Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween (Random Stuff)

Not much to report, just wooooooorrrrrrkkkkkkkk! But the quarter is halfway to its end, or at least I think it is. It feels like classes have been going for four months, not one and a few weeks. Things are sort of a blur. Nevertheless, yesterday I dropped by the Dittmar Gallery at the university's Norris Center to hear Fall visiting writer in residence Ed Roberson read his work. There was supposed to be an accompanist, but s/he wasn't able to make it, so Ed created his own music, starting out with new poems before reading a series of pieces of his collection City Eclogue, which I'd read before but which felt like revelations as he read them. (He'd read before at the university, several years ago, with Cecil Giscombe, but those were earlier poems.)

Among the stalagmites of books here in Chicago I cannot locate my copy (and none were for sale), but when I do, I'll post one of the poems that most struck me this reading, about a guy in a chemistry class Ed taught years ago. He had on mismatched shoes, which signified the loss of a friend to gun violence--and what Ed does with that premise is remarkable. The thing I realized hearing him read these poems was how much life they took on through his voice; not that he performed them, per se, but his inflections and emphases made me want to return to the collection and read it more slowly, something I rarely have had time to do over the last half-decade. A colleague suggested a few years ago that everyone ought to read slowly, and I thought to myself, but how on earth then is one to keep up with the flood--literal, not figurative--of required reading, let alone everything necessary to be even passably current with contemporary literature, art, scholarship, and everything else? But back to Ed's reading, here are a few photos I took with my new phone. (I had to junk the old one, since it got to the point where my conversations with everyone were sounding--to them--like I was 20 leagues under the sea.) Aren't they much better? Maybe several years of carrying the other phone around in my pocket, with keys, coins and everything else, just scratched up its lens too badly, though I don't think it ever had a particularly great camera.

Ed reading his poems

Ed answering questions--he announced at the reading that he'd been elected to the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Conference Hall of Fame.


At lunch yesterday one colleague asked another about my blog, and it was described as a spot where I posted translations of work that hasn't been translated elsewhere. In part that's true, though I haven't posted any translations in a while. But I recently mentioned to Reggie that some of my translations of stories from Brazilian writer Jean Wyllys's collection Aflitos are going to be published next year (spring?), and as I told him a while back, based in part on some of the translations of Alain Mabanckou's poems that appeared on here a while ago, I was invited to provide translations that were used, I believe, at the PEN International Writing Festival earlier this year. This got me thinking about how this great it is to have this resource to post the translations, even in their rawest form, and perhaps, when I have some free time, I can post some more. I may be wrong, but I don't think lots of people are translating a lot of the great non-English language work out there from across the Black diasporic literary world, whether creative or critical, so I feel that in addition to be an enduring interest of mine, it's also an important, necessary and vital form of intellectual engagement.


On Flux, a microblurb about Seismosis!

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