Contents Contributors Resources Recommended Download Archive


c o n t r i b u t or s


Simin Behbahani, born in 1927, in Tehran, of literary parents – her father, Abbas Khalili, was a novelist and her mother, Fakhri Arghun, a noted feminist, teacher, and writer – published her first poem at 14. She is the author of over a dozen books of poetry in Persian, with one collection of translations in English, A CUP OF SIN, tr. Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa (Syracuse University Press, 1999). She was awarded a Human Rights Watch-Hellman/Hammet grant in 1998, and similarly, in 1999, the Carl von Ossietzky Medal, for her struggle for freedom of expression in Iran. A selected list of sites on the web relevant to her is available on the Resources page.

Thomas Crampton is a Hong Kong-based regional correspondent for the International Herald Tribune.

Robert Finley teaches literature and creative writing at the Université Ste-Anne in southwestern Nova Scotia, and is an associate editor there of Feux Chalins: Littératures des Maritimes, a bilingual arts journal. He writes regular reviews for The Malahat Review, and is currently at work on a short book on reading contemporary poetry, a long book on harbours, and a picture book, with photographer François Gaudet, designed for web publication.

Clara Györgyey is a Professor Emeritus of English and Drama and Associate Director of the Program for Humanities in Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, and has been President of International PEN Writers-in-Exile Center since 1976. She is the author of ten books and translator of more than two dozen works of different genres, including the long-running play, Catsplay, by Istvan Örkény, a critical biography, FERENC MOLNAR (Twayne’s World Authors Series), and translations in A MIRROR TO THE CAGE, Three Contemporary Hungarian Plays (University of Arkansas Press). “Confessions of a Marxist Puppetmaster” first appeared in Hungarian in her book of stories, WITH ARROGANT HUMILITY (1987), then in two Hungarian samizdat periodicals; the English version (translated by herself) came out in Légerité, (1989; now defunct). The piece is a portrait of a very famous writer and sociologist persecuted by the communist regime. Clara Gyorgyey lives in Orange, Connecticut, with her husband, Ferenc.

Richard Jones is a journalist and novelist who has tried his hand at all forms of writing except for the theatre. He is a native of Cardiganshire in Wales (born in 1926) and was educated in Wales and France. He worked for Reuters and the BBC, and for a time was a correspondent in Beirut. After the publication of his first novel, in 1967, he began teaching creative writing in American universities, including Stanford and the University of Virginia. He has been a book reviewer for a wide range of publications including The Listener (the now-defunct BBC publication) and The American Scholar. His “Hubert Butler, An Appreciation,” appeared in Archipelago Vol. 1, No. 2.

Elizabeth Knies is the author of THE NEW YEAR & OTHER POEMS, published in THREESOME POEMS (Alicejames Books); STREETS AFTER RAIN (Alicejames Books); and FROM THE WINDOW (Teal Press). New poems will appear in the Spring 2001 Hudson Review.

Christian McEwen, daughter of Sir Robert and Lady McEwen, was born in 1956 in London and grew up on the Borders of Scotland. She has a particular interest in nature writing and the family memoir. She is the editor of JO’s GIRLS: Tomboy Tales of High Adventure (Beacon Press, 1997), and is at work on a video sequel, Tomgirls! She is also the editor of NAMING THE WAVES: Contemporary Lesbian Poetry (Virago Press, 1988; Crossing Press, 1989), and, with Sue O’Sullivan, OUT THE OTHER SIDE: Contemporary Lesbian Writing (Crossing Press, 1989). Her essay “Growing Up Upperclass” appears in OUT OF THE CLASS CLOSET, ed. Julia Penelope (Crossing Press, 1994), and her new volume, THE ALPHABET OF THE TREES: A Guide to Nature Writing (Teachers & Writers Collaborative), co-edited with Mark Statman, is just out. It contains images of watercolors by Rory McEwen.

Farzaneh Milani teaches Persian language and literature and studies in women and gender and is presently director of Studies in Women and Gender at the University of Virginia. She is the author of VEILS AND WORDS: The Emerging Voices of Iranian Women Writers (Syracuse Univ. Press and I. B. Taurus) and has also served as guest editor for two special issue of Nimeye Digar on Simin Daneshvar and Simin Behbahani. With Kaveh Safah, she translated A CUP OF SIN (Syracuse University Press, 1999), by Simin Behbahani.

Kaveh Safa has taught courses in anthropology at City Colleges, New York and Los Angeles, and at the University of Memphis, and in Persian language and literature at the Universities of Virginia and Chicago. His current teaching and research interests are in poetics and sexuality and gender. He is completing a dissertation on concepts of masculinity in Iranian culture for the Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago. With Farzanah Milani, he translated A CUP OF SIN (Syracuse University Press, 1999), by Simin Behbahani.

Renata Treitel is a teacher, poet and translator. She was born in Switzerland and educated in Italy, Argentina, and the United States. She has published a chapbook of poetry, GERMAN NOTEBOOK (1983). Her translations include: Susana Thénon, distancias/distances (Sun & Moon Press, 1994), and Rosita Copioli, SPLENDIDA LUMINA SOLIS / THE BLAZING LIGHTS OF THE SUN (Sun & Moon Press, 1996). Renata Treitel was awarded a Witter Bynner Translation Grant (1991) to translate Rosita Copioli's SPLENDIDA LUMINA SOLIS, and won the Oklahoma Poetry Award (1997) for her translation THE BLAZING LIGHTS OF THE SUN. This year, she received a Witter Bynner Translation Grant to translate Rosita Copioli’s FURORE DELLE ROSE.

“X”: The author of AGENT NINE is currently undercover. Comments and inquiries may be sent in care of Archipelago. The first part of Book One, “Alice’s Adventures Overseas,” will appear in six installments in Archipelago, from September till March. The newest episode goes on-line around the middle of next month.




 and pdf

Hubert Butler (1900-1991), Kilkenny man-of-letters, remains a largely undiscovered treasure of Irish literature. A celebration of his life and work is to be held in his ancestral town, on the weekend of October 20-22. Information and registration forms can be found on this pdf (requiring the Adobe Reader for viewing), and on the “Hubert Butler” web site.

The celebration will begin with a keynote address, “Hubert Butler and His Century,” by the distinguished Oxford historian Roy Foster on Friday evening, followed by three sessions: “Remembering Butler” (Saturday morning), “Butler in Ireland” (Saturday afternoon), and “Butler Abroad” (Sunday morning). In each session a series of speakers will address aspects of Butler’s life and work. There will also be Conference Receptions at Kilkenny Castle and at Maidenhall, the Butler family home. The speakers will include John Banville, Edna Longley, Joe Hone, Tim Robinson, Fintan O’Toole, Nicholas Grene, Chris Agee, Dick Crampton, Christopher Fitz-Simon, John Casey, Proinsias O Drisceoil, Rob Tobin, Peter Smithwick, Christopher Merrill, Caroline Walsh, Eleanor Burgess and Antony Farrell. The Observer columnist Neal Ascherson will deliver the closing address on Sunday afternoon, “Hubert Butler’s Contemporary Relevance.” The Conference venue will be Butler House, in the center of Kilkenny.

“The Artukovitch File,” by Hubert Butler, appeared in Archipelago Vol. 1, No. 2. John Casey, novelist, speaker at the celebration, and family friend of the Butlers, is also a Contributing Editor of this journal.

Edith Grossman, the translator of Gabriel García Márquez, Mayra Montero, Alvaro Mútis, and Mario Vargas Llosa, among other noted Latin American writers, has been asked to undertake a new American English version of Cervantes’ DON QUIXOTE, by Dan Halpern, publisher of The Ecco Press/HarperCollins. The project is expected to take about two years, and she will provide notes to the edition, as well. Her translation of Victoria Slavuski’s “Music to Forget an Island By” appeared in Vol. 2, No. 1. Edith Grossman is also a Contributing Editor of Archipelago.

M Sarki, some of whose poems appeared in Archipelago Vol. 1, No. 2, and No. 3, is the author of ZIMBLE ZAMBLE ZUMBLE, from elimae books, just out. Bibliographic information: First edition, first printing, limited to 75 copies. 12mo - over 6 3/4" - 7 3/4" tall. Hand sewn original wraps. Foreword by Gordon Lish. 99 pp. The text of this book was set in Polophilus. Front and back covers 80 lb. Crystal Gloss Cover. The front and back covers were hand cut, and the book was strengthened by an internal binding and bound (inside and out) with bee's-wax-treated silk thread. Designed by Deron Bauman.

Persons interested in purchasing a copy (for $55) can contact Deron Bauman of elimae books either by e-mail or by post at 822 N. Clinton, Dallas TX, 75208. A signed copy from the author M Sarki can be had for $60 to cover the cost of extra postage and packaging in the U.S. That address is 1403 Evergreen Road, Anchorage, KY 40223.

Michael Rothenberg’s THE PARIS JOURNALS, a book of poems, is to be launched at a publication party given by Suzi Winson, editor and publisher of Fish Drum Magazine. An evening of readings by Michael Rothenberg and Suzi Winston, from the book and magazine, will be part of the festivities. The event takes place on Sunday, October 8, at the Zinc Bar, 90 West Houston Street (between LaGuardia and Thompson Streets), New York, at 6:30 pm; small admission charged. Michael Rothenberg’s letter appears below.

Joan Schenkar’s new biography of Dolly Wilde, niece of Oscar and a personage in her own right, is called TRULY WILDE and is to be launched in October by Virago/Little Brown in the U.K. and Basic Books in the U.S. The cast of characters includes: Dorothy Wilde (1895-1941), Oscar Wilde, Natalie Clifford Barney, various members of the Wilde family, Trancred Borenius, Djuna Barnes, Bettina Bergery, Cecil Beaton, Truman Capote, Berthe Cleyrergue, Victor Cunard, Elizabeth Eyre de Lanux, Janet Flanner, and a high-spirited gathering of on-lookers.

Joan Schenkar is a widely-produced playwrite, three of whose “comedies of menace” are collected in SIGNS OF LIFE (Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1998). Her “Recommended Reading” appeared in Archipelago Vol. 2, No. 1.



On James Broughton, from Michael Rothenberg:

James Broughton is a celebrated maniac of the beat era and did a lot of experimental film work and poetry. I have seen some of his films and have heard his poetry. When I heard it I was uplifted by his lightness and gaiety and playfulness and love, though sometimes I felt it was slight and easy.

I met him at Port Townsend about 20 years ago. I was working with William Stafford, Mark Strand, Carolyn Kizer, Charles Wright, and Marvin Bell. Believe me, when Broughton dropped in – he lived around there for a while – it was such a breath of fresh air I wanted to kiss him, and I told him. But you have to consider the source; too much of the university professor can dull my senses. He didn’t have that way about him. That was his beauty. But he was very smart. Certainly an intellectual. He was concerned with liberation and experimentation in art and sexuality. Jack Foley who writes at Octavo, is on KPFA in Berkeley poetry series, and writes reviews for the Poetry Flash, is a big fan of his and there are many like Jack.

My best,
Michael Rothenberg

Michael Rothenberg is a poet and edits The Big Bridge. “Free to Die Laughing,” an interview with James Broughton, appeared in Archipelago Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2.


On the Editor’s conversation with Odile Hellier, from Martin Goodman:

It’s interesting, this whole game of the commercialization of culture. I recognize how vulnerable a writing career is without a best-seller under the belt. The quirks and risks are commercially acceptable from a known name, a “branded” writer; but without those sales figures I have to keep coming up with a new sleight of hand to get the next book published.

I recently created a massive chart of factors that created best-sellers to see if I could write with some of those criteria in mind. It’s an informative process, though I have come to see that “unique and strong authorial voice” is one of the necessary categories.

Grisham came up quite a few times in your conversation. I’ve not read the new piece serialized in his Oxford Magazine, which got some wonderful reviews, but actually have been quite impressed by him. There was one page in one of the books that made me think “wow, he can really do it if he wants”: beautifully clean prose, a latter-day Dickensian style. It was like seeing the early paintings of Lowry and realizing he actually could do great art, so I should revise my opinion of his stick-people paintings, knowing they were done by choice and not creative flaccidity! I do find a lot of “literature” to be maudlin self-reflection. One of the virtues of commercial literature is that it does not major in self-reflection. It often does take quite an incisive and informed approach to contemporary society.

“Literature” keeps letting me down. I know Malcolm Lowry is great, but I’ve sat by his graveside in Sussex and seen what that often amounts to. There’s a certain celebration of anguish, yet I’m not sure the exchange is worthwhile: the work for the failed and miserable lives. I’ve also sat by the river at the point Virginia Wolfe drowned herself. So much great work, written on the edge, explores the failures of life to really connect.

I’m not sure that gives the right encouragement.

Some give me hope. William Goyen’s ARCADIO, Denton Welch, James Purdy, especially in IN A SHALLOW GRAVE, Michael Cunningham before THE HOURS, (I realize I’m about to catalogue gay male writing, which shows how subjective comment is.) Peter Cameron’s ANDORRA, Mark Merlis’s AN ARROW’S FLIGHT (wonderful), Pete Russell’s THE SEA OF TRANQUILLITY, and Patrick White (who was my early hero) ...

Good commercial fiction gives me structure and a satisfying way out of a tangled mess, plus insights into contemporary aspects of life. “Literature” can turn my life around, make me joyful for the wonders of language; but so often seek to drag me into despair without showing me a credible way through it, and there is a way through it, so I tire of the wallowing.

Martin Goodman

Martin Goodman is a novelist and essayist. His interview with James Broughton, “Free to Die Laughing,” appeared in Archipelago Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2. Institutional Memory: A conversation with Odile Hellier, of the Village Voice Bookshop, Paris,” appeared in the same issue.


On serious reading and the web, from Phil Sheehan:

I think you are generally correct about serious readers. We (I flatter myself that I am one) take more pleasure, surely, in reading from the page, and I think there are several reasons for this.

The page in front of us – book or magazine or journal – has substance, it is real. Its content, therefore, is inherently real, substantial. And consistent. Every time I open my copy of BLEAK HOUSE, it begins, “London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn.” The computer screen, with images that come and go and change instantaneously, is the home of what is called (an oxymoron, in my mind) “virtual reality.” One of its touted advantages, with respect to the Internet, is that the page very likely will NOT be the same the next time I look at it.

It is not easy to get comfortable with a monitor: it defies or prevents many of the truly enjoyable positions for reading – curled up in a chair, sprawled in the grass, huddled under the covers. And serious readers – perhaps I need to pause here and define serious readers. In my mind, they are those who read because the process itself is important, magic, defining. It may not always matter what they read; in fact, they are apt to read absolutely anything at all merely because it is there. My middle son, the most literate of six highly literate siblings, is virtually compulsive about it, reading cereal boxes and banana labels and wattage imprints on light bulbs when nothing else is available. He’s been doing it since childhood, and is now in his mid-thirties. It might be that we serious readers are intent upon more than getting the score or identifying the killer or hearing the music: it is important to us to be able to translate the symbols into meaningful images; it is a critical step in bringing order out of chaos; it is a part of coming to grips with, of managing at least to comprehend, a world we know we can neither encompass or direct.

As I was saying when I so rudely interrupted myself: Serious readers enjoy the process; it enriches the entire experience, which becomes more than simply acquiring information. And one can honestly enjoy the process only if one is comfortable.

Reading on the computer screen is – it has become for most who do it for any period of time – an interactive phenomenon. It is unusual for me to read for more than a minute or so without calling on the computer to so something: call up a new page, go to a different site, bring up a different program, change parameters of the presentation. These are not the same as, not even analogous to, turning the page. They involve a change in direction, a redirection of focus, an intrusion of other elements. And that is not even to begin dealing with the more complex details of “interactivity.”

I had a pleasant but ultimately frustrating argument with an acquaintance lately about the value of what he (and many others, I suppose) calls “e-fiction.” It is one of the pet toys of the deconstructionists or some such nonce critical school, a technological assist in the depersonalizing of literature. He argued that e-fiction liberates the reader from the tyranny of the writer, allowing said reader to jump hither and yon in the text at her/his whim, instead of being led by the writer. My reply was that e-fiction sounded to me far more restrictive than the old-fashioned kind – readers leap around, to be sure, but only from predetermined points within the text, and only to other predetermined points within the text. If I am reading, say, a Tony Hillerman mystery, I am free at any point to look sideways at the New Mexican landscape, backward at the Navajo lore, down at the probable motives of the killer. All that, without clicking the mouse or even for a moment losing my place in the story. Not surprisingly, neither of us was converted.

Probably the dominant period of “serious readers” is at an end. We will never become extinct, I think, but we will soon be outnumbered, if we are not already, by those whose reading experience is confined to the computer screen, or some essentially indistinguishable surrogate. Looking back through McLuhan, we’d probably find he had outlined a great deal of this. We are the current incarnation of what he called POBs – print-oriented bastards. I think we deserve a less derisive title, though I think McLuhan applied it affectionately.

Phil Sheehan 


next page



contents download subscribe archive