Tag Archives: relationships

So many shades of beauty

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Here’s an amazing poem that Facebook censors. Strange: fascists can spit their venom all over the web, but true love is a no go. Please show your tolerance for diversity. Click on the image to watch this two-minute video, like it and share.

 

(and then listen to it a second time, but with your eyes closed…)

 

Because we are all beautiful.

 

And because we are all beautiful, here is a book promotion to celebrate diversity. These books feature PoC, LGBT+ and/or disabled characters. Click on the image to discover these free books on offer.

 

 

Look till you break

Apart from editing and a final revision, I finished the translation of Joan Barbara Simon’s Verses Nature: In the Beginning Was The Heat. Initially I revolted against the male protagonist, Tatar, as it was very conflicting to put myself in his skin, his mindset and especially his words. I wrestled with him for a long time, but as he is an undeniable reality that can be seen in many lights (and should) I put in every effort to genuinely do him justice in German and reflect who he is or might be for that matter.

 

To bond with the female counterpart, Carmina, was essentially ‘easier’, as her struggle is a well-known and yet potentially kept silent reality of too many women, too many female narratives that remain hidden in the bedroom drawers of pain, shame and agony. She is made of flesh and blood, of bad and good, of pain and pleasure and she is done with apologising, with justifying herself and selling herself short. She rewrites her own story and as hurtful as it is, she changes the predestined conclusion of her life.

 

Even though Verses Nature contains raw sexual matter (so what?), it does not deserve the common, depreciative and cheap stigmata associated with erotic fiction. It is indeed literary if one dares to take the time to dig deeper, read beyond every word and sense and dive into each page without preconceptions and judgements. Each page takes and needs its space in meaning, the process is akin to the musing of a painting, a portrait, as intimate as it gets, to swim through the features and textures of a face, a personality that is deeply flawed, human, hurt and lusting after life. Every time that I thought that I had figured them both out, I was wrong and rediscovered a new aspect that could be closer to the truth. When approaching Verses Nature, one has to do so with an open mind, it takes time and a lot of unburdening, but I managed to sincerely appreciate it, it challenged me and I do not say this because I consider Joan to be a dear friend of mine or because she chose me to be the translator, but because these narratives matter and need to be told and dissected. Even if Tatar might come across as an incredible asshole, a misogynist, a nonsensical skirt chaser or Carmina as threatening, vulgar and uncomfortable, they stand utterly exposed and therefore vulnerable and that’s the point, not to be judged, but to be understood, analysed. Together, they are representative of the social, political, religious, familial and emotional issues that still have a long way to go in today’s society. They cannot be reduced to black and white shades, they are in no way extremes or stereotypical binary oppositions. They might be you and me, then and now, they are intertwined and consist of common dysfunctional and functional features that we all possess and control more or less. Verses Nature is holding up the mirror to your face and challenges you to keep looking. Maybe if you figured out how to gaze, it will break.

(Laura Gentile)

 

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Thank you, Laura, for the excellent translation into German and for this spot-on evaluation of my book! I’m continually tweaking the book’s categories. After adding the subtitle: Memoir Of A Lonely Hotwife, it shot to #1 on amazon yesterday. True, the rankings are updated hourly, so fame is short-lived but the pleasure is nonetheless sweet. I like the word memoir as it shifts the book to a place where fiction and non-fiction may co-reside. Just as Verses Nature can be seen as erotica and more, the social, political reality it depicts also makes its fictional characteristics move beyond fiction to become that ‘more’ which invites us to keep questioning. So readers, if you feel like a challenge, here it is, ready and waiting.

literary menu: Alexandra Troxell

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red lentil soup by ehrlichkochen

There Is No Memory…

of killing a crayfish between two rocks on the banks of Fishing Creek. Later, our mother would find me examining it, “how could you do that to a living thing.” I never was a violent child, as you know, just curious about small and intricate things. It was the first time I understood what it meant to die and to live.

You must know what it’s like to be that crayfish, so close to death at the hands of someone or something unable to grasp your meaning. I watch you sleep, eyes twitch beneath purple eyelids, darkened from the contents of your young and spoiled life. I imagine you dream of worlds too frightening to wake up to.

Perhaps it is the world I have created for you—a kingdom of rainbow trout, rope swings and cigarettes.

For a moment, I almost squeeze your arm to ensure you are awake.

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salad with radishes and lemon & cream dressing, by ehrlichkochen

Souvenir

The streets of LaRambla pulse with the inception of June—

vendors selling red and pink roses wilting in any presence but our own

prostitutes crouching between marble pillars

Tonight I am new again

for this, I thank you

There is no memory that completes me now—

the stiffness of sea salt and midnight paella

your white cotton shirt I once unbuttoned

the game we played through the hallowing streets

catch me if you can

the plaza where protesters slept off their lazy violence

your fingers in my mouth

I wonder how many women you have lingered with and if you keep postcards to remember

I watched the vines of your tattoo grow from your shoulder and into my chest

where a cornucopia rests and is replenished

there was no dream before you

now I rest my feet in a bed of pins

 

(Alexandtra Troxell, in Shaking Thoughts)

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home-made vanilla ice-cream served with fresh fruit, by ehrlichkochen

 

If you have a recipe you would like to share – and a picture of the meal once you’ve prepared it – why not submit it to be featured in my literature café? Tell me a little bit about yourself whilst you’re at it. Contact me in the comments box below or at joanbarbarasimon@yahoo, in the latter case with the reference: literature café.

After Paris

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copyright © Martin Gunther

Take the time to see my juice? In Paris? Just spit on me then barge right in.

The Authoritative One.

As in: sit there in an L shaped of tensed muscles, misunderstanding. Stutter several times something about the impossibility of knowing I would feel that way about it he could only say he was sorry

but his voice is bitter and he makes no attempt to cover it up

As in: reach under the bed for the coloured hankies, take a couple, double them over. Wedge them between the legs to soak up
i) his ejectamenta: hurry-came
ii) pubic whimpers unstoppable, body-fated, pointless ovarian holler
iii) echo wakes up, lonely:

this is the closest I can get

***

“Either all around or in its wake the explicit requires the implicit; for in order to say anything, there are other things which must not be said.” (Macherey, 2004)


After Paris: from my novel-in-progress, Verses Nature. Context of excerpt: He took her to the City of Love. It was supposed to be a dirty weekend to pep up their marriage, backbroken by years of Catholic sex. Of patriarchal righteousness. Her explanation, not his. His’d be that she wasn’t making an effort, he’d show her how.

So many on the erotica bandwagon, out-trumping each other with steamy love scenes. What about when it’s just a lousy experience you’d rather forget? If you know what I mean, say: Aye! Me louder than the rest: AYE!!!

This is an entry in her diary. The diary comes in handy after her nervous breakdown. Helps her to retrace developments she will have to analyse with her therapist.  I like diaries. Emails. Letters. Like the idea, as a reader, of peeping through the keyhole whilst keeping an ear open for footsteps approaching. Also: the diary, here, hovering between documentary and fiction, between the literary styles associated with each. Diaries have me scooping up stylistic liberties by the armful that’s why I love this form as much as I do direct speech. Documentaries are more prescriptive though their (apparent) neutrality (can we ever stand outside of ourselves?) allows a certain detachment I have come to value when off again scrutinizing.

The challenge for me, in this scene and elsewhere, is to offer a different picture of relationships, of sex, to the one portrayed by my (irresistible) male protagonist, Tatar. Cue card: to which extent do genre, gender and voice overlap? Polarization factor: high. Wo/men speaking a different language (and all that). Need to keep an eye on this so I don’t write my way into any camps I’m none too keen on being/becoming a member of.