On Thursday 16 March I’ll join seven poets – Nicky Arscott, Nia Davies, Madara Gruntmane, Semyon Khanin, Artis Ostups, Eurig Salisbury and Arvis Viguls – for Poetry Connections, a multilingual evening of poetry at Rich Mix London.
Leading lights from Latvia’s vibrant poetry scene join contemporaries from Scotland and Wales for a unique reading in four languages. These award-winning poets will share newly translated poems, collaborations and experiments in a special event which reflects their friendship and celebrates the role art plays in building bridges between cultures.
With Nicky Arscott – Nia Davies – Madara Gruntmane – Semyon Khanin – Artis Ostups – Eurig Salisbury – Arvis Viguls – Ryan Van Winkle.
At this year’s StAnza International Poetry Festival I’ll be working alongside Anglophone poets Vicki Feaver and Tessa Berring and Francophone poets Michel Cassir and Aurélia Lassaque throughout the festival to create an entirely new poetic work. The finished product will be performed at 1pm on Saturday 4 March, Council Chambers in the Town Hall. Tickets are £4/£3. Hope to see you there.
Listen to new poetry in different languages as part of this year’s focus on French-language.
Throughout the week of StAnza 2017 Vicki Feaver and Tessa Berring will be working together with two francophone poets, Michel Cassir and Aurélia Lassaque, completing a collaborative residency in St Andrews, to create new work and translate each others’ poetry. Join us for a multilingual performance hosted by Ryan Van Winkle as they present the results of the residency: poetry doesn’t come fresher than this!
A joint event between StAnza, the Scottish Poetry Library and Literature Across Frontiers as part of the Literary Europe Live project supported by Creative Europe.
4 March 2017 – 1:00pm – 2:00pm
Council Chambers in the Town Hall, Queens Gardens, St. Andrews
Berlin, you say, I remember
Rome, I say, you remember
the crossroads and the smell
of song, the ancient footprints
of cooking meat. The last cigarette
and the rubble at the bottom
of vodka drunk from a great height
at the Spanish Stair. Everyone there
turning round and round and round…
I promise, they will greet us like we are
the sofa, the mask, the television – singing
is coca-cola. And your masterpiece is blue
electric blue, the colour of my dreams.
Is it waiting, like the ghost of lions
in the coliseum? Milan is goodbye
to the moon. The moon, you say,
with no money left in train stations.
What next? I remember trying
to run to the top of the escalator
to get us that far. It swung low
looked up at wheels and bells
last night. And it was like a city –
I wanted to follow you south. I wanted
what we once had the map to, to boil
pasta in the street every morning.
I wanted the keys. I swung high
licked honey from plastic, shouted
Relax! And missed. My eye was off.
I wanted to spill oil and watch it
seep into the feather white cloth.
Tranquillity comes at a price. I steal wine
and I wanted to collect faces and pin them
to your hand in the fountain
pulling up wet copper and shove
them into your damp pocket in Paris
where you looked like the sun
looked like an angel that shone on stone
and bones below. Stay still while I draw
the corners of the room, the thing
that made us itch until our skin bled
and stained the sheets. Where is the key?
The money? The colour that doesn’t last
and I am hungry.
Kathrine says: “Writing collaboratively gives you a kind of freedom, a sense of ‘it’s not all down to me’ and ‘let’s go here now’ and ‘I can write whatever I want and it will sound different up against, threaded through, or wrapped around someone else’s words’. Which is a pleasure.”
Bio: Kathrine Sowerby’s chapbooks include Tired Blue Mountain (Red Ceilings Press) and Margaret and Sunflower (dancing girl press). Out very soon is her first collection That Bird Loved (Hesterglock Press) and her book of stories The Spit, the Sound and the Nest (Vagabond Voices). kathrinesowerby.com
I’ll be reading at the Whitespace Gallery’s second performance evening at 7.30pm, Thursday 26 January. Hope to see you there.
This is the second Performance evening at The Whitespace Gallery.There will be about 5/6 performers. Doors open 7.15pm. Show starts 7.30pm A midway break for 10mins. Entrance fee will be £5 on the door.
Alicia says: I love paisley ties and words that cross oceans. Collaborating with Ryan was a beautiful mind meld. He is the very essence of fervent creativity.
My Self / My Soul
My self – limps into the afternoon sometimes
we are perched on the fringes
of the universe, in cramped caverns
of marginalia unable to rush ahead, or move
at opportunity. We lean in closer, mesmerized
by embers from the insatiable flame of doubt.
My soul – always a stranger
who comes to visit at inconvenient times
knocking at the door, saying surprise
surprise, do you have anything hot to eat?
Every time we want to collapse, we let our legs fold
holding heavy unyielding minds, hardbound confusions.
My self – an adult. Knows
how to read a book for information.
My soul – a child still looking
a new, secret, pleasure.
It is a short amount of time.
It is glacial.
It is a concrete, so solid now.
It is a shadow of my shadow.
Maybe we don’t need millions.
Maybe we need just a few
white paper flowers.
My self speaks –
Every time we feel tawny, like some purple word hoodlum,
some upshot with too many full stops. Those days we
believe we’ve defrauded all around us with our bankable bluster
and blunt phrases – our unfathomed blue lagoon of talk.
I believe our dusty roars can fill an egomaniacal sawpit.
I believe the stars are narcissist too. And that the trees
will know hubris. I spend hours tranquilized or annoyed,
can’t get past the beginning of a particular philosophy.
‘I think therefore I am’
and that’s about it.
My soul speaks –
Every time we put our breath into something
every time we blow a bubble or feel our hairs
billowing like a thousand balloons about to raise
up with all the lusty air. Those days when
we go up a few miles and can see
our place in the city, those days we get high
enough to see our place in it all.
Dear Self, gravity gives us mass
and keeps us grounded
it is weak. Lift your hand, you’ve won.
Dear Soul, speak up. It’s like you landed
on the moon and we’re down here waiting
for one good word, one small step.
Alicia Sometimes is an Australian writer, poet and broadcaster. She is a regular guest on ABC 774 and Radio National. She has appeared in ABC TV’s Sunday Arts and ABC News Breakfast. She was a 2014 Fellow at the State Library of Victoria and was writer and director of the science-poetry show, Elemental that has toured extensively. Alicia has co-edited From the Outer (Black Inc, 2016) with Nicole Hayes, a book about diversity amongst Aussie Rules football fans. She is also one-sixth of The Outer Sanctum podcast.
At 7pm Saturday 21 January I’ll be reading at the End of the World Party with Interrobang. I’m reading alongside Andrew Blair and Laura Waddell, with your hosts Beth Cochrane, Ricky Brown and Jacques Tsiantar. It’s £5 on the door, hope to see you there.
Ready for the New World Order, President Donald J. Trump Style? We’re not. It’s Post-Trump-Inauguration Day and we’d like to commiserate with you. So come along to Interrobang’s fourth night of frivolity and fun, listen to some post-apocalyptic poetry, and get inordinately drunk with us.
Performing on this confusingly sad yet fragilely optimistic night, we have poetry from RYAN VAN WINKLE, ANDREW BLAIR, LAURA WADDELL and JACQUES TSIANTAR with his Big Two-Hander; specially themed with hopelessness and despair. Your Interrobang hosts, RICKY BROWN and BETH COCHRANE will also offer some words of condolence on the night. We promise you further line-up announcements in the coming days, too.
Fancy joining our performers on stage? We can accomodate you there. Drop us an email at email@example.com, and we’ll sort you out with an open mic slot (5-7 minutes of apocalyptic work). It’s a ton of fun, we promise!
Come mourn, laugh and drink with us, for a charmingly small door charge of £5 – a fee which goes into paying our performers and funding Interrobang’s future endeavours.
Who knows what 2017 will bring, so enjoy it while you can!
The new edition of PENning Magazine, the publication of Scottish PEN, is now available. Scottish PEN is an excellent organisation and I’m really delighted to be a member – PEN has done marvelous work supporting writers at risk around the world and your membership really counts. For more information about becoming a member, take a look here.
PENning: Messages features work in translation from exiled Syrian-Kurdish poet Golan Haji (translated by Marilyn Hacker) and Finnish poet Pekka Kytomaki (translated by Donald Adamson), poems from Gerda Stevenson, A.C. Clarke and Brian Johnstone, and a short story from Lynsey Calderwood. You can read it all in glorious technicolour pdf here.
CHRISTINA NEUWIRTH was born in Austria and now lives in Edinburgh where she splits her time between working at Scottish PEN and the University of Edinburgh’s Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (home of the Dangerous Women Project).
She has produced and written short films, performed at the International Storytelling Festival, and dabbled in music production. Her short fiction has been published in Gutter and 404 Ink, and her non-fiction can be found on CommonSpace. Her novella Amphibian was shortlisted for the 2016 Novella Award. She is currently writing her first novel.
Her advice to new writers: “Do the thing, be proactive, practice being patient.”
DANIEL SHAND is a writer based in Edinburgh. Born in Kirkcaldy in 1989, he has lived in Edinburgh since 2011, where he is a PhD candidate at the University of Edinburgh and a Scottish literature tutor.
His shorter work has been published in a number of magazines and he has performed at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. He won the 2012 University of Edinburgh Sloan Prize for fiction and the University of Dundee Creative Writing Award.
His debut novel Fallow was published by Sandstone Press in 2016. Find out more about the novel and purchase a copy here. You can find out more about Mr Shandhere.
His advice to new writers: “Figure out why you like the things you like, then figure out how your work can operate in the same way.”
RYAN VAN WINKLE is a poet, live artist, podcaster and critic living in Edinburgh. His second collection, The Good Dark, won the Saltire Society’s 2015 Poetry Book of the Year award.
As a member of Highlight Arts he has organized festivals and translation workshops in Syria, Pakistan and Iraq. He was awarded a Robert Louis Stevenson fellowship in 2012 and a residency at The Studios of Key West in 2016.His poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, The Prairie Schooner and The American Poetry Review.
His advice to new writers: ‘Don’t listen to me’ or ‘Tape this poem to your bathroom mirror.’
UMBRELLAS OF EDINBURGH is a collection of poetry and prose edited by Russell Jones and Claire Askew and was named one of the best Scottish poetry books of 2016! The collection is inspired by locations across Edinburgh and showcases some of the best contemporary writers in a city known for great writers.
Russell Jones will join us to talk about editing and bringing this collection together, and to share a few of his favourite poems from it. You can find out more about Mr Jones here.
Latvia was represented in the workshop by Inga Gaile, Anna Auziņa, Krišjānis Zeļģis, Valts Ernštreits and US-born literary agent and translator from Latvia, Jayde Will, whereas poets Ryan van Winkle, Alys Conran, and Rhys Trimble were the participants from the UK.
It was the first time such a translation workshop was held in Latvia. The project was a part of the process preparing Latvia for the London Book Fair 2018 where Latvia, along with its Baltic neighbours, is going to be the Market Focus. “The long-term goal of this project is to generate mutual interest among poets, promote collaboration between them, as well as create professional translations of poems to be performed in venues in the UK,” explained the project manager Inga Bodnarjuka-Mrazauska.
Let’s see how it went and what the participants thought about this experience:
“These five days in September was an opportunity to do something unusual, to try my hand at working with languages and forms of poetry that I don’t even get to encounter every day, and to do it in a relaxed yet productive way. There was always a chance to inquire, clear up, pinpoint, and along with the answers get to know something new about other participants of the workshop, other lands, ways of life, and about oneself as well. There was a kind of a lively festival feel to it.”
“I was surprised by how much time translation takes. When you get to the finer details, it turns out, a poem can have eternal depth. Since we were able to ask the authors what is it all about, the story surrounding each poem expanded more and more. Every word like a stone, when turned upside down, revealed that there is a lot more than it seemed at first.”
“I was very lucky with this workshop since I liked the authors whose works I was translating. When discussing the texts, we understood each other with no problems. We only had an argument with Ryan on the last day with regards to the performance, however, it turned out to be a misunderstanding for the most part. Being able to mutually translate poems and delve into the texts of our English-speaking colleagues reminded me what a freedom it is to write poetry and how much I love it.”
Ryan Van Winkle, UK
“This compelling group of contemporary Latvian and British poets spent a week delving into each other’s work and lives. It was an productive and intimate process which earned us many new translations, stories, memories and friendships. We hope the work shows the closeness we were lucky enough to share and that we’ll be able to continue working together in the future.”
Rhys Timble, North Wales
“I found the workshops and interactions with poets in Latvia to be incredibly fun and fruitful. We had a great performance and formed what I hope will be an ongoing relationship between the poets involved. I won’t forget my small Latvian vocabulary or my Latvian colleague’s attempts at Welsh! I have a spare stick waiting with one of the organisers which I intend to use soon!”
The poetry translation workshop was organized in collaboration with international platforms “European Literature Live” and “Literature Across Frontiers”, as well as online literary magazines “Poetry Wales” and “The Wolf Magazine”. Similar workshops and readings with various poets are planned in Latvia and Great Britain also in 2017, 2018, and 2019.