Why I Chose It: Michigan Quarterly Review Reader Bryan Byrdlong introduces Kathryn Nuernberger’s “Ode to Maria Barbosa” from our Fall 2020 Issue. In “Ode to Maria Barbosa” the titular Maria appears almost as a collage, framed by multiple women from different eras (including the author herself). The
“Take this down carefully,” a man told the Los Angeles Times over the phone on the morning of September 13, 1972. “I just bombed an Arab’s house in Hollywood. No Arab is going to be safe in this country. Never Again. Never Again. Never Again.”
In editing this special issue of the Michigan Quarterly Review, an issue on persecution, I didn’t figure I’d find the intimacy of these poems, stories, and essays.
I. The gale seems to blow up out of nowhere just as the two of us are lumbering John’s dory into the river. Whipping past the headland, wind and rain sledge me in the chest. I’m shoved back, off-balance. Trying not to lose my grip
As had been suggested to me over and over, I was very likely the first black woman many Kunmingers had ever met. Being first meant carrying the burdens that came with it.