(not necessarily in this order but probably pretty close)
Morocco by Kendra Grant Malone and Matthew Savoca (2014)
OHSO poetry by Mike Bushnell (2014)
An Anthology of Contemporary Brazilian Poetry
edited by Ana Guadalupe and Jeremy Spencer (2014)
takahē poetry by Stacey Teague (Summer,…
need that anthology of contemporary spanish poetry though
that’s why the color green scares you
that’s why you threw rocks at the fruit trees
and you love that which is yours because it’s only your own
and you love that silence which flesh has.
Over at The Scrambler today, Luna Miguel introduces Mexican poet David Meza and you can read his poem For the Generations to Come (A Manifesto) translated by Jacob Steinberg. If you like that, be on the lookout for a forthcoming chapbook in English (again translated by Jacob) to be published in association with Mellow Pages Library.
Cyber-sex, poetry, and virgin suicides - a generational will? The young female writer Trisha Low captures the modern woman’s obsessions in ‘The Compleat Purge’
Trisha Low committed suicide when she was 6 years old, and nevertheless she returned to tell about it. Trisha Low killed herself at 10, at 15, at 24, but she’s still here, successful and powerful, with her moving words and enviable purge. This poetess and performer with roots in Singapore, but settled in New York a while back, she’s spent her whole life in between the world of the living and dead, in a special and unique creative space, where cyber-sex, literature, teen angst and feminism pervaded.
A few months ago Low published her second book, “The Compleat Purge” (Kenning Editions), in which she covers precisely those subjects, from each of those ages. An extensive and precious volume that begins with the first suicide note and will that she wrote during her infancy, ending with an essay about women, narcissism, art, and new concepts of reality.
"I" as a new universe. Internet sex as a new, confessional poetry. The idea of suicide as a full stop, like a metaphor that leads to overcoming the worst moments of our lives. The question here isn’t why a little girl or an adolescent would want to die, but what is that causes her to survive?
Kenning Editions defines Trisha Low as “another feminist, confessional writer trying to find her literary parents.” We don’t know who her parents are, but perhaps we can make a guess as to who her sisters are in this fight towards a cross between pop culture and poetry and philosophy, and create a truthful portrait of the lives and aspirations of the women of this century. We find in Low the lyricism of Gabby Bess, the intelligence of Sheila Heti, the eroticism of Marie Calloway, and even the freshness of Lena Dunham.
The author Blake Butler published an interview with the author of ‘The Compleat Purge’ in Vice, in which he describes this strange artifact as something that could have come from the Brontës, were they to become familiar with the age of WiFi, or like a a kind of encyclopedia of wet dreams and self-destruction. Poetic heroine. Distant, punk cousin of the Lisbon sisters. An author interested in the regeneration of literature, as well as its fusion with the forms and styles emerging from the Internet.
This book by Trisha Low will be one of those that we, with difficulty, will find translated in our country, but which will turn out to be absolutely necessary in order to understand the dramatic comedy of our time.
Fortunately, Trisha’s alive. She’s very much alive. Lucky us.
The following two unedited poems were published on the Revista Ombligo blog. They’ll be appearing in Luna Miguel's forthcoming book of poetry, Los estómagos (The Stomachs). My English translation of the two follows:
ROTTING OF THE HEART, OR BLACK HEART
I believe in mites,
in the way in which mites stick to our scum.
I believe in the feline respiratory system,
in its astute and agitated cough. In its obituary cough.
I believe in interspecies love,
in the brotherly wink of a fed pet.
I believe in what I create and what I invent,
in the color of contagious fruits.
I believe in cooking, in aroma, in baby food,
in the filth when the summer dairy’s expired.
I believe in calico fur,
in the metaphor of Buddha’s jaw.
I believe in simple friendships, in jasmine,
I blindly believe in the color black,
in the way in which its hunger embraces our scum.
MY FATHER EATS LAMB
Teresa’s veggie cakes made you nervous
you needed something drier
something more like yourselves, like meat
that’s why you threw rocks at big mountain cats
that’s why you chucked rocks at big rats
that’s why you looked at the rain with surprise
as if you were rational underneath that cloud.
The dog barks at the eagle,
the cat bites the the robin
further below the foals and mama
each one more famished.
I miss the micro climate,
the ancient copy of Thomas Mann
getting damp in the hammock
excellently translated according to the blurb
The butterfly fled and we were hungry
that’s why the color green scares you
that’s why you threw rocks at the fruit trees
and you love that which is yours because it’s only your own
and you love that silence which flesh has.
Why Spanish publishers don’t publish Alt Lit girls… or simply young american female writers?
I don’t know it.
And I don’t like it.
Because translating this is certainly more important than studying Medieval Spanish Poetry:
Where Are They Hiding the Girls of Alt Lit?
10 Books by US-American Females that should be published in Spain
2014 has had a great start for readers who are interested in what’s being written beyond our borders. Finally in the next three months Alt Lit (Alternative Literature, controversial literary movement promoted by the youngest English-speaking writers of the world) will happily arrive in a few of our best publishing houses. “Taipei” by Tao Lin will be published by Alpha Decay in a few days, and in just a few months our bookstores will be filled with copies of Ben Brooks‘“Lolito”, published by Blackie Books, as well as “Best Behavior” by Noah Cicero, published by Pálido Fuego. The addition of Cicero to the list of other such authors being translated into Spanish (Lin and Brooks, of course, but also Blake Butler, Ben Lerner and Sam Pink) should be something to celebrate. Never the less, all this activity among publishers has raised a few alarms with us at PlayGround. Why is this list comprised entirely of men? Why hasn’t anyone here dared to publish the powerful women who form this movement? If this problem, seemingly steeped in machismo, is one of the weak points of the so-called Next Generation, shouldn’t we do something about it?
In order to enliven the debate, and especially our readings, we’ve drawn up a list with what we consider the 10 best titles written by Alt Lit girls. Extreme sincerity, new feminism, sex, lyricism, dark humor, visceral works of unsurpassed power. If you enjoyed “How Should A Person Be? by Sheila Heti last year, then don’t miss these:
- Heroines by Kate Zambreno
- Action, Figure by Frank Hinton
- Alone with Other People by Gabby Bess
- Everything Was Fine Until Whatever by Chelsea Martin
- Baby Babe by Ana Carrete
- Meat Heart by Melissa Broder
- Normally Special by xTx
- Selected Unpublished Blog Posts of a Mexican Panda Express Employee by Megan Boyle
- Everything is Quiet by Kendra Grant Malone
- What Purpose Did I Serve in Your Life by Marie Calloway
Issue No. 16 of Chutzpah! (天南): The Diamond Generation (钻石一代)
will feature two poems by me
in Spanish, English, and Mandarin
plus my translations from Spanish to English
of Luna Miguel & David Meza
and poems by my friends
Gabby Bess, Miguel Rual, and Harry Burke.
El número 16 de Chutzpah! (天南): La generación Diamante (钻石一代)
va a contar con dos poemas míos
en castellano, inglés y chino
más mis traducciones de castellano al inglés
de Luna Miguel y David Meza
y poemas de mis amigos
Gabby Bess, Miguel Rual y Harry Burke.
In honor of Unai Velasco being named Young Poet of the Year in Spain, here a translation of his poem Dangerous is the Night on Page 167, from the original Spanish published on Tenían 20 años y estaban locos. You can find his award-winning collection of poetry, En este lugar from Spanish publisher Esto no es Berlín.
DANGEROUS IS THE NIGHT ON PAGE 167
It struck nine o’clock, and Hans
still hadn’t come home.
(Beneath the Wheel, H. Hesse, Alianza, p. 167)
Dangerous is the night on page 167
if it so happens
that it’s daytime, and it
may not happen ‘til the next chapter.
If it so happens that you barge in with vacuum-sealed kisses
heading to work but
it so happens that, stop, keep it together, Hans Giebenrath is dying on me
in these last few lines.
Dangerous is the night for Hans
Giebenrath if I decide
to shut the green volume
since it’s nighttime and you’ve left the light on for yourself
in the hallway
the death of young Giebenrath
between white switches and you don’t want
to cry with oil on your fingers you search for
in a tin of olives.
And it so happens that Hans is dying on me,
that Hans Giebenrath already’s dead
on page 166
and, oh, what a smudgy and off-white,
wrinkled and black death
not even the dignity
of dying in italics, without having let him die
on the pages in which Hermann planned
lead figurines in that
dollar store, his death
in 100-something pages
interrupted and dangerous because
you’re running behind and I’ve got the food
on the table
like the body of Hans Giebenrath
in the pool
on dangerous page 167.
of some the best books i have read in 2013 and then the tab froze as I did some HTML edits. So here is a succinct version I should have posted in the first place.
Top-Picks: 2666 by Roberto Bolaño; Das Kunstseidene Mädchen/The Artificial Silk Girl by Imgard Keun; Scorch Atlas by Blake Butler; Er ist Weider Da/He’s Back! by Timur Vermes; Rechnung Offen/Open Tab by Inger-Maria Mahlke; Die Dreigroschenoper/The Threepenny Opera by Bertold Brecht
This was hands-down the longest book I’ve ever read in Spanish, and it was an epic, labyrinthine story. Academics, detectives, serial killers. Bolaño’s shorter works seem to have had a greater impact on me (see: Amuleto and Nocturno de Chile), but this novel had me up at night, turning pages and scribbling notes to myself about the possible who-dunnits. See more that I’ve written/posted about the book here [possible spoilers!]. 5/5 Stars.
Das Kunstseidene Mädchen:
From my Goodreads review: I seemed to be tempted to underline every fourth paragraph, as Doris spews out mostly unfiltered truths with a down-to-earth voice, cloaked in just enough naivety to produce a comic effect but not mocking enough to discount her very real observations. For a book written in the 1930s, it seems like the kind of writing you’d find on a tumblr - and I think that is awesome. 4/5 Stars.
It’s been nearly a full year since I read this collection of stories from Blake Butler, but a few of them have really stuck with me over that time. Scorch Atlas is like a compendium of apocalyptic plagues, recounted in a language that is twisted in such a way that everything oozes, mucks, and generally disgusts. There are neighborhoods buried in gunk, starving families, and tarry smells. If you’re interested in more experimental, somewhat disjointed fiction, you’ll enjoy the way Butler turns his words into the very vile landscape that he is portraying.
Er ist wieder da:
Again, from my Goodreads review: An interesting read, but also a bit disturbing. As other critics have voiced, how interesting is Vermes’ satire when it profits from the same structure that it mocks? Vermes certainly ends on a critical tone, suggesting a risen Hitler could command the kind of popular appeal necessary to found his own political party in modern day Germany. Most of the laughs are either historically tied-in or the result of unfamiliarity with the new German “otherness” - it will be interesting to see if “Er is wieder da” can be successfully translated for US readership.
Via Goodreads, an excerpt of my review: Set in a quickly changing Neukölln apartment building, Mahlke tells the stories of a host of residents, each from a very different personal background but all having an unsettled account of their own. Reflecting on the low ratings, and my own ‘merely sated’ 3-Stars, I think one flaw is that these characters are either generic (Der Ägypter) or complex but frustratingly lacking context (Lucas’ mother). Undoubtedly part of Mahlke’s plan, the new agents of gentrification are never concretely present in the storyline, appearing only as small reference or, more often, personified by the bah-humbug grumblings of the Hauseigentümer Claas. Also unfortunate is the presence of only one Turkish-German character; Ümit serves mostly as an antagonistic voice for Lucas, as well as a kind of comedic-relief-overflow-valve.
While I was hoping for a nuanced critic-vis-à-vis-community-biopic, “Rechnung offen” turned out to be a relatively limited foray into the consecuences of gentrification. Still, I found Mahlke’s portrayal of Lucas to be entertaining and believable, and there is certainly some worthwhile commentary within the nearly 300 pages.
I was really pleasantly surprised by Brecht’s Threepenny Opera: it has everything you could really want, including tragicomedic ballads, snake-oil characters, and a good dose of social satire. My favorite song was “Das Lied der Unzulänglichkeit des menschlichen Strebens” - The Song of the Insufficiency of Human Endeavor, which includes the great verses:
Ja; renn nur nach dem Glück
doch renne nicht zu sehr!
Denn alle rennen nach dem Glück
Das Glück rennt hinterher.
Denn für dieses Leben
Ist der Mensch nicht anspruchslos genug
drum ist all sein Streben
nur ein Selbstbetrug.
Yeah, just chase after happiness
but don’t wind yourself too much!
‘Cause everyone’s chasin’ happiness down
Happiness runs here and there.
‘Cause for this life
Man isn’t humble enough
Thus is all his toil
Nothin’ but a pipe dream.
(Of course, the original rhymes and is thus 100x better)
La tumba del marinero/The Sailor’s Grave by Luna Miguel
Another incredible collection of poetry from my favorite young Spanish poet, Luna Miguel. I wrote a review (in what is probably an error-filled Spanish) here, but I suppose it’s best to put the grammatically correct English version here: Another marvelous, hideous collection of poetry from Luna Miguel. In a way, the whole book squirms and oozes, speaking of disease and love, seasickness and disgust. But it’s not an ugly book - it’s a muddy book in the way you can enjoy squishing your feet in spring puddles. We all want to see our insides, even when we’re frightened at first glance. And that kind of pull, of the sickness that we feel inside, is the force of Luna’s “The Sailor’s Grave”.
Bluebird and Other Tattoos by Luna Miguel, translations by Jeremy Spencer
Bluebird and Other Tattoos is the first ever bilingual print publication of Spanish poet Luna Miguel’s beautiful poetry. I’m a diehard fan of Luna and her work, and this edition is no let-down. One of the best things about this specific publication is that it is organized chronologically, which allows the reader to follow the poet as she develops both thematically and stylistically. I do have my reservations about some of the English translations, but they represent a minority of the poems in the collection and I am happy to support the publishers over at Scrambler Books. I’ve been following this small-press since receiving my copy of Bluebirds, and I’m ecstatic to see that the folks there are really committed to bringing works-in-translation to the English market. So I send my affections to both Luna Miguel and Scrambler Books.
Poemas y antipoemas by Nicanor Parra
Parra was a giant influence on Roberto Bolaño, and his poems and antipoems are a joy to read, filled with the kind of kickass-style of a man who doesn’t need to explain himself. Oh and also, he did a heart-wrenching, tear-jerking thing in memory of Bolaño.
Cosmopolitan Anxieties: Turkish Challenges to Citizenship and Belonging in Germany by Ruth Mandel
I’ll paste in my Goodreads review, but let me preface by saying this is one of the most interesting books I have ever read, and has really help shaped my academic interests towards transnational issues.
Ruth Mandel’s analysis of Germany’s so-called Ausländerproblematik is enlightening and nuanced. First deconstructing the rhetoric behind German conceptions of Turks (as well as the so-called Deutschtürken), Mandel then continues to provide analysis of the constructions of identity among all parties. Included in her book is a significant reflection on historical events, all leading up to a summary of current identity politics. Perhaps the most valuable information included are Mandel’s lengthy, often anecdotal observations of minority groups within the Turkish diaspora, particularly relating to Alevis. This was the first text that I have read in my study of the Turkish diaspora of Germany, and it has provided numerous, useful terms present in both Turkish and German discourses. Mandel certainly maintains a critical view on German policies regarding foreigners, however these views are pervasively and persuasively founded in a level-headed dialog. In all, Mandel’s book seems to me to be the best starting point for an engaging and multifaceted study of identity politics and the Turkish diaspora in Germany. 5/5 Stars - If you have any interest in Turkish diaspora in Germany, German reactions, etc. you have to start with this book!
Murder in Amsterdam: Liberal Europe, Islam, and the Limits of Tolerance by Ian Buruma
I read this book on the recommendation of a friend, and found it quite interesting. Its obvious that I have an interest in the valors and pitfalls of Multiculturalism, and Buruma gives a rich context for the murder of Theo van Gogh, an outspoken Dutch media star who was killed by Dutch-Moroccan muslim who had become entrenched in a small radical group, comprised of both the more genuine “jihadists” and other möchtegern’s. Buruma is able to give very detailed descriptions and backgrounds of many prominent Dutch personas, which serves to underline the close-knit group in which ever member seems to have slept with another ‘public intellectual’. Unfortunately, it seems that Buruma is perhaps too close to this privileged group, and in the end he seems to come to a rather hard-to-swallow conclusion: maybe we should all be a little more tolerant of intolerance, in order to spare some bloodshed. I find the implications of such an attitude a little too disturbing to lend it much credit.
Let me start off by saying that, until this year, I had never read a comic book all the way through (the closest I ever came was translating a Spanish-edition of a Spiderman comic for a friend as we lay drunk in our hostel room in Madrid). However, this came to a swift change after an impulse purchase of:
Saga by Brian K. Vaughan with illustrations by Fiona Staples
After seeing a few tumblr posts featuring Lying Cat - a feline who, you guessed it, serves as a lie-detector, I decided to pick up the First Volume of Saga and give it a whirl. And I’m elated that I did, because it has been one of the best things I’ve read all year. I ripped through the first edition and had to immediately purchase all the remaining chapters. I don’t want to give out any spoilers for potential readers, but here’s a short list of reasons why you should give the series a shot:
- A refreshingly diverse cast of characters, including strong females, weak females who become strong, whiney males, teddy-bear-on-the-inside-males, and everything in-between.
- Beautiful artwork by Fiona Staples. Like, really … amazing.
- An engaging story line that takes center stage via …
- Pointed dialog and narration that is efficient and smart and ..
- Full of humor. Humor done right - not sloppy or unnatural.
- The universe of Saga is that perfect Dr. Who-like mix of vanilla sci-fi and whimsical I-don’t-know-what.
- Lying Cat. Trust me, she’s great.
- Bad Bitches - in the best way possible.
- There is a good deal of sex. Funny sex, sexy sex, and honest sex.
- You don’t need any more reasons - It’s great, really.
So, there it is: a review of (most) of the (mostly) good books I read this year. If you want to keep track of my reading habits, you can take a look at my profile over at Goodreads.