Without exactly being intended, a theme emerged for this issue: imperial languages and their vernacular lives. After all, the span of a language measures not only the geopolitics of its reach but also the timeline of its influence. English today is the global lingua franca that Latin and ancient Greek once were, but in its day seemed to be no less a vernacular than its rival Welsh, or than modern Greek is today. Paul Merchant's lucid and keen translations from the Latin of Catullus ((84-54 BCE), the Welsh of Dafydd ap Gwilym (ca. 1320-1370) and the Greek of Yannis Ritsos (1909-1990) resonate with the voices of his chosen poets.
Adrienne Ho ventriloquizes Sulpicia (1c BCE) in a decidedly contemporary idiom. She also re-pays the classics in her possession by translating into Latin the post-colonial English of Mani Rao—who in turn maps the acoustic trans-English "cuntree" from where she writes her poetry-prose.
Nathalie Stephens pries words from, and probes the faultlines of, the terrain shared by English and French.
In Tomislav Kuzmanovic's venturesome translation, the Croatian cityscape in Suzana Abspoel Djadjo's first novel Snajper ['The Sniper'] sparks with neologisms and crackles with attitude.
"How did you ever learn to write?" Josef Haslinger traces the shift from one kind of literary culture to another in present-day Austria and Germany, giving steamed fruit-dumplings their due in the process. Kyoko Yoshida's essay sketches, meanwhile, her metamorphosis from a Japanese student to an American writer, by way of the shores of Lake Michigan.
And finally, Uriel Quesada travels from New Orleans to Iowa City, back to New Orleans, and then on, in the difficult Katrina fall of 2005. A postcard.