A Letter from Katherine McNamara, Editor of Archipelago


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Dear Friend and Reader,

I invite you to read the Winter issue of Archipelago, Vol. 4, No. 4, now on-line. You’ll find an interesting list of authors, artists, and articles, I believe.

The widely-translated poet Etel Adnan, author of “Sitt Marie Rose” and “The Arab Apocalypse,” has given us a series of epigrammatic meditations, Further OnŠ, to carry us into a new year.

Joel Agee, the estimable translator of Rilke, Canetti, Kleist, and himself a memoirist, offers an intense story, The Storm, from his work-in-progress, a novel titled “In the House of My Fear.”

The myth of “Eros and Psyche” is retold, beautifully, terrifyingly, by Holly Woodward, who is working on a novel with comic strips.

In translation comes an excerpt from the tragic “Lyric Novella,” by the late Swiss novelist Annemarie Schwarzenbach, once again subtly translated by Isabel Cole, who earlier gave us work by the German novelist Christine Wolter.

Heather Burns also returns to our pages, I am happy to say, with two poems deceptively simple but which linger in the mind.

The editor and publisher Cornelia Bessie has sent us a Letter from Taormina on the remarkable Maly Theatre Company, of St. Petersburg. You will recall the two-part conversation I conducted with her and Michael Bessie in the series “Institutional Memory,” several years ago.

Many readers will recognize the name of the web-theoretician Alan Sondheim. He wrote a funny, ironic text called “Rosa’s Argument” on a TI59 calculator with thermal printer. The artist Dan S. Wang, in collaboration, then printed “Rosa’s Argument” in twelve panels of hand-made paper, on a Vandercook sp-15 proof press manufactured in the early 1960s, in Chicago. The press was used to produce a perfect proof of a handset form which was then made into a photo-litho plate for eventual offset mass reproduction. “In other words, this machine occupies the very specific and narrow period in which printing used both manual skills and photo offset automation,” Dan Wang writes. Coming upon these panels in his solo show last year, I couldn’t help but wonder how “Rosa’s Argument” would look transposed to the web, and so, we’ve done it. Veterans of the Sixties will be amused.

I continue the series “Institutional Memory” with a conversation about electronic publishing with Calvin Reid, who covers the web for Publishers Weekly. It’s a long, informative piece, and for those curious about or wary of this new kind of publishing it should be a sort of site-map. Alice Rocket goes on! Her fans will be pleased to see Part IV, Clues Seven and Eight, by the redoubtable undercover author “X.” (To all those who have sent in their guesses about the identity of “X”: the answer — so far — is, Wrong.)

“Recommended Reading” appears, in this issue, as an essay by Anthony Baker, a book dealer, on the fascinating subject of flintknapping as craft and archaeological subject.

My Endnotes are called “The Blank Page”: “It was the end of the year but not of hypocrisy, banality, and unsubtle thuggery, nor gabbling hysteria. Oh, we were tired. Wouldn’t politics, let alone the damned economy, please just shut up?”

And, as always, “Resources” and “Letters to the Editor,” as well as the Download edition.

With warm good wishes for the new year, I welcome you to the issue and, as always, look forward with pleasure to your Letters.


Katherine McNamara

Katherine McNamara