Luciana Erregue: The Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even (or The Zoom Meeting)

Martin Parr, Designer face masks in Delhi, 2019. Source:

We congregate like The Muppets at the theatre: a first tier, a second tier, a third tier. Depending on the age of the host, the “chat” feature is either silenced or not. It is the ideal medium for someone accustomed to exercising control in real life. Yet there is always the sliding into dms. The guy who will tell you: “Why so serious? Ahhh, that hand on your face adds another layer of seduction.” It is just like high school, the kids at the back of the classroom up to no good.

The real gems, though, are the what-a-pleasure-to-meet-you-in-Zoom, I-would-like-to-have-a-meeting-with-you-sometime-early-in-the-morning types. You know it is going to be business during a pandemic, when nobody you know is getting up voluntarily at 6.30 to start a meeting at 7.30 because EST… so when you oblige, and you barely have time to shower, dress and grab your coffee, you know you will rip him a new one. Except he does it first, of course.

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E.F. Fluff: Too Close to Zerozero

Rosa Menkman. Source:

Clubbed black nails clawed back a charred slab sinewed with the ratty remains of a plastic bag. What remained of the sunlight danced a shine off a small filthy brick that toppled into the vacant space. Quick. Snatch. Spit. Polish, second layer good. The few remaining hairs she had stood up.

A little melted around the edges, but still whole, the phone was long dead, yet its last conversation held eerily, burnt forever into the crystal.


Wire 2020-05-26 at 3_57 AM

She stared at it, then threw it over her shoulder as she beat a hurried retreat down the mound. Caught. In the crystal. Burnt. Flash. She’d wandered too close to the Zerozero and had to move.

Caroline Stockford Reads “The Plague in Bergamo”

Vilhelm Hammershøi, Interior, Strandgade 30, 1906-8. Source:

Old Bergamo lay on the summit of a low mountain, hedged in by walls and gates, and New Bergamo lay at the foot of the mountain, exposed to all winds.

One day the plague broke out in the new town and spread at a terrific speed; a multitude of people died and the others fled across the plains to all four corners of the world. And the citizens in Old Bergamo set fire to the deserted town in order to purify the air, but it did no good. People began dying up there too, at first one a day, then five, then ten, then twenty, and when the plague had reached its height, a great many more.

And they could not flee as those had done, who lived in the new town.

There were some, who tried it, but they led the life of a hunted animal, hid in ditches and sewers, under hedges, and in the green fields; for the peasants, into whose homes in many places the first fugitives had brought the plague, stoned every stranger they came across, drove him from their lands, or struck him down like a mad dog without mercy or pity, in justifiable self-defense, as they believed.

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البودكاست، مع مينا وإسلام🎙: (١٦) برلين الشام: مقابلة مع رشا عباس

Portrait of Rasha Abbas courtesy of the subject

في الحلقة السادسة عشر من بودكاست ختم السلطان، تتحدث الكاتبة السورية المقيمة ببرلين رشا عباس عن اختيارها القصة القصيرة وعلاقتها بها عبر ثلاث مجموعات، كما تتطرق إلى مشروع روايتها الحالية وظروف الكتابة والإنتاج أثناء فترة العزل المنزلي، وعن آليات النشر ونسب القراءة في ألمانيا، وأيضاً عن القاريء المتخيل لأعمالها ودوره في العملية الإبداعية.


بودكاست ختم السلطان هو إنتاج وتنسيق مينا ناجي وإسلام حنيش. هما من يختاران الضيف، ويحددان الأسئلة، ويديران الجوانب التنسيقية والتقنية. وليس للموقع فضل ولا عليه لوم غير استضافة البرنامج

مجرد فضول: قصيدة من مجموعة بهيج وردة الأولى

Bruno Barbey, Tangiers, 1985. Source:

يسبقُني فضولي مقدارَ قبضة
لا أنا أمدُّها وألتقطه
ولا هو يبتعدُ أكثر
لا أُغالي إنْ قلتُ: لا يمكنني سوى اللّحاق به
ولا إنْ قلتُ: استمرأتُ الحال

استمر في القراءة

Tanjil Rashid: In Time’s Late Hour

Al-Ma’ari’s Saqt Al-Zand (or “The Tinder Spark”, Syria, AD 1300. Source:

I am often susceptible to feelings of belatedness. “Is literary greatness still possible?” Susan Sontag asked around the turn of the millennium, and twenty years on, I’m not sure we have had an answer. Is it finally, as Cyril Connolly put it, “closing time in the gardens of the West”? I have always preferred the gardens of the East, but they may not be faring any better.

I am fully aware that this sentiment has been known to reactionaries for thousands of years, and quite often they’ve been wildly wrong. With me it is not by any means a political stance, and probably just a hyperbolic way of appreciating works of art and literature from a time before my own. The feeling is usually prompted by an encounter with a marvellous line composed in some distant time by an ancient poet or sage.

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