At the Top of the Page this month (April), we feature a selection of the best of Numéro Cinq‘s fast-growing archive of stellar author interviews. There is only room for a few. “Best” is subjective. Some great conversations got didn’t make the cut. So go to the NC Interview page (nav button on the right) and check them out, after you read these interviews with Lydia Davis, Sheila Heti, Diane Williams, David Shields, Dodie Bellamy, Joseph McElroy, David Ferry, and Micheline Aharonian Marcom.
Numéro Cinq Special Correspondent Jeff Bursey has an essay, titled “Cartography Of The Obscene,” in Henry Miller: New Perspectives, a new anthology from Bloomsbury Publishing, edited by James Decker and Indrek Manniste.
Here’s a taste of the essay:
That Tropic of Cancer remains a lightning rod for dissent along predictable lines is not news, but if the lines seem predictable, then why do people go over the same old arguments when the battle was won many years ago? That people carry on as if history didn’t exist and social change has not occurred indicates that present in Miller’s work, generally, are elements that cause controversy in a far more permissive climate (unimaginably so, it might seem, from when he wrote in the 1930s), and where reading seems to take up less of our free time when compared to competing media. Is what was once viewed as obscene what is, now, truly obscene? Not according to the courts; not according to public opinion; and, in comparison to what can be listened to, read, or watched so easily, it is almost laughable to consider this or that word found on any page of Tropic of Cancer or Sexus as potentially more offensive than the average episode of Deadwood or Girls. Perhaps the centre of what is ‘the obscene’ has drifted, thanks to the tides of time and taste, to a new location.
—from “Cartography of the Obscene” by Jeff Bursey in Henry Miller: New Perspectives
There is an ongoing joke among Argentine writers: every time César Aira publishes a book the question is never “Is it any good?” but “On which page did he manage to ruin the book this time?” This joke not only accurately captures the rather enviable position Aira occupies in the Argentine literary pantheon but his approach to writing as well. With 80 books on his shoulders, Aira is one of the world’s most prolific writers — he is also one of the most whimsical. Aira writes riding on a line of flight that stops at nothing: he is renowned for aiming methodically towards the book’s end, editing very little, always advancing stubbornly and without giving any thought to realism or coherence (nor for magical realism, thank God). His oeuvre is certainly interesting, at times puzzling, if not disconcerting.
Now Aira has been nominated to the Man Booker International Prize 2015, this is fantastic news for Latin American and Argentine literature.
For those unfamiliar with the man and his work, here at BOMB is a very interesting interview from 2009.
– Fernando Sdrigotti
A new little story of mine, a jeu d’esprit, a micro-story (a three-pager), called “A Noir Romance” has just come out in the fall issue 2014 (yes, a bit late) of the Windsor Review, a special Alice Munro issue. This is a print magazine, so you’ll have to go buy a copy to read the whole story. This issue of WR is blessed with work from several other Numéro Cinq bad girls and boys, including Marty Gervais, Karen Mulhallen, John B. Lee, and Amber Homeniuk.
Here’s a bit from the story, the opening lines.
“The short one, you say?”
“Yes. I believe that’s him. He had a mask. It was dark in my bedroom.”
“He had a mask.”
“But it was definitely the short one, you say?”
“He had a mask, but he was short just like the one in the middle.”
“The short one.”
“He had that look, you know. Short. I was wearing my nightie and putting cold cream on.”
“In the dark.”
“Yes. I’m really rather sure it’s the short one. He looks like a man who would steal up on women in their bedrooms.”
“Well, he has that look. Short. Shortness. Like the one in my bedroom.”
“Ma’am, the short one is an officer from the precinct. He picked you up and drove you here.”
“No. I would have recognized him.”
“He’s a police officer.”
“No, sir. It’s the man in my bedroom.”
“Because he’s short.”
—from “A Noir Romance” by Douglas Glover @ the Windsor Review
Back in 2011 we published three poems by an up-and-coming Canadian writer named Kim Fu, who has been making waves with a debut novel For Today I Am A Boy lately named a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award. Go, Kim Fu! (And aren’t we prescient?)
Kim Fu is the author of the novel For Today I Am a Boy, a New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice and Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers selection, short-listed for the Lambda Literary Awards and the Canadian Authors Association Emerging Writer Award, and long-listed for the Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize and Canada Reads 2015. She lives in Seattle.
Call this the Other Worlds issue, the liminal issue, the ghost issue. It’s our best yet, no doubt about it. It has come together fortuitously with contributions from Iraq, Brazil, Ireland, Australia, Canada, China, Argentina, and the United States (maybe there are more, I am getting lost and the issue is still taking shape as I write). And the other worldliness is just a matter of geography. We also have pieces on the after life, on Hell and Judgment, on ghosts — real fictional ghosts and ghosts that are figurative as well as ghost literatures and shape-shifting art forms, fluid and combinatorial. This issue is a symptom of where we want to go. It is always a mistake to think that NC is any one thing, is achieved; it is protean, it is always on its way to being something else, something future and possible, or, perhaps impossible.
In this issue Darren Higgins interviews the peripatetic and brilliant experimental poet/artist Jen Bervin on her latest project, the Silk Poems…
an experimental book (if “book” is defined loosely) that takes silk, in Bervin’s words, “as its subject and form, exploring the cultural, scientific, and linguistic complexities of silk, mending, and the body through text and images nanoimprinted on transparent silk film.” If you were to hold up a piece of this translucent material, what would it look like? What might you see? Very little at all—until you shine fiber-optic light through it. Then the words and pictures would jump up, projected into bloom.
American English, English-English — English is the world Leviathan, and what is it like to write a novel in a language spoken by only a few and in a script that is neither Roman nor Arabic nor Chinese? Agri Ismaïl is a brilliant Iraq & Swedish-based writer tackles the issue for the Kurds, a people with no country to their name and a literature that trembles on the edge of disappearing.
The remains of the Kurdish novel are, then, mere shadows, flickers of what once was. To think of what exists as a comprehensive picture of Kurdish literature is akin to thinking Sappho’s fragments represent her complete work.
Patrick J. Keane, our insanely prolific contributing editor (so much so that he bumped his own piece from the last issue AND he has two pieces in this issue), pens here a gorgeous, dense, erudite and deeply personal essay/memoir on death, judgment and that pernicious notion of Original Sin that condemns even babies to the eternal torments of Hell.
In short, because of Original Sin, we are all guilty, and deserving of hell. And when that stain has not been cleansed by the sanctifying grace of baptism, it follows, and Augustine unhesitatingly followed that appalling logic—even if the prospect of babies in hell is more hideous than the doctrine of predestination itself— that unbaptized infants must be damned: a singularly atrocious example of what “was due to all.”
We have poems, yes, wonderful poems, from the Hungarian-English poet, essayist, translator George Szirtes.
That night I spent my last nickel to call Steve.
The box was empty bar the usual cards
advertising the usual services of night.
One lives for such small favours, such rewards.
One lives for what night keeps up its loose sleeve.
Terese Svoboda offers our readers an embarrassment of riches, two short stories, electrifying, so precisely written they seem etched in stone.
My lover and I take three ferries, hike to a promontory and sleep in bags. A sort of sleep: sausaged with his big body and member, there’s not much turning room other than inside each other. Then there’s dawn and food: we knife open oysters from their beds. He’s lithe across the rocks in his nudeness despite his size and fur, he’s ridiculous running after me, mock caveman. I’m restless when caught, asking for another story about his trip abroad. I was so stoned, he says. All of it was art. I set the timer for the picture of the two of us anyway. (from “Rugby”)
And this month our production manager (currently holding down a beach blanket in Hawaii) Kathryn Para interviews the Governor-General’s Award winning Canadian poet David Zieroth, who also offers a clutch of poems in the shape of a Slovak lexicon.
means rattled in Slovak, he said
the morning he told about
leaping back before a big car
ran him down, the white hand
untruly telling him he was safe
I said the sun must have blinded
the driver’s eyes, sun so rare
and you’re invisible, Miro
I joked, like all Slovaks here—
Natalie Helberg reviews wildly combinatorial arts of Richard Kraft and Danielle Dutton in the just published Here Comes Kitty….A Comic Opera.
Richard Kraft and Danielle Dutton’s Here Comes Kitty, a collage project (Kraft’s) with written interludes (Dutton’s), beautifully, wantonly, defies review. Like a dream, it slips off the binds of the mind, building up structures which differ from those present upon rational waking.
We have a comprehensive and erudite re-assessment (resurrection) of the Boston poet Cid Corman, overlooked and forgotten perhaps, by Gregory Dunne, an excerpt from his book Quiet Accomplishment: Remembering Cid Corman published by Ekstasis Editions. While curating this piece, Senior Editor Gerry Beirne wrote: “…the more I look at his work/life, the more he grows in my estimation and I share a sense of the sadness he felt about being “forgotten”- I think the piece is timely and it would be good to share his significance with a literary/artistic community that may be unaware of him.”
From Brazil (yes, we are branching out a bit this issue, have I mentioned that?), we have a little magic realist tale that puts me in mind of Peter Carey’s novel of Australia, Illywhacker, a magic history of Australia-cum-novel in which Australia becomes a museum diorama for Japanese tourists. In somewhat the same vein, Toni Marques takes us to a Brazil in the future where the notorious slums have become tourist sites where outsiders come to get a taste of the real — only, of course, the real bites.
“We’re Brazilians, ok? We should do this, we should do that, but we don’t do anything because we are Brazilians, period. Nowhere else in the world can you get something like this tour. Yes, this is something totally new. Yes, we need to improve lots of stuff. But, hey, you’re in Rio’s oldest favela watching a typical day of a crack-cocaine torn family. It’s a crack-o-rama if you will. Anything can happen to a crack-cocaine favela family, what else can I say? You see the girl running around like crazy? Perhaps right now she’s high, you know.”
Senior Editor Ben Woodard reviews the new Kelly Link short story collection Get in Trouble.
Throughout Get in Trouble, Kelly Link dares her characters to make these kinds of tough decisions, whether it’s stepping into a hurricane or fooling around in an abandoned amusement park, and while these choices vary in their reward for the author’s protagonists, they continue to shock, move, and amaze the reader.
And in Uimhir a Cúig, our regular Irish feature edited by Gerard Beirne, this month we offer an interview with the Irish-Australian novelist John Connell and an excerpt from his new novel The Ghost Estate, a book about the boom and bust of the Celtic Tiger and the effect that has had on the lives of the Irish and east European immigrants as well.
The Poles emerged with their shaved heads and plastic bags full of sandwiches. Odd they never seemed to have a lunchbox, not one between them, Kane thought to himself.
They had lived here for over two years. He’d done little with the house: put in some bunk beds, a lick of paint and that cheap oil burner instead of the range. The walls were still damp on cold winter mornings. They had probably brought on Noel’s bad chest and would, in time, would make the Poles sick too. But they were young and hardy.
‘Good morning lads,’ Kane said as Jans and the others began slowly to climb into the vehicle.
‘Morning boss,’ said Jans quietly.
The indefatigable and prolific Pat Keane doubles this month as a music critic, penning a short essay on a brand new song by Maura Kennedy (t0 lyrics by poet B. D. Love). We have the song! Play it while you read.
But the highlight for me was a song titled “I Cried to Dream Again.” Maura wrote the music, to accompany lyrics by a poet-friend, B. D. Love. As the title indicates, Mr. Love is playing off one of the most beautiful, and utterly unexpected, passages in Shakespeare: lines spoken by Caliban in Act II, Scene ii of The Tempest. When the fools Stefano and Trinculo are frightened by the music created by the invisible Ariel, Caliban responds:
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight, and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometimes voices,
That, if I then had wak’d after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I wak’d,
I cried to dream again.
And in Numéro Cinq at the Movies this month, Sophie Lavoie introduces readers to Lucrecia Martel’s stunning short documentary on the rise of gated communities in the cities of Latin America.
These compounds have become playgrounds for the rich, featuring country clubs with golf courses, polo grounds, shopping malls, bilingual schools, and medical centres, as the film points out. They provide the illusion of an oasis for the wealthy, allowing them the freedom to circulate freely within the confines of their fences.
Martel’s short documentary juxtaposes the steady, foreboding view of the wall with shots of the neighbours across the street, emphasizing the fact that her film crew was not allowed into the neighbourhoods, in spite of their many attempts. The outsiders, like the film’s viewers, are left to muse about the wonders contained within.
And need I add: There is more…
Thrilled to see that Sarah Clancy (featured in Uimhir a Cúig) has just won the inaugural Irish People’s Poetry Prize for her poem ‘And Yet We Must Live in these Times’ – a poem on the affects of austerity on Irish people.
“The prize is intended to shine a light on some of the many brilliant and brave young poets we have that are beginning to transform Irish literature from below, and who in their poetry are passionately and eloquently addressing progressive concerns of their own, which are also of interest to Irish people and Irish residents of all ranks and backgrounds.”
— Gerard Beirne
Uimhir a Cúig is truly grateful to Nessa O’Mahony for this guest blog on the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival which took place recently in Dun Laoghaire in County Dublin.
That 21st March 2015 was UNESCO World Poetry Day might have escaped many of the those attending this year’s Poetry Now at the Mountains to Sea literary festival in Dun Laoghaire. Poetry Now, in its twentieth year and returning to its early Spring time-frame after a couple of years languishing in the dogdays of September, has always been a centrifugal force for Ireland’s poetry community; there is no need of a global celebration of the artform to persuade poets and poetry-lovers to converge on this pretty harbour town. Artists of the calibre of David Ferry, Peter Fallon, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Kei Miller, Peter Sirr and Tomasz Rózycki were a sufficient draw to the initiated; the sunshine gleaming on the glass and polished concrete of the newly opened dlr LexIcon, the multi-million library and cultural centre, was enough to lure the uninitiated from their rambles on the pier and seafront.
Work commitments had made me miss the first few events of the Poetry Now Festival, which had got under way on Wednesday with a rare reading by Paul Durcan, whose new collection The Days of Surprise has been described as his best book in years. Durcan remains one of the few Irish poets who can fill a room of whatever size you book and the Pavilion Theatre wasn’t large enough to satisfy the legions of fans who wanted to hear him. I’d also missed the opening night proper, on Friday, with talks by Alice Lyons, Curator of the festival, and poet and essayist Maureen McLane, as well as a reading by McLane, Miriam Gamble and Tom Pickard. So I arrived on Saturday into the already buzzing café of the LexIcon with the pent-up energy of an afficionado determined to catch up on anything she’d missed. I bumped into poets swarming out of the morning’s masterclass with Tess Gallagher, whose focus had been on the endings of poems. We can expect to see impressive conclusions over the coming months.
The winner of The Irish Times Poetry Now Award for the best collection of the previous year is always announced on the Saturday of the festival. Each year, the winner is a tightly-kept secret until the morning of the announcement, when sponsor The Irish Times splashes the news on its front page (well on its third inside page to be exact). This year’s short-list of Theo Dorgan, Martina Evans, Vona Groarke, Kerry Hardie and Peter Sirr had made guessing the winner especially difficult but there was a warm, fuzzy feeling throughout when the news broke that Theo Dorgan’s book Nine Bright Shiners (Dedalus Press) had taken the honours. In true Oscars fashion, the winner couldn’t be there to accept the prize (Theo is currently on a reading tour in New York) but his partner, Ireland Chair of Poetry Paula Meehan, accepted it on his behalf. There followed a short video in which Theo read some poems from his winning collection, standing in front of an impressively crammed set of bookshelves which, I was relieved to see, was even messier than my own.
In the short break that followed, I sprinted over to the Pavilion Theatre (down the front from the LexIcon and the venue for the fiction events during the festival) to firstly buy Sarah Bannan’s debut novel, Weightless (Bloomsbury), and then to queue up in order to get her to sign it. Sarah, who is taking a sabbatical as Head of Literature with the Arts Council to promote her first book and begin the tough task of writing a second, looked both stunned and delighted by the lengthy line forming for her signature. I couldn’t pretend to have been there when she asked if I’d enjoyed her reading; the need for bilocation is a recurring challenge at Poetry Now Mountains to Sea and a poet’s first loyalties are to other poets. Anyway, novelists don’t need us to swell out their numbers!
Then it was a swift jog back over to the LexIcon for the next event, a reading by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Peter Sirr. Although Nuala has been a regular visitor to the festival over the years, the enjoyment in listening to her never pales. She is a woman of terrific intelligence and great learnedness, whose wonderful work in the Irish language has been translated by many of the best Irish poets of her generation (including Longley, Muldoon, Ní Chuileanáin, McGuckian and Coady). Her theme on this occasion was The Muse which, for her, had proven to be the landscape, her children, the male form and, lastly, her ideal reader. Peter Sirr’s muses have been equally numerous, though introducer Jane Clarke (whose long-anticipated first collection appears from Bloodaxe this June) pointed to the preoccupation he shares with Ní Dhomhnaill with landscape and tradition. One current obsession is with the troubadors (male and female) of the old, courtly tradition. Another is the poetry of Bertolt Brecht, and the many resonances his ascerbic political commentary have in this neoliberal world of ours. But Sirr never neglects the small themes; his playful but beautifully judged elegy for a family dog remains one of my favourites in his new collection, The Rooms (Gallery Press).
In the break that followed that reading, I visited the small publisher and artbook fair on the 3rd floor of the architectural wonder that is the LexIcon, spent my last five euro on some clever little postcards and then wandered into one of the film-booths dotted around that were showing poetry films on a constant loop. I seemed to have happened on one that was predominantly text-based, and craving more exciting visual images, I wandered over to the large plate-glass window facing out onto the harbour. The sun was still high in the sky, the boats looked golden in the water and crowds of happy families streamed up and down the sea-front. I returned somewhat reluctantly to the air-conditioned froideur of the Studio below, but was delighted I’d done so. Kei Miller, the Jamaican-born poet whose latest Collection, The Cartographer Tries to Map a Way to Zion, (Carcanet) won the Forward Prize for Best Collection, gave a bravura performance, his honeyed lilt and passionate recreation of his home-place capturing the audience and making us his own. His cartographer persona, with his well-meaning failure to interpret the landscape he was mapping, reminded me of Friel’s take on the coloniser in his play Translations; the Jamaican and Irish histories aren’t entirely different. Polish poet Tomasz Rózyki was compelling in a quieter way that drew you in to his meditations on the fluid identities in Eastern Europe; he was ably assisted by translator John Kearns who read the English versions of his poems.
The spirit was willing to go along to the next event, a reading and interview with Irish poet and publisher Peter Fallon and American nonegenarian poet, David Ferry, but the flesh was weak and the stamina even weaker, though I suspect I may have missed out on the event of the festival. Tweeting about it later, Irish critic Maria Johnston said “never thought I’d get to hear #poet David Ferry read from his work but here he is in Dublin at @mountainstosea”. Slumped on my sofa and drained by the excitements of the day, I felt a momentary desire to get back onto my car and head back out to Dun Laoghaire. But the moment passed. Tomorrow (or today to be precise) is another day. We’ll find out the winner of the Shine-Strong award for best first collection, hear the wonderful Liz Berry and Daljit Nagra and tune in to more gossip. And the sun may well shine – it always seems to, on Poetry Now at Dun Laoghaire.
— Nessa O’Mahony
Nessa O’Mahony was born in Dublin and lives in Rathfarnham where she works as a freelance teacher and writer. She won the National Women’s Poetry Competition in 1997 and was shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Prize and Hennessy Literature Awards. She has published three poetry collections as well as a verse novel, In Sight of Home, Salmon Poetry (2009). Her most recent collection, Her Father’s Daughter, was published in 2014 by Salmon Poetry.
…it’s hard to resist the thought that overwrought charges against the trigger-happy curriculum are outgrowths of fragility, or perceptions of fragility, or of fears of fragility running amok. When students are held, or hold themselves, to be just minutes away from psychic disaster, is it because they know “real” fragility is sweeping across the land? Or has there arisen a new generational norm of fragility, against which fortifications are needed? Whatever the case, angst about fragility cuts across political lines and crosses campus borders. Shall we therefore stop talking about rape, lynching, death camps? Shall we stop reading the annals of civilization, which are, among other things, annals of slaughter? I was talking the other day to a Columbia sophomore, Tony Qian, who put the point pithily: “If you’re going to live outside Plato’s cave, you’ve got to be brave.” What ever happened to, “Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make ye free”? Not comfortable—free.
Read the complete essay @ Why You Should Be Disturbed at College – Tablet Magazine.
Some time back we ran a couple of introductory lectures on the philosophy of Michel Foucault and here we are presenting one of his lectures, on the nature of the human self, with a lengthy question and answer period after. Something dark and revealing here about the nature of the self. We are used to talking about power relations and seeing ourselves as either perpetrators or victims in the struggle for priority. Foucault problematizes the self (itself) by suggesting that we internalize the power relations and are subdued by them. What is a poor self to do when it has internalized the structure of its own enslavement? Makes you think. Who am I anyway?
Here’s helpful bit of context from the European Graduate School biography of Foucault to situate you going into the lecture.
During the later years of his professorship at the Collège de France he started writing The History of Sexuality, a major project he would never finish because of his untimely death. The first volume of the work was published in 1976 in French and the English version would follow two years later, entitled The History of Sexuality Volume I: An Introduction. However, the French title was much more indicative of what Foucault was after: “Histoire de la sexualité, tome 1 : La Volonté de savoir”, which translates as The History of Sexuality Volume I: The Will to Knowledge (a newer edition is simply named The Will to Knowledge). It is an amazingly prominent work, maybe even his most influential. The main thesis of the work is to be found in part two of the book called “The Repressive Hypothesis” where Foucault articulately explains that in spite of the generally accepted belief that we have been sexually repressed, the notion of sexual repression cannot be separated from the concomitant imperative for us to talk about sex more than ever before. Indeed, according to Foucault it follows in the name of liberating so-called innate tendencies, certain behaviors are actually produced. With the contention that modern power operates to produce the very behaviors it targets, Foucault attacks here again the notion of power as repression of something that is already in place. Such new notion of power has been and continues to be incredibly influential in various fields.
His last two books, the second and third volumes of the history of sexuality research, entitled The Uses of Pleasure and The Care of the Self respectively, both relate the Western subject’s understanding of ourselves as sexual beings to our moral and ethical lives. He traces the history of the construction of subjectivity through the analyses of ancient texts. In The Uses of Pleasure he looks at pleasure in the Greek social system as a play of power in social relations; pleasure is derived from the social position realized through sexuality. Later, in Christianity, pleasure was to become linked with illicit conduct and transgression. In The Care of the Self, Foucault looks at the Greeks’ systems of rules that were applied to sexual and other forms of social conduct. He analyses how the rules of self-control allow access to pleasure and to truth. In this structure of a subject’s life dominated by the care for the self, excess becomes the danger, rather than the Christian deviance.
What Foucault made from delving into these ancient texts, is the notion of an ethics to do with one’s relation to one’s self. Indeed the constitution of the self is the overarching question for Foucault at the end of his life. Yet the point for him was not to present a new ethics. Rather, it was the possibility for new analyses that focused on subjectivity itself. Foucault became very interested in the way subjectivity is constructed and especially how subjects produce themselves vis-à-vis truth.
I was noodling around in my favourite links sites (check out our links page for some of the best sites on the Internet) and discovered these excerpts from Charles Henri Ford‘s diary, Water From A Bucket: A Diary 1948-1957, in This Recording. First I noticed that Lynne Tillman had edited the book and then I read the excerpt and then I ordered the book and have been happily reading through it, restraining myself from racing right through it, vaguely depressed that there isn’t more. I haven’t had this much fun since reading Witold Gombrowicz’s diaries. But Ford is sexually frank in ways that Gombrowicz was not (you had to read between the lines) and one is delighted and liberated in his audacity. His style is precise, aphoristic, chiselled. You can dwell on sentences. Ford knew everyone in the 40s and 50s and before. He was Djuna Barnes’ friend, knew Gertrude Stein who advised him on his love life. The Russian painter Pavel Tchelitchew was his lifelong love (but that didn’t stop him from chasing shepherds, delivery boys, US Navy personnel, men in the restrooms of Paris, etc.). And he knew Lynne Tillman who did him the service of helping to bring this book into print.
On arrival in Weston Friday before tea, Bert jumped into his Levis, looking more sexy than ever, and we three took a walk. Vorisoff, our neighbor, came to dinner. Shortly after dinner Bert and I went upstairs, he wanted to look at the pornographic playcards and since there was nothing else to do he suggested we go to bed so I went back downstairs and said goodnight to Vorisoff and Pavlik. Bert was going to spend the night in my bed. “Fuck me between the legs,” he said — and hollered when I hit the piles which seem to be practically out — because the next afternoon even my tongue hurt them (I had taken him in his bathrobe downstairs and washed his ass for him.) So after we had both come (I sucked him after shooting between his legs — I can see him now in bed lifting one leg to wipe the come off his crotch with the towel I tossed him), he said he was hungry so we had scrambled eggs, then he said he felt “jumpy,” that he wanted to take a walk and wanted me to get dressed and go with him. We had had Scotch after we got back. I shall make a list of “What’s beautiful about Bert.” Not now — it’s too long.
Last evening before bedtime Pavlik had another of his crises, in which he unloaded his feelings about our relationship. The most terrible thing he said was that he had the feeling I was waiting for him to die and that when he did die I wouldn’t shed a tear: “Americans are the hardest people in the world…”
He said that when I was away from the apartment, then he “bloomed,” that there were other people who “calmed” him when he was nervous, but that I drained him — “I feel your pulling, pulling all the time, that’s why you look so young, you age me, if you were to stay away from me one year you wouldn’t look like you do now, like your portrait, just look in the mirror after one year, you’ll see!”
I told him, “If we are only staying together out of convenience and cowardice, then it’s pathetic, a break should be made…”
The voice of Leonor over phone – soft, and low pitched, very seductive.
I like the idea of liking girls and going to bed with them but I’m afraid I’m much too conditioned by boy-loving. On the boat, in the group Tanny-Bobby-Betty (latter a dark skinned ballerina traveling with Tanny), it was always Bobby who set off the sparks and whom I liked to look at, touch, listen to — I’m made that way, that’s all.
Correction! Okay, a few hours after I put this up, reader Larry Bole left an illuminating comment (see below). This isn’t a woman (the video description, as you can see, does say it’s a woman); it’s a man named Ronnie Moipolai, and based on this video (or a similar one), the musician still anonymous (and often misidentified as a woman because of the kerchief on his head), a South African singer named David Kramer went to Botswana and tracked him down (to begin with, going from village to village and asking).
You can read a South African news story about Kramer’s detective work here (includes some fascinating context and folkloric information). I am particularly grateful to Larry for the comment, the link, and the education. I will leave my original text because at least it gives a sense of my initial enthusiasm, and I don’t mind learning something new. (And I have always had a difficult time telling men from women — this goes back to early childhood.)
Here’s what I wrote this morning, prompting Larry’s correction:
Mid-week slump. Late March. Snow turned to ice all around. My brother sent me off to look at some African musicians and I happened upon this brilliant, anonymous woman who takes your breath away and takes the wince out of the words “human” and “beauty” written in the same sentence. There’s no identification on the video. At one point you can see the word PINA and the number 5.00 marked on the guitar. One of the comments suggests that “pina” is the Tswana word for song. Tswana is a language spoken in Botswana and South Africa. I don’t really know if it is Tswana myself, can’t find it on the Internet otherwise. Several comments point to the cheapness of the instrument (and what magic she makes with it). Her technique is, well, what? Great walking base, bored young man in the background, everything lights up when this woman smiles part way through.
And, now that I know who he is, here are more videos. There are a lot!
Rigoberto González, twice published on the pages of Numéro Cinq, has been given the Publishing Triangle Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement (and he’s not even that old, so there’s a lot more to come before the sun sets). Go, Rigo!
Rigoberto González is the 2015 recipient of the Publishing Triangle’s Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement, named in honor of the legendary editor of the 1970s and 1980s. This honor, which carries the largest cash prize in LGBT letters, will be presented at our awards ceremony on April 23, 2015, in New York City.
Rigoberto González is the author of four books of poetry—most recently, Unpeopled Eden, which was a finalist last year for the Publishing Triangle’s Thom Gunn Award for Gay Poetry and won the Lambda Literary Award for Gay Poetry. His ten books of prose comprise two bilingual children’s books; the three young adult novels in the Mariposa Club series; the novel Crossing Vines; the story collection Men Without Bliss; and three books of nonfiction, including Butterfly Boy: Memories of a Chicano Mariposa, which was a finalist for the Publishing Triangle’s Randy Shilts Award for Gay Nonfiction and received the American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation.
González has also edited Camino del Sol: Fifteen Years of Latina and Latino Writing and a volume of the poet Alurista’s work, Xicano Duende. He is the recipient of, among others, a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Barnes & Noble Writer for Writers Award.
González is contributing editor for Poets & Writers magazine, sits on the executive board of directors of the National Book Critics Circle, and is professor of English at Rutgers–Newark, the State University of New Jersey.
Read the rest @ Publishing Triangle.
Carrie Cogan, who lives on Salt Spring Island on the British Columbia coast and who has twice appeared in Numéro Cinq, has just won the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival’s 2015 Fiction Contest for her story “Birds of Paradise.” Go, Carrie!
You can read Carrie’s earlier work published here. It includes a piece of fiction “The Filthiest of Shiny Things” and a What’s Like Living Here essay set on Salt Spring Island (with v. cute baby pics).
The Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival’s 2015 Fiction Contest had a great year of excellent submissions. Our judge, Molly Antopol, has made her decision. She selected a group of finalists, and from these, one was selected as the Grand Prize Winner.
We are thrilled to announce the Grand Prize Winner of the 2015 Fiction Contest, Carrie Cogan! Carrie Cogan attended Vassar College and holds an MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts. She is a past recipient of Nimrod‘s Katherine Anne Porter Prize for Fiction. Her work has also appeared in Gulf Coast and Numéro Cinq. She lives on an island in Canada with her husband and two young sons, and is at work on a novel.
Antopol praised “Birds of Paradise,” saying “the voice is electric and immediate, the setting beautifully and vividly rendered, and the writing itself is tight and lyrical without ever calling attention to itself. A tremendously smart and evocative story by a writer who appears to have talent in spades.”
Our esteemed Associate Editor Richard Farrell has a terrific new story out in Contrary Magazine.
You can see one of Rich’s contributions to NC, including another short story “Dogfights” by clicking on his name above or on his image.
Here’s a taste of the new story. Go to Contrary Magazine to read the rest.
Granger shouted. “Vaya, vaya!” and the dentist and his wife jumped up and down and the crowd roared and the horses sprinted forward. Edith was rooting against her own horse, silently urging it to slow down. Granger pressed her shoulders, almost shaking her.
Then a strange sound rose from the surf-line, a soft but prolonged moan that curled around her like a drum. A moment later, a deep groan erupted from the crowd. Water splashed. Where the horses should have been, sand and sea-foam twisted in the air.
“Wait,” Granger said, releasing his grip on her shoulders. “Oh, shit.”
A snapping, like wet twigs in a fire, burst from the pile of horses. Brittle sounds, horrible and unforgettable. She felt that sound—the horses’ shattering bones—in the roots of her teeth. Another moan, louder this time, went up through the crowd. One horse tumbled over into the water, its belly and legs twisting wildly. Tails like thrashing serpents whipped water and sand. Granger grabbed her hand but she pulled away. They were still falling, all the horses, into the water. But then one, two of them, pulled ahead. Two had escaped, the six-horse, she realized, and another. The pair of still-racing horses pulled out from the horrible scrum, galloping down the beach, without so much as a glance back at the carnage in their wake.
Read the rest at “The Horses of Sanlùcar” by Richard Farrell — Contrary Magazine.
In truth, there is no accounting for Robert Wrigley. No explanation necessary. The mark of all true great poets. His poems account for themselves. I was thrilled to include him recently in Numéro Cinq — he was generous enough to share some new poems. Well, if you are like me, that was not enough; and so I am adding a few links to other recent poems and an interview. No, really, no need to thank me. Thank Mr. Wrigley instead and the wonderful publications that, against the odds, somehow survive (catch and release) and continue to promote great literature.
Can’t resist this. It turns out a library in Windsor, Ontario, has been the setting for a bunch of professional porn shoots. Young women go in there, pretending to be innocent readers, find a quiet nook (not Nook), and get up to all sorts of hanky-panky in front of a camera. The article makes a connection between quiet, private spaces and porn sex (also education and porn — go figure). The really interesting thing is that the act and the article reflect an ancient connection between books, privacy, the self and illicit sex. As we are suspicious of the proliferation of pornography on the Internet today, early critics believed books were meant primarily to promote unhealthy ideas (porn) and practices. Don Quixote is seduced into his romantic madness by books (his friends burn his books). In Jane Austen’s Mansfield Park, the young people are led astray by reading and acting out a play (the father burns the book copies of the play). So it’s kind a cute that online porn producers have picked up on the age old erotics of books.
Libraries are an easy choice because they afford plenty of semi-private space, and according to the Ontario source, “many cam girls are quite young and probably spend a fair amount of time in libraries as it is.”
She added, “contrary to what one might think, cam girls – and boys – are usually in school/educated.”
Okay, so I got a little obsessed with the trees and shadow patterns. These were taken yesterday, again along the Hudson. Cold after two warm days, the trail chopped up and icy. When you look carefully you see the trees, the shadows and the columns of light between the shadows. The snow simplifies the scene, makes it an abstraction. The trees are more or less straight and sharp-edged, but the shadows follow the contours of the snow, which, in turn is following the contours of the rocks, gullies, stumps, and down trees underneath. And then you start to notice the angle at which the light is hitting the trees, going across the frame or coming toward you (with a focal point at the sun). So you get a very complex and layered images. Then I started looking at the birch trees!
dg (Ask him what he is supposed to be doing instead of this.)
First day it was warm enough to take the old dog on a longish hike, so we went to the Palmerston Range, Adirondack outliers cut through by the southern branch of the Hudson River. Actually, we went out a couple of days before, too, but it was positively Antarctic on the exposed shoulder near the top and the trail was drifted over, and it was not so much fun. Saw a female pileated woodpecker and a barred owl (last week I saw a snowy owl while I was snowshoeing in the ravine behind NC HQ — you can see I am working hard on something or other, right?). We also scared up a flock of turkeys, exploding out of the treetops as we came down from the ridge. This about cured my SAD for this year.
Here’s a teaser from an essay on, yes, the personal essay by a delightful Australian writer and editor Ellena Savage, an essay that takes a critical theory view of the position of the personal essay as it is structured within the culture, a step back, as it were, from the usual shallow debates about “truth” and self expression, etc. that cloud the current N. American workshoppy atmosphere. The essay originally appeared in the magazine The Lifted Brow and now resides on Savage’s own site where you will find many other delightful texts.
We acknowledge the personal essay as an ideologically conflicted genre; that as genre, it necessarily deals in the ideograms of dominant culture; and that the genre, born of Enlightenment conditions, is interested in the maintenance of democracy and the valorisation of the individual. The personal essay is an attempt to transpose personal histories over collective ones.
This conflict we speak of arises from the historically instructive nature of the personal essay; that while valorising the individual, is culturally embedded in what Frederic Jameson names the linguistic representation of the dialectical process. It is a catalogue of a collective identity. To understand the personal essay, we are forced to read it within its cultural history.