Even while running around all week trying to tie up loose ends in anticipation of my super sunny vacation, I paused to go through the Flavorwire 25 Vintage Photos of Librarians Being Awesome.
Favorite? #2 for obvious reasons. Enjoy!
So what happens when you’ve been super busy, not responding to emails, getting back to people or being a suitable human? Procrastinate, of course. I’ve decided to collect my three previous translations I’ve posted to this blog and create a new project. I have already put up the originally three and some new ones are coming soon.
Some people squish stress balls in their hands, others clean their whole home. I choose to translate poems by dead and forgotten (at least, forgotten in the US) German-language poets to refocus and forget about everyday stresses. So without further ado…
Anne Carson’s black and white visage has been popping up a bit lately. Yesterday, I caught her on the front page of the New York Times website and now, today on the train, I was catching up on the double issue of New York magazine that included an article on Carson’s new book, Red Doc>.
Carson is one of those people who has slashes included in their profession: poet/translator/writer/professor. I really have a soft spot for The Beauty of the Husband, which can fall into the slashie category (is it a poem? a novel? what is it?). Carson, herself, subtitles this book “a fictional essay in 29 tangos.” Is it a dance routine? This book also begs to be reread (which I must do one of these days).
I am happy to see that Anne Carson has been popping up in national publications. With VIDA’s annual report out recently and the big hoopla about the recent NYmag spread on Philip Roth¹, I’ve been on hyper alert about the gender bias in publishing. So, on a normal day, I would probably just think. Anne Carson on the front of the Times website? Fantastic! A whole review (if flawed) of Anne Carson’s newest book in New York? Perfect! I’m just happy that a talented and not quite mainstream writer is getting some spotlight attention.
¹I’m totally on board anytime Alexander Portnoy feels the need to make love to his family’s liver dinner but this spread was a bit blah for my taste. A literary caucus…with James Franco! Come on. If you don’t have the time to read the whole spread, let me sum it up with one featured quote by Keith Gessen when asked if Roth is a misogynist, “Did Roth hate women? What does that mean? If you hated women, why would you spend all your time thinking about fucking them.” [end scene]
It has been almost a year since I posted a translation. This is a poem by August von Platen-Hallermünde, an early 19th Century German writer. I dare say that I know very little about him but apparently his slim volumes of poetry caught the eye of even greats like Goethe. I don’t know if he is available in English (or in any other language besides the original German) but I hope you enjoy.
Specks of colors dust the wings
of summer butterflies.
They are fleeting and ephemeral,
Like the gifts that I bring,
Like the wreaths that I weave,
Like the songs that I sing.
Swiftly hovering above all,
Your time is scarce,
Like foam on a swaying wave,
Like a breath on a bare blade.
I do not desire immortality,
Death is the fate of all things,
My tones are as fragile
As the glass which I ring.
Farbenstäubchen auf der Schwinge
Flüchtig sind sie, sind vergänglich,
Wie die Gaben, die ich bringe,
Wie die Kränze, die ich flechte,
Wie die Lieder, die ich singe.
Schnell vorüber schweben alle,
Ihre Dauer ist geringe,
Wie ein Schaum auf schwanker Welle,
Wie ein Hauch auf blanker Klinge.
Nicht Unsterblichkeit verlang ich,
Sterben ist das Los der Dinge.
Meine Töne sind zerbrechlich
Wie das Glas, an das ich klinge.
Over at Zola Books, they posted the top 40 favorite books of the recently deceased computer whiz and activist, Aaron Swartz. He was a great lover of books and often wrote short personal reviews (you can see his lists over at his blog). Aaron’s list ran from great literature (Kafka!), fiction (Wolfe, Wallace, Franzen), to all kinds of non-fiction.
This list over at Zola is an interesting one. They have included snippets of Aaron’s opinions of the books. Also, there was a well-written and insightful article written by Columbia Law School professor, Tim Wu, over at the New Yorker titled, “How the Legal System Failed Aaron Swartz–and Us.” The article ends with,
Today, prosecutors feel they have license to treat leakers of information like crime lords or terrorists. In an age when our frontiers are digital, the criminal system threatens something intangible but incredibly valuable. It threatens youthful vigor, difference in outlook, the freedom to break some rules and not be condemned or ruined for the rest of your life. Swartz was a passionate eccentric who could have been one of the great innovators and creators of our future. Now we will never know.
Yes, I have been particularly scattered brain, lazy, anxious, procrastination-prone, etc. etc. Maybe not the best way to start off a new year? However, being on a pseudo-vacation for the next month, away from NYC, in a tropical environment, is an excuse, right?? I am not one to get into “New Year’s Resolutions,” but I do like the occasional stimulation, especially, when it comes to books and writing. So, for my much delayed post of the new year, I have created more of a list of things I hope that will help me focus and be a more productive and better writer.
Well, here’s to a fantastic year at Acid Free Pulp. Enjoy!
Regardless of the fact that when I would see Gore Vidal on television in recent years , he wasn’t looking in the best of health, he was still as quick a wit as ever. A few months ago, he was the opening guest on Real Time with Bill Maher where Maher showed a video of Vidal as a 10 year old boy in a commercial with his father about aviation.
In the long and detailed obit that the New York Times published today, they wrote,
Few American writers have been more versatile or gotten more mileage from their talent. He published some 25 novels, two memoirs and several volumes of stylish, magisterial essays. He also wrote plays, television dramas and screenplays. For a while he was even a contract writer at MGM. And he could always be counted on for a spur-of-the-moment aphorism, putdown or sharply worded critique of American foreign policy.
Unfortunately, there seems to be very few people left who will write or comment publicly their opinions¹ without pussyfooting around, retracting, or apologizing for fear of the ridiculous kangaroo court that has been setup in the past couple of decades. I remember when William F. Buckley died a few years ago, Vidal wouldn’t even give a dead man a break, ”I thought hell is bound to be a livelier place, as he joins forever those whom he served in life, applauding their prejudices and fanning their hatred.”
¹ After re-reading this, I remembered that there are plenty of people who do voice their opinions publicly (cough michelle bachman cough cough), but I meant people who are at least a couple rungs up from glow worm on the ladder.
Now that Martin Amis has relocated to Brooklyn from the UK, he found time to do an interview in last week’s New York. He chats about many topics including but not limited to: “Terrorism, Pornography, Idyllic Brooklyn and American Decline.”
It sounds schmaltzy to say, but fiction is much more to do with love than people admit or acknowledge. The novelist has to not only love his characters…[t]he difference between a Nabokov, who in almost all his novels, nineteen novels, gives you his best chair and his best wine and his best conversation. Compare that to Joyce, who, when you arrive at his house, is nowhere to be found, and then you stumble upon him, making some disgusting drink of peat and dandelion in the kitchen. He doesn’t really care about you. Henry James ended up that way. They fall out of love with the reader. And the writing becomes a little distant.
I once had a roommate whose mother didn’t find Seinfeld funny at all. Needless to say–and for various other reasons–I did not like this roommate’s mother. She couldn’t even explain herself! (she also didn’t like New York City and thought Los Angeles was the greatest place). What a loon!
I love the references to New York City-specific things but also, they have great literary references every now and then. Enjoy.
This week, I finished up with a project that was 3 years in the making. Now that my brain has started to temporarily rebuild itself (part of the process is drinking wine, listening to Hall & Oates loudly on the car radio, and watching reruns of Seinfeld), I’ve been thinking of some of the places I would go to work on this aforementioned project. Also, a few days ago subtlekate wrote a post about writing haunts, “[t]hose magical cafe’s and hotels that have hosted the best can inspire us to keep going.”
One of my faves is The Hungarian Pastry Shop. Okay, so this place can be packed and the coffee is sub par, but if you go in the morning or during other “off” hours and just stick to the made in-house pastries and lattes, you’re set. Also, the outdoor seating is perfect for people watching. I am always especially productive here when I’m dealing with jet-lag. Up before everyone else, I hit up the laundromat right when it opens and then take my notebook and make my way to the Hungarian, where you’re joined with the two or three others with sleep woes.
Last year, Untapped New York ran the article, “The Hungarian Pastry Shop, a literary outpost.” Michelle Young writes,
When author and professor David Grahame Shane (of Recombinant Urbanism) asked me to meet at the Hungarian Pastry Shop on 111th and Amsterdam, I knew it was going to be a great place. You see, Shane’s speciality is on heterotopias–those places within cities that trigger creativity and spur urban evolution. In fact, he says they function as cities in miniature and that’s kind of what the Hungarian Pastry Shop is like…The shop puts the book jackets of its patrons on the walls…It’s also where a scene in Woody Allen’s Husbands and Wives was filmed.
Some photos that writer took: