Thursday, October 19, 2006

ALTA conference - ALTA Fellows reading

First - Dafna Zur, reading her translations of a Korean short story writer whose name I missed (Kim Yong-ha?). Wild stuff, vampires, all characters struck by lightning, story written in all 2nd person; in a very accessible style, great to work with.

Estonian poetry translated by Brandon Lussier - "Definitely the largest I've ever had for a reading of Estonian poetry." Dialect of southern Estonia, barely intelligible to other Estonians. This poem is of candalous and of dubious literary merit as it is twice removed from its original language. "What strangers know about the Ceto people." (the ones in southern Estonia.) The border was undedr negotiation ... the graveyards fell on the Russian side of the border. In their culture they spend a lot fo time with the dead...

He reads the poem in Estonian. "Do they understand? ... Do you really need to visit them? Well, we certainly don't. They don't remember when we lived in teepees... buried right under the threshold... out to the graveyard to dine with the dead..."

"Teepees" - a rather bold choice! Interesting.

There has never been an Estonian poet published in the U.S. except one out of Copper Canyon of the poet co-translating with Sam Hamil.

Another poet [Hazo Kruo] - "I went down to the seashore...."
another of his poems - "Winter".

Then, four very short poems in a traditional form. Andres [Aiken?] 60s and 70s French surrealist tradition. "Vision". 200 watt chickens. [Hando Runnel.] in collaboration with an artist. "The landscape of the underworld/The leaf".

Ruihua Liu - a translator of Chinese to English - from U. of North Dakota - short story. A tailor and a fancy dress. [ji pao?] I enjoyed the oddness of this story, especially the part vividly imagining the guy growing long, long antlers out of his forehead and how the skin would crack and peel.

4th reader - Jason Grunebaum - (I wish the readers would introduce themselves, or be introduced!) reading his translation from Hindi - "The girl with the golden parasol", by Uday Prakash. "A stinging and humanistic satire about power, corruption, and globalization." The hero is asking himself th burning question, "Do I really want to be an organic chemist?" Extremely funny - as the young guy imagines the repugnant person he will become if he chooses that career - and the person he'd be serving. Greedy, consumeristic, lustful, ridiculous, horrible. Science constructing lab after lab to serve the desires and senses of this glutton... "And this is that man for whom all the women all over the city are ripping their clothes off! all the beauty parlors..." "These girls are the ones called on TV, the bold and beautiful... created to serve 'the rich and famous'." "Freedom! he cries, 'let all your senses be awakened! Nothing is moral! Eat drink have fun! " Then the guy getting massaged by Miss Universes while on his cell phone yelling at the Prime Minister.

Holy sh1t! This story is awesome beyond belief! It's the best thing ever. I can't wait to read it. It made me feel like cheering, lighting things on fire, becoming a sort of monk, and definitely NOT becoming an organic chemist, all at once.

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