Reading

Festival Neue Literatur 2013

The annual Festival Neue Literatur has announced the featured authors for this year’s festivities. Every February in New York City, the festival brings together six writers hailing from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany with the intent of offering interesting discussions and readings along with enhancing the visibility of these contemporary writers to an American market. With our dearth of foreign novels in this country, FNL can be an exciting time to learn about new authors.

This year’s events take place during 22-24 February and all are free and open to the public (however, a couple do require an emailed RSVP, so check the website for details). These events have filled up in the past; last year, most notably was NYU Deutsches Haus’ brunch. I heard they had to turn people away because there was no room.

Events are held all around the city. For the complete listings, check their website. You can also find information on the authors, moderators & curators, sample translated texts and more. Enjoy!

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Santaland Diaries read by David Sedaris

Hearing David Sedaris read his excerpt about his time working as an elf at Macy’s during the holiday season is one I never tire of. Regardless of what you do on the 25 December, make sure you at least listen to the wonderful anecdotes of Sedaris as Crumpet the Elf dressed in “green velvet knickers, a forest green velvet smock and a perky little hat decorated with spangles.” Available through NPR. Enjoy!

Argos Books at The Oracle Club

This weekend, I had the pleasure of catching Argos Books‘ celebration of their most recently released chapbooks. The lovely and talented editors held their little shindig at the The Oracle Club which deserves its own post all together. Four readers read from the new books and each had such engaging poems. Two of the chapbooks also were in collaboration with visual artists that offered stunning images to accompany the words. Argos always produces lovely books; besides the words and images, the books themselves are outstanding pieces of art. They are hand-sewn and whenever I pick one up, I just want to touch every inch of the cover and pages. The reading itself was brief which was perfect. The poets kept the audience engaged and each one of them brought a different aesthetic to the event.

Another aspect of Argos that I love is that they take a special interest in publishing works-in-translation. They have a side by side series that offers both the original text and the new translation. They are working hard to bring writers that haven’t been published before in English to a wider audience. The editors at Argos are especially interested in this because of their own personal translation endeavors (one of the lovely Argos ladies works on translating from Swedish!).

Hearing them introduce each poet just showed how passionate they are about their writers and why they chose to publish them. They have a real appreciation and regard for the texts and I hope this small presse can continue producing big things.

Circumference is back!

After a two year hiatus, the once-defunct journal is back in action. On Friday night, the editors of Circumference held a re-launch party in Brooklyn at A Public Space. Circumference is a bi-annual journal of poetry in translation. The fantastic readers that evening included Stefania Heim, Idra Novey, Matthew Rohrer, and Eliot Weinberger.

It was exciting to hear this lively group of translators/writers and it was also equally, if not exceedingly, exciting to see the enthusiasm of the new editorial team. The re-launch party was also held to celebrate their new website which offers great information about the journal and upcoming events, as well as articles, podcasts, etc. concerneing translation. The new Circumference is headed up by two of the founding editors of the literary press, Argos Books.

The quality of writing in Circumference is tip-top. An annual subscription in the US is $10 and an international subscription is $15. You can’t beat that.

East Harlem Cafe

Who do you see when you walk into a coffee shop? Writers, of course (or at least those who fancy themselves writers). I’ve recently become aware of a fantastic little cafe in East Harlem aka Spanish Harlem aka El Barrio. Because of the fantastic group, Harlem Writers’ Circle, and the equally fantastic literary journal, Crescendo City, the East Harlem Cafe has become the unofficial literary homebase for emerging talent that call Harlem and its surrounding areas home.

In a neighborhood that is plagued by social problems, the East Harlem Cafe is trying to reach a fundraising goal so that they are able to update their equipment and introduce healthier options (yogurt, fruit, etc.) to the neighborhood (Spanish Harlem is notorious for its lack of fresh food options). Also, the owner has been kind enough to host readings, etc. but must keep the cafe open later than intended. Without her hospitality, there would be no readings or open mics. Most people think of the writerly scene being down in the East Village or whatnot, but there is plenty of totally rad writing happening uptown. Last night, the cafe hosted a reading by some of the writers published in Crescendo City’s inaugural issue.

So, if you can support, please donate or if you’re in New York, stop by the cafe for a coffee or on a Monday evening for a Writers’ Circle workshop.

it’s a bird? it’s plane? nope, just me; i’m back.

After a lovely time abroad, I have returned to the Big Apple. With suitable jet-lag still in tow, I found myself awake in bed at 5:30 this morning trying to finish my engaging airplane read (perhaps, a review soon?). Even though I have been gone for only 2 weeks, I feel very behind in my life in Manhattan (I was chastised for not realizing The Hunger Games film had come out).

A few weeks ago, I was at a book festival promoting a book that has a literary translation I worked on and a piece of original fiction. It was the first time this writer of no significance felt like a 10%-big-shot. In total, I participated in 4 readings/panels/etc. I then took a much needed vacation in Prague for a week where I received a surprising tan.

Sitting in my small bedroom next to my giant pile of undeclared Czech chocolate bars, I am making a to-do list for the near future:

1. find travel grant to return to Europe.

2. find a new part-time job, ideally in a small bookstore, perhaps? I have much in the way of bookish expertise!

3. translate translate translate

and most importantly…

4. write write write

Looking forward to catching up on all of my favorite writerly blogs!

Medieval cellar where I participated in a reading.

Gone Fishin’

This writer of no significance is hopping a flight and jet-setting to Europe for a book festival! Posts will be scarce because I’ll be sans internet for a little while but hopefully, I’ll be able to share some photos and anecdotes later in the week.

Auf Wiedersehen!

an evening with Wallace Shawn & Deborah Eisenberg

Last night, the Center for Fiction hosted a reading of Gregor von Rezzori’s An Ermine in CzernopolThe evening was in honor of the recent release of the new English translation. Rezzori’s widow, Beatrice Monte della Corte, gave the opening remarks. She was such a riot with a quick wit. She commented that she thought the new translation was fantastic. Debbie and Wally (as they so casually referred to each other) read excerpts from this hilarious novel.

Some people from the New York Review of Books were also there. They have been doing a wonderful job publishing quality translations of international books. The physical aesthetics of the books are quite lovely, too.

I snapped a few photos of the two reading, but most of them were obstructed by the back of Edmund White’s head. I resisted the temptation to whisper I loved Forgetting Elena into his ear.

After the reading, my friend and I moved to the back where we chatted and sipped free literary wine (meaning, out of plastic cups). Wallace Shawn was charming and silly. Deborah Eisenberg came over to us and chatted till the end of the evening. We asked her how she got to know Rezzori. Apparently, he was a fan of My Dinner with Andre and wanted to meet her boyfriend, Wallace Shawn. All is in the past but Deborah couldn’t stop singing the praise of the late Rezzori.

John Barth at Books & Books

For the frequent readers of this blog, you know that I’m located in the Big Apple. Because I live in NYC, I’m lucky to be exposed to many great cultural shenanigans–especially, writerly events. However, this post will be different.

I’ve noticed that many comments are from readers who wish they had something comparable in their home city.¹ Well, for those from South Florida, you’re in luck! I’ve been tipped off that John Barth will be reading and discussing a new essay from the most recent Granta. Quite frankly, I didn’t even know that Barth was still alive (many of his contemporaries have long been buried). The works of his I’m most familiar with are Lost in the Funhouse and Chimera.

I’ve been to Granta readings in the past and I’m sure the one in Miami will be enjoyable also. Here are the details:

Feb 7 2012 8:00 pm

John Barth reads and discusses his essay “The End?,” muse-inviting rituals and writing ‘nothing’ with writer and art critic Chauncey Mabe.

Granta 118: Exit Strategies (Grove, $16.99) is the latest issue of Granta, the magazine of the best new writing from around the world. This issue explores personal and political exit strategies with new work from Aleksandar Hemon, Claire Messud, John Barth, Susan Minot and more.

265 Aragon Ave | Coral Gables, Florida | 33134
¹I would still like to compile a list of book festivals, etc. that are outside of NYC and the United States. Please drop me a line if you have any info pertaining to this: acidfreepulp [at] gmail.com

Literary Festivals

Everyone likes a good literary festival, right? Well, sometimes I’m not sure. In NYC, I always get the impression that they are filled with academics and literati (this might be totally a syndrome of the 5 boroughs and not the rest of the country). Why doesn’t a more diverse audience attend events like these in the city? The only one that I know of that attracts a mixed crowd is the Brooklyn Book Festival. It’s sprawling with tables and panels both inside and outside.

I’ve been thinking about literary festivals recently because I will be participating in at least two in the next few months (hence, the reason for my inconsistent and lighter blog posts recently).  I am 103% sure that the first one will be swarming with academics which can be a letdown but I hope a good crowd attends the panels and soirees.

A great thing about literary festivals is you don’t have to even be familiar with any of the participants. They are a great way to learn about new writers, trends, genres, publishing houses, etc. and if there is an author you like, it’s also a great way to hobnob.

And let’s not forget about the free wine!

post script, if you have a favorite book festival(s), please leave the info in the comments section; I’m collecting a list so everyone can have these resources.