It is the legend, regarding the hole at the Big Eddy
of the Clearwater River to be not bottomless
but a might-as-well-be warren of shelves, caves,
lost and cast-off sand and silt makings so churned by the river’s hydraulics that every depth-gauge
sinker has spun from it a wasted mile or two
of horizontal measurement it never returns.
Which is why it is we have had to imagine,
these forty or more years after the incident, the three
bystander witnesses now long gone…
Habib Tengour and I first met when we were both teaching at the University of Constantine, Algeria, in the late seventies. … one should translate what one doesn’t understand, translate (from) languages one doesn’t know… We exchanged copies of our first books, talked endlessly about poetry and politics in the Maghreb, America and Europe, became friends and have remained close ever since. Sometimes years go by between face to face meetings (the triangulation between three continents isn’t always easy), but — besides mail and e-mail — we have our books to keep us informed about what we are up to, and we have that closest possible form of silent dialogue: translation.
Full of suggestive imagery, but also of lingering sensations, disturbing emotions and fragmentary stories, King of a Hundred Horsemen essentially forms the self-portrait of a sensibility … Étienne engages not only with her own past and present, but also with individuals who lived before her own lifetime or who inhabit an imaginary, fictional, space. Her themes expand from a personal search to broader topics such as war, ecology, art, writing, human relationships, gender, and cultural identity…
I was born in the Minidoka, Idaho War Relocation Center — Block 26, barrack 10. It was one of the ten American concentration camps — complete with barbed wire fences, tar paper barracks, and machine gun towers for holding Japanese-American citizens and nationals during World War II. Our crimes were working hard, owning valuable land, and running competitive businesses. The major offense, however, was being Japanese and looking like the enemy during a time of war. The punishment was executed without the commission of a crime and due process. For my parents and all my relatives, this meant three or more years of confinement in the Idaho desert. America did not exterminate us, but some government officials suggested sterilization. My other relatives in Hiroshima, Japan, lived in the family home 1,000 meters from atomic ground zero.
John Hersey’s famous work, Hiroshima, was the first news story ever to describe the consequences of atomic weapons from the point of view of those on the ground, of those who took the hit. Everything published immediately about the destruction of Hiroshima, between August 1945 and September 1946, had been from the military’s point of view. In fact, after the bombing, U.S. Army General Leslie Groves, military head of the Manhattan Project, dismissed accounts of the horror the bomb inflicted as “propaganda.” He further is quoted by Patrick B. Sharp as stating that “according to doctors, (radiation sickness) is a very pleasant way to die.”
I believe it is important to reconsider Hersey’s work, especially with the constant discussions on the use of weapons of mass destruction…
Perhaps way up there where the air was purer, where the town became lost among the slopes and hillsides of the mountain, there was someone waiting for her, someone in those hills, the hills that reminded her of the quiet ghosts of her childhood. Someone, besides her family. Someone who could help her redeem herself from the city that she was leaving behind, the city that had caused her to become ill from her vices. She searched for the path that she had walked so many times before. The clouds surrounded her with their shadows. Sweat, her damp body, the gestures nearly forgotten in their absence.
(Colonia Reforma, Oaxaca,
Mexico, October 2008)
— FROM Libres, 2008-2009
BY Jessica Hubbard Marr
Galactic, ancient and dystopic, mostly it was memory that brought him to the feast. When he was distraught, when he was alone, which was all too often, clinging to the precipice of disconnection, a little man, hombre pequeñito, he thought of the feasts of his childhood. Always the cook drank rum, from the moment he arrived at dawn, and always he had the same name, Joaquín. Always there was a pig and always a man cooking it in the backyard, hired expressly for the purpose. Always the cook drank rum, from the moment he arrived at dawn, and always he had the same name, Joaquín. The process took all day (no way to fast-cook pork, especially on the bone) so that the pig, or two if it was a big gathering, would be ready by five. Always it was sunny and he was surrounded by cousins, mostly older, some younger, whom he liked in varying degrees…
Considered by many as Spain’s greatest pianist, Larrocha’s style has marvelous range: delicate, graceful yet solid and stately, each piece unhurried, meticulously realized. Especially wonderful to hear are the pieces by her Catalan countrymen (Soler, Granados, Montsalvatge, Mompou, and Albéniz). This box set offers a large selection of music: seventeen composers (from Baroque to Modern, Bach to Khachaturian) on seven CDs, including twenty-four preludes of Chopin, Ravel’s Piano Concerto for the left hand, two Mozart sonatas, and the rarely heard Seven Bagatelles (op. 33) by Beethoven.
Electrifying. Seizing. Haunting. Transcendent. Jazz and improvisation have seen a new embodiment since the presence of Keith Jarrett in the performance scene. With an imaginative use of melodic and rhythmic freedom, this live recording of his Köln Concert is expansive, intense, intuitive, powerful — and pacesetting — in all registers.
Few writings exist to address the history of the American intellectual or political left during the years from 1915 till 1920, an era when Communism was treated as a disease in the “Land of Freedom.” This historical epic film by Beatty bears the ambition of filling this hole. With the Russian Revolution as a background, it pays homage to the all-too-short yet explosive life of John Reed (1887-1920), American journalist, poet and political activist, as well as to his romance with feminist writer, Louise Bryant (1885-1936). Reds also brings alive portraits of inspiring or intoxicating figures like Emma Goldman, Eugene O’Neill, Max Eastman… Watch out too for the surprise appearance of novelist Jerzy Kosinski, who plays Grigory Zinoviev.
— Greta Aart
Vier Minuten (Four Minutes) DIRECTED BY Chris Kraus (Arte, Bayerischer Rundfunk (BR), Journal Filmproduktion,
Kordes & Kordes Film GmbH, Südwestrundfunk (SWR) 2006)
Can four minutes change the course of one’s life? Jenny von Loeben, a delinquent charged with murder, confronts her anger and violence with Schubert and Schumann, while her aging piano professor carries the burden of a “subversive” past. In an unexpected ending that culminates in these decisive four minutes, a sonata becomes the statement of a revolt and freedom.
— Greta Aart
Maurice Fryson: Chemin peignant BY Patrice Fryson (Contours, 2007)
Dark, complex, rich, surreal, contemplative, humorous, hallucinating — a retrospective view of paintings by Maurice Fryson, an accomplished French painter of quiet modesty, is presented in this deluxe edition of a superbly designed catalogue, accompanied by a French text from the painter’s son, poet Patrice Fryson.
Benítez writes, “The heart has four small chambers, but it can hold a world of grief… To what purpose retelling, except to say horror came visiting…” — a frank summation of the ways in which El Salvador’s 1932 massacre impinges on several characters, from the days preceding the event until the late 1970s. Betrayals, tensions between the oligarchy and rural communities, and the secrets women foster between generations create a history as sumptuously volcanic as the landscape. A dozen years after garnering an American Book Award, Bitter Grounds remains as a forceful portrayal of an emotional exile.
— Karen Rigby
Gaby Brimmer: An Autobiography in Three Voices BY Gaby Brimmer AND Elena Poniatowska TRANSLATED FROM THE SPANISH BY Judith Balch (Brandeis University Press, 2009)
Born to Jewish parents who emigrated from Austria, Gaby was born in Mexico City in 1947 with cerebral palsy and communicated by pointing her left foot at an alphabet board on the footrest of her wheelchair. Sensitive, courageous and deeply determined, she became an accomplished writer, poet and key disabled rights activist. The autobiography’s three voices are Gaby, her mother Sari, and caregiver Florencia Morales Sánchez, who joined the family in 1949. This unique and perceptive volume includes Gaby’s poems and an introduction by Mexican writer Elena Poniatowska. An important book for anyone wishing to understand, appreciate and honor the lives of those disabled.
An eclectic hybrid of international voices that are relatively “atypical” in the contemporary imagination of the Anglo-Saxon readership, this well-sized anthology presents a sharp yet thrillingly memorable choice of writings (mostly short stories, essays and novel excerpts) from twenty-eight writers from over twenty nations, writing in languages as rare as the Yoruba, Persian, Bengali… One of Cerise Press‘s contributors from Bosnia, Senadin Musabegović, also makes his debut in this global literary community.
“One thousand years, ten thousand years / are but a tiny dot, / the smallest segment of a point, an invisible hair” — wrote Simonides (556-466 B.C.), whose response resonates today as one questions if it is ever possible to present three millennia of Greek poetry in a non-reductionist overview. Pioneering and fearless, this effort stands up to the feat, offering more than 1,000 poems from 185 poets, more than half of them in renewed/new translations. A landbreaking work of tenacity and fine surprises.
— Greta Aart
Flood Song BY Sherwin Bitsui (Copper Canyon Press, 2009)
Visceral, visionary in its course — this book-length song commemorates the juncture at which modern life collides with a past that is “red crosshatched with neon” and the place “where shouts incinerate into hisses.” Bitsui’s untitled poems employ animal imagery, ancestral memory and violent verbs in fertile movements that blend harmony with discord. They echo the dynamism of the flood; they breathe and singe.
In thirty-six poems full of long, energetic lines, Blevins takes the reader on a headlong biographical jaunt which includes a father’s “slapdash house of divorce and dejection,” the mother who is “happy to drink while she happily makes dinner,” the 70s, a failed marriage, living in the South, and a grandfather who wanders “his corn fields / knowing this world is just one pig after another / in one pen after another.” From “The Hospitality”: “It all started when I got the inkling that my parents were odd.” A fearlessly honest second collection.
Here arrives an enriching ouvrage that artfully gathers all the poems that the Alexandrian + modernist Greek poet, Constantine Cavafy (1863-1933) had written throughout his lifetime — be they published, repudiated, unpublished or even penned in English. His writings situate themselves successfully in their respective socio-historical, literary and biographical contexts. An elegant book with a classical touch, it brings alive strong music of a timeless poetic voice.
Richly textured in a tapestry of surrealist imageries and landscapes, Phan Nhien Hao’s poems recollect memories of his native Vietnam, overlapping with constructed realities of exile and solitude. Cryptic, telling and merciless in its revealing of difficult social details or sentiments, Phan explores lyricism to its limits with dark humor, density, rhythmic and narrative syncopation, as well as moments of automatic writing.
— Greta Aart
Printed from Cerise Press: http://www.cerisepress.com