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.

....
The Dispossessed
The Dispossessed by Szilárd Borbély
Reviewed by Jason Newport

To be, or not to be?

Hamlet’s enduring question is one that Szilárd Borbély, acclaimed Hungarian poet, verse-playwright, librettist, essayist, literary critic, short-story writer, and, finally, novelist, answered sadly in the negative, through his suicide in 2014, at the. . .

Read More >

A Greater Music
A Greater Music by Bae Suah
Reviewed by Pierce Alquist

A Greater Music is the first in a line of steady and much-anticipated releases by Bae Suah from key indie presses (this one published by Open Letter). Building off of the interest of 2016 Best Translated Book Award longlist nominee. . .

Read More >

Two Lost Souls: on "Revulsion" and "Cabo De Gata"
Two Lost Souls: on "Revulsion" and "Cabo De Gata" by Horacio Castellanos Moya; Eugen Ruge
Reviewed by Tim Lebeau

The dislocation of individuals from the countries of their birth has long been a common theme in contemporary literature. These two short novels recently translated into English appear firmly rooted in this tradition of ex-pat literature, but their authors eschew. . .

Read More >

Melancholy
Melancholy by László Földényi
Reviewed by Jason Newport

In Melancholy, Hungarian author, critic, and art theorist László Földényi presents a panorama of more than two thousand years of Western historical and cultural perspectives on the human condition known as melancholia. In nine chapters, Földényi contrasts the hero worship. . .

Read More >

The Hatred of Music
The Hatred of Music by Pascal Quignard
Reviewed by Jeanne Bonner

Pascal Quignard’s __The Hatred of Music_ is the densest, most arcane, most complex book I’ve read in ages. It’s also a book that covers a topic so basic, so universal—almost primordial—that just about any reader will be perversely thrilled by. . .

Read More >

Fragile Travelers
Fragile Travelers by Jovanka Živanović
Reviewed by Damian Kelleher

In Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary, Flaubert attempted to highlight the ordinary, tired, and often crass nature of common expressions by italicising them within the text. When Charles, Emma Bovary’s mediocre husband, expresses himself in a manner akin to that of. . .

Read More >

Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei
Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei by Eliot Weinberger
Reviewed by Russell Guilbault

Eliot Weinberger takes big strides across literary history in his genuinely breathtaking short work, 19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei, tracking translations of a short ancient Chinese poem from the publication of Ezra Pound’s Cathay in 1915 to Gary. . .

Read More >