Stories from Quick Reads and Literature
Sabelo Mkhabela blogs about Swaziland's growing poetry movement:
Swazi poet and visionary Themba Mavuso speaks with a humble, unrehearsed tone. He looks nothing like a poet – his hair is neatly combed and he spots a corporate office-ready white shirt and black chinos. Adding street to his attire is a pair of black Chucks.
Themba, along with Lusolotja Ginindza and Sicelo Shabalala, is a founding member of Swaziland’s prominent poetry movement, Rooted Soulz. The collective has helped unearth prominent poets such as Qibho Intalektual and The Last Man, among others. They’ve also showcased their roaster at one of Swaziland’s biggest arts festivals, Bushfire.
According to Mavuso, perhaps with the exception of typically elder praise poets (timbongi), “The poetry genre in Swaziland was previously non-existent prior to the birth of Rooted Soulz.” The group’s poetry sessions started out in a venue in the Swazi capital, Mbabane, where they were held until their audience became too big for the space and relocated to the Swazi Theatre.
Below is a YouTube video of poet and emcee Qibho Intalektual and his music partner Sands:
Blogger Royayah Chamseddin, a Sydney based Lebanese-American journalist and commentator, shares a list of books on Islam, feminism and racialization in this blog post on her blog Letters from The Underground.
The list, which will continue to be expanded, includes links to some books which are available for free download in PDF format.
Join us as we unveil Nwachukwu Egbunike’s debut collection of poems Blazing Moon. Egbunike is a blogger and essayist.
In commemoration of the 2015 World Poetry Day celebration, the March edition of ARTMOSPHERE will also play host to Dami Ajayi, a medical doctor and author of the poetry collection, Clinical Blues.
Both poets will read from their collections and discuss the creative process, governance, political, as well as social issues. There will also be book signings and music performances by D’Jazz Band at the event.
Blazing Moon is a book that draws you out, strips you naked, and asks you to confront yourself, define yourself and know who you are. There is no room for quibbles, for middle-of-the road stances: you must yourself pick up the gauntlet and fight your own battle of honour, of faith, of self. In this you will confront striking contrasts that paint human follies in the garb of lifting sanctity: thirsty, loves the drought; hungry, loves the famine; the contents though spilled, yet never exhausted. You would be telling yourself, I know a story like that.
Although the focus was translation and interpretation of classic Chinese books, the necessity of learning a new language when studying a culture or being able to use the language in politics were also addressed. Two lecturers caught the interest of Ruiz, Alicia Relinque and Eduardo Daniel Oviedo. About their talks, Ruiz notes:
Relinque, nos explicó muy brevemente su experiencia personal como traductora y cómo a lo largo del tiempo ha ido cambiando su metodología en función de la obra a traducir e incluso a veces por los requisitos impuestos desde la editorial. Seguidamente expuso varios ejemplos de traducciones de otros autores
(Oviedo) trataba del papel que juega actualmente el chino como elemento integrador de la sociedad china, así como la lucha que tiene con otros idiomas para ser la lengua hegemónica a medida que crece el poder político y económico de la República Popular China, mientras expande su influencia a otras regiones del mundo de cara a la formación de una lengua global.
Relinque briefly explained us her personal experience as translator and how as time went by she has been changing her methodology according to the text to be translated and sometimes even according to the requirements by the publisher. She then talked about several translations by other authors
(Oviedo) addressed the role currently played by Chinese language as unifying element in Chinese society, as well as the struggle it has with other languages to be the hegemonic language as Popular Republic of China's political and economic power grows, as it expands its influence to other regions of the world in regards to the formation of a global language.
Now it's time to wait for the second edition on 2016 and the possibility for the Autonomous University of Barcelona to organize it. That hasn't been decided yet.
On October 10, 2014, the book “Chapacoco as seen from the children” was launched. The book has been written by fifth and sixth graders from the Elementary School 40351. Under the guide of their teacher Ronny Durand, in charge of the project “Making science as a game”, the students investigated for over a year about customs and riches of the area:
El libro resulta de Proyecto de Innovación Pedagógica “Haciendo Ciencia Como Jugando”, que tiene como objetivo que los niños desarrollen competencias y capacidades utilizando el conocimiento de la realidad, promoviendo la identidad cultural, la conciencia ambiental y la participación comunitaria. Resultado de esta es que la obra contiene: los datos generales (ubicación, población, servicios y geografía); costumbres y tradiciones, como mitos, cuentos y leyendas; la gastronomía, artesanía, paisajes turísticos y restos arqueológicos del lugar; y la riqueza natural de la flora y fauna.
The book results from the Educational Innovation Project “Making science as a game”, that has as an objective that children develop competences and abilities using knowledge from reality, promoting cultural identity, environmental awareness and community participation. As a result, the book has general information (location, population, services and geography); customs and traditions, such as myths, tales and legends; gastronomy, craftwork, tourist landscapes and archeological remains; and the natural riches of flora and fauna.
“One thing is that books satisfy users’ curiosity, and a very different one that is that it might represent the identity of the community them belong to”. Argentinian librarian Daniel Canosa questions the role and function of local libraries. On Infotecarios network he writes:
Las bibliotecas indígenas, [deberían] generar conocimiento desde la participación local y comunitaria, ofrecer un modo de entendimiento, que es a la vez una manera de construir identidad. El tema es si lo que ofrece la biblioteca representa lo que cada comunidad sabe y conoce, si lo que construye el bibliotecario con su comunidad permite una genuina afinidad con la memoria histórica del pueblo. No se tratan de ideas nuevas, pero es necesario avanzar interpelando las mismas.
Si las bibliotecas difunden la producción de la gente de su lugar de pertenencia, entonces no sólo las elites tendrán presencia en el mundo de la información.
Indigneous libraries [should] generate knowledge from local and community participation, provide a way of understanding, that in time is a way of building identity. The thing is if what libraries provide represent what each community knows, if what a librarian builds with their community allows a true affinity with people's historic memory. This is not about new ideas, but things should move forward questioning those ideas.
If libraries spread people's production from their own places, then not only the elites won't be then only ones in the world of information.
The author highlights the fact that burning libraries, as happened in the past, eliminates peoples’ memories and therefore their identity. He also highlights the works by Colombia Indigenous Peoples Basic Library, puts into question publications by Abya Yala Ecuadorian publishing house and presents an instance of “social inclusion” with Eloísa Cartonera Cooperative from Argentina.
Live reports from the National Arts Festival taking place in Grahamstown, South Africa:
Every winter, for 11 days in early July, the sleepy South African college town of Grahamstown comes alive with art. Artists from all over the world swarm to the tiny town, and every nook and cranny is packed with theatre, dance, performance art, film, comedy puppets and face paint with the sweet sounds of jazz spilling onto the streets. The National Arts Festival, that celebrated its 40th anniversary this year, is the second biggest arts festivals in the world. For the last couple of years, a group of journalism students at Rhodes University cover the festival through a pop-up newsroom called CueTube, where they interview a variety of artists, choreographers and directors. Here’s some samples of the work.
Sixteen international authors who participated at the Palestine Festival of Literature, held from in several Palestinian cities from May 31 to June 5, released a statement condemning Israel's continued settlement construction and applauding the efforts of the Boycott Divest and Sanction (BDS) campaign. The statement, shared on Facebook, reads:
“Having personally witnessed the injustice visited upon the Palestinian people in the territories occupied by Israel, it is with the utmost sadness and dismay that we – the undersigned international authors and artists – note Benjamin Netanyahu's approval this week of yet another 1,500 new illegal settlements units in the West Bank. This is particularly unfortunate at a moment when the Palestinians have formed a unity government that has been recognized by the international community.
Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories have long since been pronounced illegal by international law. The Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories is itself illegal, and declared so by the international community through various UN resolutions.
Additional settlements can be seen only as an act of aggression, showing utter disregard not just for the human and civil rights of the Palestinian people, but for international law.
We applaud the non-violent efforts of the BDS campaign (www.bdsmovement.net) and express our solidarity with its demand that Israel should comply with the precepts of international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab land and dismantling the Wall
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.
We thus call for the Israeli Government to respect international law and reverse the approval of the thousand plus additional settlements units in the West Bank.
We furthermore call on the International Community to work to induce Israel to uphold basic principles of international law.
Sharif Abdel Khouddous
6th of June 2014.”
On her blog, author Ma. Gemma Romero analyzes the changes in Spanish prose from the evolution of the inner monologue as literary resource. In her article, she takes into account Luis Martín-Santos Ribera's works:
El monólogo interior […] rompe con el realismo de los años cincuenta y entra en escena la verdadera crítica social. Un libro y un autor son los responsables principales de este cambio: Martín Santos y su novela “Tiempo de silencio”; en ella aparece el componente esencial del monólogo interior para reflejar un montón de realidades que sirven para completar la rica descripción de ambientes y lugares de Madrid.
Inner monologue […] gets separated from 1950s realism and the real social criticism enters the scene. A book and an author are the main people responsible for this change: Martín Santos and his novel “Time of silence”, where the fundamental part of the inner monologue appears, to reflect many realities that complete the rich description of circles and places in Madrid.
Although the works by late psychiatrist Martín Santos are just three novels, two essays and an unpublished collection of short narrations, along with psychiatric texts, he is remembered for the important changes on Spanish literature thanks to his writings. As Gemma Romero says:
Leer sobre una época es la mejor manera de conocerla.
Reading about an era is the best way to know it.
Besides her blog, you can follow this author on Twitter.
Kenyan blogger James Murua lists 10 African literature rich blogs:
So you want to keep abreast of what’s happening in the African literature space. Want to get news and reviews from the books written by and about African experience? Try these ones listed in alphabetical order;
1. Authors in Africa
This blog focuses on bloggers in the African continent without a focus on mainly writers from all over Sub Saharan Africa. The site gives reviews of books as well as interviews with authors, a section dedicated to poets and essayists, as well as book synopsis and short stories. The site is regularly updated.
2. Bookshy: An Africa book lover
This blog is managed by a London based book lover. The book contains news from the African literature scene as well as reviewed by the blogger. With over seventy reviews of some of the best books from the continent this is an important space to keep up with our scene. I especially like the “meet” section where the blogger interviews some really cool writers. The blog is updated every week or so.
3. Books Live
This is probably the most well managed blog out there for Afro lit. With reviews coming regularly as well as the keeping track of what your favourite authors are up to or what is being written about them this might be THE site to keep visiting. Based in South Africa, the blog is rich in content from the writers from Africa’s most southern most country but it also keeps you abreast of many from other parts. There is new content on this site daily. #Win
She points out:
As you might expect from a troubled nation with relatively little modern literary output, there aren’t many translations of Yemeni work available in English. However, there are some, as several Yemeni authors have received regional and international acclaim.
Qualey was inspired to write about those Yemeni writers by an article published in Yemen Times on March 23, 2015, entitled “Political Crisis and Yemen's Literary Insurgence”. The article mentions other renowned authors such as Marwan Ghafory, Mohammed Algharbi Amran , Habib Sorori, Safa’a Al-Habal, Ahmed Al-Sakkaf or Samir Abdulfattah, Ramzia Al-Iryani.
It speaks about how the political crisis affected the publishing sector and how, on the other hand, “what the country is going through gives writers a will to write. They try to reflect on what is happening around them within their works.” The article continues: “Ongoing political turmoil may not bode well for Yemen, but if 2014 is any indication, the outlook for its national literary scene is a promising one.”
Woyingi compiles a list of Eritrean literature, which includes Sulaiman Addonia's The Consequences of Love and Taught to hate: observations on madrasas, Astier M. Almedom's Re-reading the Short and Long-Rigged History of Eritrea 1941–1952: Back to the Future?, Alemseged Tesfai's Two Weeks in the Trenches: Reminiscences of Childhood and War in Eritrea (Memoir) and Tekie Fessehatzion's Shattered Illusion, Broken Promise: Essays on the Eritrea-Ethiopia Conflict 1998-2000 (Essays).
The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo is a film by filmmaker Yaba Badoe:
The Art of Ama Ata Aidoo, explores the artistic contribution of one of Africa's foremost women writers, a trailblazer for an entire generation of exciting new talent.
This feature-length documentary charts Ama Ata Aidoo's creative journey in a life that spans 7 decades from colonial Ghana, through the tumultuous era of independence, to a more sober present day Africa where nurturing women's creative talent remains as hard as ever.
The Two Project has just launched, a collaboration between Israeli Jews and Arabs to connect their cultures through the language of poetry. Hebrew and Arabic are both official languages of Israel. Six years in the making, the project is an offshoot of a recently published book, Two: A Bilingual Anthology (link is in Hebrew).
This site is a part of the Two Project: a bilingual cultural project focusing on the literature and poetry of youth. Its aim is to create a convergence of dialogue between the two vibrant cultures of Israel, in Arabic and Hebrew. [The project presents] a new generation of writers and readers, who because of language barriers, culture, politics, and physical boundaries are not familiar with what goes on in the modern literary scene of their neighbors.
Anat Niv, editor-in-chief of Keter Publishing, who is responsible for the anthology, remarks:
The very fact that you are holding a book and reading it in Hebrew, with a text in Arabic script on the facing page, or vice versa, is a very powerful experience. Even if you don’t read Arabic, when reading this book you can no longer remain oblivious to the fact that this is a place where people live and create in two languages.
Jamaican author Marlon James’ new novel, A Brief History of Seven Killings, has been released to such fanfare that even hard-hitting literary critics cannot use enough superlatives in their reviews. Michiko Kakutani, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic for The New York Times, described James as a “prodigious talent”, calling the novel “epic […] sweeping, mythic, over-the-top, colossal and dizzyingly complex.”
Jamaica-based blogger Annie Paul apparently beat international mainstream media to the punch, however. In this post, Paul reveals that she kindly took down an initial interview with James so as not to “[break] the [US] national embargo on information on Brief History and its author”.
The plot of “Seven Killings” uses the real-life assassination attempt on reggae icon Bob Marley a few days before he was to perform at the free One Love Peace Concert in Kingston in December 1976, as a jumping off point from which to discuss issues of race and class in Jamaica, as well as the entangled political relationship between the United States and the Caribbean region.
In her “exclusive interview” with the author, Paul talks to James about his process, admires his seemingly effortless use of Jamaican patois “in a way that outsiders can grasp” and wonders if there might be a sequel. Read the whole interview here.
Jamaican author Kei Miller's blog post about “the anxieties of being a black poet in Britain” draws from several personal experiences, leading him to the conclusion that “the act of writing certain black experiences has to be one of translation – as surely as we translate from one language into another”:
Blackness itself is still seen to exist in a place outside of language, or at least outside the refined language of poetry…And I do not know whether the old dictum about the economy of translation is true – whether or not something is always lost…But this much seems to be important, that we keep blackness in check. In this way, the anxieties of being a black poet in Britain are obviously part and parcel of the broader anxieties of being black in Britain.
DE LA SEPARACIÓN
Ahora que ya todo acabó
lo miro con su extraño caminar
con nuestras soledades a cuestas
dos cuerpos ahora tan extraños
ajenos y alejados
dos almas que un instante
se [sintieron] gemelas
ahora tan lejanas
Nos unieron nuestras soledades
solo fuimos dos que un día
no quisieron sentirse solos
y se quisieron
y vivieron juntos
para acallar el vacio
para silenciar las voces
Now that everything is over
I look at his unique way of walking
carrying our own solitudes
two bodies, now so strangers
distant and remote,
two souls that for an instant
now too apart.
Our solitudes brought us together
we were only two that one day
didn't want to be alone
and they loved each other
and lived together
to quieten the void
to quieten the voices
It's sometimes complicated to understand or discuss terms like Classicism or Romanticism, especially for someone who is not involved in literature. But that's not the case with Mª Gemma Romero Perea, who thinks Goethe, through his Faust, shows a rare synthesis between Romanticism and Classicism. She explains:
Fausto es la obra más importante del autor; el ambiente en el que se desarrolla es el de la lejanía y el del misterio, y el pacto que Fausto hace con el diablo recoge el tétrico estilo romántico a la perfección. La historia arranca de una leyenda medieval, el protagonista, dedicado a la ciencia, pacta con el diablo para recuperar de nuevo la juventud y lograr de ese modo el amor de Margarita. Con un profundo estilo filosófico, Fausto lucha contra las leyes de la naturaleza y contra todo lo sagrado para convertirse en un rebelde romántico. Lo más significativo es el halo de misterio que rodea al protagonista y su terrible trato con el diablo para retomar la juventud. Pero además de los caracteres románticos del personaje, hay algo que destaca sobre todas las cosas, y es que Fausto se convertirá en un verdadero ídolo para todos los tiempos junto al Quijote y a Don Juan, un personaje lleno de matices que convertirá a su creador Goethe en un verdadero maestro de la literatura que influirá en su tiempo y en los posteriores de forma decisiva.
Faust is the author's most important work; the environment where it's set is of distance and mystery, and the pact Faust makes with the devil gets the gloomy romantic style perfectly. The story starts from a medieval legend, the main character, dedicated to science, agrees with the devil so he can get back his youth and having Margarita's love. With a profound philosophical style, Faust fights Nature's laws and all that is sacred to become a romantic rebel. The most significant thing here is the mystery aura surrounding the main characters and his terrible pact with the devil to get back his youth. But besides those romantic features of the character, there is something that stands out above all, and it's that Faust will become an all-times real idol, just as Don Quijote and Don Juan, a character that will make its creator Goethe a real master of literature that will have decisive influence during his time and later.
Repeating Islands notes that Trinidadian writer Barbara Jenkins has been longlisted for the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for her book Sic Transit Wagon, adding: “The shortlist of six will be announced at the end of the week.”
BC has become a an increasingly popular phenomenon, as right now there are two millions of registered users, known as BookCrossers, who have released about tne million books in 132 countries. Through these free books that go beyond barriers of time and space, the intention is to turn the world into a global library.
And then, Silvana tells us a Latin American experience:
So, there is the B Day [es] with the aim of “atttracting attentios about books circulating as objects, as idea carriers, as cultural assets, this is the main idea of this proposed action.” This practice is carried out every September 21 since 2010 in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Mexico and Peru [es] and year by year, more countries from other regions have started to participate.