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Cover art by Steven DaLuz








 

 

 

 


Editor's Note

James R. Adair

In 1888, atop an obituary for Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite and other explosive substances and devices, a French newspaper ran the following headline: The Merchant of Death Is Dead. The problem was, he wasn’t: it was his brother Ludvig who had died. As Alfred Nobel read both the headline and the accompanying obituary, he was disconsolate at the thought that he would be remembered for his contributions not only to construction and demolition, but also to war efforts. Over the next few years, he devised a plan to leave his fortune to the soon-to-be created Nobel Foundation, which endowed five prizes to be awarded annually in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace. In 1968, a sixth prize in economics was created from a donation in Alfred Nobel’s honor and is also managed by the Nobel Foundation.

The Nobel Prizes are perhaps the most prestigious awards given in the relevant fields of study or undertaking, and the annual announcements of the prizes and their recipients regularly top international news feeds every October. In this issue of Voices de la Luna, we celebrate the work of several Nobel laureates, not only in literature but in other fields as well. First, we have an essay by prose editor Jasmina Wellinghoff on the remarkable Curie family, four of whom (Marie, her husband Pierre, her daughter Irene, and her son-in-law Frederic Joliot) were honored with Nobel Prizes. Marie, of course, won two, in physics and chemistry.

Mo Saidi also offers short pieces on two Nobel laureates in literature, Sinclair Lewis and 2021 winner Abdulrazak Gurnah. We include the work of Nobel laureates in literature, of course (this is a literary magazine, after all)—poetry, prose, and drama—but we also include excerpts of works by Nobel laureates in other areas.

Our featured poet for this issue is someone who needs no introduction to those familiar with the San Antonio literary scene: Jim LaVilla-Havelin is a poet, editor, and essayist who serves as poetry editor for the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle. For our featured interview, we turned to Voices de la Luna alumna Debra Peña, who now serves as director of The Writing Program at UTSA. She discusses the goals of the writing program and her efforts—along with those of her colleagues—to promote both good writing and engaged reading. When I asked her favorite Nobel laureate in literature, she was quick to answer: Toni Morrison!

Our cover is graced with the artwork of Steven DaLuz, and as a bonus, we feature two other pieces of his within the pages of this issue. We also include Anthony the Poet’s interview with internationally acclaimed poet Naomi Shihab Nye; several strong poems by a variety of contributors, including two Texas poets laureate; and three entertaining short stories.

As we move into the third winter of our discontent under the malevolent influence of COVID-19, we have learned recently that half the world’s population has now received at least one vaccine dose, and in the U.S., children as young as five years old have the promise of protection. May these words of encouragement help us feel true Release (the title of our cover page art) during the impending long northern hemisphere nights.

 


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Themes for future issues
February 2022: Silent Spring at 60
May 2022: Gardens

Current Voices

 

Noir

Jim LaVilla-Havelin

For Fernando

night cracks open Mingus lugs his bass home lights flicker off and sunlight trickles in city streets cats slip into what shadows the brownstones make in alleys and corners bodegas roll up the metal grates and blink neon on if someone rolls a full shopping cart across the avenue against the light it is night’s poet watching musicians wander off to morning bed still humming.

 

 

 

Gaia of the Fight

Kwanzaa Edwards

 

 

 

The Mahatma Walked to the Sea

James Dennis

Gandhi went down to the sea to make salt. And the empire rightly saw it as an assault on the Act of 1882, and the system of colonialization and the power of Britain. He didn’t go by motorcar or train. He walked two hundred and forty miles and thousands walked with him. He revealed their sin; he revealed their fault. And the Empire, could neither grin nor bear it. Gandhi went down to the sea. This “half-naked fakir” had a lot of gall. And this simple act brought an end to their long stride. It interrupted their rhythm when they put this frail, tiny man in prison— all because Gandhi went down to the sea.

 

 

 

Between Worlds

Steven DaLuz

 

 

 

Paperweight

Carol Coffee Reposa

For James Thomas Shindler

Their faces shimmer through the yellowed glass I polished free of time and twelve years’ dust, Red powder coating everything inside His shop, the fine grit crushed and ground from slabs Of Brazos walnut. No one ever knew Just why Grandfather garnered these gray poets— Whittier, Riley, Emerson, Longfellow— In a makeshift shrine of shavings, small Dreams scattered on his work table, enclosed By dark red beams, the warm screech of his saws. That color filtered everything: the clamps And T-squares, planes, plumbs, knives and lathes. He must have needed their lost words to show Him other colors, shade the strong designs That curled from his gnarled fingers, anchoring The epithets that streamed like sweat through all Those years, that poured into those chairs, four-posters, Desks and beveled sideboards in that space. Today his prophets gather light and time On my oak desk. Their old lines burn. I lift The glass and half expect to see it blur Into a nautilus, each chamber round And roaring with its distant sounds, a song That pours, dark red, into my waiting hand.

 

 

 

Honeybees on Oak Galls

Photo by Mobi Warren

 

 

 

Fats Waller Plays “Handful of Keys”

Catherine Lee

His two-toned hands touch black ’n white keys expert mellifluent thoughts transfix roomsful of listeners with rhythmic spirit transformed to resound. Some ears make mental notes other piano-player sounds compared. Some ears make physical connection with acts of own play blending mental combo sonics. My ears hear rather “Chopsticks” sum total all I learned with baby fingers reaching out for similar keys mimicking my mother’s touch on ivories of old upright in her mother’s living room Sunday visit afternoons back then. She never finished any melody she started, nor entertained my youngish yen for lessons. My ears discern within fleet fingerings, his melodic dialect, what divergent lifetimes would allow my hands to grasp to apprehend we could’ve played together.

 

 

 

 


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