Tag: british literature

2018 in Books

Books, Poetry, Prose, Theory and Criticism, Translation January 20, 2019

These are books I read, for the first time, with great joy and curiosity last year, not necessarily those that were published in 2018. If excellent recent books are missing from this list, it is probably  because I haven’t read them yet.

POETRY

Adonis. Concerto al-Quds. Translated from the Arabic by Khaled Mattawa. Yale University Press, 2017.

Ghayath Almadhoun. Adrenalin. Translated from the Arabic by Catherine Cobham. Action Books, 2017.

Nanni Balestrini. Blackout. Translated from the Italian by Peter Valente. Commune Editions, 2017.

Jasper Bernes. We Are Nothing and So Can You. Commune Editions, 2015.

Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge. Hello, the Roses. New Directions, 2013.

Wilson Bueno. Paraguayan Sea. Translated from the Portunhol by Erín Moure. Nightboat Books, 2017.

Marty Cain. Kids of the Black Hole. Trembling Pillow Press, 2017.

Serena Chopra. Ic: A Sociolinguistic Conspiracy Theory. Horse Less Press, 2017.

Mónica de la Torre. Public Domain. Roof Books, 2008.

Terrence Hayes. American Sonnets for my Past and Future Assassin. Penguin, 2018.

Johannes Heldén. Astroecology. Translated from the Swedish by Kirkwood Adams, Elizabeth Clark Wessel, and Johannes Heldén. Argos Books, 2017.

Ann Jäderlund. Which once had been meadow. Translated from the Swedish by Johannes Göransson. Black Square Editions, 2017.

Francis Ponge. Nioque of the Early-Spring. Translated from the French by Jonathan Larson. The Song Cave, 2018.

Laura (Riding) Jackson. Selected Poems: In Five Sets. 1970.

Lisa Robertson. Proverbs of a She-Dandy. 2018.

Nathaniel Rosenthalis. A Shirt for Today. Yes Poetry, 2018.

Muriel Rukeyser. The Book of the Dead. 1936.

Christopher Smart. Jubilate Agno. 1759-1763.

Eleni Vakalo. Before Lyricism. Translated from the Greek by Karen Emmerich. Ugly Duckling Presse, 2017.

Uljana Wolf. Subsisters: Selected Poems. Translated from the German by Sophie Seita. Belladonna*, 2017.

Zang Di. The Roots of Wisdom: Selected Poems. Translated from the Chinese by Eleanor Goodman. Zephyr Press, 2017.

NONFICTION

H. D. Notes on Thought and Vision and the Wise Sappho. 1919.

Jeffrey Kittay and Wlad Godzich. The Emergence of Prose: An Essay in Prosaics. University of Minnesota Press, 1987.

Cookie Mueller. Walking Through Clear Water in a Pool Painted Black. Semiotext(e), 1990.

Michael W. Twitty. The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South. Amistad Press, 2017.

POST-SCRIPT

There are many excellent books I didn’t finish, through no fault of the book. I just got sidetracked or was forced to give up the book for something like re-reading a book I was teaching or writing my goddamned dissertation. A very few among these unfinished excellences:  Jos Charles’s feeld (which, thankfully, I’m now reading with my poetry workshop students),  Zadie Smith’s White Teeth,  about half a dozen volumes of translated poetry I’m reading for the BTBAs, and another half a dozen works of nonfiction that I will finish, yes, I will, in 2019.

2017: Books

Books, Language, Poetics, Poetry, Prose, Theory and Criticism, Translation January 8, 2018

Recent* Poetry

Ida Börjel. Miximum Ca’canny The Sabotage Manuals. 2013. Translated from the Swedish by Jennifer Hayashida. Commune Editions, 2016.

Daniel Borzutzky. The Performance of Becoming Human. Brooklyn Arts Press, 2016.

Don Mee Choi. Hardly War. Wave Books, 2016.

Tim Earley. Linthead Stomp. Horse Less Press, 2016. Read More

2016: Books

Books, Cinema, Comics, Fashion, Journals, Philosophy, Photography, Poetics, Poetry, Prose, Psychology, Theory and Criticism, Translation, Writing January 5, 2017

Bref, I read a lot of poetry translated from German and a lot of nonfiction translated from French. This is not very shocking. Much of my non-book reading happened at Asymptote: this reading (plus editing) is far more diverse and includes work by poets like Vicente Huidobro (Chile), Jan Dammu (Iraq), and writers who push at the limits of what translation means (the Special Feature in our January issue). One of my favorite pieces of this latter sort is Bronwyn Haslam’s anagrammatic translations of Nicole Brossard’s poetry (“Soft Links” becomes “Silk Fonts,” for example):

It’s nouns that gulp fire and life, one can’t tell if they’re Latin, French, Urdu, Veda, Cree, Mandarin, Aleut, Creole, Basque, English, secrete a number, deed, quorum, animal or accelerate old anxieties eddying before us in doubled somber contours full of luster and immense legends.

I also got to collaborate with my friend Michael Joseph Walsh to put together a different sort of experimental translation portfolio for Denver Quarterly 50.4 I have a few extra copies and would be happy to mail them to anyone interested (or you can subscribe). Joshua Ware’s visual translations of Celan appear as an online supplement to this portfolio here.

Photography by Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault

Photographs by Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault

For some years now I’ve been obsessed with a film by Yvon Marciano called Le cri de la soie (1996), which fictionalizes the life of pioneer psychiatrist Gaëtan Gatian de Clérambault. This year I read two texts relevant to this film, de Clérambault’s case studies of women who developed an unusual sexual “passion” for silk and other textiles: Passion érotique des étoffes chez la femme (1908) and its suite (1910). Read More

2015: Books

Books, Cinema, Language, Philosophy, Poetics, Poetry, Prose, Sociology, Theory and Criticism, Translation February 2, 2016

Truly, the most important reading I did last year was Beowulf. I got to read it in the original Old English with a group of amazingly brilliant people and to live in that super soundrich world for about two months. We also looked at a couple other translations; the Thom Meyer is really special. The next most important reading was for my comprehensive exams, which I wrote about here.

Hmm. I don’t really mean to hierarchize the value of these books. This is wrong. Maybe, since so far things have been listed chronologically (did Beowulf early last year, comps reading during the summer): a third highlight was Michael Donhauser’s Of Things (trans. Nick Hoff and Andrew Joron), which I read toward the end of the year, on my multiple flights home to Bangalore. It is a gorgeous and fierce book that reads fieldlife:

from “The Tomato”

To say once more “the tomato.”
On this autumn-saturated Sunday evening.
At the quiet of day’s end, the ringing of bells, cries of farewell.
When the fun stops and with it, the feeling of its insufficiency.
The waiting, the passing in silence, the rustling of leaves, being nowhere.
When Sunday, diminishing gradually, retires.
In sitting there, in spoiling away, in willingness.
With which we endure it: in praise of enduring.
To say it: that this has been a beautiful Sunday.
Yet the tomato takes the evening as an opportunity.
Favored by the given conditions: in all their sparseness.
By way of the light: allowing it to gently settle there.
By way of the surging traffic: in order to absorb it.
The humming, the droning, the vibrating: in order to transpose it.
Into the quieter variety of its seeds, into the juice of its fruit-flesh.
(No fruit has ever robbed me of every rebellion like this.)

The tomato appears in the shadow of language.
As moon (once again): as monad.
Darkened: a silken coal ember.

Of Things_Donhauser

Michael Donhauser. Of Things. Tr. Nick Hoff & Andrew Joron. 1993/2015.

Here are the rest of my favorite books from last year: Read More

Best Things 2014, Part I: Books

Books, Language, Philosophy, Poetry, Prose, Theory and Criticism, Translation January 5, 2015

Upon deep reflection I nearly came to the conclusion that 2014 was a total shit show, unworthy of comment/time travel/etc.

Then upon deeper reflection I realized that I read all of Proust’s Search in roughly eight weeks.

So yeah, 2014 is exonerated!

In addition to these extraordinary books—

In Search of Lost Time Volume I: Swann’s Way. 1913.
In Search of Lost Time Volume II: Within a Budding Grove. 1918.
In Search of Lost Time Volume III: The Guermantes Way. 1920-1.
In Search of Lost Time Volume IV: Sodom and Gomorrah. 1921-2.
In Search of Lost Time Volume V: The Captive & The Fugitive. 1923-5.
In Search of Lost Time Volume VI: Time Regained. 1927.

in the 1992  Modern Library translation by C. K. Scott Moncrieff, Terence Kilmartin, and D. J. Enright*

[*I like their work, though of course the argument can and has been made that they’ve over-smoothed the French, which Lydia Davis has not. I was reading Proust in a small group and this was the translation chosen out of consensus. I’m happy I went along because the Viking series, from my occasional referencing it, seems to be inconsistent probably on account of having different translators for each novel.

One day I’ll read in French. And do my own translation! Ambitions.]

Robertson_Adnan_Jabes

Lisa Robertson. Etel Adnan. Edmond Jabès.

 

—I began my discovery of three writers whose work, like Proust, will have a lasting impact on how I read, write, think, live:

(1) Edmond Jabès; 

[I read the first two volumes of The Book of Questions (The Book of Questions. 1963. & The Book of Yukel. 1964.), translated by a my biggest translation hero, Rosmarie Waldrop, and published by Wesleyan University Press. This was part of an amazing one-on-one tutorial and I’ll be reading the rest when I can breathe again.]

(2) Etel Adnan (who is going to be a major figure on my upcoming comprehensive exams—she is completely stunning and writes in multiple genres and languages);

[Sitt Marie-Rose. 1978. Translated from the French by Georgina Kleege. Post-Apollo Press, 1982.
Seasons. Post-Apollo Press, 2008.
The Cost for Love We Are Not Willing to Pay. Hatje Canz Verlag, 2011.
Sea and Fog. Nightboat Books, 2012.]

(3) and Lisa Robertson (whom I got to hear read and lecture at Naropa and make sign a billion books for myself and a friend).

[Occasional Work and Seven Works from the Office of Soft Architecture. 2003. Coach House Books, 2011.
Magenta Soul Whip. Coach House Books, 2009.
Nilling: Prose Essays on Noise, Pornography, the Codex, Melancholy, Lucretius, Folds, Cities and Related Aporias. BookThug, 2011.
The Weather. New Star Books, 2011.]

I should add George Oppen to this list, though technically I’ve read his books before; Read More

Best Things I Read in 2013

Books, Philosophy, Poetics, Poetry, Prose, Science, Translation January 25, 2014

Apparently, most people make such lists at the end of the year rather than a month into the next.

Apparently, also, lots of people read what is published in the same year, whereas I merely buy those books and feel proud and then read dead people or people I’ve already read.

Generally, this means I’m taking classes over whose reading lists I have no control or that I am attempting postponement of pleasure, which is a thing some of you may know about though most of you will probably be questioning the sanity of such nefarious sacrificial tendencies.

As I have been, imaginably, awake this whole night due to self-diagnosed insomnia* caused by unnecessary thinking about life events, I have decided to give you my list of best things I read in 2013.

[*I wrote this post yesterday and saved a draft. Following writing this post, which I did in a moment of extreme alertness useful to the writing of blog posts but not to reading PhD things, I slept for sixteen hours. So clearly, no insomnia.]

For reference:

things = book-length works, chapbooks included

read = read for the first time, re-reads not included

Poetry

Quintane_Giscombe_Neidecker

Nathalie Quintane. C.S. Giscombe. Lorine Neidecker.

Amal al-Jubouri. Hagar Before the Occupation, Hagar After the Occupation. 2008. Translated from the Arabic by Rebecca Gayle Howell with Husam Qaisi. Alice James Books, 2011.

Jorge Carrera Andrade. Micrograms. 1940. Translated from the Spanish by Alejandro de Acosta & Joshua Beckman. Wave Books, 2011.

Inger Christensen. alphabet. 1981. Translated from the Danish by Susanna Neid. New Directions, 2001.

Eduardo C. Corral. Slow Lightning. Yale University Press, 2012.

Robert Creeley. Selected Poems, 1945-2005. Edited by Benjamin Friedlander. University of California Press, 2008. Read More