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Not Written Words


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NOT WRITTEN WORDS
Xi Xi
from Chinese by Jennifer Feeley
Poetry
ISBN 978-1-938890-12-3 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
152 pages [Bilingual Chinese/English]

The most important writer to have emerged from the former British Crown Colony of Hong Kong, Xi Xi has long been hailed by leading critics as a major voice in global Sinophone literature. Chiefly known among her readers for her towering achievement in fiction, Xi Xi actually began her career as a poet, was once an editor of a poetry supplement, and has steadily produced a unique body of poetry. Combining quiet lyricism with a refreshing (re)discovery of the daily and even the mundane, Xi Xi’s poems often recall some of the very best of Wislawa Szymborska, the 1996 Nobel laureate from Poland. Exquisitely capturing the subtleties and nuances, Jennifer Feeley’s translation is a tour de force, a gem in itself.
—William Tay, Professor Emeritus, University of California, San Diego and President, INK: A Literary Monthly (Taipei)

Xi Xi's work details the constantly shifting urban space of Hong Kong—between tradition and modernity—as well as the multilingual zones created by its Mandarin and Cantonese speakers. Best known for her short stories, essays, and screenplays, this is the first major collection of Xi Xi's poetry in English translation. Her writing displays a childlike wonder and keen ear for the constantly evolving space of Hong Kong and southern China. The haunting, often morbid lyricism that marks her work has won her many awards, a devoted following in Hong Kong and Taiwan and a growing audience across the globe.

Xi Xi (Cheung Yin) came to Hong Kong from Shanghai in 1950, and became one of the most famous writers in Hong Kong, and its most innovative poet. Her first work was published in 1955, when she was still a teenager, but she only gained widespread recognition in 1983, when a story won a prestigious prize in Taiwan. She has published 31 books (7 novels, 21 short story and essay collections, one novella, and two poetry collections), as well as newspaper and magazine columns, film theory and criticism, art criticism, translations, and screenplays. She graduated from the Grantham College of Education in 1958 and worked as a primary school teacher. In the 1960s she adopted Xi Xi as her pen name.

Jennifer Feeley received her M.Phil and Ph.D. from Yale University in the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures. Her research, teaching and writing interests include literary translation, modern Chinese literature and culture, modern and contemporary Chinese poetry, Chinese cinema and popular culture, and the poetry of Hong Kong, as well as translations of poems by Leung Ping-kwan, Zhu Zhu, Xi Xi, Zhou Zan, and Tang Danhong.

October Dedications


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OCTOBER DEDICATIONS
Mang Ke
from Chinese by Lucas Klein
with Huang Yibing and Jonathan Stalling
Poetry
ISBN 978-1-938890-08-6 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
152 pages [Bilingual Chinese/English]

Before he was known as Mang Ke, the Beijing-born Jiang Shiwei followed Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution call for educated youths to “rusticate,” or be sent down to the countryside, to learn revolution and proper socialist behavior from the peasants. While the extent to which he learned socialism is unclear, he did develop the framework of a style that would transform into contemporary Chinese poetry. In what is still the best early history of contemporary poetry as it grew in the sixties and seventies, Maghiel van Crevel writes that “Mang Ke was the first to develop an individual and mature mode of expression in Experimental poetry written in and around Beijing in the early 1970s,” and defines his style as one of “simple vocabulary, precise and sometimes repetitive wording, and a limited number of recurring images.”

In its understatement, Mang Ke’s writing takes an early stance against what Chinese critic Li Tuo has called Mao wenti, translated as “Mao style” or “Maospeak.”4 Mang Ke’s implicitly counter-Maoist poetics not only grew into the explicit politics of “Sunflower in the Sun,” but also into a poetry movement with its own publication mechanism, the first non-official literary journal in the history of the People’s Republic of China—where publishing was strictly a state-controlled affair. Back in Beijing, Mang Ke co-founded, with another young poet named Zhao Zhenkai (b. 1949), the journal Jintian (Today), to publish poetry, fiction, and criticism that would offer new forms of literary expression in a China emerging from the Cultural Revolution.

Mang Ke (b. 1950, penname of Jiang Shiwei) began writing poetry as a sent-down youth in Baiyangdian, rural Hebei province, during the Cultural Revolution. As co-founder of the PRC’s first unofficial literary journal Jintian in 1978, he is one of the progenitors of what would later be called Obscure or “Misty” Poetry, with spare, impressionistic poems that were among the first to break free of the imposed discourse of Maoism towards an image-based literary style that left space for both expression and interpretation. He currently makes his living as an abstract painter and lives in Songzhuang, an artists’ colony on the outskirts of Beijing.

Lucas Klein is a writer, translator, and editor whose work has appeared in Jacket, Rain Taxi, CLEAR, and PMLA, and from Fordham, Black Widow, and New Directions. Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong, his translation Notes on the Mosquito: Selected Poems of Xi Chuan won the 2013 Lucien Stryk Prize. He is translating Tang dynasty poet Li Shangyin.

The Future of Silence


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THE FUTURE OF SILENCE
Fiction by Korean Women
Selected and Translated by
Bruce and Ju-chan Fulton
ISBN 978-1-938890-17-8 (paper) $16
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5½ x 8¼
215 pages

Spanning almost half a century of contemporary writing in Korea (from the 1970s to the present), The Future of Silence brings together some of the most accomplished twentieth-century women writers with a new generation of young, bold voices. Their work takes us into the homes, families, lives, and psyches of Korean women, men, and children.

Pak Wan-sŏ, at the time of her passing the elder stateswoman of contemporary Korean fiction, opens the door into two “Identical Apartments” where neighbors, bound as much by competition as friendship, struggle to “keep up with the Kims” as they transition from life in an extended family to a new nuclear-family lifestyle in a sterile apartment complex. O Chŏng-hŭi, who has been compared to Joyce Carol Oates and Alice Munro, examines a day in the life of a woman recently released from a mental institution, while younger writers, such as Kim Sagwa, Han Yujoo, and Ch’ŏn Un-yŏng explore psychosis, literary experimentation, and bi-racial childhood. These stories will sometimes disturb and sometimes delight, as they illuminate complex issues in Korean life and literature. Internationally acclaimed translators Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton have won several awards and fellowships for the numerous works of modern Korean fiction they have translated into English.

Contents

  • O Chŏng-hŭi: “Wayfarer”
  • Kim Chi-wŏn: “Almaden”
  • Sŏ Yŏng-ŭn: “Dear Distant Love”
  • Pak Wan-sŏ: “Identical Apartments”
  • Kong Sŏn-ok: “The Flowering of Our Lives”
  • Han Yujoo: “I Ain’t Necessarily So”
  • Kim Sagwa: “It’s One of Those the-More-I’m-in-Motion-the-Weirder-It-Gets Days, and It’s Really Blowing My Mind”
  • Ch’ŏn Un-yŏng: “Ali Skips Rope”
  • Kim Ae-ran: “The Future of Silence”

Authors

O Chŏng-hŭi was born in Seoul in 1947 and studied creative writing at the Sŏrabŏl College of Fine Arts. She made her literary debut in 1968 with “Wangujŏm yŏin” (trans. 2012 “The Toyshop Woman”), an original and remarkably mature story that she began writing as a teenager. She subsequently received the Yi Sang Literature Prize in 1979 for “Chŏnyŏg ŭi keim” (trans. 1989 “Evening Game”) and the Tongin Literature Prize in 1982 for “Tonggyŏng” (trans. 2007 “The Bronze Mirror”). O has written excellent coming-of-age stories, such as “Chunggugin kŏri” (1979, trans. 1989 “Chinatown”), “Yunyŏn ŭi ttŭl (1980, trans. in part 2005 “Garden of My Childhood”), and Sae (1995, trans. 2007 The Bird), and intertextual stories such as “Chingnyŏ” (trans. 2011 “Weaver Woman”), which echoes the folktale of the herder boy and the weaver girl; “Mongnyŏnch’o” (1975, trans. 2012 “A Portrait of Magnolias”), which includes a retelling of the Ch’ŏyong legend, and “Pullori” (1987, trans. 2012 “Fireworks”), which begins with a recounting of the Koguryŏ foundation myth. In the latter stories O, like several other contemporary Korean fiction writers, connects strongly with Korean tradition, investing her stories with archetypes found in myth, legend, and folktale. “Wayfarer” (Sullyeja ŭi norae) first appeared in the October 1983 issue of Munhak sasang [literature and thought].

Kim Chi-wŏn (1943–2013) was born in Kyŏnggi Province and studied English literature at Ehwa University in Seoul. She was the daughter of Ch’oe Chŏng-hŭi and the elder sister of Kim Ch’ae-wŏn, both important writers in their own right. She began publishing fiction in the 1970s after she moved to the New York metropolitan area, where she lived off and on until her death. In 1997 she received the Yi Sang Literature Prize for “Premonitions of Love” [sarang ŭi yegam]. “Almaden” [Almaden] first appeared in September 1979 in Hanguk munhak [Korean literature].

Sŏ Yŏng-ŭn was born in 1943 in Kangnŭng, Kangwŏn Province, and studied English literature at Kŏnguk University in Seoul. She began publishing fiction in the late 1960s. A good introduction to her work is the collection How to Cross a Desert (Samag ŭl kŏnnŏnŭn pŏp, 1978). “Dear Distant Love” [mŏn kŭdae] first appeared in Hanguk munhak in May 1983 and was honored with that year’s Yi Sang Literature Prize.

Pak Wan-sŏ (1931–2011) was born in Kaep’ung, Kyŏnggi Province. Like millions of other Koreans she was bereaved of family members during the Korean War. For almost twenty years she endured these tragedies, raising five children in the process, before finally giving voice to her experiences in the novel Namok (1970, trans. 1995 The Naked Tree). She wrote profusely over the next four decades, focusing in turn on wartime trauma (“Puch’ŏnim kŭnch’ŏ” [1973, trans. 2009 “In the Realm of the Buddha”]), the ideological and territorial division of the Korean peninsula (“Kyŏul ladŭri” [1975, trans. 2007 “Winter Outing”]), the emerging middle-class lifestyle in Seoul (“Pukkŭrŏum ŭl karŭch’imnida” [1974, trans. 2011 “We Teach Shame!”]), and changing women’s roles and self-perceptions (“Chippogi nŭn kŭrŏke kŭnnatta” [1978, trans. 1999 “Thus Ended My Days of Watching over the House”]). Toward the end of her career her writing became more overtly autobiographical: Kŭ mantŏn shinga nŭn nu ka ta mŏgŏssŭlkka (trans. 2009, Who Ate Up All the Shinga) is one of her most engaging book-length works. “Identical Apartments” [talmŭn pang tŭl] first appeared in Wŏlgan chungang [Chungang monthly] in June 1974.

Kong Sŏn-ok was born in Koksŏng, South Chŏlla Province, in 1963, and studied Korean literature at Chŏnnam National University. She debuted in 1991 in Ch’angjak kwa pip’yŏng [creation and criticism] and has since published short story collections, novels, and children’s stories. Among the awards she has received are the Manhae Literature Prize and the O Yŏng-su Literature Prize. “The Flowering of Our Lives” [Uri saengae ŭi kkot] was first published in May 1994 in Munhak sasang.

Han Yujoo was born in Seoul in 1982 and studied German literature at Hongik University. In 2014 she completed an MA in Aesthetics at Seoul National University. Thus far she has published three story collections and a novel, Pulganŭnghan tonghwa, (2013, [the impossible fairy tale]). “I Ain’t Necessarily So” [Na nŭn p’ilgyŏng…] first appeared in summer 2009 in Munhak kwa sahoe [literature and society].

Kim Sagwa was born in Seoul in 1984 and studied creative writing at the Korean National University of Arts. She is the author of four novels and two story collections. “It’s One of Those the-More-I’m-in-Motion-the-Weirder-It-Gets Days and It’s Really Blowing My Mind” (Umjigimyŏn umjigilsurok isanghan il i pŏrŏjinŭn onŭl ŭn ch’am ŭro shingihan nal ida) was first published in the Spring 2010 issue of Chaŭm kwa moŭm {consonant and vowel] and was short-listed for the 2011 Young Writers Prize, sponsored by the Munhak Tongne publishing house.

Ch’ŏn Un-yŏng was born in Seoul in 1971 and studied communications at Hanyang University and creative writing at Seoul Arts University. She has published four collections of stories and two novels. “Ali Skips Rope” [alli ŭi chullŏmki] first appeared in the Winter 2007 issue of Segye ŭi munhak [World literature].

Kim Ae-ran was born in 1980 in Inch’ŏn, Kyŏnggi Province, and raised in Sŏsan, South Ch’ungch’ŏng Province. She studied playwriting at the Korean National University of Arts. Since her debut in 2002 she has published three story collections and a novel. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including the 2013 Yi Sang Literature Prize for “The Future of Silence” [ch’immuk ŭi mirae].

Translators

Bruce and Ju-Chan Fulton are the translators of numerous volumes of modern Korean fiction, including the award-winning women’s anthology Words of Farewell: Stories by Korean Women Writers (Seal Press, 1989) and, with Marshall R. Pihl, Land of Exile: Contemporary Korean Fiction, rev. and exp. ed. (M.E. Sharpe, 2007). Their most recent translations are The Moving Fortress, by Hwang Sunwŏn (2015, MerwinAsia), and several entries in the ASIA Publishers bilingual editions of modern Korean short fiction. Bruce Fulton is co-translator (with Kim Chong-un) of A Ready-Made Life: Early Masters of Modern Korean Fiction (University of Hawai’i Press, 1998), co-editor (with Youngmin Kwon) of Modern Korean Fiction: An Anthology (Columbia University Press, 2005), and editor of Waxen Wings: The Acta Koreana Anthology of Short Fiction From Korea (Koryo Press, 2011). The Fultons have received several awards and fellowships for their translations, including two National Endowment for the Arts Translation Fellowships and a residency at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre, the first ever awarded for translators from any Asian language. Bruce Fulton is the inaugural holder of the Young-Bin Min Chair in Korean Literature and Literary Translation, Department of Asian Studies, University of British Columbia.

Late Beauty


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LATE BEAUTY
Tuvia Ruebner
Translated from Hebrew by Lisa Katz and Shahar Bram
Poetry
ISBN 978-1-938890-11-6 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
120 pages [Bilingual Hebrew/English]

Ideas emanate from Tuvia Ruebner’s lyric poems in lines that are lucid but also mask personal secrets. Ruebner’s poetry blooms and overflows out of its subjects and interrogates the way history intertwines with the accidental, circumstantial nature of any one life and the making of art, from European masterpieces to tourist postcards. No matter what he looks at—including a soccer game between teams from Uruguay and Ghana, or the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as it plays out in Hebron—he connects his particular ghosts to philosophic questions.

“The dead are not mute if we are not deaf,” writes Ruebner in his autobiography, A Long Short Life. The Israeli poet survived the Holocaust as a teenager by immigrating to Palestine. His extended family was murdered, and so he has had many voices to listen to, even taking into account his advanced age (ninety-one as this book goes to print). It is understandable that an awareness of loss and death might permeate his work, but the poems in this selection reflect, at the same time, his photographer’s eye and unique appreciation of art.

He defines himself as heir to a particular European tradition that concentrates on emotion at the expense of explicit narrative and a narrow focus on the self. In a 2014 radio interview with Anat Sharon-Blais, Ruebner points to German expressionism, which he studied at Hebrew University under German Jewish refugees Werner Kraft and Ludwig Strauss, as a characteristic of his work that separates it from Israeli-Anglo-American poetics.

Tuvia Ruebner has published 15 volumes of poetry and several non-fiction books in Israel, and ten books in Germany. He has received every major literary prize in Israel, including the prestigious Israel Prize in 2008 and the Prime Minister's Prize (twice), and numerous prizes in Germany, including the Konrad Adenauer Literature Prize in 2012. Born in Slovakia, he immigrated to Mandatory Palestine in 1941, and eventually settled in Kibbutz Merhavia where he continues to live today. His poems have been translated into many languages, and he has translated the works of S. Y. Agnon into German, and Goethe into Hebrew. Ruebner also published a book of his photographs of Israel, Europe and Nepal. He is Professor Emeritus of Comparative Literature at Haifa University.

Poet, translator, and editor Lisa Katz earned her PhD at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, where she has lived since 1983. Her chapbook Are You With Me (Finishing Line) is forthcoming in 2016. Reconstruction, a volume of her poetry in Hebrew translation, was published by Am Oved Press in Israel in 2008, the same year she was awarded the Mississippi Review Poetry Prize and a Ledig House International Writers Residency. Editor of the Israeli pages of Poetry International Rotterdam, Katz is translator of Hannan Hever's recently published study of a paradigm shift in Hebrew poetry in the 1940s, Suddenly the Sight of War, and the poetry volumes Approaching You in English (Admiel Kosman) and Look There (Agi Mishol). She will teach literary translation at Ben Gurion University in 2016-2017.

Shahar Bram is the author of several books of poetry in Hebrew, the latest of which (2016) is She'on Hatziporim [A Bird's Clock]. He co-authored Colorful Was Their Voice with artist Neta Goren, a book of poetry and portraits after twenty-five American poets. Bram is also the author of two fiction novels, Hazmanim Hametim [The Dead Times], and The Stones. Bram's scholarly works include The Ambassadors of Death: The Sister Arts, Western Canon, and the Silent Lines of a Hebrew Survivor (Sussex Academic Press, 2011); The Backward Look (The Hebrew University Magnes Press, 2005, in Hebrew); Charles Olson and Alfred North Whitehead: an Essay on Poetry (Bucknell University Press, 2004). Shahar Bram teaches at the Department of Hebrew and Comparative Literature at the University of Haifa.

Twelve Stations


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TWELVE STATIONS
Tomasz Różycki
from Polish by Bill Johnston
Poetry
ISBN 978-0-9832970-4-8 (paper) $18
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7 x 9
264 pages [Bilingual Polish/English]

Tomasz Różycki’s Twelve Stations became an instant literary sensation when it was published in Poland in 2004. Everyone read it and talked about it; it won the prestigious Kościelski Prize. Within only a couple of years, the book found its way onto school reading lists; stage versions were created in various theaters around the country, as well as an acclaimed radio adaptation. Critical and popular reception were equally enthusiastic.

In terms of genre, Twelve Stations manages to be all things to all people. It has the look of an epic—its scope, its exalted language, its central quest, and its larger-than-lifeness. Even its long, measured lines recall the Homeric hexameter. At the same time the book has elements of that other large-scale genre, the romance—its story seems perpetually unresolved, and propels its questing hero to ever more extraordinary adventures. Yet in contrast to the exotic settings of many epics and romances, Twelve Stations takes place in a Poland that is entirely recognizable, and its exoticism draws on hidden regional peculiarities rather than the lure of the distant. In other words, if it is an epic, it is an intimate, local one, in the spirit of that other Polish pseudo-epic Pan Tadeusz.

Like all epic poetry since Homer, Twelve Stations has one foot in the oral tradition and is meant to be read aloud, and listened to, as much as to be read quietly to oneself (hence the proliferation of theatrical and radio renderings). Różycki’s long lines, with their sentence breaks carefully counterpointed with the line endings, sweep the reader along. Though the form doesn’t draw attention to itself quite the way that, for example, rhymed verse does, a large part of the poem’s pleasure resides in its irrepressible torrent of words. Its comedy inheres as much in the exaggerations, excesses, and playful absurdities of the language itself as in those of the story and the characters. —from the Translator’s Introduction by Bill Johnston

Tomasz Różycki (b. 1970) is a poet, critic, and translator who lives in the Silesian city of Opole, in southwestern Poland. He has published nine books since the mid-1990s, including the Koscielski Prize-winning epic poem Dwanascie Stacji (Twelve Stations, 2004) and the sonnet cycle Kolonie (Colonies, Zephyr Press, 2006), both of which were nominated for Poland's most prestigious literary award, the NIKE. His many other awards include the Josif Brodski Prize, the Kamień Prize (Czechowicz Poetry Prize), the Rainer Maria Rilke Prize, and the 3 Quarks Daily 2010 Prize in Arts and Literature (USA). His work has been translated into English, French, German, Italian, Serbian, and Slovak. The Forgotten Keys, a selection from his first five books translated into English by Mira Rosenthal, was published by Zephyr Press in 2007. He lives in his native city Opole with his wife and two children. He is a member of jury Koscielski Prize (Lausanne) and Prix du Jeune Ecrivain en France.

Bill Johnston’s translations include Wiesław Myśliwski’s Stone Upon Stone (Archipelago Books, 2010), winner of the PEN Translation Prize and the Best Translated Book Award; Eugeniusz Tkaczyszyn-Dycki’s Peregrinary (Zephyr Press, 2008), shortlisted for the Best Translated Book Award-Poetry; and translations of the work of Magdalena Tulli, Andrzej Stasiuk, Jerzy Pilch, Witold Gombrowicz, Tadeusz Różewicz, and numerous other authors. He has held fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. He is currently working on a new translation of Adam Mickiewicz’s 1834 epic poem Pan Tadeusz, for which he received a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches literary translation at Indiana University.

The Burden Of Being Burmese


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THE BURDEN OF BEING BURMESE
Ko Ko Thett
Poetry
ISBN 978-1-938890-16-1 (paper) $15
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6 x 8
112 pages

“The road to Mandalay / is paved with good intentions.” One suspected this, perhaps, but other poems in Ko Ko Thett’s brilliantly off-kilter book, The Burden of Being Burmese, home in more closely on just what is wrong: “a few simple rules here / you may bite the hand that feeds you, / just don’t feast on it.” Thett is a brilliant, probably reliable, guide to a virtually unknown kingdom.
—John Ashbery

  how do you write history
  in a language that has
  no past tense?
This is the question that haunts Ko Ko Thett’s remarkable new collection of poems. Casting a cold eye on the political and cultural landscapes of his native land, he dissects the hypocrisies and contradictions everywhere before him. In the newly urban landscapes of Myanmar, only laughter can compensate for despair: “now a carrot, now a cane. upper house and lower house male bonding / ladies and gentlemen, distinguished white elephants / eminent hierophants and esteemed sycophants.…” The Burden of Being Burmese displays an extraordinary fertile and febrile imagination—one that will both delight and disturb American readers.
—Marjorie Perloff

As the author says of himself, he is a poet by choice and a Burmese by chance. This is a powerful collection of Burmese poems in English, poems that were conceived in Burmese but first written down in English: thus not exactly translations. Burmese idioms and images abound throughout the poems, alongside English expressions and international concepts. The book deals with the anxieties and uncertainties of change, both political and personal, written during the author’s prolonged (self-imposed?) exile from Burma and against a background of ever more disastrous news from his country under its military rulers.
—Ann Allott

A renowned editor and translator of contemporary Burmese writing, this volume by Ko Ko Thett is the first major single-volume collection to appear in English by a contemporary Burmese poet. His poetry explores the possibility of the translatability of experience between the personal and the political, and the possibility of the mutual transferabilities between languages as disparate as Burmese and English.

Ko Ko Thett is a poet by choice and a Burmese by chance. The poems in this collection, many of which have appeared in English-language literary magazines worldwide, range from “faddish sugar crystals,” written in Burmese for his 1996 illegal campus chapbook at the Yangon Institute of Technology, to his autumn 2014 “anxiety attack” at the University of Leuven. Apart from his own work as a writer and translator, he is the co-editor and translator of the seminal volume Bones Will Crow: 15 Contemporary Burmese Poets, (ARC, 2012; Northern Illinois University Press 2013).

Zodiac


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ZODIAC
Moikom Zeqo
from Albanian by Anastas Kapurani and Wayne Miller Poetry
ISBN 978-1-938890-10-9 (paper) $15
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5½ x 8
168 pages [Bilingual Albanian/English]

The poems in Moikom Zeqo’s Zodiac tumble down the page in ways that are at once intimate and prophetic, ecstatic and terrified. Always enormous-minded, Zeqo meditates here on the way human history—literary, political, social—exists simultaneously in our consciousness, alongside the certainty of our eventual submergence within it, our own mortality. “I destroy myself,” he asserts at one point, “with the longings of history”—but it is a beautiful, transcendent, and harrowing sort of destruction. This is a marvelous book, brought to life for readers of English by Wayne Miller’s and Anastas Kapurani’s muscular translations.
—Kevin Prufer

It is rare these days to find a poet who isn’t just interesting, or good at particular aspects of craft, or funny, or wild, but a poet who is truly large and complex, creating not just a human portrait, or a community or a reflection, but a whole cosmology; the way Comedia Divina was, first and foremost, a cosmology—like Rilke’s Duino Elegies or Eliot’s Four Quartets or, in our time, perhaps Ernesto Cardinal’s Canto Cosmico. And then—by a sheer stroke of luck—one comes across such a book as Zodiac and realizes there are still poets who aim for greatness.

I love Moikom Zeqo’s voice in this book—especially when various references blend to produce a wild new mix—but most of all I become convinced we are in the presence of unmistakably real and large poetic talent when the book builds a new cosmology all its own. Out of various mythologies and traditions and incantations a new voice arises that is true and beautiful and strange. We owe a great debt of gratitude to Wayne Miller for introducing us to this powerful work and for enlarging the English tradition with his own, very gifted, music.
—Ilya Kaminsky

Zodiac is a book-length, bilingual sequence of poems loosely organized around the signs of the zodiac, which considers the turn of the millennium, the history of Albania and the Adriatic region, and the author’s place in the universe as he confronts his own mortality and his decision to remain in his homeland after the fall of communism.

Moikom Zeqo, born in Durrës, Albania, in 1949, is the author of more than a dozen books of poetry and fiction, as well as numerous monographs on Albanian history, literature, and culture. His book Meduza (published in English as I Don’t Believe in Ghosts, BOA, 2007) was suppressed in Albania from 1975–1995 and only appeared in print after the Communist collapse. In the mid 1990s, Zeqo served briefly as Albania’s Minister of Culture, and for many years he directed the National Historical Museum in Tirana. An archeologist by training, Zeqo lives in Tirana and works as a writer and journalist.

Anastas Kapurani is the author of The Myth of Lasgush (Upfront [UK], 2004), a critical study of the Albanian poet Lasgush Poradeci. Kapurani lives in Athens, where he teaches for the London Institute City and Guilds program.

Wayne Miller is the author of four poetry collections, most recently The City, Our City (Milkweed, 2011) and Post-, which is forthcoming in 2016. He has coedited New European Poets (Graywolf, 2008), Tamura Ryuichi: On the Life & Work of a 20th Century Master (Unsung Masters, 2011) and Literary Publishing in the 21st Century (Milkweed, 2015), and translated Moikom Zeqo’s I Don’t Believe in Ghosts (BOA, 2007). He teaches at the University of Colorado Denver, where he edits Copper Nickel.

Hippodrome


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HIPPODROME
Miklavž Komelj
from Slovene by Boris Gregoric and Dan Rosenberg
Poetry
ISBN 978-1-938890-13-0 (paper) $17
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6 x 8
208 pages [Bilingual Slovene/English]

I congratulate you on Hippodrome. A magnificent book! I am thrilled. Such keenness, such power and range. I bought it just before leaving for Civitella Ranieri, popped by Sansepolcro, and then read Hippodrome on a park bench … I am utterly thrilled that such a magnificent book has come out.…
—Tomaž Šalamun, from a letter to the author

“I picture the world as sutures,” the Slovenian poet Miklavž Komelj writes, “as wounds knitting.” In his first collection of poems in English translation, Hippodrome, he knits together an astonishing range of historical facts and ideas, ways of being and formal strategies, conscious at every turn of his obligations to the past, the present, and future. Everything is thrillingly alive in these poems, gracefully rendered by Boris Gregoric and Dan Rosenberg. A buzzard circling over a deserted quarry inspires Komelj to declare that he "was sent to this world for her ecstatic cry/ and after that, for the longest time, for no other sound." But what amazing sounds he has recorded in Hippodrome—sounds that tune and mend our ears.
—Christopher Merrill, author of Necessities

Slovenians are heirs to culture and influences from both Western and Eastern Europe, and they are among the most multilingual people in Europe. A long history of being engulfed in a larger political system has left Slovenia with a singular appreciation for its poets. Komelj is a bit of a chimera: his book includes imagistic lyrics, pastiches of quotes, persona poems, political polemics, and a reasonably faithful translation of Seneca. He references Futurist operas, NATO military action, personal friends, and literary and artistic heroes. His view is wide and deep, but throughout this book, and despite all these shifts in attention and approach, he builds a stable, unique vision.

Miklavž Komelj (1973) is one of Slovenia’s most outstanding living poets. His Hipodrom first appeared in 2006, and his other books of poetry are Luč delfina (Light of the Dolphin, 1991), Jantar Časa (The Amber of Time, 1995), Rosa (Dew, 2002), Zverinice (Little Beasts, 2006), Nenaslovljiva imena (Unaddressable Names, 2008), Modra obleka (Blue Dress, 2011), Roke v dežju (Hands in the Rain, 2011), Noč je abstraktnejša kot n (The Night is More Abstract than n, 2014). Among his other publications are a collection of essays on poetry, Nujnost poezije (Necessity of Poetry, 2010), and a prose work, Sovjetska knjiga (A Soviet Book, 2011). Komelj has received several of the most important Slovenian literary awards, and he translates work into Slovene from several languages (Gérard de Nerval, Fernando Pessoa, César Vallejo, Pier Paolo Pasolini, Djuna Barnes, Jack Hirschman). His most recent research is dedicated to the literary opus of Djuna Barnes.

Dan Rosenberg earned a BA from Tufts University, an MFA from the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, and a PhD from the University of Georgia. He is the author of two collections of poems: The Crushing Organ (Dream Horse Press 2012, winner of the 2011 American Poetry Journal book prize) and cadabra (Carnegie Mellon University Press, 2015). He has also written two chapbooks: A Thread of Hands (Tilt Press, 2010) and Thigh’s Hollow (Omnidawn, forthcoming, winner of the Omnidawn 2014 Poetry Chapbook Contest). Rosenberg co-edits the independent online poetry journal Transom, and he currently teaches creative writing and literature at Wells College in Aurora, NY.

A bilingual Croatian-American author of short stories, essays and criticism; translator; visual artist; and illustrator; Boris Gregoric grew up as a military brat. He participated in the International Writing Program in Iowa City in 1991 and was a recipient of the Hammett/Hellman Foundation grant. He has published six books of short fiction and writes regularly for Croatian national radio. He has won several literary awards, including the prestigious Goran national award for young poets in 1988. His first novel, Kapor i Konj (Kapor & Horse), is to be published by Meander publishing house, Zagreb, in 2015. His blog is: iantbrill.blogspot.com.

Grass Roots


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GRASS ROOTS
Xiang Yang
from Chinese by John Balcom
Poetry
ISBN 978-1-938890-07-9 (paper) $15
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6 x 8½
144 pages

Rural Taiwan and its landscape are present in many of Xiang Yang’s poems. Landscape and rural poems have a long history in China, generally depicting the court or city as decadent places exercising a corrupting influence. In many contemporary poems from Taiwan, the sense of alienation one associates with modern life is viewed as a largely urban phenomenon, whereas all healthy values reside in the countryside. But this dichotomy, which is also seen as a shortcoming of such contemporary poetry, is itself a significant part of the local literary tradition of Nativism, which emerged during the Japanese occupation (1895–1945) as writers and artists sought to articulate a sense of Taiwan identity.

The so-called “third generation poets,” such as Xiang Yang, Du Ye, and Lo Qing, wanted to see a resurgence of Chinese national and local culture after years of foreign domination. In Taiwan, this revival was complex and multifaceted: the trend toward Westernization in the cultural sphere was subverted by a resurgence of interest in traditional Chinese culture, and political domination by the Kuomintang from the Mainland was opposed by promotion of Taiwanese language and culture. Xiang Yang himself eventually decided to explore two avenues: to write poetry in his native southern Min dialect and to experiment with formalist verse. “I asked myself what made classical poems so enduring,” he says. “It seemed to me that the strict compositional rules and forms of classical poetry contributed greatly to poetic quality.” He began experimenting with forms and rhyme, finally settling on a ten-line poem broken into two quintets as the form most suited to his temperament. It can be said that form made a poet out of him: formal limitations helped to channel and structure the poetic impulse.
—from the translator’s introduction

Xiang Yang’s poetry stands as elegant testimony to the Taiwan experience. The author of seven volumes of poetry in his younger years, he has, since the publication of The Four Seasons (1986), published but a single collection titled Chaos, in 2005. In the intervening years, he earned a PhD in journalism and moved into academia. He is also an established woodblock artist.

John Balcom is a translator of Chinese literature. Recent publications include Frontier Taiwan: An Anthology of Modern Chinese Poetry (contributor), Wintry Night by Li Qiao (co-translator), The City Trilogy by Chang His-kuo and Taiwan’s Indigenous Writers: An Anthology of Stories, Essays, and Poems, which received the 2006 Northern California Book Award. He translated Driftwood and Stone Cell, both by Lo Fu, which were published by Zephyr Press.

Relocations


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RELOCATIONS:
3 CONTEMPORARY RUSSIAN WOMEN POETS
Polina Barskova, Anna Glazova and Maria Stepanova
Edited by Catherine Ciepiela
from Russian by Catherine Ciepiela, Anna Khasin and Sibelan Forrester
Poetry
ISBN 978-0-9832970-8-6 (paper) $18
Buy Now From CCNow
6 x 9
200 pages [Bilingual Russian/English]

Relocations is a highly enjoyable collection of poetry introducing the English-language world to three incredibly diverse and talented women poets writing in Russian that could be as meaningful to a casual fan of poetry as to a comparative literature scholar. [full review]
—Will Evans, Three Percent

In distinct ways all three poets featured in Relocations are engaged in the project of renovating Russia’s great modernist tradition for a radically different historical situation. They write poems of imaginative daring, pushing recognizable scenarios into the fantastic, the surreal or the speculative, bending form and language to the task.

Polina Barskova began publishing her poetry at age nine and is the author of eight books of poems; her latest, Ariel’s Dispatch (Soobshchenie Ariela, NLO, 2011), was nominated for an Andrey Bely award. Two collections of her poetry in English translation appeared recently: This Lamentable City (Tupelo Press, 2010) and The Zoo in Winter (Melville House Press, 2010). She is a published scholar with degrees in classical literature (from St. Petersburg University) and Slavic languages and literatures (UC Berkeley). Her research has focused on cultural life during the siege of Leningrad, about which she has numerous publications and two forthcoming books. She currently teaches Russian literature at Hampshire College and lives in Amherst, Massachusetts.

Anna Glazova is a poet, translator and scholar of German and Comparative Literature with a PhD from Northwestern University. She is the author of three books of poems, the most recent, For a Shrew (Dlia zemleroiki, NLO, 2013), being honored with the Russian Prize for Poetry. She has translated into Russian books by Robert Walser, Unica Zürn and Ladislav Klima; her translations of Paul Celan’s poetry recently appeared under the title Speak you, too (Govori i ty, Ailuros, 2012). A volume of her poems in translations by Anna Khasin, Twice under the Sun, appeared with Shearsman Books in 2008. Her scholarship has focused on the work of Paul Celan and Osip Mandelstam. She teaches and resides in Hamburg, Germany and the United States.

Maria Stepanova is the author of nine books of poems and the recipient of numerous literary awards, including the Andrei Bely award (2005) and a Joseph Brodsky Memorial Fellowship (2010). Among her most notable works are a book of post-modern ballads, Songs of the Northern Southerners (Pesni severnykh iuzhan, ARGO-RISK, 2001) and a book-length narrative poem, John Doe’s Prose (Proza Ivana Sidorova, NLO, 2008). Relocations presents the first extensive selection of her poems in English translation. Her activities as an essayist and journalist make her a visible cultural figure. Since 2007 she has worked as editor of the independent online journal OpenSpace.ru, now reconfigured as the crowd-sourced journal Colta.ru. She is a lifelong resident of Moscow.

* * *

Catherine Ciepiela is a scholar and translator of modern Russian poetry. She is the author of a book on Marina Tsvetaeva and Boris Pasternak (The Same Solitude, Cornell UP, 2006) and co-editor with Honor Moore of The Stray Dog Cabaret (NYRB 2006), a book of Paul Schmidt’s translations of the Russian modernists. Her translations have appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, The Massachusetts Review, Seneca Review, Pequod and The Common. She teaches Russian literature and poetic translation at Amherst College.

Anna Khasin is an independent translator and poet living in Boston. Her earlier translations of Anna Glazova were published by Shearsman Books under the title Twice Under the Sun (2008).

Sibelan Forrester is Professor of Russian at Swarthmore College with a scholarly focus on Russian modernist poetry, particularly the work of Marina Tsvetaeva. She writes her own poetry and has published poetic and scholarly translations from Croatian (Dubravka Oraić-Tolić’s American Scream and Palindrome Apocalypse, Ooligan Press, 2004), Russian (Elena Ignatova’s Diving Bell, Zephyr Press, 2006; Vladimir Propp’s Russian Folktale, Wayne State University Press, 2012), and Serbian (stories by Milica Mićić-Dimovska and an excerpt from Miroljub Todovorić’s verbal-visual novel Apeiron).

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