16 May 12 | Chad W. Post | Comments

After a minor hiatus, Janis Stirna is back with his on-going preview of the Eurovision. The semi-finals start next Tuesday (5/22), and he promised me he’d cover all the entries before the finals along with all his yes/no votes on who will make it to the finals.

Hello my friends.

If You are here today this is meaning You are again with me in following Eurovision songgames! However before I am telling you my yesvotes and novotes and wonderings of European motherland songgames contestants, I first must to be telling you answers to questionings.

Is Janis Latvian? I am. Is Janis making writings hisself? I am! I am writer in motherland Latvia and am enjoying to write and write all the times I have possibilities for to write. But what for to make writings hisself if Janis can be finding translators by Americas, that are plentiful of English knowing peoples?! Or maybe by Chad W. Post, that is plentiful of knowing all peoples?!

My answer is easy. I, Janis, too am writing and knowing of English as well. I am working many years hard for learning English of book and picturefilms—my English is something You are understanding and this is most important thing, so why for should I search of translators? Translatoring is also lasting long days and I am not all the times joyous of outcome. It is also priding for me to be writing at You of my own wordings.

But now is time for more Eurovision songgames writings! I am for to write at You first of semi-finals 1 European motherlands, then of semi-finals 2 motherlands. I will for to make of groupings, yes? There are also click-links for to viewing of picturevideos of musics! Are You excite?! Here we are going!

Montenegro: Peoples question at MY English? Singing man is not even singing, but is making rhymings. Rhymings of talking! And why for to burning globe??? IS PERFECTLY GOOD GLOBE!! I am finding donkey friend of singing man with no sense globe burn rhymings finding greatly more interesting than singing man hisself. Sorry, Montenegro, but European motherlands already are having one Italian Jovanotti-type singer—his name is Jovanotti and he is of Italy. Maybe picturevideo of donkey friend only is better idea. I am thinking no songgames finals for Montenegro.

Iceland: Ooh, fancy violin soundings. Song words are of serious times, maybe also sad times. Music is also sounding serious and well, also music is sounds very very familiarity… BUT HEI WAIT. This Jonsi is not Sigur Ros Jonsi. Is Iceland playing trickery? Fancy violin soundings and fancy picturevideos will not be putting sheepswool atop on MY eyes, Iceland, oh no! Not this day!

Greece: HELLO GREEK FRIEND. Oh yes hello. Greece is not having trickeries. Greece is finding most beauteous non-prostitution woman in shortest dress and wind in hair who can sing sexywords on stages made of light and mens with unnatural bendiness of arms and legs. Thank you, Greeceland. Oh yes thank you for not making trickeries. Oh yes. See you at songgames finals, Greece.

Latvia: Look, friends, is my motherland country Latvia! Our woman also is beauteous, but with songwords that make none of the sense. Yet Latvia songgames song is like soundworm in Your ear. A soundworm speaking words of none of the sense. And this worm, he is never leaving your brain and You are thinking and singing all of the times. HEI. Why no one dance in Airport Riga when I am flying? Is extra possibility on ticketings?! AirBaltic, we are to be in contacts soon, and Latvia I am thinking also will be in songgames finals.

Albania: Albania woman is letting her childrens make writings on wall? While she is making standing and song in box? Where to have her feets gone? Though she IS having a voice of strongness and winning, but is filling of sad. OH YES, probably because nobody will be understanding her songwords. Maybe following year, Albania is making songwords in normal languages. And maybe following year Albania also is making it to finals because this year NO. No.

Romania: In what country is Romania picturevideo happening? Is desert, is drummings, is Abu Dhabi, is Scottish bagpipings… She is globetrotting so quickfast! Perhaps she has possibilities for to time travel? Romanian woman singing is much like Spain musics of previous songgames, but with more gyrations of bodies and chest bubbles. And accordion! Perhaps Romania will share time travel secrets and show more of the gyrations when we are seeing her in songgames finals.

So there my friends is first six semi-finals 1 Eurovision songgames explaining by Your friend Janis, me! I will bring you more words of Eurovision soon, but I must now go to trap my train or else be making seering walking to City Center from homehold. Let us hold our thumbs for all songgames contestants (yes also the so silly ones) and see you soon next time for writings.

21 October 08 | Chad W. Post | Comments

This post originally appeared on the Frankfurt Book Fair blog.

In contrast to Russia, both the Korean government and the Romanian government have recently launched large projects to better promote their writers abroad.

The Korea Literature Translation Institute (6.0 E 937) recently published some wonderful, quite elegant materials to help foreign publishers get a better sense of the Korean literary scene. Just in time for the fair, they published the first issue of a list: Books from Korea, a new quarterly magazine with essays, articles, samples, reviews, and interviews of Korean writers and books. It’s a nice glossy magazine filled with interesting content, like a piece called “The Postmodern City and Its Discontents.”

As if that weren’t enough, they also published the first volume of “New Writing from Korea,” a 374-page collection of excerpts from twenty-five contemporary Korean authors. It’s about half-prose, half-poetry, and is one of the densest, heaviest books I’ve ever tried to lug around in my bag. And possibly the first comprehensive introduction to Korean literature that I’ve encountered.

Over in Romania, they announced the launch of Contemporary Romanian Writers, a new website providing bio and bibliographic information along with book descriptions and excerpts for a host of Romanian writers. From a quick scan, it’s a very well designed site, and one that will be incredibly useful to any publisher interested in Romanian lit.

Obviously a number of other countries are producing beautiful brochures and other materials to promote their authors, but these two really stand out as impressive, ambitious projects.

4 April 08 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments

Secret Weapon is the final collection from Romanian poet Eugen Jebeleanu (1911-1991). I can’t say that I knew all that much about Romania or Romanian poetry before picking up this book, likely because this is the first time Jebeleanu’s work has appeared in English despite his reputation as one of Romania’s best-known poets and public figures. Jebeleanu had an impressive career, publishing over twelve collections of poetry between 1930 and 1980; he won several of Europe’s most important poetry awards and was nominated for the Nobel Prize. Secret Weapon is the poet’s final collection, published in Romania in 1980, and focuses on life under the totalitarian rule of Ceausescu.

There are about 90 poems in the collection, in which the poet either simply or elaborately—and always clearly—describes a world marked by despair. The collection begins with a little girl’s dream about dying and the speaker’s effort to sooth her by telling her “It was just a dream.” Continuing through the poems, the theme of death is as threatening as it is in the first poem, and here and there, it completely takes over. Much further into the collection, a poem called “Clara” echoes the relationship between the speaker and the girl from early on. The poem begins, “Oh, I see her hanging. / But she didn’t hang herself,” then ends with the line, “And she was guilty of nothing.”

The poems range in tone from quietly desperate to ironic to resigned, yet no poem feels like it does not belong; all seem to have been written from a certain perspective, the poet confident in his own awareness. After all, the collection is his last, written late in life, while he is preoccupied with those who have already died, and, of course, with his own death. In the poem called “Patience,” the speaker says,

No, the dead aren’t getting bored.
Far away they are waiting for me to reach them.
And waiting, they leaf through a book
with wet pages—and they smile at me.

Many of the poems involve only a few short lines, but there is something powerful about each one. The images within are often strikingly vivid, at other times vague, and there are even some poems without images at all. Under the title “My Life,” the poet gives four lines:

I am looking for my lost life.
And I cannot find it.
My life is a bankruptcy.

And? And? And?

It is as if he is still groping for the words to describe his loss, but he lets the questions mark the poem, perhaps even more than that considering the title. The poet does not offer any simple answers; there is no single take-away message. In the poem called “So Remain,” the speaker says, “Don’t ever ask anyone/ anything,” just, “remain“—a lovely bit of advice from one who has realized that often we humans “understand/ nothing at all”

Jebeleanu is sometimes considered the epic poet of Romania, an awesome claim, but one that I can’t yet speak to considering how recently I’ve been introduced to Romanian literature. However, I have become attached to this collection, perhaps because it offers a kind of intensity that is rarely so genuine, or accessible. Jebeleanu’s poems hail from a very specific historical moment, but the personal nature of the work, and his voice, gives them lasting relevance.

Secret Weapon
By Eugen Jebeleanu
Translated by Matthew Zapruder and Radu Ioanid
Coffee House Press
98 pgs, $15.00

13 February 08 | E.J. Van Lanen | Comments [1]

The Guardian’s world literature tour visits Romania.

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This Life
This Life by Karel Schoeman
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

Karel Schoeman’s Afrikaans novel, This Life, translated by Else Silke, falls into a genre maybe only noticed by the type of reader who tends toward Wittgenstein-type family resemblances. The essential resemblance is an elderly narrator, usually alone—or with one other. . .

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A Dilemma
A Dilemma by Joris-Karl Hyusmans
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In Joris-Karl Hyusmans’s most popular novel, À rebours (Against Nature or Against the Grain, depending on the which translated edition you’re reading), there is a famous scene where the protagonist, the decadent Jean des Esseintes, starts setting gemstones on the. . .

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Walker on Water
Walker on Water by Kristiina Ehin
Reviewed by P. T. Smith

There are books that can only wisely be recommended to specific types of readers, where it is easy to know who the respective book won’t appeal to, and Kristiina Ehin’s Walker on Water is one these. What makes this neither. . .

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The Nightwatches of Bonaventura
The Nightwatches of Bonaventura by Bonaventura
Reviewed by J. T. Mahany

Imagine the most baroque excesses of Goethe, Shakespeare, and Poe, blended together and poured into a single book: That is The Nightwatches of Bonaventura. Ophelia and Hamlet fall in love in a madhouse, suicidal young men deliver mournful and heartfelt. . .

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Pavane for a Dead Princess
Pavane for a Dead Princess by Park Min-Gyu
Reviewed by Christopher Iacono

In 1899, Maurice Ravel wrote “Pavane pour une infante défunte” (“Pavane for a Dead Princess”) for solo piano (a decade later, he published an orchestral version). The piece wasn’t written for a particular person; Ravel simply wanted to compose a. . .

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Tram 83
Tram 83 by Fiston Mwanza Mujila
Reviewed by Caitlin Thomas

Fiston Mwanza Mujila is an award-winning author, born in the Democratic Republic of Congo, who now, at 33, lives in Austria. From what I could find, much of his work is influenced by the Congo’s battle for independence and its. . .

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Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic
Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic by Octave Mirbeau
Reviewed by Lori Feathers

Twenty-One Days of a Neurasthenic is not a novel in the traditional sense. Rather, it is a collection of vignettes recorded by journalist Georges Vasseur in his diary during a month spent in the Pyrenées Mountains to treat his nervous. . .

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