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Literal - Spring 2010

  • Issue Number: Volume 20
  • Published Date: Spring 2010
  • Publication Cycle: Triannual

Literal is a bilingual journal published three times a year in Houston, Texas. It’s a large-format, glossy, visually impressive publication of political reflection, artwork, fiction, scholarly essays, book reviews, interviews, poetry, and commentary. The current issue is dedicated to the intellectual as a “contemporary pensive figure.” The exploration begins with the cover photo of a sculpture by Mexican artist Victor Rodríguez, “White Head, 2005,” the head of a man lying on its side, eyes closed. The artist is interviewed (in Spanish) by Tanya Huntington Hyde in the magazine.

Work in English includes a beautiful “Swiss Dossier,” on emerging visual artists from Switzerland with exquisitely reproduced images of their work; the literary reflections of book editor Sandra Lorenzano, translated by Huntington Hyde; short stories by Daniel Zahno and Perikles Monioudis, translated from the German by Janina Joffee and Ingrid Fichtner; an essay on “literature and migration” by Mexican-American writer Sergio Troncosco; and a consideration of the truly amazing art installations of Argentine artist Tomás Saraceno (now living in Germany) by Jeffrey Bowen, with stupendous photos of his work (glorious inflated plastic spheres of the planets) from an exhibition, “Lighter than Air,” at the Art Museum of the University of Houston where Bowen is assistant director of external affairs.

Poems by Rodolfo Mata have English titles, while the bodies of the poems are in Spanish. Here is the opening of “Slightly Bewitched,” along with my translation:

No me lo vas a creer
pero Marcela tiene celulitis
mas que yo
y pasa horas y horas
en el gimnasio
You’re not going to believe this
but Marcela has cellulite
more than I have
and she spends hours and hours
in the gym

An imagined interview with Proust by Adolfo Castanon (in Spanish) is among the most surprising and creative features in the magazine (translation is mine):

En dónde te gustaría vivir?
     – Fuera de mi mismo.
Where would you like to live?
     – Outside of myself.

The magazine is gorgeous, provocative, and sophisticated. Check out the fabulous web site, too: www.literalmagazine.com.

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Review Posted on July 15, 2010
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