A Letter from Katherine McNamara, Editor of Archipelago


In this issue, see our feature of Katherine McNamara's Narrow Road to the Deep North

Other letters from Katherine McNamara Fall 2000

Winter 2000


To visit Archipelago


Mentioned in Katherine's letter are Renata Treitel whose poems appeared in Winter 2000 and Rebecca Seiferle, Editor of The Drunken Boat
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Dear Friend and Reader,

Vol. 5, No. 1 of Archipelago http://www.archipelago.org is officially live, and I invite you to read it. I think it a noteworthy issue and hope you will agree. It opens with sixteen poems by the Slovenian poet Tomaz Salamun, tr. by Michael Biggins, from a new collection brought out by Twisted Spoon, in Prague.

The centenary of the Anglo-Irish essayist Hubert Butler (1900-1991) was celebrated last October in Kilkenny. Butler is recognized as a major Irish writer of the twentieth century and, equally, one of international importance, particularly for his writings on the Balkans. His sobering “The Sub-Prefect Should Have Held His Tongue” is reprinted in our pages, with bibliography.

Giving us a complex literary and historical perspective on Butler's Central European work are two essays by Chris Agee, an American poet and writer living in Belfast for the past twenty years. “The Balkan Butler” offers an overview of Butler's writings about that troubled peninsula where Agee has, himself, visited, and argues that Butler's Balkan writing is central to his oeuvre. “The Stepinac File” follows up on “The Sub-PrefectŠ.” in recounting the controversy in Ireland in 1952 over Butler¹s nuanced exposé of the collusion by Archbishop Stepinac with the Croatian Fascists during the Second World War in the forced conversions of Orthodox Serbs. Because the canonization of Stepinac has begun, this sobering matter is worth a close examination again.

In memory of the Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, B.Z. Niditch has written a simple and right elegy.

Insights into two quite different cities ­ Lattakia and Beijing ­ come to us from two equally different writers. Gretchen McCullough¹s reminiscence, “Syria: Living in Wild and Marvelous Stories,” is of a sweetly naïve young scholar¹s introduction into a society living on rumors and Scherezadean tales while ­ or because ­ its people are shadowed by the secret police. “Hua Li,” the pseudonym of a former reporter from Beijing now living in the U.S., writes us a lively letter about being “A Fish Between Two Waters” in the capital of the People¹s Republic of China.

Two Irish artists have given vivid, even beautiful, images for our contemplation. The painter Bridget Flannery¹s four landscapes of mixed media are of almost musical intensity. Suzanna Crampton, photographer, shows three serenely startling reverse-process Cibachrome prints of animals.

The seventh installment of Alice Rocket, Agent Nine, sends our favorite goil from Brooklyn off on a new adventure, toward Russia with Jimmy Dandy ­ and, sadly, out of our pages. This marvelous book by “X” awaits the perceptive publisher who will give us our Alice between covers! I hope to report her arrival very soon.

For “Recommended Reading,” the young poet and journalist Taije Silverman asked Umberto Eco what he thought, last Autumn in the Prague Castle, about books, readers, the Internet, and everything else catching Eco¹s fancy. Letters to the Editor have come from our Contributing Editor Kathy Callaway (a gem of a small essay), Rebecca Seiferle (two thoughtful poems), Joel Agee, Renata Treitel, and Avery Chenoweth.

My Endnotes, “A Local Habitation and A Name,” are a rumination on the Butler meeting in Kilkenny last October and the private ghosts of an Irish-American childhood being laid to rest in a very real, new Ireland.

May I mention, also, that a non-fiction narrative by this editor, called Narrow Road to the Deep North, a Journey into the Interior of Alaska, is out from Mercury House www.mercuryhouse.org. An excerpt appeared in Archipelago, Vol. 2, No. 2, and is in the Archive. And may I remind you that the Download edition is available as a pdf. (In this issue, see our feature of Katherine McNamara's Narrow Road to the Deep North)

Finally, will you be so kind as to click on the “Support” page I¹ve just introduced. We would be grateful for help by those who can afford it. Archipelago is free to all readers ­ you are there in more than twenty countries ­ and all are welcome.

As always, I look forward to hearing from you.


Katherine McNamara
Editor and Publisher