His Days Go By the Way Her Years by Ye Mimi, translated from the Chinese by Steve Bradbury (Taiwan; Anomalous Press)
the train sidles into the station at the stroke of noon like a tidy row of bento
you toss off your mackintosh and fly, fly away
calling to mind a practical exercise slanting rhymes:
bite off the break
skirt the precipitous brink
the ghosts in the first level basement
the coming of man from Mars
you open up your backpack then
knock back a bootle of Español
for that next tastefully unfamiliar excursion
(Ye Mimi excerpted from “I Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know I Didn’t Know: For ‘Sis’” )
In the end, only one chapbook proved muscular enough to make it onto the BTBA poetry shortlist. And at just 29 bilingual pages and 10 poems, it does feel audacious to set this slim introduction to a young poet against the likes of a door-stopping volume of Roberto Bolaño’s complete poetry and a long overdue first English collection of Sohrab Sepehri, one of Iran’s foremost poets of the 20th century. But Ye Mimi’s His Days Go By the Way Her Years is an audacious book. Its limited run was beautifully letterpress printed by Erica Mena at the envelope-pushing Anomalous Press, having been chosen as a finalist in their inaugural chapbook contest by Christian Hawkey. Most importantly, the marvel of its translation comes thanks to that passionate proponent of experimental Taiwanese poetry and beloved American Literary Translators Association stalwart, Steve Bradbury. In less virtuosic and fearless hands than his, this collection would be an impossibility. I am grateful to all of these collaborators for introducing me to Ye Mimi and her swirling, sometimes manic charm. Chapbooks are often overlooked, but they represent an unparalleled avenue for small, ambitious publishers to bring us the world.
The ten exclamatory, cuttingly modern poems of His Days Go By the Way Her Years are shot through with sonic gamesmanship, punning, the unbridled verbing of nouns, and voraciously transcultural allusion. Many also perform an oscillation between coy formal disruption and seductive dream logic, as in the typographically resistant line: “\ every one of the ◻◻ / could find themselves sluiced by the ◻◻◻ into a water melon frappe of a summer season.” The poems are well aware of their own cleverness, but resist turning precious as they revel in grotesque particulars and subversions of the ordinary stuff of life and poetic diction. In “The More Car the More Far,” Ye Mimi asserts:
Solitude is somewhat sweeter than water.
Fish are crunchier on the outside, softer in the middle than the sea.
From this day henceforth I will go forth and wilderness the wilderness.
Ye Mimi does sing, and His Days Go By the Way Her Years represents just a small sample of Bradbury’s translations of her work. May it pave the way for more joyful, defiant, aggressively wonderful poems, more wildernessing, more international literary prizes for Ye Mimi!
Just received this message from Erica Mena, one of the forces behind Anomalous Press, which is looking to take their virtual goods physical.
Anomalous Press is joining the physical world with a kick (start). [CWP Note: GROAN] We have six new books that are ready to be made flesh, well, paper.
Two of these books are very interesting, innovative works of translation. The first is a translation from the Latin of the 6th century poet/saint Venantius Fortunatus, collaged, manipulated and framed by poet and translator Mike Schorsch. The other is a highly literal ekphrastic translation of a Tintin comic done in French by poet Éric Suchére, and then translated from the French into English by poet and translator Sandra Doller. This book won the Anomalous Press Chapbook Contest for Innovative Translation selected by Christian Hawkey. There are excerpts of the books on the Kickstarter campaign page.
The full list of forthcoming books is below:
An Introduction to Venantius Fortunatus for Schoolchildren or Understanding the Medieval Concept World Through Metonymy by Mike Schorsch. Poetry/Translation (Latin).
The Continuing Adventures of Alice Spider by Janis Freegard. Poetry
Ghost by Sarah Tourjee. Fiction.
The Everyday Maths by Liat Berdugo. Poetry, winner of the Anomalous Press Chapbook Contest selected by Cole Swensen.
Mysteréiuse by Éric Suchére, translated by Sanrda Doller. Poetry/Translation (French), winner of the Anomalous Press Chapbook Contest selected by Christain Hawkey.
Smedley’s Secret Guide to World Literature by Jonathan Levy Wainwright IV, age 15 by Askold Melnyczuk. Fiction. [CWP Note: Although I’m not big on the cover, this is the one I’m most excited about.]
From now until February 26 you can pre-order copies and earn other rewards (handmade broadsides, books, and more) while helping us make our Kickstarter Campaign a success.
As per usual, there are different incentives for different donation levels, such as receiving 2 books, a postcard, and a shout-out online for contributing $25, or a lifetime subscription to the press AND a dinner date with an Anomalous editor for $1,000.
So, for you lonely Valentine’s Day folk, you should donate and get yourself some Anomalous date-times.
Or you could just give them some cash. They are really good people, doing really good work.
Take, for instance, Rebecca Ansorge’s haunting Around the Bone, a memoir-in-verse which culls the titles of its sections from the anatomy of a conch. Or, Oswald del Noce’s arresting poems to be read at the cinema:
“by now I’ve found your
hand hidden among the architecture of cinema seats
the pictures moving boldly across the room
that train-track projection, jelly-fish suspended in air,
patron saints of microscopic dust”
So take a look – this issue is packed with fresh, thought-provoking poetry, prose, and translations, all of which will make you reconsider what writing “should” be.
Just received this announcement from Erica Mena, and thought some of you might be interested.
ANOMALOUS PRESS ANNOUNCES OUR FIRST-EVER CHAPBOOK CONTEST!
March 15 – May 15
$500 prize plus publication!
Finalist manuscripts will also be considered for publication, and all submissions will be considered for publication in the journal.
We will publish the winning manuscript in each of the following categories:
Translations. Specifically innovative translations, translations that draw attention to themselves, hybrid translations, translations that defy convention, translations that prey on, magnify, distort, and bring greatness to source texts.
Poetry. Original poetry.
Christian Hawkey will judge the translation category.
Christian Hawkey is the author of Petitions for an Alien Relative (a chapbook by hand held editions, 2010), Ventrakl (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2010), Citizen Of (Wave Books, 2007), Hour, Hour, a chapbook which includes drawings by the artist Ryan Mrowzowski (Delirium Press, 2006), and The Book of Funnels (Verse Press, 2004), winner of the 2006 Kate Tufts Discovery Award. In 2006 he was given a Creative Capital Innovative Literature Award and he has also received awards from the Poetry Fund and the Academy of American Poets. He teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, New York.
Poetry judge will be announced soon!
Electronic submissions only. Full guidelines available here.
Not sure why/how we haven’t written about this until now, but there’s a new online literary journal called Anomalous that’s worth checking out, especially now that they just released their third issue.
Founded and run by Erica Mena, Anomalous came into being in earlier this year
as a non-profit press dedicated to the diffusion of writing in the forms it can take. Its backbone is an editorial collective from different backgrounds and geographies that keep an eye out for compelling projects that, in any number of ways, challenge expectations of what writing and reading should be.
At the time of its launch, Anomalous is an online publication, available in both visual and audio forms on various platforms. It has its sights set on publishing chapbooks, advancing audio forms and creation, and supporting all sorts of alternative realities of the near future.
A lot of translation people are involved with this, both in terms of providing content, and on the masthead.
In this new issue — which you can download for free as a PDF, audiobook, ePub file, or Kindle version — you’ll find a Mani Rao’s translation from the Sanskrit of Guru-astakam, attributed to Sankara along with Dick Cluster’s translation from the Spanish ob “The Sign” by Pedro de Jesus, original poems by translator Anna Rosen Guercio, original work from fellow translator John Pluecker, part of Andrew Barrett’s translation from the Ancient Greek of Nonnus’ Dionysiaca, and Steve Bradbury’s translation from the Chinese of Hsia Yu’s “Lining Up to Pay,” along with work from a dozen other writers.
There’s a lot of poetry in here, which is one thing that really sets Anomalous apart. (That and the fact that every issue has an audiobook version.) It’s a very nice publication, and one that I’m sure we’ll be referencing again in the future.
Prose translators will likely disagree, but I believe translating poetry requires a significant level of talent, a commitment to the text, and near mania, all of which suggests that the undertaking is the greatest possible challenge. The task is to. . .
The biggest issues with books like The Subsidiary often have to do with their underpinnings—when we learn that Georges Perec wrote La Disparition without once using the letter E, we are impressed. Imagine such a task! It takes a high. . .
Following The Infatuations, Javier Marías’s latest novel seems, like those that have preceded it, an experiment to test fiction’s capacity to mesmerize with sombre-sexy atmospheres and ruminative elongated sentences stretched across windowless walls of paragraphs. Thus Bad Begins offers his. . .
Death by Water, Kenzaburo Oe’s latest novel to be translated into English, practically begs you to read it as autobiography. Like The Changeling, as well as many other works not yet released in English, Death by Water is narrated in. . .
Jocelyne Saucier’s Twenty-One Cardinals is about the type of unique, indestructible, and often tragic loyalty only found in families. For a brief but stunningly mesmerizing 169 pages, Twenty-One Cardinals invited me in to the haunting and intimate world of the. . .
We know so very little; so little that what we think to be knowledge is hardly worth reckoning with at all; instead we ought to settle for being pleasantly surprised if, on the edge of things, against all expectations, our. . .
Many of Virginie Despentes’s books revolve around the same central idea: “To be born a woman [is] the worst fate in practically every society.” But this message is nearly always packaged in easy-to-read books that fill you with the pleasure. . .