Check it Out

It came in the mail recently & is worth checking out:

Absinthe, the magazine of “New European Writing.” Issue 5 just out. It contains its usual eclectic mix centered on Eastern Europe but also French, Spanish and Swedish contributions of both poetry and prose; authors include

Michel Faїs, Florin Ion Firimita, Stefan Mihalev Furnadzhiev,Bettina Galvagni, Georgi Gospodinov, Marcin Jagodziński, Kostas Karyotakis, Niklas Rådström, Norberto Luis Romero, Hélène Sanguinetti, Monica Sarsini, Sasha Skenderija, and Boris Slutsky

Here is the opening poem of the issue (by SASHA SKENDERIJA):

Why The Dwarf Had To Be Shot

On June twenty eight, Nineteen hundred and ninety two,
in the basement of the Sarajevo City Hospital we sat
with professor Dzˇevad Karahasan and his wife, who were serving
as hospital volunteers, since the city had been massacred day after day.
They were devastated by their family tragedy, her mother murdered
in her apartment by a grenade, and we came to console them
with conversation, with desperate hope
that military intervention was on its way. But instead,
along with pomp and unprecedented measures of security,
Mitterand came, to give us and our slayers a lecture
in morals and mutual understanding. Horrified starving old women
sobbed beyond consolation, while confused passersby and children
hurried toward international television cameras, behaving
like pandas born by Caesarian section in a zoo
in Indianapolis. The whole world applauded with praise the French
love of justice, the French courage,
French altruism —while Mitterand senilely
smiled at the decor of a destroyed building which had been,
in his honor, renamed L’ hospital France. Murderers did not
bombard us for a few hours, taking their time
to shake his hand, and all went smoothly,
almost like an ecumenical colloquium somewhere in Paris.
A local TV crew came to the basement asking
for an interview with Dzˇ. K. What did he think about the surprise
visit of Mitterand, they asked. He said, “Disgusting filth.”
They asked him what he thought, in his opinion, ought
to be done. He said, “to shoot the dwarf dead.” They asked
if he would do it. He said, “If I had a weapon at hand, for sure.”
TV crew: “Would you do it, professor, to go down in history?”
Dzˇ. K.: “What history, friend? I would do it in order to reach sense.”
No weapons were at hand, and the interview, unfortunately, has not
until now been published.

A bit older (fall 2005) but still on the table near the reading chair & picked up again & again:

damn the caesars # 3, edited by Richard Owens in Buffalo. Besides old friends like Jerome Rothenberg, Clayton Eshleman, Kristin Prevallet, John Moritz and Dale Smith, it has poems by the excellent but much more rarely spotted Jonathan Greene and Duncan McNaughton, and a most exquisite poem by Tony Tost, called “Squint.”

Just in from Burning Deck, and in the process of being read by slow, daily ingestions of a couple pages — sipped, really — is Gerhard Roth’s The Will To Sickness translated from the German by Tristram Wolff (a very good first translation — I hope he will go on translating for a long time). Here’s the backcover bl

Gerhard Roth burst on the German-speaking scene in the early 1970s with three fiercely experimental novels, among them our present DER WILLE ZUR KRANKHEIT (1973). It is here that Roth developed his “objective” prose, his aggregates of minute observations and impressions. The subjective narrator perceives, notes, thinks. Representation eludes his perspective. The effect is surreal with an undertone of Angst: “i am preparing a slow disintegration of the external world inside my head.”

Roth was part of the literary group known as “Forum Stadtpark” (later renamed Graz Writers’ Collective) where Peter Handke and Elfriede Jelinek also first made their mark. He has continued to explore the Austrian psyche and especially the fragile nature of “reality” and the political aspects of what society puts forward as such and what it glosses over. The genres he works in range from children’s books to screenplays, and, most impressively though also more traditionally, to the seven volumes of Die Archive des Schweigens. This “Archive of Silence,” which comprises a photographic anthology, a collection of essays, a biography and four novels, is widely considered Roth’s masterpiece.

Over the course of his career he has been honored with (among others) the Alfred Döblin, Marie Luise Kaschnitz, Peter Rosegger, and Bruno Kreisky prizes.

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