Sleepwalkers on a Picnic introduces poet Zvonko Karanović to English-speaking readers, and in the genre of the prose poem, which is extremely rare in the Serbian poetics. Poems in prose were historically written in the age of symbolism, expressionism and surrealism, however Karanović’s poetics formed during the 80s, in the poetic culture of socialist Yugoslavia.
We announce with pride the release of Perishable Poems (Poèmes Périssables) by Abdellatif Laâbi in a new translation by Peter Thompson, continuing our focus on post-colonial literatures of northern Africa. English speakers can now join Africans and Africa scholars in recognizing Abdellatif Laâbi as Morocco’s preeminent living poet.
Diálogos is pleased to announce the publication of a new translation of French visionary poet Olivier Cadiot. Anna Fitzgerald‘s translation of his remarkable A Mage in Summer (Un mage en été, original published by POL in 2010), with an introduction by Cole Swensen, is releasing January 1, 2020, with pre-release pricing until then. The book features a cover photo—which is discussed at length in the text—by the great Nan Goldin, used with her generous permission.
Will Firth’s article on translating Miloš Crnjanski’s A Novel of London is out at Los Angeles Review of Books. It’ll be a book very soon now. For a foretaste, we have posted the entire text of David Norris’s excellent introduction here.
On 26 May, 1993, Algerian novelist and activist Tahar Djaout was shot in the head on his way to work in Algiers. He died in a coma a week later. One of his attackers, a member of the Armed Islamic Group, confessed that he was murdered because he “wielded a fearsome pen…”, a fact that highlights one of Djaout’s more famous quotes: “If you speak, you die, and if you remain silent, you die. So, speak and die.”
Djaout’s untimely death at the age of 39 robbed Algeria of one of its great 20th century voices, but not before he produced a corpus of lasting and important novels and books of poetry. We are excited to be releasing, this December, The Bone Seekers (Les chercheurs d’os) in a new translation by esteemed translator Marjolijn de Jager, whose credits include, among many others, Assia Djebar’s seminal Children of the New World.
The Bone Seekers is set in an Algeria ravaged by the war for independence, narrated by an adolescent boy who sets out, with his uncle and a donkey, from his primitive Kabylian village to find the bones of his brother who was killed in the war. The boy’s naive encounters with “the new world” of post-independence Algeria, along with his ruminations on his and his brother’s past, culminate in a homecoming that is a realization of the world to come.
We are also releasing—or rather re-releasing, since I published this book, formerly, at UNO Press—another North African title of great significance, Nabile Farès’ A Passenger from the West, translated by Peter Thompson. In 1970, Farès was asked to interview James Baldwin in Paris for Jeune Afrique magazine. What begins in this book as an interview with Baldwin confronting the history of Black America leads Farès into a journey through his own past and a broad consideration of the matter of identity in the postcolonial world. The original interview with Baldwin (the only extant English translation) is included.
These two volumes bear comparison at a number of levels. They are both “road novels” that hinge, in very different ways, on the revelations that travel can inspire. And both grapple with the problem of identity (and its now fundamental corollaries of language and nation) in a way that brings to light the real costs of empire building, from the American slave trade to the sacking of Algiers.
For this reason we would like to offer these two books in a special package deal: Order either one from our website in the month of August, and you will receive the other at no additional cost. Click here to order.
“In death, he is like an apparition. He shows up inconspicuously, tactfully, in a way he never did in life. No matter how deep you look into his past, you won’t find much because most of what he did was impromptu, without a script. He lived in the present, unencumbered, and he left behind a trail of anger and destruction.” (From: “Mario Santiago: Infrarrealist and Terrorist”, by Ilan Stavans)
Ilan Stavans, who wrote the introduction to Poetry Comes Out of my Mouth, has published an essay on Papasquiaro in Los Angeles Review of Books. Well worth reading. When you get to the end, use the fourth to the last word in the essay as a coupon code and receive 50% off the book price here, until the end of May.
Yesterday, April 10, 2018, Marthe Reed, beloved poet and friend to poets and lovers of poetry all over the world, especially to our community in New Orleans, died, suddenly and tragically, just before she was scheduled to attend the New Orleans Poetry Festival. The festival, this year, will be dedicated to her memory, and we are offering the two books we are so proud to have published, Tender Box: A Wunderkammer, and Nights Reading ::Burton’s Thousand and One::, at a special low price, in the hopes of sharing her love and her vision with a wider audience.
No one ever met Marthe and didn’t like her. She will be sorely missed.
The third iteration of the New Orleans Poetry Festival kicks off in less than two weeks, on Friday evening, April 20. It has been rewarding and heartening to organize this gathering, which threatens to host some 200 poets this year. More than 30 small presses and journals are represented in our book fair, and we’re excited to have poets from as far away as Hawaii and New Zealand joining us, once again. If you haven’t already, check out the lineup and schedule and do what you can to get here and add your own voice to the conversation, which will include more than 60 readings, panels and workshops, with concurrent events running all day Saturday and Sunday and features on Friday and Saturday nights.
Our goal with the fest, originated and organized by Lavender Ink/Diálogos and Trembling Pillow presses, has been to both celebrate and augment our local poetic community, bringing national and international poets and writers to New Orleans and vice versa. We have panels on topics ranging from Infrarealism to Visual Poetry to Collaborative Writing to Translation to Sex Magic to End Times, as well as a wide variety of readings, workshops and performances. More about these in the next newsletter.
To focus today on our features, the fest opens Friday evening with a reading by Louisiana Poet Laureate Jack Bedell, followed by a poetry slam featuring the award winning Baton Rouge Slam Team, followed by music from Kelcy Mae and Ever More Nest. Saturday night we’re happy to present Carolyn Hembree, Tonya M. Foster and performance poet Douglas Kearney, followed by our Poets with Bands show which threatens to reverbrate into the wee hours.
In one of his earliest publications Mohamed Loakira wrote: “The founding space of [my] predilection for writing was, without question, the Jamaa el Fna in Marrakech. This is where, as a child, I learned not to dissociate the voices, rhythms, colors, smells of country cuisine.” Those who have visited the Fna (main square) and souks of Marrakech can attest to the social intensity of the experience. The crush of food and textile vendors hawking their wares in Arabic, French and Spanish, snake charmers and tattoo artists (I was naive tourist enough to have a henna pattern applied to my bald head) is a feast of sensations, which might help to explain Loakira’s desire to “decompartmentalise modes of writing, seeking fusion, cohabitation and dialogue between the various forms of expression, including my poetry, Moroccan painting, music and the aesthetics of silence.” And one might add politics to these modes of writing, as Loakira has always been active in post-colonial politics in both Morocco and France.
Among Loakira’s numerous books of poetry and novels, Diálogos is proud to be the first to bring a complete volume of his poems into English with publication of Peter Thompson’s translation of …and the spring is veiled over (…et se voile le printemps). The Spring of the title is, at one level, the wave of demonstrations and revolts that swept North Africa and the Middle East in 2010 that came to be called Arab Spring, and the book is both a celebration of the revolutionary spirit and hope that swept the region for that brief moment and a lament for its ultimate failure.
Could this be dawn’s birth, a cloud-piercing,
tinted by flashes at the wide transoms.
A dream of what’s possible, so it seems, set free
and a route reshaped for sharing?
Might it be bitter miscarriage,
or simply more of current events? (25)
The book pivots on actual or implied or’s, as the alternative conjunction infects every poem like the turn of an English sonnet.
from …and the spring is veiled over (53)
Or am I forced to endow excess,
assassinate my hopes’ dream of rebirth,
strangling the future with both hands…
Or bend my back under the glosses of preachers
and other exegetes
mutter only in my own silence
while blood flows from the eyes of the partisan dreamer…
Or await in my retiring
the echo of the explosion
and powder the bloodletting with salt that has lost its savor.
There is only unlawful taking, flagellations, amputations,
devastation, blood and fire.
And may the litany of heresies drone on!
from …et se voile le printemps (52)
Ou serais-je contraint à fonder l’outrance,
assassiner le rêve de renaître de mes espérances,
étreignant le futur à mains jointes …
Ou arrondir le dos sous les gloses des prédicateurs
et autres exégètes
jusqu’à mâchonner le silence
alors que le sang coule des yeux du rêveur partageur …
Ou attendre dans ma retraite
l’écho de la déflagration
et saupoudrer les saignées de sel affadi.
Il n’est que dépossessions, flagellations, amputations,
que ravage, feu et sang.
Et que s’allonge la liste des hérésies!
Mario Santiago Papasquiaro (pen name of José Alfredo Zendejas Pineda, December 25, 1953 – 1998) was the co-founder, with Roberto Bolaño, of the Infrarrealist Movement and the basis for the character of Ulises Lima in Bolaño’s novel The Savage Detectives. Like Santiago, the Lima character is a wild adventurer and virulent opponent of the canonical Mexican tradition, symbolized especially by Octavio Paz. Santiago made enemies in the Mexican poetry community due to his vocal criticism of what he deemed inferior forms of poetry, the literary elite, and poets themselves. Gaining only slight recognition during his lifetime, he is recognized and lauded by the testimonies of his friends in the Infrarealist movement, especially Bolaño. Though always returning to Mexico City, Santiago traveled widely in Europe and the Americas as was once expelled from Austria. Years later Bolaño said of this incident:
[Santiago] could care less about Austria and Mexico and the United States and the happily defunct Soviet Union and Chile and China, among other reasons because he didn’t believe in countries and the only borders he respected were the borders of dreams, the misty borders of love and indifference, the borders of courage and fear, the golden borders of ethics.
Mario Santiago’s style is as indifferent to borders as was his life. The long free verse lines, reminiscent of the American Beats, are irreverent but also erudite, and his work is peppered with allusions and homages to Rimbaud, Artaud, Pound, Beckett, Bataille, Mallarmé, Burroughs, Brautigan, Shakespeare and others. He has not been widely translated, partially because he was inattentive to publication while he was alive, leaving behind only one complete collection but reams of poems on bar napkins and the backs of flyers. Diálogos is proud to bring out Poetry Comes out of My Mouth, the first major collection of his work to be released in English, illustrated by the paintings of Maceo Montoya and with a superb introduction by Ilan Stavans. You can preorder a copy, today only, for half price.
Here’s a poem from the collection, read in English and Spanish by translator Arturo Mantecón.
I shit on God
& on all of his dead
I shit on the communion host
& the virgin’s little cunt
I shit on the dead
of the God of God
on the master morality of Friedrich Nietzsche
on the trembling body on my soul
& on the exposed nettles of the atheist
on the premature death of the righteous
on the fleeting nature of coitus & its flash
On the animal verb
On rhizome-like imagination
On the texts of fully weaned wisdom
On the ass crack of the planets
Concentrating on the wildfire of my pores
on this alcohol undergrowth that thrashes me
on the infinite eye of my footprints
on the savage fury of shameful chaos
on impossible death & its offerings
On the mud of the asp that suns itself
on the rocks of the beloved
on the levitation of my skull & bones
on the lame heart of the unspeakable
On the aqueous aleph of my stigmata
on the vitreous rash of my assassin
on the hand of pleasure
on the drug wedged in his front teeth
On the philanthropic ogre & his wife
on the wretched grave of chance
on the germ of lyrical poetry / which is a turd
On the airborne horseshit
on the sleep sand in the eyes of moles
on the all-splendored cranium of Charleville
On the rats still fleeing from the Drunken Sea
on the soft
on the flabby
& on the defenseless
On the toads’ belch of ether
on boiling blood
on the shadows
on the pink phlegm of the daybreak
on the insensate glass I have chosen for a road
in the canyons of swollen Venus
On the banquet platter
in the little chamber pots of the ceasefire
on the rotten toadstool & its trident
On the genealogical tumor of the US Army
on the extensive lineage of shit
Abyss & resplendency / chance & wind
Open vein from coccyx to clavicle
Lateness of pregnancy
/ Flame of muffled harps
On groins without the armpits of God-inventorofthedead
on the suave & multiple murmur made by 2 teardrops
: on the sea : on its deserts :
& on myself
Me cago en Dios
& en todos sus muertos
Me cago en la hostia
& en el coñito de la virgen
Me cago en los muertos
del Dios de Dios
en la soberbia de Federico Nietzsche
en el cuerpo tembloroso de mi alma
& en las ortigas al aire del ateo
en la muerte prematura de los justos
en la fugacidad del coito & sus centellas
En el verbo animal
En la imaginación-rizoma
En los textos del saber tan destetado
En la raja de los mundos
Yo me cago
Concentrado en el incendio de mis poros
en este alcohol-maleza que me cimbra
en el ojo infinito de mis huellas
en el furor salvaje del desmadre
en la imposible muerte & sus ofrendas
En el barro del áspid que calienta
en las rocas de la amada
en la levitación de mi calaca
en el cojo corazón de lo innombrable
En el aleph acuoso de mis llagas
en la vítrea desazón de mi asesino
en la mano del placer
en la droga anidada en sus colmillos
En el ogro filantrópico & su esposa
en la tumba del azar tan manoseada
en el germen de la lírica / que es caca
En la boñiga aérea
en las lagañas topas
en el cráneo todo resplandor de Charleville
En las ratas que aún huyen del Mar Ebrio
en lo blando
en lo fofo
& en lo inerme
En el eructo del éter de los sapos
en las sangres hirvientes
en las sombras
en el rosa gargajo de las albas
en el vidrio insensato que he escogido como calle
en las barrancas de Venus tumefacta
En el platón del festín
en las bacinicas de la tregua
en el hongo podrido & su tridente
En el genealógico tumor de la US Army
en el extenso linaje de la mierda
Abismo & resplandor / azar & viento
Vena abierta de cocxis a clavícula
Regazo de embriaguez
/ Llama de arpas embozadas
En las ingles sin axilas de Dios-inventamuertos
en el suave & múltiple rumor que hacen 2 lágrimas
: en el mar : en sus desiertos :
& en mí mismo
Megan Burns has an uncanny ability to adapt language, concretely, into a correspondent of the broken world it attempts to traverse. In her writing grammar itself becomes the “objective correlative” Eliot imagined as an abstract image corresponding to an emotional state, each trace and fissure in the language mapping a lesion in the individual and social psyche. To “program” is to incant a set of instructions to an automaton, which is then left with no choice but to enact them, unless somewhere in the process something is broken, a gate left closed, or some tiny misprision in the now antique etymologies of Basic set it off on an errant path.
Megan is no stranger to Lavender Ink. This will be her fourth book so far, and she serves, as well, as our co-conspirator at the New Orleans Poetry Festival, where Basic Programming will release this April, with the launch party Thursday, April 20, at Dogfish. You can preorder your copy, today only, for half off even the low preorder price.
Today we are featuring one poem from the book, along with Megan’s reading of it.
110 < >
what I do/ bemoan loss/ my betrayal/ what’s good/ never
traveled a land of dead to get me/ would you/ never waded my city
to pull photos from floodwater stained walls/ would you/ never tried
to pull my spine, notch vertebrae notch through back where I’m split/ spit on me/ would you/ never lowered yourself into mud spewing vomit, your lies that bile thick hanging from your chin/ or clawed your eyes out to not see pain you cause me/would you/ never put muzzle back of my head/ but you did/ never pulled trigger sending metal biting through wishes, dreams, nightmares / never put your mouth on mine & sucked out my breath or put it back in/wouldyou/wouldyou/wouldyou/ never swallowed fistfuls of pages I wrote all you choking down till your rib cage burst filled articles of contrition/ my fucking nouns/ my fucking verbs slurped/ boat me. lover, boat me shore to shore cement blocked/ love me way down to rocky flats of our muddy river where I swirl/ twirl sounds loud bubbling break surface/ my face eaten by shame/ some living/ would you/ never cut me to pieces spread far/ over bridge, down by rocks/ into basin/ interstated/ beach full of fingers & toes/ would you/ would you lick off my fingerprints/ would you/ would you lick off my fingerprints/ would you pull my tongue out to poke that wormy root/ feel it, tip of your tongue/ suckle my eyelids off/ put your fist inside/ me put both fists inside me/ applaud would you would you what’s good/ love me like you mean it/ don’t mean it & leave me here clothed/ meaning it/ leaving me able to walk away/ meaning it/ & I have my wits about me/ I’m still moving/ I’m still sounds & voice & terror/& you mean it/ I mean to be obliterated & you give me love/ love/ what’s good?
Those of you who have read the novel Adios, Cowboy by Olja Savičević, released in the US by McSweeney’s in 2016, will find our excitement over Mamasafari, releasing from Diálogos in September, understandable. When Cowboy released in the UK in 2015, The Guardian and The Irish Times hailed the author as an important new European voice. And even the American reviews have praised with the usual plot summaries, ignoring Olja’s ear for dialogue and eye for image and sensory detail, qualities which are brought to the fore in Mamasafari.
Today we are featuring the title poem from this book, read by translator Andrea Jurjević, and we are featuring the book on the website, with a one-day half-price deal, half off even the low pre-order price. Mamasafari will officially release in September, but pre-orders will likely ship this summer.
In the meantime, we also encourage you to check out Adios, Cowboy at McSweeney’s.
translated and read by Andrea Jurjević
(original Croatian follows the English reading)
Some people live and die worse than their cows.
When the people were taken away, cows lowed in the fields until they died.
When I talk about this to colleagues, they turn to one another, as if I’m crazy.
How do you talk about that at conferences? That’s much too practical for conferences.
That’s too practical even for poetry.
I remember the meadow where I cry because I’m scared of a little dog, of the woods in which I get lost, and the dog finds me.
In the photographs they used to bring to us, shaggy new grass and wild onions had grown from the ashes.
Mom’s a stranger today, and she’s going on a fieldtrip, on a safari to her own country.
Are there flowers, where the two of us are going with a Gianni rental, growing from the uncle’s green vertebra. Or does someone’s tomato stake jut from Grandma’s toothless mouth.
We’ll get a rental in a nearby town.
When finally we go to our mountain.
We’ve been planning this safari for twenty years, every spring.
Hank Lazer’s Thinking in Jewish (N20) is the twentieth notebook in his shape-writing series, drawing on Jewish traditions of text-and-commentary in conversation on the same page, this one in dialogue with the writings of Emmanuel Levinas. These handwritten poems rather problematize the notion of “line” and are visually as well as audibly and conceptually striking, as you can see from these thumbnails of pages 11, 12 and 13:
Click on any of these to load a high resolution version. I like to load them on my phone, lock the screen, then zoom in and rotate the phone as the poems shift direction.
We are launching Thinking in Jewish this Wednesday in New Orleans with a special event at the Bloodjet Poetry Series, hosted by Trembling Pillow Press director Megan Burns. If you’re in town, please stop by and enjoy. If you’re not in town and want to come, let us know and we’ll skype you in, or something… And if you just want to get a copy of the book, you can pick one up from the website for half price, today only.
Reading with Hank will be a “local poet” named Lavender. He has a bad foot (I mean the physical kind) and doesn’t get out much, preferring to sit at his computer and write things like this. So come see this rare in-the-flesh appearance. He’ll be reading some from Surrealism, his book on our site, including a few in Spanish, translated by Argentine poet Enrique Solinas, and also from one of his (many) grossly underappreciated volumes from Trembling Pillow, Transfixion. Here’s one from that book:
come taste this
fruit little gunner
a blind fool
his fake neutral air
drowned in a book
a crook in town
to repent but
it was too late
in the cold living room
to take off
the strange lumps
beneath the pine
the emperor’s drunken
seen over &
over same old
sea same old
shrill & summery
that even in
his cheek to
glow every man every
surly & interested like
the coming on of rain
I infect with
meaning something exact
as reality’s dark
dream when the
lanterns go out
the matching skullcap
& map of brain
his peatbrown head
music from a far off room
mingling with all
thought the dull
that moans the
image of your public self
anticipating a message
to the armies of
in black water
why does his mind
envy reed & hawthorne
is it to have
a point again
arranging & changing
& placing the eye
he has a dozen hands
& pollackesque friends
to make germinate
a choir of worms
like money spent
whose silver cargo
when they pulled me
from the sack
I reeked of you
I defiled you
the ways you live
your secrets of life
joined in spite
in the attics of
proud full of verse
what little town
by river or sea
gates the flaming
word that is yourself
what pursuit what
struggle to escape
cuffed & clawed
but not crying
what wilderness future
light of our knowledge
yields this penelope
who would reduce
our banter to
rules of probability
planted on a starlit
the tap that
but self remembering
self its former height
its discordant strains
its brain that ink
may mark with vineboughs
back eyes closed
the eyes of
youth to roll
it is a journey he said
of the curious
not to be wed forever
but like one who watches
down the row of
statues to see
the divine nimbus
a rose colored
we took our seats
& ghosts & armies
from the age of love
the sea of air
agony of a trance
you who gave me
my first you
you where I
is a roomful of clothes
flame that no
fuel feeds nor
steel has lit
before the surprise
before affection &
Next Thursday, February 22, the eve of the anniversary of the death of John Keats, will mark the launch of Keats Is Not the Problem, a collaborative poem by Chris Shipman and Brett Evans, at the famous Dogfish Reading Series. Even if you have to fly in from New York or California or Uruguay, you should plan on attending this event, which promises to be as much a party as a reading, with refreshments to make “The Eve of St. Agnes” seem Wordsworthian by comparison. Rodger Kamenetz says of this book: “EvansShipman have merged to form a durable romantic monster with one big clear voice, scarifying at times as poetic monsters should be, but also amiable amidst the ruins of New Orleans.” Come merge with the monster and celebrate with us.
In honor of this auspicious event, we offer a little taste of the book below. You can also listen to EvansShipman reading from the book and talking to yours truly about it on The Writer’s Retreat at WRBH.
If you can’t make it to the launch, pick up a copy of the book from our website for half price, today only.
Two from Keats Is Not the Problem
Aging in America (When the Music’s Not Quite Over)
It’s weird to think
some people got
old and died
before the apocalypse hit
Who Killed the World?
on the celestial seasonings
tea flap, beer bib
and what about geriatric
roaches who just age out
of scurrying living
and flaming hot Funyons
besting nuclear winters
hearts on the fire
like terminal marshmallows.
psst— Spring is about youthiness
and bed springs
but once I read with the poet
at the 13 Bar in New York,
he among younger poets
reading about sorrows of the flesh
even though we poets are supposed
to be like opera singers time-
wise, relative to peak.
Aging in America is one thing
Dying in Paris is another
so Andy, yeah—
shucked smushed upright
in a Pittsburgh flat just might
be roundly where it’s at
or just flying a kite on a field
before they invented
all this shit that killed us
outside the movies
looney tunes glue
there are no pacifiers
atoms for peace
who made this place
wipe the glue crust
from corner mouth
start all over again
make the sale
be your own