A recent issue of the pan-African literary magazine Chimurenga reminded us that "The Sahara is Not a Boundary." The 4th volume of the Poems for the Millennium project, on North African poetry, is one marvelous collection of work. This week the African poetry commentary series roars back to life with a wonderful guest post by scholar and translator Brahim El Guabli introducing one of Tunisia's most daring poets, Mohamed Saghir Ouled Ahmed. If Pierre Joris and Habib Tengour have whetted your appetite, here's a chance to discover another voice from the Maghreb.
Poetics of Sedition in the Maghreb: Mohamed Sghir Ouled Ahmed
Mohamed Saghir Ouled Ahmed (b. 1955) is probably Tunisia's most prominent Arabic poet today. His birth in the southern city of Sidi Bouzid, which was the breeding ground of the December 2010 Tunisian Revolution, further consecrated his status as Tunisia's contemporary, “conscience of the nation.” During his long career, which he began at the age of fourteen, Ouled Ahmed produced at least five collections of poetry: The Rhapsody of the Six Days (1988), But I Am Ahmad (1989), I Have No Problem (1989), The South of the Water (1991) and The Will (2000).
Adam Robinson of Publishing Genius talks about the philosophy of the press.
I interviewed Adam Robinson, editor and founder of Publishing Genius, about the press. If you want to learn more, or to order books, see www.publishinggenius.com. They have been around, making books, for almost ten years.
a. Who started the press, and what are your hopes for its future?
I started Publishing Genius in 2006. It has gone through a few different stages, first publishing broadsides and then chapbooks, then short books of poetry — poetry is usually short, right, like somehow most poetry books end up being 88 pages long — and novellas, and then eventually more traditional books. At least traditional in terms of length.
If you've heard of Noemi Press, you're in good company! They answered my questions eagerly, and here are the details. If you're so inclined, after reading this, you can find their books online at http://www.noemipress.org. Read on to find out more!
a. How did Noemi get its start, and who was behind it?
From what I understand, Noemi was birthed in 2002 in the New Mexican desert, from necessity and inspiration. Carmen Giménez-Smith and Evan Lavender-Smith are our founders, with a generous & exciting board behind them.
Oomph! is part-southern, part-South American, part-Italian. Where will they go next?
You can read more about Oomph! Press at http://www.oomphpress.com. They got their start in Atlanta, and they're ready to make some moves in the world of translated poetry. Have an idea? Like what you read? Be in touch with them about your thoughts on the press and such.
Action Books is making moves on the indie lit scene
I interview Johannes Göransson of Action Books. Here are the questions and the answers. You can read more about Action Books at their website, http://actionbooks.org.
a. How did you get the idea for your press, and who started it?
In many ways the most important push for us was realizing that no U.S. press was daring enough to publish my translations of Aase Berg, a major young Swedish woman poet who was writing these wild poems unlike anything that was being published in the U.S. I assumed all U.S. presses would be interested in something new and wild from another culture, but I soon found out that the opposite was true: that’s exactly what U.S. presses did not want to see.
Black Ocean, publishing quality books of poetry that you may have heard of, responds to my query. My hope is that you'll check out their amazing catalog after you find out what publisher and co-founder Carrie Adams has to say about the press and its history and influences.
Fresh out of California, and fully embedded in the political, Commune Editions has been putting out books for a short time, but they are already on the move.
First up in this series of interviews is Commune Editions. You can read more about their mission and books at http://www.communeeditions.com. They have already taken part in other interviews, also, and if you go to their website, you can find links to evermore information about the press.
a. Do you think poetry has a political mission?
All poems have politics, whether or not their authors will admit it. And there is probably a strong case to be made for the connection between poetry and revolution.
Over a career stretching more than four decades, Canadian poet Phil Hall has become known as the “poet’s poet,” more widely known and appreciated only during the past half-decade or so. Somehow, in the course of a conversation with poet and Wilfrid Laurier University Press Director, Brian Henderson, it followed that I would be editing a selection of thirty-eight of Hall’s poems for a “selected poems” as part of their Laurier Poetry Series. This press has produced two dozen titles of selected poems by Canadian poets, each guest-edited, and has established itself with an impressive series, predominantly aimed toward university and college courses, and the possibility of a new readership for established Canadian poets. Authors in the series include Fred Wah (ed. Louis Cabri), Nicole Brossard (ed. Louise H. Forsyth), derek beaulieu (ed. Kit Dobson), Christopher Dewdney (ed. Karl Jirgens), Dennis Cooley (ed. Nicole Markotić), Di Brandt (ed. Tanis MacDonald), Daphne Marlatt (ed. Susan Knutson) and Steve McCaffery (ed. Darren Wershler).
“Just the place to bury a crock of gold,” said Sebastian. “I should like to bury something precious in every place where I've been happy and then, when I was old and ugly and miserable, I could come back and dig it up and remember.” — Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited
I wanted to draw out George Economou on the task of translating Cavafy as he was finishing up an extended project to be released, by coincidence, in the poet’s sesquicentennial year. I began by asking him to describe that project. (To conserve space, many of my subsequent questions are elided; they are implicit in George’s discursive responses.)
Economou: My current project consists of 162 poems, the 154 “Collected” or “Published” poems, seven poems from the group known as the “Unpublished” poems, and one poem from the “Repudiated Poems,” i.e., early poems that Cavafy withheld from publication. The title is Complete Plus, The Poems of C. P. Cavafy in English, to be published by Shearsman in early 2013.