Author Archives: Kelly


A Discussion of Immigration and Politics in Uncertain Times
Tuesday, April 18, 7 pm
Open Book
Target Performance Hall
1011 Washington Ave. S., Minneapolis
Download a flyer for this event

The Twin Cities are home to the largest Somali American population in the United States, and this community has made important contributions to the political, economic, and social fabric of the region. Given the current uncertainty about immigrant and refugee policy, combined with the challenges the Muslim community faces under the current administration, we are pleased to present a dialogue featuring authors Stefanie Chambers and Ahmed Ismail Yusuf. This timely discussion, which will explore how the Twin Cities are excelling at creating an immigrant-friendly community as well as areas where there is room for improvement, will be moderated by Jaylani Hussein, Executive Director of CAIR-Minnesota.

This event is presented by Rain Taxi in collaboration with the Minneapolis Foundation and Trinity College. Books by the speakers will be available for purchase from Milkweed Books, and a reception will follow the discussion. We hope to see you there!

This event is free and open to the public, but your RSVP helps us plan accordingly. We hope to see you there!


About the participants

Stefanie Chambers is a Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor of Political Science at Trinity College in Hartford, CT. Her research and teaching focus on migration, mayoral leadership, urban education, and environmental justice. Her latest book is Somalis in the Twin Cities and Columbus: Immigrant Incorporation in New Destinations (Temple University Press, 2017). She is also the author of the 2006 book Mayors and Schools: Minority Voices and Democratic Tensions in Urban Education, and is co-editor of the forthcoming volume The Politics of New Immigrant Destinations: Transatlantic Perspectives.

Ahmed Ismail Yusuf is the author of Somalis in Minnesota (Minnesota Historical Society Press, 2012), an in-depth look at the state’s most recent immigrant group. He is also the author of Gorgorkii Yimi, a collection of short stories in Somali, and Lion’s Binding Oath, a new collection due to be released in August 2018, and his play A Crack in the Sky will be produced at the History Theatre in Saint Paul in February 2018. He has a BA from Trinity College in Hartford, CT. and an MPA (Master of Public Affairs) from the Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs of the University of Minnesota.

Jaylani Hussein is Executive Director of the Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-MN). He has presented on the Somali Culture to diverse organizations across the US. With degrees from St. Cloud State University and North Dakota State University, he specializes in the areas of urban planning, community development, youth development, and legal and civil rights.


Painter/maker of things. Waylon Jennings enthusiast. Paintallica member/collaborator. Teacher at St. Cloud State University.

President and Founder of the Federation of Outlaw Creatives United (FOC-U). Lifetime member of the Society of Concerned Citizens Concerned About The Intersection of Art & Commerce.

"It’s Yves Tanguy, passed out and dreaming in a dumpster." —Minneapolis Star Tribune

Volume 21, Number 4, Winter 2016 (#84)

Volume 21, Number 4, Winter 2016 (#84)

To purchase issue #84 using Paypal, click here.


Judy Juanita: DeFacto Feminist | interviewed by Julia Stein
Michelle Latiolais: Interruptions & Interconnections | interviewed by Alan Grostephan
Anne Raeff: From the Periphery of Conflict | interviewed by Derek Askey
James Reiss: Writing as Survival | interviewed by Bryan Voell


The Political Mind: Mark Lilla’s quest for a new liberalism | by John Toren
The New Life | a comic by Gary Sullivan



cover art by Sarah Evenson


The Great Clod: Notes and Memoirs on Nature and History in East Asia | Gary Snyder | by James P. Lenfestey
René Magritte: Selected Writings | Kathleen Rooney and Eric Plattner, eds. | by Laura Winton
Black Natural Law | Vincent W. Lloyd | by Spencer Dew
The Lights of Pointe-Noir: A Memoir | Alain Mabanckou | by Erik Noonan
Retire the Colors: Veterans & Civilians on Iraq & Afghanistan | Dario DiBattista, ed. | by Leah Roche
Suburban Gospel: A Memoir | Mark Beaver | by Adam Young
An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army | Fredric Jameson | by Paul Buhle


Soft City | Hariton Pushwagner | by Jeff Alford
What is Obscenity? | Rokudenashiko | by Amelia Basol


Brightfellow | Rikki Ducornet | by David Wiley
Don’t Think | Richard Burgin | by Colin Fleming
Horses, Horses, In The End The Light Remains Pure: A Tale That Begins with Fukushima | Hideo Furukawa | by Edward A. Dougherty
Land of Love and Ruins | Oddn´y Eir | by Olga Zilberbourg
The Birds | Tarjei Vesaas | by Douglas Messerli
Another Brooklyn | Jacqueline Woodson | by Veronika Bondarenko
The Ballad of Black Tom | Victor LaValle | by Ryder W. Miller
The Mandibles: A Family, 2020-2047 | Lionel Shriver | by Monica Hilerman
Reputations | Juan Gabriel Vásquez | by Lexi Turin
Hot Season | Susan DeFreitas | by Donna Miele
Off to the Next Wherever | John Flynn | by Ben Sloan


Willy Loman’s Reckless Daughter: or Living Truthfully Under Imaginary Circumstances | Elizabeth A. I. Powell | by James Naiden
Obliterations: Erasures from the New York Times | Heather Aimee O’Neill and Jessica Piazza | by Patricia Grisafi
XX: Poems for the Twentieth Century | Campbell McGrath | by John Bradley
Break the Habit | Tara Betts | by Heidi Czerwiec
The Day’s Last Light Reddens the Leaves of the Copper Beech | Stephen Dobyns | by Jennifer van Alstyne
Exercises in High Treason | John J. Trause | by Richard Kostelanetz
Brawl & Jag | April Bernard | by Edward A. Dougherty
Take This Stallion | Anais Duplan | by Laura Winton
Once And For All: The Best of Delmore Schwartz | Delmore Schwartz | by Patrick James Dunagan
To The Left of Time | Thomas Lux | by George Longenecker

To purchase issue #84 using Paypal, click here.

Rain Taxi Print Edition, Vol. 21 No. 4, Winter 2016 (#84) | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2016-2017

Volume 22, Number 1, Spring 2017 (#85)

Volume 22, Number 1, Spring 2017 (#85)

To purchase issue #85 using Paypal, click here.


Sanderia Faye: A Journey from Innocence to Experience | interviewed by Jacob Singer
Stephanie Wilbur Ash: Small Town Sinister | interviewed by Alex Kies
Lance Olsen: Wildly Diverse Explosions Occur | interviewed by Justin Chandler, Erin Jamieson, Sammani Perera, Carly Plank, Isaac Pickell, and transcribed by Carly Plank


The Leonardo of the Assemblagists: The Uncategorizable Work of Bruce Conner | by Patrick James Dunagan
The New Life | a comic by Gary Sullivan
Eager Magic: Tales of Magic by Edward Eager | by Susann Cokal
Chapbooks in Review | edited & designed by Mary Austin Speaker
Hymn: An Ovulation | Mel Coyle & Jenn Marie Nunes | by MC Hyland
Sad Girl Poems | Christopher Soto | by Mary Austin Speaker
Restored Mural for Orlando | Roy Guzman | by Chris Martin
Propriedades Vigilades (Monitored Properties) | Florencia Castellano | by Mary Austin Speaker


cover art by Bruce C. Tapola


Shakespeare and Company, Paris: A History of the Rag & Bone Shop of the Heart | Krista Halvorson, ed. | by David Wiley
Life Breaks In: A Mood Almanack | Mary Cappello | by John Toren
Krazy: George Herriman, A Life in Black and White | Michael Tisserand | by Calista Mcrae
The Nordic Theory of Everything: In Search of a Better Life | Anu Partanen | by Poul Houe
The Pig: in Poetic, Mythological, and Moral-Historical Perspective | Oskar Panizza | by M. Kasper
Dorothy Day and the Catholic Worker: The Miracle of Our Continuance | Dorothy Day and Vivian Cherry | by Maria Januzzi
Calamaties | Renee Gladman | by Jenn Mar
The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate: Discoveries From A Secret World | Peter Wohlleben | by John Toren
Manifold Nature: John Burroughs and the North American Review | John Burroughs | by Chris Highland


One Of Us Is Sleeping | Josefine Klougart | by Jeff Bursey
Hag-Seed | Margaret Atwood | by Julia Stein
Love Letter in Cuneiform | Tomas Zmeskal | by Rick Henry
The Trespasser | Tana French | by Erin Lewenauer
Counternarratives: Stories and Novellas | John Keene | by Miranda Mellis
The Waiting Room | Leah Kaminsky | by Amanda Fields
Exile on Bridge Street | Eamon Loingsigh | by Sebastian Altierri
I Am Providence | Nick Mamatas | by Ryder W. Miller


Gap Gardening | Rosmarie Waldrop | by Kevin Carollo
Selected Poems | Keith Waldrop | by Kevin Carollo
Written in the Dark: Five Poets in the Siege of Leningrad | Gennady Gor, Dmitry Maksimov, Sergey Rudakov, Vladimir Sterligov, Pavel Zaltsman | by John Bradley
Whereso | Karen Volkman | by Cindra Halm
The Ratio of Reason to Magic | Norman Finkelstein | by M. G. Stephens
Blackacre | Monica Youn | by Benjamin Voigt
god’s breath hovering across the waters | Henry Israeli | by Hannah Dow
Falling Ill | C. K. Williams | by Vincent Francone
Four Reincarnations | Max Ritvo | by Jeremiah Morarty
Luminous Spaces: Selected Poems & Journals | Olav H. Hauge | by Peter McDonald


Brighter Than You Think: Ten Short Works by Alan Moore with Essays by Marc Sobel | Alan Moore & Marc Sobel | by John Pistelli
Queer: A Graphic History | Meg-John Barker | by Jeremiah Moriarty

To purchase issue #85 using Paypal, click here.

Rain Taxi Print Edition, Vol. 22 No. 1, Spring 2017 (#85) | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017

George Saunders Broadside

This broadside, an excerpt from George Saunders's novel Lincoln in the Bardo, was printed by supersessionpress on the occasion of George Saunders's appearance in the Rain Taxi Reading Series on March 1, 2017.

Limited edition, letter press broadside measures 8.5" x 11". Limited to 75 copies. Each copy is SIGNED by the author.

The serious business of signing 400 books...

Available with a donation of $100 to Rain Taxi, a nonprofit literary organization. Donations are deductible to the extant allowable by law.


Shingle Street

Blake Morrison
Chatto & Windus

by Jane Baston

From our first step on Shingle Street we feel the shifting terrain. This land where the sea meets the marshes is duplicitous; out there we must be vigilant for sandbanks, rip-tides, and wrecking grounds. Although the stones are “warm as stoves” we must beware the

sneaky street,
That smiles and mangles, lures and wrecks,
Where water strips and winds dissect,
Where sea-kale bows its green-grey head
As waves wash up the new-made dead

The regular structure of end-rhymed dimeters and tetrameters gives an incantatory power to this opening poem. In keeping with its form as a ballad, it has an intensity and immediacy that drives the reader on like the action of the waves:

The grind goes on,
A churning bowl
Of sand and stone.
A watery mix that unbuilds homes,
Unearthing earth, unlaying land.

This potency continues throughout Blake Morrison’s collection. Water washes through the poems, finding ingress to the very language used to describe it, as in the wordplay of “Flotsam”: “tideswell seaslap crabscrawl / windscut landslack sandsail.”

The tides reclaim both land and memory. In “Covehithe” the cliffs “are stuck in reverse” as they are pushed back by the sea:

From church to beach
was once a hike.
Today it’s just a stroll.
Soon it’ll be a stone’s throw.

The problem of coastal erosion, it seems, is not hydraulic action but the power of the dead “in their grassy mounds” who, “longing to be back at sea . . . entice the sea to come to them.” Such romanticism is also invoked in the love poems. In “Carissimo” the lovers’ exploration of a sandbank places the waves “like excited natives / clamouring round our feet.” Similarly, in “On the Beach” they “lay in a hollow on the shingle, / while the sea bowed and scraped below.”

Lest we be lulled by the “sigh” and “shush” of a yielding sea, the poem “Wave” swells to become a nightmare vision of a tidal wave. The accretion of language builds up like the wave: “the waterwall is here, the sea-cliff, wave-mound, ocean-bore, surf-glut” that “will shove you down.”

“Wave” marks a turn in the collection. Although some themes continue—culpability, love, loss and the possibility of happiness—the focus is now on language, specifically that use of language that we call poetry. The sequence “THIS POEM” encompasses reflections on contested areas such as the value of poetry (“Bonus”), the threat of surveillance (“Prism”), the power of government (“Redacted”), the cult of celebrity (“It was Good while it lasted”) and the obfuscation of language (“Seminar”). Playful and caustic, this sequence questions and delights. Advice to the student in the literary theory seminar is well taken:

Just make sure to be awake, before the end—
nod, applaud, rap your knuckles on the table,
as if you’ve been enlightened and inspired
and when you leave the room will see the world afresh,
no longer baffled by its hermeneutics.

In the final sweep of the collection Morrison turns to the personal. Bold and elegiac, he recalls childhood holidays, missed opportunities, and family life. Here, too, we see the influences on Morrison’s voice, especially Larkin and Heaney. The four-line poem “Narcissus” is an affectionate invocation of Heaney’s poem “Personal Helicon”:

Thinking the boiler had packed up from lack of oil
I climbed the rusty tank to peer down the hatch
And there I was, bright-faced and young again,
In the viscous black pool at the bottom.

Morrison plays with form. In “Life Writing,” a dextrous take on the villanelle, he considers the possible pitfalls of memoir, a genre Morrison knows well:

The humour and affection go unread.
Your candour earns you merciless reviews.
Don’t try to bring to life what’s in your head.
It’s safer telling lies about the dead.

In an interview with The Independent (31 January, 2015), Morrison expressed some apprehension about his return to poetry; his last full collection was 1987’s The Ballad of the Yorkshire Ripper. Since Morrison’s voice in Shingle Street is authentic, sharp, and replete with the past, this “return” is a most welcome homecoming.

Rain Taxi Online Edition Winter 2016/2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017


Monday, April 3, 7:00pm
Plymouth Congregational Church
1900 Nicollet Avenue (at Franklin), Minneapolis

Rain Taxi is pleased to join Literary Witnesses and the Loft Literary Center in welcoming Bill Porter, AKA Red Pine, who will read ancient Chinese poems and discuss his latest book, Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets of the Past (Copper Canyon Press).
This event is free and open to the public.

About Red Pine:

Porter is an American Buddhist who has become a legendary China traveler and, as Red Pine, an equally legendary translator of ancient Chinese poetry and Buddhist texts.  In 1970 he dropped out of Columbia University to enter a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan.  After four years living and practicing Zen, he left the monastery, married and eventually was hired by Taiwanese and Hong Kong English-language radio stations to record stories of his mainland travels.  He delivered over a thousand, from the borderlands of wild west drug smugglers to windswept mountaintop Buddhist hermitages. Among his discoveries along the way were poets and Buddhist and Taoist monks and nuns still living the hermetic tradition thought eradicated in the Cultural Revolution. In 1993 he returned to the States with his family and settled in Port Townsend, Washington.

His business card reads, "translator."  He was the first to translate the Collected Songs of Cold Mountain, first to translate the entire ancient anthology, Poems of The Masters, first to translate the poetry of fourteenth century Buddhist recluse Stonehouse, and many others, all accompanied by his detailed geographical, historical and literary commentary.  He has also translated Buddhist sutras, including Heart Sutra, Diamond Sutra, and Platform Sutra.  His memoir of visiting the ancient hermits of China, Road To Heaven, has been translated into Chinese.

His latest book from Copper Canyon, Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets Of The Past, describes his extensive visits to the shrines and territories of China's most revered poets, a travelers literary encyclopedia like no other.

George Saunders Reception Offer

Wednesday, March 1, 2017, 6:00 pm
Parkway Theater
4814 Chicago Avenue South, Minneapolis

I know you are attending our presentation of George Saunders on Wednesday, March 1st at 7 pm. George has opened up an extra little window of time in support of Rain Taxi, so there’s more fun to be had! On Wednesday at 6 pm, we will assemble a small group to enjoy some drinks and appetizers in a private room adjoining the theater with this most excellent of authors; funds from this gathering will go toward the 2017 Twin Cities Book Festival. Will you join us?

A ticket for this reception is available with a donation of $50, and it includes reserved front table seating at the 7 pm performance (so you can enjoy the reception and not worry about getting a seat).

Why Love Leads to Justice: Love Across Boundaries

David A.J. Richards
Cambridge University Press ($30)

by Brian Gilmore

I began reading David A.J. Richards’s book Why Love Leads to Justice the week before the Pulse Club Massacre in Orlando, Florida. Forty-nine patrons lost their lives and fifty-three more were wounded when a homophobic gunman opened fire in the club as it was closing on June 11, 2016. It has been described as the worst mass shooting in U.S. history, though this is likely inaccurate. Nevertheless, it was a tragedy beyond comprehension, one that highlights the need for important books such as this.

Richards, openly gay for decades and a law professor, focuses on the poisonous idea of patriarchy so prevalent and destructive in the West. Through the lives of several prominent gay men and women who must navigate a society governed by oppressive love concepts, Richards argues for something new. In his world, the entrenched “Love Laws” of the West—those advanced by patriarchy, sexism, racism, hate, and homophobia—can be challenged and discredited effectively.

Richards undertakes this task by writing about the lives and the work of figures such as writer James Baldwin, poet W.H. Auden, composer Benjamin Britten, and First Lady, Eleanor Roosevelt. He sets up his detailed discussion of these lives and social ideals with an opening section that explains patriarchy, which he sees as the key to understanding our backwards society. Richards writes that it “supports and . . . enforces the antidemocratic structural injustices of extreme religious intolerance, racism, sexism, and homophobia.” In addition, patriarchy “elevates some men over other men and all men over women.” The father in the family structure holds “authority” over all affairs of daily life, and it is this troubling arrangement that is challenged in Richards’ book. These early passages are important because as Richards eventually notes, patriarchy has created a “personal and political psychology that supports” the injustices it seeks to uphold in society.

The fact that individuals in positions of power have embraced patriarchy has also resulted in embedding it into our laws and political systems. Thus, it is no accident that anti-LGBT laws continue to be championed by so many in the name of religion or social custom, just as slavery, Jim Crow, and other anti-black laws were once part of the nation’s legal structure. It is also no surprise, according to Richards, that violence as witnessed in Orlando remains a part of our patriarchal society, because people such as the club goers that evening challenge the patriarchal hierarchy by breaking the “Love Laws” laid out for them.

Richards’ portraits of gay men, their relationships, and their personal struggles is impressive. Auden, the celebrated British poet, is depicted as a proud gay man but also one who is tormented, having embraced the very homophobia that he has successfully challenged. The chapter on Christopher Isherwood, Auden’s lover and also a celebrated writer, is just as rich. Born into a prestigious British family where he was the son of a mythic British military officer killed in World War I, Isherwood rejects the typical masculine life of a war hero only to embrace his late father’s other side—his love of liberal arts and humanities. Father is more than a military myth in death; he is a man who can love. Christopher, the son, as a result of this influence, moves to Berlin at Auden’s behest and becomes a writer.

It is no surprise that James Baldwin and Bayard Rustin have their own chapters here. Both emerged during the civil rights period and both lived lives as openly gay men who challenged America’s puritanical patriarchy. While Rustin was reared in the world of “anti-patriarchal Quakerism,” Baldwin’s development as an essential voice on injustice in America came about because he was immersed in the patriarchal world of his stepfather’s Baptist church in Harlem. While Richards notes that both men are mostly known for their “ethical resistance” to white supremacy and its manifestations in society, they too broke the “Love Laws” Richards keeps at the center of the book. Both did so in their relationships with men and Baldwin does so in his writings as well, in particular his novels like Giovanni’s Room.

Richards devotes a chapter to three women who led low-key personal lives as lesbians: Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, and Ruth Benedict. Once again, Richards’ selection of these particular women is important not just for who they were and how they conducted their lives, but also for their work that contributed to the advancement of humanity outside and beyond the normal patriarchal constrictions. Roosevelt’s relationship with journalist Lorena Hickok, not widely known by the general population, is in itself quite a revelation here.

At the end of Why Love Leads to Justice, Richards again explains why more books of this nature must emerge. “As we have seen, again and again, what holds in place some of the structural injustices of our world (anti-Semitism, racism, sexism, and homophobia) are the Love Laws—the series of written and unwritten rules that enforce patriarchy.” Richards has given us a book that resists those laws and showcases the lives of people that did so as well.

Click here to purchase this book at your local independent bookstore
Rain Taxi Online Edition Winter 2016/2017 | © Rain Taxi, Inc. 2017