenberg’s press appearing the same century as the use of perspective – by employing both the eye and the ear and trusting imagination to set the stage: a leap of faith. We watch Lev watching Cornelia by reading the words on the page – we’re a part of it, too.

No division.

Kathy Callaway

*no perspective in Persian miniatures, or in Muslim art at all

+fine thesis by a feminist scholar

Kathy Callaway is a contributing editor of Archipelago. Her “Estonian Letters” appeared in Vol. 1, No. 1, and her “Lithuanian Letters” will appear in the Summer issue. The Maly Theater Company,” by Cornelia Bessie, appeared in Vol. 4, No. 4.


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