Posts Tagged ‘Schoen Books’

This Tuesday at Schoen Books! Emily Toder & Dr. Pi

Monday, November 29th, 2010


On Tuesday, November 30, at 7:30 the wonderful Schoen Books in South Deerfield will be hosting an evening of new literature in translation, read by some of the Valley’s fantastic local translators. Emily Toder will read from Edgar Bayley’s The Life & Memoirs of Doctor Pi, and Nicholas Rattner and Marta del Pozo will read from Peruvian poet Yvan Yauri’s Fire Wind—forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse—and from Czar Gutierrez’s novel 80M83RD3R0. Please join us!

Alex Epstein at PEN World Voices, Boston University, the wonderful Schoen Books, and it seems all over the internet

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

First, for those of you who are local: on Sunday, May 2, at 7 pm, Alex Epstein and Becka McKay will read from Blue Has No South at one of the Valley’s great independent bookstores, Schoen Books.  Afterward we’ll have a Q and A about translation, the short-short story in world literature, and whatever comes up. Please join us!

Alex has been at the PEN World Voices Festival in New York all this week. See him Friday at the “Short Stories: Past, Present, and Future” panel with Preston L. Allen, Aleksander Hemon, Yiyun Li, and Martin Solares, moderated by Deborah Treisman.

What virtues and challenges are unique to the short story? How flexible is the form? And why is it that, even now—after Poe, Chekhov, Hemingway, O’Connor, Nabokov, and Munro—the short story often gets less respect, in terms of prizes and critical esteem, than the novel? Join acclaimed practitioners of the form from Bosnia, Israel, China, Mexico, and the United States, for a conversation with The New Yorker fiction editor, Deborah Treisman, about the past, present, and future of the short story.

On Friday evening, he’ll be part of the festival’s famous translation slam, which I wish we could make it to…

For those of you in Boston: on Saturday, May 1, Alex and Becka will read as part of the Bay State Underground‘s reading series, at 236 Bay State Road (the basement of the AGNI offices) at 6 pm.


On Monday, Alex participated in Guernica magazine’s panel “The Diversity Test: Gender and Literature in Translation,” with Lorraine Adams, Esther Allen, and Norman Rush, moderated by Claire Messud.  Watch the panel online here. Many thanks to Guernica for hosting this event and making it available on the web.

You can also find a new interview with Alex, “Almost Blue: Israel’s New Borges,” and excerpt from Blue Has No South up at Forward.  And another interview here at the Jewish Week.

PEN also has an interview with Alex up here

Alta Ifland: You were eight years old when you came to Israel from Russia, so I would like to ask you a question about the relationship between mother tongue and writing.  Paul Celan and Czeslaw Milosz… have said that a true poet can only write in his/her mother tongue.  What do you think of this?  What language do you consider to be your mother-tongue?  (Some writers, like George Steiner, claim that they don’t have a (single) mother-tongue).

Alex Epstein: I don’t have a mother tongue—in order to write in Hebrew I had, in a way, to forget my Russian.  It was one of the triggers that made an author out of me…   I guess that Hebrew “adopted” me—I write in Hebrew, I “live” in Hebrew, I dream in Hebrew, but since it’s not my first language, it’s more an “adoptive” tongue than a mother tongue.

Then there’s “Ten Approximations” from Blue Has No South up online, from PEN America 12: Correspondences.

A rich array of offerings—Alex and Becka are proving hard to keep up with! Western Massachusetts dwellers, we hope to see you Sunday.

This weekend in Amherst: the 10th annual Juniper Literary Festival

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

For those of you in the Valley, the Juniper Literary Festival is this weekend, with a great program honoring the ten-year anniversary of jubilat. Clockroot will have a wee bit of a table, honored to be elbow to elbow with a selection of truly fantastic poetry presses & magazines (see below), and other UMass MFA-program-related endeavors (one teaser: Microfilme magazine, dedicated to the preservation of writing that shouldn’t be read with the naked eye…). Come by!

Friday April 23

3:30 pm Eric Carle Museum: Antonio Frasconi Exhibit Tour: curator tours of the internationally acclaimed artist’s woodcuts, including works inspired by Pablo Neruda and W.S. Merwin

4:30 pm: Eric Carle Museum: Roundtable: On Poetry & The Visual Arts: Jen Bervin, Terrance Hayes, & Matthea Harvey, moderated by Jane Curley

6 pm: Fine Arts Center Lobby: Independent Journal & Book Fair Opening Reception

7:30 pm: University Gallery: Reading & Performance: Jen Bervin, Christian Hawkey, & Michael Teig, followed by the premier of a performance based on Christopher Smart’s “Jubilate Agno,” staged by Missoula Oblongata

Saturday April 24

10:30 am: Fine Arts Center Lobby: Journal & Book Fair Continues

11 am: University Gallery: Roundtable: Poetry, Publishing, & the Pioneer Valley : the dreaming up, creating, & evolving of jubilat, Verse Press/Wave Books & Rain Taxi with Rob N. Casper, Matthew Zapruder, & Eric Lorberer, moderated by Dara Wier

12:30 pm: University Gallery: Roundtable: The Future of Poetry, Part II with Heather Christle, Cathy Park Hong, Evie Shockley, & Rebecca Wolff, moderated by Rob N. Casper

3 pm: Amherst Cinema Arts Center: Reading: Terrance Hayes, Caroline Knox, Dean Young, & Matthew Zapruder

Journal and Book Fair Participants Include

A Public Space, Action, Amherst Books, Adventures in Poetry, Aufgabe, Bateau, Black Ocean, Boston Review, The Canary, Canarium, Clockroot, Conjunctions, Factory Hollow Press, Forklift, Ohio, H_NGM_N, Hobart, Jellyfish, jubilat, Kelly Writers’ House, Kenyon Review, Magic Helicopter, Massachusetts Review, Microfilme, Noo, Nor by Press, notnostrums, Now Culture, Open City, Paris Press, PennSound, Pilot Press, Pocket Myths, Poetry Northwest, Poetry Society of America, Publishing Genius, Rain Taxi, Schoen Books, Slope Editions, Small Beer Press, Thermos, Ugly Duckling Presse, Walser Society, Wave Books, Zephyr Press

An Instruction Manual for a Rented Time Machine, and more

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

Up at Zeek magazine, three stories by Alex Epstein, translated by Becka Mara McKay, from Blue Has No South, which we’re thrilled to be bringing out in April.  Alex and Becka have a rather amazing number events scheduled this spring, from the PEN World Voices Festival to Chicago’s Global Voices Program to the LA Times Book Fair to our own Schoen Books: keep an eye on this page for updates!

In Etgar Keret’s description: “The short texts of Alex Epstein virtuously echo the great tradition of world literature in a truly original manner, as the tension between the classical and the intuitively improvised creates in the reader’s mind the literary equivalent of a cross between Mozart and Miles Davis.”

“What I mean by transcendental is just over there, not here”

Thursday, September 3rd, 2009

Another extraordinary reading last night at Schoen Books: Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop. I had the perfect, almost chilling experiencing of having read and been in love with Curves to the Apple all summer, and then when a page from the end, getting to hear the author herself read from it. Keith Waldrop read from Transcendental Studies. Is it too much to say I have never been so mesmerized at a reading? Great American poetry, experienced elbow to elbow with its creators, stuffed all together among the piles of books in that old firehouse, next to mannequins that smelled disarmingly grandmotherly (“mothballs and guilt,” someone said, edging away a little), a spread of chocolate covered pretzels, cheese, and seltzer in the back, and at the end, a box full of homegrown tomatoes, Please, everyone, take one home, was the announcement. I bought a copy of Kafka’s Der Prozess, saying this time truly I would resurrect my German. Well, that’s the best book in German, I was told by the Schoen Books folks, let’s have coffee and read it together. All this making me feel something warm and elusive and persistent about what it is to stuff everyday life and literature into one room and watch as they settle in to become one for a time, as they listen hard to each other, as they wander off separately to the bookshelves or bar at the end of the night.  Tomato in each hand.


“So that with the backs of their bloody heads the meadows they kissed”

Friday, April 17th, 2009

Last night I went to another wonderful reading at Schoen Books, Susan Bernofsky reading her translations of Robert Walser, particularly The Robber and Walser’s first novel, The Tanners, which is forthcoming from New Directions this summer, with an introduction by Sebald.

Her reading was so loving and precise; she often interrupted herself as she talked about Walser to share another anecdote, another thought, another challenge or pleasure in translating him, so that each statement branched off and escalated into celebration.  She couldn’t help but pause after a passage to note something about how the prose functioned, to note some particular beauty of the German she regretted her English couldn’t convey.  The title of this post was from a sentence in one of the stories in the collection Masquerade, her first translation of Walser’s, and she noted sadly how in English there was no way to finish the long fantastic construction of it–about, if I remember, peasants in the Swiss revolution knocking soldiers off their horses, a brutally effective maneuver as the soldiers’ pointed shoes caught in the stirrups as they fell–with the perfect verb “kissed” as in the German.  A loss.  And it struck me then listening to her that translators are really the most beautiful readers, the readers who are at once so perfectly humbled by and invigorated before the text.

Masquerade, she said, was accepted for publication when she was 22 or 23, which she said happens more and more rarely now; publishers are hesitant to take chances on new translators.  Something to remember.

In answer to a question from the audience, she discussed the mystery of why Walser stopped writing when he entered the asylum, or even whether he did, since there are claims to the contrary.  I hadn’t known anything—is it terrible to admit this?—of his biography before going.  I sat back and listened.  People used to ask him why he no longer wrote, she said, and he would reply “I’m not here to write, I’m here to be mad.”  And as she went on about his time in the asylum, how he dedicated himself to his job gluing paper bags, I thought: this is a small useful metaphor for encountering literature from another language.  One enters abruptly at the middle of the conversation, listening to the perambulations and vertiginousness of Walser’s descriptions, swept up in them while knowing nothing.  Others in the room begin an informed conversation of his life and work and one just soaks it up, each story unfolding unexpectedly into another, all of them unknown.  Or, how any great work comes abruptly out of a life and into the shared language: announcing itself as though it had always been meant to be there, any further explanation failing to enter the space it has made for itself, and which its readers are surprised to note was so empty in them before.

Russian Poetry in the Valley

Sunday, March 22nd, 2009

In addition to being one of the most literature-celebrating places in the nation and the home of Clockroot, the Pioneer Valley is also a mini epicenter of Russian creative activity. Joseph Brodsky taught at Mount Holyoke College for many years, and one occasionally senses the area’s landscape and character emerging in his verse. And we are blessed to have esteemed Russian poet Polina Barskova living and working in the Valley (she teaches Russian literature at Hampshire College), as well as her translator, Cathy Ciepiela (who does the same at Amherst College, and has translated other modern and contemporary poets as well). Examples of both their work can be found in the lauded anthology Contemporary Russian Poetry (Dalkey Archive, 2008), which includes a dizzying array of contemporary poets with the original Russian in a facing translation (a great tool for any student). Works by many other poets and translators included in the anthology can also be sampled in an issue of Jacket Magazine from last year.

According to my very incomplete notes, I’ve had the pleasure to hear a handful of Russian poets read at the Five Colleges (Polina, Sergei Gandlevsky, Ilya Kaminsky, Katia Kapovich, Lev Rubinstein), and Pam just clued me in to Schoen Books in South Deerfield, which hosts a number of readings of poetry in translation, with, it seems, particular attention to Russian modern and contemporary poetry. I wish I would’ve known about Matvei Yankelevich’s reading of Daniil Kharms (Yankelevich is part of the wonderful Ugly Duckling Presse, which has done a lot to bring Russian and Eastern European writing into English). The Valley never ceases to amaze!

It seems to me that a poet, whose voice is perhaps even more influenced by and dependent on the logic and nuances of one’s native language than a prose writer, would have a particularly hard time adjusting to a completely new life and language. But just as Brodsky began to write in English, Polina Barskova has also assimilated her life here into the fabric of her verse, though she still prefers to write in Russian: “I think the poet must consider himself a sponge. I try to absorb the eclectic influences around me — Slavic studies, America, jazz, film, the ocean. It’s most important that everything is absorbed into my work: a sponge doesn’t choose. Around me I have Wallace Stevens and the Argentinean building superintendent, specialists on Khodaseevich, football fans, flea markets and Stravinsky festivals, Carlos Gardel and Petr Leshchenko. All of this must find a place in the only element dependent on me, my verse, and in the element of the Russian language, and if their interpretation is а thick, pungent, living physiological solution—then I can keep going” (my translation from a Russian interview).

At the Kaminsky reading I wrote about, Polina read some of her poems on creative collaboration, which Kaminsky followed with his translations. It was a particularly sweet moment—to see Russian poets forging new relationships, and a real creative discourse, in this country.