Friday, August 13, 2010

From the Blue - Contributors Read & Recommend #3

The summer semester is winding down, hot and quick, and so ends the term of current interns. Of course I'm sad, but trying not to show it, and I'll miss the office and my fellow interns and editors. Luckily, though, another crop is just around the corner, not to mention our Blue issue (32.1), which is out and making a ruckus. We are very excited about this issue!

In round 3 of our contributor interview series we spoke with Curtis Bauer, a poet whose "Colony Collapse Disorder" appeared in our latest issue. Curtis' poems and translations have been published and are forthcoming in The American Poetry Review, Ninth Letter, Fulcrum, and Barrow Street, among others. He won the John Ciardi Poetry Prize for his poetry collection, Fence Line, and has been a finalist for the New Letters Poetry Prize, The Willis Barnstone Translation Prize, and the Glimmer Train Poetry Open. He is the publisher and editor of Q Ave Press Chapbooks and teaches creative writing and translation at Texas Tech University.

What are you reading right now?
A few weeks ago a friend sent me a little gem of a book called The Proust Project. I’ve been reading through that, considering the passages from Proust’s work and what the essayists have to say about those passages. Reading Proust makes one reflect on the past, consider how the present is woven with threads of lived and imagined experiences.... It makes me want to go back and read Swann’s Way again, and The Guermantes Way, just a few pages, but I know “just a few pages” is impossible with Proust. I’ve worked my way through Camille Dungy’s amazing anthology, Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry; I’m teaching it in the fall, but I would recommend this book to everyone; I love the introduction, the section essays, the poems, and how she’s organized the book. Though it’s a short book and I started it earlier this spring, I’m still reading Fermat’s Last Theorem: Unlocking the Secret of an Ancient Mathematical Problem, by Amir Aczel; my Dean at Texas Tech recommended it to me: he’s a mathematician and reads poetry, so I thought it’s the least I could a little about math. And I’ve borrowed a few books from my father’s shelves recently: Lucian Freud: Some Thoughts on Painting; The Microscripts, by Robert Walser; Sorgegondolen, by Tomas Tranströmer; and Charles Wright’s Scar Tissue.

What else have you been reading this summer?
This summer I’ve been reading a mix of books in English and Spanish, many of them translations from other languages. When I was in Spain I read the Bernofsky translation of Robert Walser’s The Tanners, with a spectacular introduction by W.G. Sebald which is almost as good as the book, and I dabbled in Speaking to the Rose (also Walser). I like this last book for its brief essay-like pieces; they’re good lessons in observation, especially when living in another country. I’ve dabbled a bit in the novel/memoir Bilbao—New York—Bilbao by the Basque author Kirmen Uribe, but I’ve set it aside for later. I picked up a book of collage poetry by Herta Muller called Die blassen Herren mit den Mokkatassen, translated into Spanish; it’s a sort of art book and poetry book in one...fascinating. I’ve been flipping through a new translation (into Spanish) of the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer called El cielo a medio hacer (translated by Roberto Mascaró with an excellent prologue by the Spanish poet, Carlos Pardo).

While I’m thinking of Spanish poets, I’ll mention a, a spectacular anthology of young Spanish poets called La inteligencia y el hacha, compiled by Luis Antonio de Villena. That collection set me onto the work of Luis Muñoz, Carlos Pardo, Elena Medel, Julita Valero, Jorge Gimeno, Lorenzo Plana, Juan Andrés García Román, Andrés Navarro, Mariano Peyrou, Antonio Lucas...and many more. Of course I’m also reading the new selected poetry of Juan Antonio González Iglesias, since I’m translating it into English, as well as the book Leve Sangre by the Mexican poet Jeannette Clariond.

Strangest book/article/thing you've ever read?
One of the strangest articles I’ve ever read is one that I had to cut out and carry in my wallet—this was more than a decade ago, and since then I’ve lost the article...along with a few wallets. Not only was I certain no one would believe me if I were to recount the story, but I was also fascinated by the fact that a newspaper would publish such an article, that it was considered “newsworthy.” I was living in northern Spain at the time, and reading a range of papers every week. One day I came across an article in El Diario Vasco about a Columbian child (perhaps 3 years old) with a man-sized penis. The report was so dry I thought it was either a joke or that I wasn’t understanding it correctly. I read it again and again, and I understood everything perfectly. The oddest thing was the last sentence, which went something like this: “The boy’s parents also report that he’s been shaving for more than a year.” Poor kid.

Anything else you would recommend for our readers?
Books small enough you can carry them in your pocket:
Intimate Strangers by Breyten Breytenbach
A Giacometti Portrait by James Lord
The Shape of a Pocket by John Berger
Species of Spaces and Other Pieces by Georges Perec
Speaking to the Rose by Robert Walser
Oases: Poems and Prose by Alastair Reid
D’Apres Tout: Poems by Jean Follain (translated by heather McHugh)
The Path: A One Mile Walk Through the Universe by Chet Raymo
American Sonnets by Gerald Stern
Eros es más by Juan Antonio González Iglesias ("Eros Is More" in English)


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