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2/16/17

Louis Levy - Combining elements of the serial film, detective story and gothic horror novel, Kzradock is a surreal foray into psychoanalytic mysticism.

Image result for Louis Levy, Kzradock the Onion Man
Louis Levy, Kzradock the Onion Man and the Spring-Fresh Methuselah: From the Notes of Dr. Renard de Montpensier, Wakefield Press, 2017. 


read it at Google Books


Originally published in Danish in 1910, Kzradock the Onion Man and the Spring-Fresh Methuselah is a fevered pulp novel that reads like nothing else of its time: an anomaly within the tradition of the Danish novel, and one that makes for a startlingly modern read to this day. Combining elements of the serial film, detective story and gothic horror novel, Kzradock is a surreal foray into psychoanalytic mysticism.
Opening in a Parisian insane asylum where Dr. Renard de Montpensier is conducting hypnotic séances with the titular Onion Man, the novel escalates quickly with the introduction of battling detectives, murders and a puma in a hallucinating movie theater before shifting to the chalk cliffs of Brighton. It is there that the narrator must confront a ghost child, a scalped detective, a skeleton, a deaf-mute dog and a manipulative tapeworm in order to properly confront his own sanity and learn the spiritual lesson of the human onion.

When Gershom Scholem read the novel in its 1912 German translation on the recommendation of Walter Benjamin, he concluded: “This is a great book, and it speaks a formidable language … This book lays out the metaphysics of doubt.”

Michel de Ghelderode - By turns mystical, macabre and whimsically humorous, and set in the unsettled atmosphere of Brussels, Ostend, Bruges and London, Spells conjures up an uncanny realm of angels, demons, masks, effigies and apparitions, a twilit, oppressed world of diseased gardens, dusty wax mannequins and sinister relics

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Michel de Ghelderode, Spells, Trans. by George MacLennon, Wakefield Press, 2017.

Hitherto unavailable in English, Spells, by the Belgian dramatist Michel de Ghelderode, ranks among the 20th century’s most noteworthy collections of fantastic tales. Like Ghelderode’s plays, the stories are marked by a powerful imagination and a keen sense of the grotesque, but in these the author speaks to us still more directly. Written at a time of illness and isolation, and conceived as a fresh start, Spells was Ghelderode’s last major creative work, and he claimed it as his most personal and deeply felt one: a set of written spells through which his fears, paranoia and nostalgia found concrete form.By turns mystical, macabre and whimsically humorous, and set in the unsettled atmosphere of Brussels, Ostend, Bruges and London, Spells conjures up an uncanny realm of angels, demons, masks, effigies and apparitions, a twilit, oppressed world of diseased gardens, dusty wax mannequins and sinister relics.Combining the full contents of both the 1941 and 1947 editions, this translation of Spells is the most comprehensive edition yet published.



Michel de Ghelderode, Ghelderode: 3 Plays, The Siege of Ostend, The Actor Makes His Exit and Transfiguration in the Circus. Trans. by David Willinger. Host Publications, 2006.

Michel de Ghelderode (1898-1962) was a Belgian playwright who is generally ranked with Beckett, Brecht, Ionesco, Genet and Pinter in the international avant-garde. Writing most of his plays between 1918 and 1937, he wasn't discovered in Europe until after World War II, where he was hailed as the "Belgian Shakespeare," and in America until the 1960's. Both discoveries led to great, though cult, popularity. In the early 60's not a week went by without a production of one of Ghelderode's plays, somewhere in the United States. Ghelderode's best known plays in English translation are Escural and Pantagleize. This unique volume includes three plays—The Siege of Ostend, The Actor Makes His Exit  and Transfiguration in the Circus—in their first ever English translation.
David Willinger is the outstanding English-language translator of Belgian drama, as well as the leading American authority on Belgian drama and theatre. He has prepared a volume of three of Michel de Ghelderode's major plays, which are important for our understanding of his contribution to twentieth-century dramatic literature. The translations are lively, inventive and eminently stageable, while at the same time remaining true to the spirit and texture of the original. – Daniel Gerould

Michel de Ghelderode, Ghelderode: Seven Plays, Hill & Wang, 1960.

Production Photo
1965: Chronicles of Hell (Michel de Ghelderode)

Religious faith isn't based on logic; it is fostered by belief in mysterious forces and finds its raison d'etre in miraculous occurrences. A human being who manifests miraculous power threatens the entire structure of organized religion. If such a person cannot be branded a charlatan, condemned as a witch, or perverted into a Satanist, Holy Church may be forced to do its worst... enshrine him as a saint. CHRONICLES OF HELL is about a saint who refuses to die and bares the whole grotesque nightmare of organized religion. - www.sfmt.org/



Michel de Ghelderode (1898 - 1962) was an avant-garde Belgian dramatist, writing in French. He was born on Palm Sunday April 3rd, 1898, as Adh mar-Adolphe-Louis Martens in Ixelles and married in 1924 to Jeanne-Fran oise G rard. He died in Brussels, and is buried in the Laeken cemetery. A prolific writer, he wrote more than sixty plays, a hundred stories, a number of articles on art and folklore and more than 20,000 letters. He is the creator of a fantastic and disturbing, often macabre, grotesque and cruel world filled with mannequins, puppets, devils, masks, skeletons, religious paraphernalia, mysterious old women... etc. His works create an eerie and unsettling atmosphere although they rarely contain anything openly scary. Among his influences are puppet theater, commedia dell'arte and the paintings of fellow Belgian James Ensor. His works often deal with the extremes of human experience, from death and degradation to religious exaltation. His 1934 play La Balade du grand macabre served as inspiration for Gy"rgy Ligeti's opera Le Grand Macabre.

Article about the Grand Macabre, by György Ligeti, an opera with a libretto by Ligeti himself and the famous marionettist Michael Meschke, based on an original play by Michel de Ghelderode. Grand Teatre del Liceu, Barcelona.
Le Grand Macabre
The opera Le Grand Macabre, first performed in Stockholm in April 1978, was presented in a revised version in 1997 in a production by the Fura dels Baus, with stage direction by Àlex Ollé and Valentina Carrasco, and musical direction by Michael Boder.
The reason for an article in Puppetring about this full scale opera is none other than the wish to do justice to a production we consider pure Puppet Theatre in capital letters, and, furthermore, of the most noble kind seen in recent times.
For years now, La Fura dels Baus has regaled us with shows which are fully steeped in so called visual theatre, with a profusion of “plastic” or sculptural elements and a preponderance of images created with supreme care.
Besides the imagination of their directors (Àlex Ollé and Carles Padrissa), the Fura works with a number of close collaborators who approach the image from different perspectives and are highly regarded in their own fields. Roland Olbeeter comes to mind, the scenographer and member of the company responsible for coming up with their most original and sophisticated machinery and gadgets, (among other things he is a nautical engineer). In 2005, Roland’s Orlando Furioso! was presented in the Pocket Opera Festival in Barcelona. In this piece five acoustic, mechanical instruments played themselves, as they moved around the space like robotic puppets, interacting with the singer Claudia Schneider. Or, equally, the video-artist  Franc Aleu, an indispensable presence in most of the Fura’s productions; or the various scenographers who have worked with the company.
In the Le Grand Macabre, the “Fureros” (with a set designed by Alfons Flores) hit the bull’s eye when they came up with the idea of a gigantic puppet which occupies the whole opera theatre’s stage and which centres the action and draws it together.
A puppet, because it has articulated parts (mouth, eyes, head and legs, as well as the body’s natural orifices which open and close as required), because it can turn, and, above all, because it comes to life as a character, thanks in part to the use of video projection which gives it a face with facial movements and multiple body textures, and because at a certain moment we perceive it as its own skeleton, thanks to the translucent nature of the doll’s skin which allows the bones of the inner structure to be seen.
If a production achieves a completely organic relationship between a central element of the set and the other elements of the performance, it can be said that the “dramaturgical bullseye” has been hit; this is something that is extremely difficult to achieve. When it’s succesful, the miracle happens and the show will fly, to the full extent of its potential. This is what happened with the Fura’s version of Le Grand Macabre.
In its day, (the work was premiered as has been said in 1978), Michael Meshke, the illustrious marionette puppeteer, participated in writing the libretto of Le Grand Macabre. This is apparent in the buffonesque style, almost “ubuesque”, of the text, with language which is reminiscent of Jarry’s. Meshke directed Alfred Jarry’s Ubu Roi in 1965, in a production that has entered the anthologies which continued to be performed until 1990, which indicates the importance this work had on the world of the Polish puppeteer. Who is the character, really, of Nekrotzar (Death in Ligeti’s opera) if not a kind of ridiculous and capricious Ubu, laughed at by his own assistants and who, furthermore, at the end discovers he’s afraid of his ex-wife? An Ubu who kills everything he touches but who, at the same time is ridiculous and grotesque, as are all the powerful characters who appear in the work.
All the characters emerge out of the huge doll at the centre of the opera, (modelled on the naked body of Claudia Schneider, who appears in a video at the beginning and end of the production): some from the mouth, others from the eyes or from the vagina, and when the figure is turned round, the buttocks are parted and another space is created which contains the intestines and which, once these have been extracted, even becomes a kind of disco-bar where a party’s going on.
Each scene and each act is marked by the doll’s new position, its movements, and the way the spaces inside, around, or on it are used, in such a way that it can be claimed that it absolutely centres the action and the production itself.
For anyone interested in this prodigious production and some of the comments it has earned, I invite you to visit the Fura’s web page, where you can see images, texts and video, as well as reviews and comments.
Translation – Rebecca Simpson
- www.puppetring.com/

2/13/17

The Proverbs of Ashendōn veer from the broken narrative of their initial occlusion, to the lucidity of theologico-literary madness as a new topography of knowledge

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The Proverbs of Ashendōn. gnOme, 2017.

The litany of a parallel, venomous wisdom, The Proverbs of Ashendōn veer from the broken narrative of their initial occlusion, to the lucidity of theologico-literary madness as a new topography of knowledge. As an inverted deity, “Ashendōn comes bearing gifts.”

“Each page herein has a pair of proverbs, each pair apparently procreating further pairs—further proverbial couplings—unto and until the very last one, which understandably stands as a symbol not only of the whole endeavor (The Proverbs of Ashendōn) but also, and all the more so, of these ‘Proverbs’ as ashen ‘Postverbs’: Postmortem/Post«mot» ‘Proverbs’. The Proverbs of Ashendōn are in hindsight—looking back from their last page (Spolier Alert!)—spelled-outspilled-forth and spoiled to the point of putrefactionpetrification, and pulverized carbonation: a return to, and/or turn into ash. In the end, to quote Beckett’s Endon (morphic mirror of Beckett’s Murphy) or better yet—worse still—to quote the unnamed/unnameable Endon of Beckett’s Endgame, all that the reader will have seen in proceeding through The Proverbs will have been ashes, naught but ashes. In the end, in Ashendōn, nothing but ash: ashen grey, deathly white; the final symbol uniting the (w)hole is the ‘debased cornucopia’ (Ashendōn’s words) of a fitting funereal urn, ‘symbol of the age’. What appeared to be couplings—procreative pairings—were in fact only the ongoing onanism (‘onanistic…repetitive patterns as a kind of fuel’: an ongoing funereal fire) of one already expired, already post-pyre. … On the last page, Godot-like (Note herenow, that there is no need for Spoiler Alerts, since everything is already spoiled), the sole proverb states at last that ‘Ashendōn is coming’—ya viene Ashendōn—but at this point, in this pointed proverb (this singular one following page after page of pairings), it is evident that everything which could have come has already/onanistically come.  All is here/herewith Ashendone.” — Dan Mellamphy 

“The age of iron, our own age,…is…the : the age of misery, misfortune and decrepitude. The age of iron has no other seal than that of . Its hieroglyph is the skeleton bearing…the empty hourglass, symbol of time run out, and the scythe, reproduced in the figure seven, which is the number of transformation, of destruction, and of annihilation. The Gospel of this fatal age is the one written under the inspiration of Saint Matthew. , the Greek , comes from and , which means Science.…It is the Gospel according to : the last of all but for us the first, because it teaches us that, save for a small number of the élite, we must all perish.” — Fulcanelli

Ambroise Lefurgey - Enigmatic and dreamlike, yet not without a recurrent insistence on embodiment, his surreal poems flicker as hot coals do, often flaring between themes of eternity and facticity, body and spirit, love and lovelessness

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Ambroise Lefurgey, Selected Poems. Trans. and Foreword by Liesl Ketum. gnOme, 2017.




Lefurgey was a metaphysical wayfarer, a poet-sage who lived his life on the razor’s edge. A walking coincidentia oppositorum, he threw himself full tilt into the Moebius simultaneity of worlds both sacred and profane. Enigmatic and dreamlike, yet not without a recurrent insistence on embodiment, his surreal poems flicker as hot coals do, often flaring between themes of eternity and facticity, body and spirit, love and lovelessness.

The translation of a poem by February Eglomise had been floating around the island of Montréal during my undergraduate years in that city; it was entitled ‘A Lifebuoys Merger’ and had to do with the alchemical process—indeed, it was said to have divulged the great secret of tinctures, and by dint of this many believed the poet to have been a student of Jean-Julien Champagne, a.k.a. Fulcanelli. The original from which ‘A Lifebuoys Merger’ had been translated was a document no one could find. It is fitting, then, that a student in anglophone Toronto—at the so-called ‘Divinity School’ (a.k.a.School of ‘Divining-Rods’ qua ‘Plumbing-Techniques’) of Torontos Humber College—plumbed the depths of this mystery and discovered that both the name of the poet (February Eglomise) and the name of the poem (‘A Lifebuoys Merger’) were anagrams of Ambroise LeFurgey (and of course, vice versa). Mike Tulles, Humber Colleges top-notch student of plumbing-techniques, anagrammatized his name and then published his findings under this «nom-de-plumb»—a publication that took the form of the present pseudonymous translation (plus prefatory introduction) of an unanagramatized French poet. In order to disguise his institutional affiliation, he simply added an asterisk-dagger to Humber, creating in so doing Humber† College and its ‘Divinity School’ student Liesl Ketum. Lest it be said that I here break pseudonymies, it should be added that Mike Tulles a.k.a. Liesl Ketum might in fact—in reality—be Ellie Muskt (yet another anagram), and that the latter and all of the former might be the daughter (and/or son) of a certain Maye and Errol, to whose surname another asterisk-dagger was added. The mysteries and mysterious/pseudonymous interconnections go on and on and on. In this space—in the space of these plural/plurifold pseudonymies—let me simply suggest, in fine gnOme_Books fashion, that the translator and translated can be signed (either one) as Space-X.” M

2/8/17

Ibn Khālawayh - A fascinating volume. Everything in these pages emerges from the 350 names attributed to the mythologised creature of the lion

Names of the Lion, David Larsen
Ibn Khālawayh, Names of the LionTrans. by David Larsen, Wave Books, 2017.




Poet and scholar David Larsen’s English translation of the late 10th century Arabic lexicographer Ibn Khālawayh’s list of names of lions. Essentially a book of translation about translation, this unique work engages medieval linguistic scholarship with precision and clarity. Larsen’s lively introduction, notes, and the 400 epithets are an engrossing work of cultural studies.


In this remarkable work of translation and discovery David Larsen makes available to us what we can now read as a powerful old/new act of poetic naming. Not composed as poetry in the familiar sense, Ibn Khalawayh’s Names of the Lion comes alive today as a further example of Emerson’s definition of the poet as “namer and language-maker.” Larsen’s careful and groundbreaking translation, presented here in its entirety, is well worth a reading and celebration as an instance of pre-modern assemblage brought into the framework of a new poetics. - Jerome Rothenberg 

A fascinating volume. Everything in these pages emerges from the 350 names attributed to the mythologised creature of the lion. Through the careful, obsessively detailed index, and alongside the retelling of Arabic grammarians’ arguments, arises a fascinating account of the lavish and important workings of nominal attribution. It’s all in a name, all in a grain of sand, all in a snowflake, all in a mane. - Caroline Bergvall



A mystifying and delightful treatise that conveys, as few other texts do, the voluminousness of the classical Arabic language and its poetic resources. Its author was a literary celebrity during a period crowded with savants, and his idiosyncratic genius is on full display in this astonishingly erudite but wonderfully readable book. Elias Muhanna



From THE NAMES OF THE LION
(al-Ḥusayn ibn Aḥmad ibn Khālawayh) 
 
al-Waththāb             “The Pouncer”
al-ʿAū                       “The Distresser”
al-Mihzaʿ                   “The Smasher” 
al-Miktal                   “The Big Food-Basket”
al-ʿAkammash       “Whose Numbers are Oppressive” 
al-Murib                  “The Belligerent”
al-Sāriiyy                “The Pastoral [Scourge]”
al-Muāmi              “The Open-Mouthed”
al-Qaʿfāniyy             “Whose Tread Stirs the Dust”
al-Hijaff                     “The Imposing Bulk”
al-ʿAssās                     “Who Looks for Trouble in the Night”
al-Mukhayyas          “Whose Den Is Well Kept”
al-Sawwār                “Who Goes Straight for the Head”
al-Musāfir                 “The Wayfarer”
al-aḥḥār                   “Whose Eyes Burn”
al-Ghayyāl                “The Well-Concealed”
al-Miakk                   “The Slammer”
al-Ahyab                    “The Most Fearsome”
Dhū Libd                   “Whose Hair is Matted”
al-Dilhām                  “The Dusky”
al-Hawātima            “Terror of the Lowland”
al-Arash                      “The Raking Blow”
al-Shaddākh             “The Skull Crusher”
al-Dilhātha               “Who Strides Unflinching Into Battle”
al-Qanawar             “The Impaler”, said also of the male member of the tortoise, & the spear
Dhu ’l-ʿUfra           “Whose Hair Gets Thicker When he’s Mad”
Dhu ’l-Khīs                 “Who Has a Hiding Place”
Layth al-ʿArīn          “Lion of the Treetop Hideaway”
Layth Khaffān          “Lion of the Lion-Infested Area”
Layth al-Ghāb          “Lion of the Thicket”
Nazij                             “Prancer”
Akhram                        “Hare-Lip”
al-Shābil                    “Whose Teeth Are Interlaced”
al-Aʿfar                      “Whose Coat Is the Color of the Surface of the Earth”
al-Midlāj                    “Who Shows up Late at Night”
al-Mawthabān            “The Seated [Monarch]”
al-Dawsar                  “The Lusty”
al-Abghath                 “Whose Coat Is Ashy”
al-Aghthā                   “Whose Coat Is Shabby”
al-Ghathawthar        “The Thug”
al-Ghuthāghith          “Who Fights Without a Weapon”
al-Ghāzī                      “The Raider”
al-Mufarfir                “The Mangler”
al-Khashshāf             “The Calamity”
al-Azhar                    “The Radiant”
al-Irrīs                         “The Chief”
al-Ajwaf                    “The Big-Bellied”
al-Jāfī                        “The Brute”
al-Jāhil                      “The Unrepentant”
al-Muʿlankis             “Whose Hair Hangs in Clusters”
al-Jayfar                   “Whose Sides Are Well Filled Out”
al-Māī                      “The Cutter,” also said of a sword
al-Ququa                “The Stocky”
al-ārī                         “The Blood-Bather,” also said of an open vein
al-abūr                     “The Perseverant”
al-aʿb                        “The Difficult”
al-Mutajir               “Furiously Jealous in Defense of What Is His”
al-Mudill                     “The Brazen”
al-Hayama                “The Destroyer”
al-Ashraʿ                   “Whose Nose Is Long and Prominent”
al-Qaū                     “The Sunderer”
al-ubāib                “The Giant Lout”
al-Qirim                  “Who Takes the Whole”
al-Ruzam                    “Who Can’t Be Budged”
al-Hajjās                     “The Show-Off”
al-Muqamil             “The Brutal Shepherd”
al-ʿAntarīs                “Valiant in Battle,” [said for] the lion and the she-camel
al-Shaykh                  “The Elder”
                                                                                                            (Syria, Arabic)
 
Source: al-usayn ibn Amad ibn Khālawayh, Names of the Lion, translated with notes and an introduction by David Larsen (Atticus / Finch, 2009), 33-36 (revised).
 
(1)  As with Gertrude Stein’s insight cited elsewhere, a poetry of names emerges, even & sometimes most powerfully in forms & genres not associated with poetry as such.  In the instance of Ibn Khalawayh (d. 980 or 981 CE), he was a Persian-born grammarian much of whose  work was devoted to curiosities & anomalies of the Arabic language.  So, according to David Larsen as scholar/translator, “Names of the Lion comes from a long serial work called Kitāb Laysa fī kalām al-ʿarab (The Book of ‘Not in the Speech of the Arabs’), which has never been printed in its entirety. The title comes from the formula opening each short chapter: ‘There is in the speech of the Arabs no…’ followed by various exceptions to the stated rule.” Apart from this larger work, Names of the Lion came to be read independently along with now inextant listings of his such as Names of the Serpent and Names of the Hours of the Night.  That we may read these today – “in the procedural spirit of recent avant-garde tradition” – as acts of poesis, is an indication of how far our own practice has come in the extension of what we identify or read as poetry. 
 
(2)  Writes David Larsen further: “Asiatic lion populations were endemic to Syria and Iraq until modern times, and encounters between lions and human beings are documented in all other historical periods. Perhaps this is what suggested the subject to Ibn Khālawayh, who left his birthplace in western Iran to study in Baghdad, and went on to Aleppo to serve the court of Sayf al-Dawla (r. 945-967 CE) as a tutor of Arabic grammar. Although he was no zoologist, Ibn Khālawayh’s list of lion’s names is touched by a natural historian’s zeal for order and intelligibility. The genre to which it belongs is the thesaurus, a branch of lexicographical writing that proliferated alongside a relatively small number of dictionaries in the first centuries of Arabic literary culture. In other words, Names of the Lion is not a composition in verse ... [and if it now] reads like an elegiac text, it is because we of the twenty-first century mourn the lion’s lost mastery of the earth. We are also attuned to the list as a poetic form in a way that readers and writers of other periods were not. Names of the Lion may be a masterpiece of philological literature, but Ibn Khālawayh had no conception of it as a work of poetry.”
 
(3)  The instances of poems as namings & namings as poetry run a wide gamut of human experiences, some of which the present editor has cited numerous times in gatherings starting with the first edition of Technicians of the Sacred: Egyptian god names, Homeric ship names, African praise names, the 99 names of Allah, the 950 Sikh god names of Guru Gobind Singh, the 72 names of YHVH (The Lord) in Kabbala (including “The Name” itself), & numerous namings of objects & beings (divine & mundane) by tags & by metaphors. 
 
(4)  “Victory will be above all / To see truly into the distance / To see everything / Up close / So that everything can have a new name.” (Guillaume Apollinaire) -  Jacket2


Lutz Seiler - the first worthy successor to Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain to appear in contemporary German literature

Image result for Lutz Seiler, Kruso, scribe
Lutz Seiler, Kruso, Trans. by Tess Lewis, Scribe, 2017.
excerpt


The lyrical, bestselling 2014 German Book Prize winner.
It is 1989, and a young literature student named Ed, fleeing unspeakable tragedy, travels to the Baltic island of Hiddensee. Long shrouded in myth, the island is a notorious destination for hippies, idealists, and those at odds with the East German state.
On the island, Ed stumbles upon the Klausner, Hiddensee’s most popular restaurant, and ends up washing dishes there, despite his lack of papers. Although he is keen to remain on the sidelines, Ed feels drawn towards the charismatic Kruso, unofficial leader of the seasonal workers.
Everyone dances to Kruso’s tune. He is on a mission — but to what end, and at what cost? Ed finds himself drawn ever deeper into the island’s rituals, and ever more in need of Kruso’s acceptance and affection. As the wave of history washes over the German Democratic Republic, the friends’ grip on reality loosens and life on the island will never be the same.


‘Seiler’s novel Kruso shows what German literature can accomplish when it’s fully worked.’ - Welt am Sonntag


‘That rare treasure — a great novel.’ - Potsdamer Neueste Nachrichten
                                   
‘A multi-layered philosophical novel that poses a major question to us and to our time: How is freedom possible?’- Die Zeit

‘Lutz Seiler’s writings trace their roots to Uwe Johnson’s poetry and reflect the German past, present and future beyond the surface of “simple truths” [...] In Kruso, Lutz Seiler visualises the hopes and constraints of a whole country by means of one singular place, Hiddensee, during one short period of time, June to November 1989.’ - from the statement of the Uwe-Johnson-Prize 2014 jury

Kruso [is] the first worthy successor to Thomas Mann’s Magic Mountain to appear in contemporary German literature.’ - Der Spiegel

‘Seiler delivers a debut novel with which he manages to catapult himself into the front rank of this country’s authors.’ - Die Ziet

‘A special book that will endure.’ - Frankfurter Rundschau

‘A sublime book that is far more than just the novel of the year.’ Deutschlandradio Kultur

‘This novel has historical-philosophical dimensions: it is a significant contemplation on different forms of freedom as well as a wonderfully poetic exaltation of a concrete historical event — a truly great book.’ - 3sat Kulturzeit

‘Seiler’s novel is lyrical and powerful in its eloquence. Already he is to be counted among the great contemporary German literary figures.’ - WDR 5







Lutz Seiler, in field latin, Trans. by Alexander Booth, Seagull Books, 2016.
excerpt
four poems



Lutz Seiler grew up in the former East Germany and has lived most of his life outside Berlin. His poems, not surprisingly, are works of the border, the in-between, and the provincial, marked by whispers, weather, time’s relentless passing, the dead and their ghosts. It is a contemporary poetry of landscape, fully aware of its literary and non-literary forebears, a walker’s view of the place Seiler lives, anchored by close, unhurried attention to particulars. With his precise, memorable language—rendered here in compelling English—Seiler has pulled off a difficult feat: recontextualizing and radically personalizing the long tradition of German nature writing for the twenty-first century.




Lutz Seiler is widely acknowledged as one of the major German poets of his generation. He was born in 1963 in Gera, a town in the eastern part of the state of Thuringia in the former German Democratic Republic. He underwent training as a mason and a carpenter and completed mandatory military service. After studying in Halle and Berlin, in 1997 he became the literary director and occupant of the Peter Huchel Museum outside of Potsdam, the most recent caretaker in a line extending from the poet Huchel himself (who permanently left the GDR in 1971) to the poet and translator Erich Arendt. Mr. Seiler has published over six volumes of poetry, short-stories and essays. His many prizes include the Dresden Poetry Prize (2000), the Bremen Prize for Literature (2004), the Ingeborg Bachmann Prize (2007), and, most recently, the Fontane Prize (2010). He was writer-in-residence at the German Academy in Rome in 2010 and at the Villa Aurora in Los Angeles in 2003. In addition, he has been elected a member of the Saxon Academy of the Arts, Dresden, and the Academy of Arts, Berlin. in field latin is his most recent book of poetry.

2/7/17

David Leo Rice - David Lynch meets Neil Gaiman meets Samuel Beckett and the Theater of the Absurd


David Leo Rice, A Room in Dodge City, Alternating Current Press, 2017. 
Download Sneak Peek at Interior/Read Excerpt


A Room in Dodge City follows a nameless drifter into an American heart of darkness. In this nightmarish version of the historic Dodge City, mythic beasts crawl out of the woodwork; bizarre rituals are enacted; and death is never the end. Equal parts humor and horror-show, David Leo Rice’s novel combines the mundaneness of modern life—motels, strip malls, temp jobs—with something stranger, darker, and more eternal. Told through linked vignettes that read like metaphoric fairytales gone wrong, Dodge City consumes the reader just as it slowly consumes the drifter, leaving all to wonder whether any of us can ever truly escape this world—or our own.


 
“A Room in Dodge City is the beatific son who materialized from the thermals of a Lynchian desert and then drifted from town to town until finally doing time, only to be paroled on work release to save the world, not by changing your life so much as by readjusting your understanding of the life that you’ve been living. At the same time, Rice cares deeply about his characters and this comes out in every vignette. He doesn’t follow the nihilistic postmodern structure by declaring that life is meaningless or hopeless. What we do find is the presence of hope in all things, no matter how run-down they might appear on the surface.”—Joe Halstead

“The writing is David Lynch meets Neil Gaiman meets Samuel Beckett and the Theater of the Absurd. Just as Dodge City is a place the narrator can never leave, Rice’s book sucks you in and doesn’t let you walk out of it intact, either.”—Nick Antosca
“What might happen if Edvard Munch knew alt-folk, lived in the U.S., and decided to paint directly on the inside of his own skull rather than on canvas. A deeply odd book that still possesses enormous resonance.”—Brian Evenson
“Last night in Dodge City, the zeitgeist saw its doppelgänger. Last night in Dodge City, American culture committed suicide and its pineal gland pumped DMT into the water mains. With a draftsman’s hand and a psychonaut’s eye, David Rice has mapped the alien precinct in which we already live. I’ve never encountered a book so strange yet so familiar. Writers such as William Burroughs and Samuel Delany may have helped prepare the ground, but this high-speed, controlled drift across it is all Rice’s own.”—Joanna Ruocco
“Don’t enter into David Leo Rice’s terrifying and hilarious fictional multiverse looking for causality, continuity, or logic, as we know them. Do and never, really, leave. A Room in Dodge City will plunge you into a nightmarish warren-maze where somewhere, amid the numberless trapdoors, inner chambers and branching halls on branching halls, a literary orgy is going down among the imaginative intellects of Blake Butler, Kathryn Davis, Haruki Murakami, Livia Llewellyn, and Robert Coover, refereed by Cronenberg and Lynch.”—Adrian Van Young
“A Room in Dodge City is a vivid, precisely described nightmare filled with jokes for people who think nothing is funny anymore. David Leo Rice imagines American pop culture as a Hieronymus Bosch painting come to life, and he gives us a carnival barker’s tour through a disturbing landscape of lost souls, vain ambitions, and distorted identities, ultimately finding a path to redemption through the spiritual wreckage.”—Mark Beauregard
“Like Dodge City itself, David Rice’s novel has a heart of infinite evil. Rice’s imagination and wit make this journey into the deepest pits of hell much more fun than it should be. Readers shouldn’t hesitate to book a room.”—John Dermot Woods
“In his mind-boggling debut novel, David Leo Rice conjures a series of seemingly unassuming vignettes that read like a revelatory prose poem written by the Zodiac Killer; my favorite kind of literature. There’s something to be said about masks and face masks, but also, the character of The Night Crusher or, how Zodiac Killer wishes he were The Night Crusher. Wow! A Room in Dodge City is a celebration of what it means to know that you know that you can never know everything.” —Mike Kleine

“Unsettling and unsettled, reading David Rice’s A Room in Dodge City is like reading Jakob von Gunten’s dream journal the day after he’d stayed up late to watch High Plains Drifter and Videodrome. An impossible mix of the antic and the sinister.”—Gabriel Blackwell

“David Rice’s A Room in Dodge City warps the serial format to its own uncanny ends. It begins with a stranger arriving in a new town, but that’s the last conventional move in this spellbinding and cinematic novel. You’ll soon encounter toilet crucifixes, suicide students, and rock stars on vacation from being dead. Briskly paced with elegantly streamlined prose, the book follows its own impeccably strange and addictive dream logic.”—Jeff Jackson

“In A Room in Dodge City, David Rice has made good on the promise of the disturbing forays into the surrealism of everyday life that are his short stories. Dodge City is a walk on the dark side of the contemporary imagination that reworks the post-realist storytellings of Donald Barthelme or Henri Michaux into a voice that is unique. A Room in Dodge City is a picaresque novel for the age of the Darknet and Tor.”—Simon Pummell
Recent Work
A Room in Dodge City: Vol. 3 (serialized novel)
Lazy Eye Stories (graphic novel)


Short Stories
Normal Stigmata (in Volume 1 Brooklyn)
The Hate Room (in The New Haven Review)
Gmunden (in The Collagist)
Living Boy (in Black Clock)
In The Cabin Up On Stilts (in Black Clock)
Out on the Coast (in The Rumpus)
On the Murder of Nicola Teensmah (in Nat. Brut)
Joey in Vermont (in The Opiate)
Seed Room (in Hobart)
Eric's Towing (in The New Haven Review)
Housesitter (in Birkensnake)
Egon's Parents (in The Last Magazine)
Jack & Emily Texas Roadside Incident, Summer 2012 (in Identity Theory)
Night Surgeon / Arm Neighbor: A Bicoastal Romance (in Literati Quarterly)
At First I Tried to be Someone (in Pithead Chapel)
You You You Snuffed Yourself (in Spork)
Lazy Eye Excerpt (in Nat. Brut)
Ainsworth Gym (in The Bad Version)
A Visit from Transmission Man Marks the Beginning of the End (in The Bad Version)
Drifter Jim (in The Harvard Advocate)
Dawson's Creaak (in The Harvard Crimson)

LEO RICE is a writer and animator from Northampton, Massachusetts, currently living in New York City. His stories have appeared in Black Clock, The Collagist, Birkensnake, Hobart, The Rumpus, The New Haven Review, Identity Theory, Nat. Brut, and elsewhere. This is his first novel. He has a B.A. in Esoteric Studies from Harvard University and can be found at raviddice.com and at @raviddice on Twitter.

Terry Smith writes about the history of Conceptual Art as its participant and observer. According to Smith, Conceptual Art has transformed itself into the global conceptualism that is still contemporary


Terry Smith, One and Five Ideas: On Conceptual Art and Conceptualism, Duke University Press Books, 2016.


In One and Five Ideas eminent critic, historian, and former member of the Art & Language collective Terry Smith explores the artistic, philosophical, political, and geographical dimensions of Conceptual Art and conceptualism. These four essays and a conversation with Mary Kelly—published between 1974 and 2012—contain Smith's most essential work on Conceptual Art and his argument that conceptualism was key to the historical transition from modern to contemporary art. Nothing less than a distinctive theory of Conceptual and contemporary art, One and Five Ideas showcases the critical voice of one of the major art theorists of our time.

"Terry Smith writes about the history of Conceptual Art as its participant and observer—and his book produces a stereoscopic image of the movement that is fascinating and persuasive. According to Smith, Conceptual Art has transformed itself into the global conceptualism that is still contemporary. This book should be read by everybody who has become tired of the simplistic opposition between global and local and looks for the ways to overcome it." - Boris Groys
"Scholars, critics, artists, and students concerned with the legacy of conceptual art in the present—particularly those focused on its development as a kind of global lingua franca for contemporary art—will welcome the publication of this tremendous book." - Blake Stimson

Terry Smith is Andrew W. Mellon Professor of Contemporary Art History and Theory at the University of Pittsburgh and Professor in the Division of Philosophy, Art, and Critical Thought at the European Graduate School. He is the author of several books, including Making the Modern: Industry, Art, and Design in America and What Is Contemporary Art? 


2/6/17

Otto Dix's letters will prove to be of considerable interest to art historians, scholars of Expressionism, and aficionados of Dix, all of whom will encounter the artist as never before


Otto Dix, Letters, Vol. 1, Trans. by Mark Kanak, Contra Mundum Press, 2016.

free sample (pdf)




Otto Dix (1891–1969) is considered one of the true lions of 20th-C art, a man who established himself as an uncompromising artist that refused to temper how he rendered the realities that he witnessed. Dix’s early works often depict the true brutalities of the WWI battlefields and trenches he served in for over three years, as well as the decadent underworld of 1920s Berlin.

With the publication of this first of three volumes of an extensive selection of letters, the most comprehensive collection of Otto Dix texts at last comes into print in English. Encompassing well over 1,000 letters, and ranging from friends and family to other artists, collectors, colleagues, critics & biographers, the letters offer a personal portrait of six decades of the 20th C.
Dix himself was a controversial figure throughout his life, and while he claimed never to write self-testimonials, the artist had much to say about the widest range of subjects in his private correspondence. Therein, we discover much about a figure who exhibited a gruff, often abrasive persona to many, a man who depicted war with unrepentant brutality yet who could at the same time pen the most romantic, schmaltzy letters to his wife and sketch amusing caricatures to his daughter.
Following his experiences throughout WWI, Dix immediately took up with the dadaists in Dresden in 1919 and became an established figure as part of the Sezession. A few years later, after his first portrait commission in Dusseldorf in 1922, Dix met his future wife, Martha, with whom he would go on to raise three children, and who is one of the principle correspondents in this volume of letters. Some of his most significant work was produced in the 1920s, including his powerful Krieg (War) portfolio, for which the Nazis branded him a “degenerate artist” and forced him to resign his professorship in 1933. Condemned to internal exile, Dix thereafter resided in Hemmenhofen, in the extreme southwest part of Germany. Twelve years later, he would suffer further indignities from the Nazis when ordered to join the Volkssturm in 1945. Dix ended up in a prisoner-of-war camp, again a survivor of a second harrowing cataclysm. After his release, from 1946 onwards, the painter lived between East and West Germany, never truly at home in either ideologically, yet he remained prolific, continuing to produce art until the end of his life, having lived through two World Wars as well as the “Cold War.”

This first volume covers the period 1904–1927 and the heart of it is a selection of Dix’s postcards from the WWI front written to his school friend in Dresden, Helene Jakob, a form of artistic reportage of uncanny power. Recipient of the Die schönsten Deutschen Bücher shortlist in 2014, Dix’s letters will prove to be of considerable interest to art historians, scholars of Expressionism, and aficionados of Dix, all of whom will encounter the artist as never before.

Maura Del Serra - while rooted in classical Western & Eastern traditions, Del Serra’s spiral-like gaze extends from cosmo-metaphysical openings to both autobiographical & civic themes

Image result for Maura Del Serra, Ladder of Oaths,


Maura Del Serra, Ladder of Oaths, Trans. by Dominic Siracusa, Contra Mundum Press, 2016. 
free sample


Maura Del Serra is a poet, playwright, translator, and essayist whose work is highly regarded in Italy and Europe where it has garnered numerous accolades. Following her anthology Coral (1994) and the critically acclaimed collections of poetry L’opera del vento (2006) and Tentativi di certezza (2010), Ladder of Oaths contains poems and other texts Del Serra composed between 2010 and 2015.

Ladder of Oaths further develops and enriches the author’s ars poetica — while rooted in classical Western & Eastern traditions, Del Serra’s spiral-like gaze extends from cosmo-metaphysical openings to both autobiographical & civic themes. The architectural and polytonal character of her poetry is born of more than three decades of intense and convergent activity as a writer who embodies the multiple nuclei of a thinking poetry.
Entrusted to a passionate and metaphoric inventive ductus, Del Serra’s work is dialogical and has a choral transitivity whose rhythms are as rigorous as her style is refined. Such is evident both in her free verse and in her haikus and aphorisms, not to speak of the vibrant, dream-like lyricism of “For Elisa,” the poème en prose that closes the present collection. This is the first book of Del Serra’s to be translated into English since Infinite Present in 2002. [/one_half_last]


Maura Del Serra, Infinite Present, Trans. by Emanuel Di Pasquale and Michael Palma, Bordighera Press, 2002.








 "At the heart of these poems theoretical reasoning and the reasoning of possibility are defined, and therefore the necessity of a composite texture, the form of love that moves from the multiple to the singular" - Claudio Varese


The work of Maura Del Sera, poet, literary critic, translator, and playwright, has been translated into German, English, French, Catalan, Portuguese, Russian, and Swedish. In this collection of poetry veteran translators Di Pasquale and Palma maintain a lovely consistency as they alternate poems. "I have always been moved by obstinate grass tufts/ bursting through walls and asphalt,/ children of stone and air, and only of a memory, earth longing" - from Road Grass.


      In 1963, I made a pilgrimage to Gerde's Folk City, in New York City, to hear the young Bob Dylan. He was beautiful, sweet?faced, curly?haired, angelic, yet he sang of simple truths ? of human suffering, of the struggle for freedom, of the need for love. He seemed to narrow the gap between the spirit and the real. The classic (and Classical) Italian poet Maura Del Serra closes the gap between the spirit and the real in her poems, whose imagery, full of light, fuses (while contrasting) the dream and the fact. In prayer?like songs, she celebrates the simplest things: "the earth?polished bone, / the hundred?year?old lock of hair, / the rusty knife. [...]"
        Del Serra's work is full of faith and respect for life, for that which is life?giving. Her poetry is sensuous and bright. It is also dramatic, recalling ancient Greek plays: "'Serve the spirit / of the creator, your planet, mother earth, / all the beings in whom you see yourself' [...] / To serve [...] / scorching rock that trips pride ? / to serve, return, touchstone that guides all the mind's / frontiers, sensible, exemplary rock".
        Del Serra's poetry, human, mystical, compassionate, is universal. She is a modern prophet. Her work, suffused with light, bridges the gap between the human and the divine. - Emanuel di Pasquale


In a reversal of the usual experience, I met Maura Del Serra in person before I encountered her work on the page. We met in Charleston, South Carolina, in October 1997, at the first annual conference of the Italian Poetry Society of America, where what I heard and saw of her poetry immediately created in me a desire to translate it. Incredibly enough, only two or three days after the conference, we encountered one another again in front of Saint Patrick's Cathedral in New York. I ascribed to serendipity what another might have called the hand of fate, but the recrossing of our paths impressed me enough to make me feel that there might be some validity to the crossing of our poetic paths as well.
        Del Serra's work has deepened from volume to volume in both craft and sensibility, but has remained constant in its dedication to brief, concentrated forms. Her poetry maintains the precision and the intensity demanded by such focus, and is further enriched by her seriousness and her range of interests, among them the domestic, the mystic, and the mythic (as well as the mythmakers: her poems on writers and other artists, with their often amazing images and leaps, are among my particular favorites).
        In making our selections from this body of work, Emanuel di Pasquale and I have sought to communicate both its variety and its consistency. We are confident that our readers will be as delighted as we have been to cross paths with Maura Del Serra. - Michael Palma




I met Maura Del Serra in 1997, on the occasion of a poetry symposium in Charleston, South Carolina. Recently, I spent a couple of days with her in her native Pistoia, Tuscany, and on that occasion we examined together her first book in English translation.
        Infinite Present is a handsorne volume recently published by Bordighera Inc. in dual language edition, featuring a selection of Del Serra's poems from several books of her poetry. The translators, Michael Palma and Emanuel Di Pasquale, have not translated together, but have each selected a group of poems to translate.
        I applaud this decision. The selected poems come from L'arco (1978); La gloria oscura (1982); Concordanze (1985); Meridiana (1987); Infinito presente (1992); L'età che non dà ombra (1997); and Adagio con fuoco (1999). This selection shows the arc of Del Serra's itinerary from her poetic beginnings to the present.
        Maura Del Serra was born in Pistoia in 1948 and is the author of seven collections of poetry, as well as a book of collected poems, Corale (1994).
        She has published seven books of literary criticism, the most recent of which is Di poesia e d'altro (2000). She has contributed to numerous reviews and journals, and her poetry has appeared in several anthologies. She teaches Comparative Literature at the University of Florence, and lives in her native Pistoia with her supportive husband Moreno in a lovely house crammed with paintings and books.
        Maura Del Serra is a translator in her own right, and has translated into Italian the works of Else Lasker-Schüler, Marcel Proust, William Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Katherine Mansfield, Simone Weil, Jorge Luis Borges, and many others.
        She is a playwriter as well as a poet, having authored many dramatic pieces, such as La Minima; L'albero delle parole, La Fenice, La fonte ardente, Specchio doppio, Agnodice, Eraclito, and the recent Dialogo di Natura e Anima and L'atto di Pasolini. Her love for the theatre imparts a dramatic tone to her poetry and some of her poems may sound like a soliloquy.
        Her background is essentially classic and her work echoes classical drama. Maura Del Serra's poetry has the quality of the poet herself: a delicate formal beauty matched by depth and strength of thought. It presents some elements of hermetic poetry - the same compactness, the same intricate and sinuous syntax reading. Del Serra's poetry does not come towards the reader, in the manner of contemporary American poetry; rather, it beckons to the reader to come forth, to unearth secret enclosed in it, by flashing the possibility of an epiphany. There is no doubt that Del Serra's poetry is erudite. It contains numerous references to classical concepts, as well as a great cultural latitude.
        Famous Italian critic Bàrberi Squarotti perceptively emphasized the "disposizione al discorso" (discoursive predisposition) that characterizes Del Serra's poetry. It is such disposition that enables the poet to communicate. The critic further describes Del Serra's poetry as a "slancio luminoso [...] tra l'ammonitorio e il consolatorio", since the "élan" of her verses jolts the reader into an acceptance of reality that only poetry predicates. The "sentenziale" (sentence-like) quality of Del Serra's poetry identified by Bàrberi Squarotti goes also hand-in-hand with great simplicity of style when the poet describes nature: nature is seen not only as a miracle to behold and to live in, but also as the ultimate bearer of wisdom and the supreme healer.
        Rhytm is very important in Del Serra's poetry, and I agree with Bàrberi Squarotti's notion that Del Serra's verses are essentially hendecasyllabic.
        In Infinite Present the translators have attempted to the original verse, since they could not possibly preserve the "sound". I will cite from a couple of poems that appealed to me in a special way. Here is a poem about "Ravello", the wonderful town on the Amalfi coastline, translated by E. Di Pasquale.
        "Mutable, lasting like the sun on water, / the days spins on its reborn sky, / on towers cleft on hills, on the reefs / where the stone has the color / of house wood, on an Amalfitano pine / which, parallel to the sea, / breaks a gate with its trunk. And here, for an hour / hurled at time without time, we are / the silent struggle between the flower and the leaves / of the walled-up almond tree".
        And here is a portion of Aztec Song, inspired by Pre-Columbian lyric, in M. Palma's translation.
        "With a noose of emeralds, I, weaver of songs, / bind the impassive arrow of the sun / to the brittle grass of my destiny, / I filter the gold in the cracked amphora, I measure / my pathway with the dust of sonorous blood, / my end with druken lamentation, an ending sealed / in sacreds books and on barbarian words: / I paint our Kingdom on the plumes of verse..."
        In Del Serra's lyric we can find echoes of western metafisical poetry, of the classics, as well as references and allusions to the Bible and to Dante.
        Since Del Serra's poetry is essentially visionary, there is also a kinship with the poetry of the Imagiste poets. Further, Del Serra has strongly felt the influence of Emily Dickinson, with whom she has an avowed "elective" affinity.
        Mysticism is also an essential part of Del Serra's poetry, in which we hear echoes of Hildegard of Bingen, of the Sufi poets, of Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz (the subject of her play La Fenice), and of twentieh century Italian poet Margherita Guidacci, whose works Del Serra has collected and edited.
        Translating from Italian into English is an arduous job - since the grammatical and syntactical structures of the two languages are vastly different.
        Translating Maura Del Serra's poetry is not easy, since it is quite complex.
        In translation, considerations of sound and rhythm are essential, and some choices are dictated by a certain intuition that the sensitive translator learns to develop with time. Here, the translators have been as close as possible to the original, while at the same time creating poems in the target language.
        Great poetry does not come often from university halls; only in exceptional cases. Maura Del Serra is one of these exceptions. - Laura Stortoni-Hager


IN A THOUGHTFUL POETRY COLLECTION mixing dream and reality, Maura Del Serra holds our attention. The subject matter for this bilingual edition is quite varied, betraying a wide range of interests. There is a brightness, a sunlight, an optimism in her writing - despite her statement of "the brittle grass of my destiny" - that is immersed in a sense of eternity. The enduring force and the power of time, love, and maturity are ever present.
        Maura refers frequently to external nature: the golden sun, a calm sky, the sea, flowers and leaves, often with a strange and unexpected juxtaposition of disparate simple objects. She feels a fascination, a deep reverence for the universe of God filled with its illusions, its joys and torments, violence and mystery. She also reveals a marked interest in sounds - the songs of birds, laughs, raindrops, and footsteps. Her imagery is striking: she affirms that "La vita è penombra cangiante"; we are blind to the future. In addition, she writes about memories, "the blue waters of forgetfulness," where we search for sense in the ways of the world, while "twilight is wrinkling the sea".
        Maura composes short poems, most often of only one stanza, in lines of varying length. Her poetry is made more musical by a repeated use of the liquid consonants l and r. The soft beauty of the Italian language is evident here in a lyrical poetry and a successful translation that shows an intense respect for the light of life and our quick passage through existence despite a certain lack of choice: "È la grazia d'ogni prato la luce." - Patricia M. Gathercole