Commentaries - October 2012

'Don’t Light the Flower': A poetics for the Americas

Half a loaf of bread and a book.

extra belt notch
Budgetary suggestion for affording books

One of the powers of translation is that it (as act and as actual work) causes us to examine identity formations, the formation first and foremost of our own identity as translators: what we are absorbing, how our cultural structuration as public beings effaces memory in the work that is translated, in fact, destroys the work in the act of translation. Or risks such destruction. It is that bad, my friends: it is that bad. Or that good.

Translation tears a strip off me, a bark, a coalesce of snot and varnish and spit. It takes months to grow my skin back.

In this regard, one of the crucial challenges to translation today in 2012 is the work done on indigeneity, poetics and translation, by the incredible writer and thinker from the austral regions of the Americas, from Chile, the south of Chile (which is like our North in its impact on human memory, inhabitation and bearing), Andrés Ajens.

Arkadii in Silence: video portrait Arkadii Dragomoshchenko


Arkadii Dragomoschenko
New York, Nov, 4, 2010 (silent)
Susan, Felix, and I visited Arkadii and Zena in Petersburg in August 2001. One day outside our hotel a group of gypsies surround us and Xena swung her purse at them in such a convincing way that they immediately disbanded. Another day we took a boat ride on the Neva, sipping brandy as we glided through the city. Arkadii wrote a dedication for Susan and me in a book of his that day: "Isn't it important that the glass of brandy in the morning is more important than poetry. With all my love after endless picnics." I didn't see Arkadii again until he came to Philadelphia and New York nine years later. We hung out in one of the Columbia offices before his reading. Arkadii died two years later. It was the last time I saw him.

The elephant has left the room

Jacket magazine and the Internet

Compugraphic 7700 typesetter, circa 1980, John Tranter at the keyboard
Compugraphic 7700 typesetter, circa 1980, John Tranter at the keyboard

This 11-page downloadable PDF file is available now on the website of JASAL at the Australian National Library. JASAL = the Journal for the Association for the Study of Australian Literature.


Australian poet John Tranter trained in all aspects of publishing, from hand-lettering to editing, from litho platemaking to screen printing, and developed an early familiarity with computers. The development of the Internet in the 1990s found him armed with a formidable array of skills. He published the first issue of the free international Internet-only magazine «Jacket» single-handed in 1997. «Jacket» quickly grew to become the most widely read and highly respected literary magazine ever published from Australia.

The Invention Tree by Jerome McGann and Susan Bee

Poem by Jerome McGann, pictures by Susan Bee.
24pp, 4-color cover plus 5 4-color drawing pages , $16
order from SPD

New York Film Festival: Kudláček, Kubelka, Preiss, Ahwesh, Price, Gibbons, Hiler

Martina Kudláček and Peter Kubelka on Monday after the New York Film Festival premiere of Kudláček's Fragments of Kubelka, a lucid, engrossing portrait of the man and his thinking.

More on Kudláček's film at Sixpack.