“My first ever journey started”

May 21, 2017 in Poetry

نخستين سفرم
با اسبي آغاز شد
-که در جیبم جاي می گرفت –
از اتاق تا بالکن.

سفر کوتاهی بود
اما من درياها را پشت سر گذاشتم
شهرهاي پر ستاره را
از ابتداي جهان
تا انتهاي جهان رفتم
و اين سفر
تنها سفر بی خطر من بود.

 


Rasool Yoonan, a poet, playwright, novelist, and translator, was born in 1969 in Urmia, Iran. His debut collection of poetry, Good Day My Dear, was published in 1998. Further collections include Concert in Hell, I Was a Bad Boy, Carrying the Piano Down the Stairs of an Icy Hotel, Be Careful; Ants Are Coming, and Skiing on the Housetops. Yoonan’s most recent publications are three chapbooks of micro fiction: You Idiot! We’re Dead; Damn It, Pick Up the Phone; and See You in Hell.
Yoonan’s poetry has also been translated to Armenian and French.


 

My first ever journey started

with a horse that would fit
in my pocket—from my bedroom
to the balcony.

It was a short journey,
but I passed through the seas,
the starry cities.

I traveled from the beginning
of the universe to the end of it,
and that was my only
safe journey.

 


Siavash Saadlou was born and raised in Iran. He is a writer, literary translator, and teacher. Saadlou is the authorized translator of Rasool Yoonan, the minimalist Iranian poet. His translations have appeared in Washington Square Review, Indian Review, Visions International, Blue Lyra Review, Writing Disorder, and Asymptote. He is an MFA creative writing candidate and a teaching fellow at Saint Mary’s College of California.


 

“For a loaf of bread,”

May 21, 2017 in Uncategorized

به خاطر یک قرص نان
کلاهمان را به احترام دوست و دشمن
از سر برداشتیم.

دوست نیشخندی زد
و دشمن بی اعتنا از کنارمان عبور کرد

در پایان
دست ها و کلاه هایمان
روی هوا معلق ماندند.


Rasool Yoonan, a poet, playwright, novelist, and translator, was born in 1969 in Urmia, Iran. His debut collection of poetry, Good Day My Dear, was published in 1998. Further collections include Concert in Hell, I Was a Bad Boy, Carrying the Piano Down the Stairs of an Icy Hotel, Be Careful; Ants Are Coming, and Skiing on the Housetops. Yoonan’s most recent publications are three chapbooks of micro fiction: You Idiot! We’re Dead; Damn It, Pick Up the Phone; and See You in Hell.
Yoonan’s poetry has also been translated to Armenian and French.


For a loaf of bread,
we took off our hats
in deference to friend and foe.

The friend snickered,
and the foe walked past us with indifference.

In the end,
our hands and hats stayed suspended in the air.


Siavash Saadlou was born and raised in Iran. He is a writer, literary translator, and teacher. Saadlou is the authorized translator of Rasool Yoonan, the minimalist Iranian poet. His translations have appeared in Washington Square Review, Indian Review, Visions International, Blue Lyra Review, Writing Disorder, and Asymptote. He is an MFA creative writing candidate and a teaching fellow at Saint Mary’s College of California.


 

“Neither hell,”

May 21, 2017 in Poetry, Uncategorized

 

نه جهنم،
نه بهشت
مرد فقیر دم مرگ
تنها به بدهی هایش فکر می کند


Rasool Yoonan, a poet, playwright, novelist, and translator, was born in 1969 in Urmia, Iran. His debut collection of poetry, Good Day My Dear, was published in 1998. Further collections include Concert in Hell, I Was a Bad Boy, Carrying the Piano Down the Stairs of an Icy Hotel, Be Careful; Ants Are Coming, and Skiing on the Housetops. Yoonan’s most recent publications are three chapbooks of micro fiction: You Idiot! We’re Dead; Damn It, Pick Up the Phone; and See You in Hell.


Neither hell,
nor heaven.
The poor man thinks
only about his debts at death’s door.


Siavash Saadlou was born and raised in Iran. He is a writer, literary translator, and teacher. Saadlou is the authorized translator of Rasool Yoonan, the minimalist Iranian poet. His translations have appeared in Washington Square Review, Indian Review, Visions International, Blue Lyra Review, Writing Disorder, and Asymptote. He is an MFA creative writing candidate and a teaching fellow at Saint Mary’s College of California.


 

“My mind”

May 16, 2017 in Poetry

Minha mente
Mesmo dividindo
O mesmo espaço com o meu coração,
Não se dá por vencida
Nem por votação.

Posso ouvir o meu coração
Falando para não seguir a razão
Mas, mesmo assim
Escuto a razão
Me dizendo para não seguir
O coração.

Por que os comandantes
Do meu ser
Não podiam se entender?

Queria tanto amar
Pessoas que meu coração
Me diz não
Queria tanto ter pessoas
Que minha mente
Não me impeça.


Gabriela Helena de Oliveira Borges was born on November 25, 2000, in a city in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil, called Franca.  She is the third and youngest child of a fierce and kind couple.  She was educated in private secondary schools and it was in the first of these, Escola de Arte Criativa Toulouse Lautrec, that she discovered the magic of art and developed her charm for writing, always with the support of her family.  For two consecutive years she won first place in the school poetry competition and she never stopped writing.  She currently attends hight school at Novo Colégio, in her home city


My mind
Even splitting
The same space with my heart,
Does not accept defeat
Not even by vote counts.

I can hear my heart
Saying not to follow reason
But, just the same
I listen to reason
Telling me not to follow
The heart.

Why is it that the commanders
Of my being
Cannot understand?

I wished so much to love
People that my heart
Told me not to
I wished so much to have people
That my mind
Does not allow me.


Tucson, Arizona born-and-raised, Shelby London Salemi practices capoeira angola and is earning her MFA in Writing at the University of California San Diego.  Her writing has appeared in the online journal Spiral Orb and the 2016 print anthology The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide.  She is working on her first novel.


 

Book Review: Is the Gate Worth the Wait?

May 16, 2017 in Arabic, Book Review, English

When it comes to revolutions and political uprising, the intention is that the result of the revolution will be better; that the resistance should change the status quo and validate the sacrifices that made the revolution possible. The multiple revolutions of the Arab Spring in the early 2010s did not entirely resolve as expected, as some of these nations are left questioning whether the resistance and sacrifices were worth it in the first place. Of the countries politically activated during the Arab Spring, Egypt is unique in that the Egyptian’s initial revolution intended to uproot and remove dictator Hosni Mubarak from office which allowed them to vote democratically. Mohammad Morsi—who represented the controversial party named the Muslim Brotherhood—was democratically elected only to be removed through a the second revolution that eventually returned Egypt to a Mubarak-esque status quo with Sisi. During the first revolution, the Egyptian people united regardless of religion or political party; it was not until a few years into Morsi’s term when a percentage of the Egyptian people, however, began to criticize his policies and the influence of his party. Specifically, some deemed the conservative politics of the Muslim Brotherhood to be too influential on the president’s decisions. Egyptians took to the streets after about two years of Morsi’s term, which resulted in the military ousting their democratically-elected president. Military forces cracked down and killed nearly a thousand Muslim Brotherhood protesters at pro-Morsi protests, making it clear that the political climate was one of uncertainty as the provisional government tortured and persecuted those critical of the military regime with an eerie resemblance, to say the least, to Mubarak’s regime.

Current day Egypt is a country of censorship as no citizen dares to criticize the government, and people do not have the full access to resources, like electricity and gas, to survive. They also do not, as they cannot, trust what is presented on the news. But Egyptians do not talk about it. It could be out of fear, it could be the normalization of the political climate, or it could be that the Egyptian people are exhausted. The military’s coup-d’etat has left the country in a time of uncertainty, surveillance, and a plummeting economy. Some say that the current state of Egypt is worse than it had been before the revolutions.

This uncertainty, dysfunctionality, and lack of trust in authority is the overwhelming sense of modern day Egyptian society, which has inspired the author of The Queue, Basma Abdel-Aziz, to write about the current atmosphere of Egypt, and especially the dystopian similarity to other countries in the Middle East that were politically active during the Arab Spring. This is the reason why Abdel-Aziz creates a nameless city in a nameless country: for it to be a common ground for all nations of the Arab Spring. The use of Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), the form of Arabic that formal Arabic literature and media employs, to write the novel—instead of the use of colloquial Egyptian Arabic, validates the neutralization of this being a narrative of all Arab countries involved in the Arab Spring.

Translated by Elisabeth Jaquette, who lived in Egypt through both political upheavals, into English, The Queue is described as a political dystopian novel with “Kafkaesque surrealism.”  A New York Times article by Alexandra Alter mentions how several Arab writers take to this genre, deserting the usual genres of realism in Arabic literary canon. Due to the unusualness of the atmosphere of Egypt after both political upheavals, this genre’s surrealism, per the use of speculative fiction, can be used to make sense of the ineffable post-revolution realities of these countries politically active during the Arab Spring.

Abdel Aziz uses code words to disguise and distance the specific events in relation to Egyptian political events, like “the First Storm” in reference to the ousting of Mubarak and the second ousting as “the Disgraceful Events.” As a reader, I understand that Abdel-Aziz’s intention to generalize setting and nationalities in the novel and of the characters to leave the novel open to interpretation and relation to the several countries who experiences political uproar during the Arab Spring. But in the end, I saw every event inextricably tied to Egyptian culture and politics. The challenge, however, is in recognizing that Egypt’s political history is one that is unique and individual, particularly because they removed two presidents while only a few of the other Arab Spring countries could oust just one.

The central character of Basma Abdel-Aziz’s The Queue is Yehya Gad el-Rab Saeed, a man who was shot by government forces during The Disgraceful Events, and due to the denial of such events carried out by the government, they have established laws specifically pertaining to the removal of bullets. Authorities from The Gate confiscate the x-rays and mandates it to be illegal to surgically remove bullets without a permit from The Gate. When Yehya returns to Zephyr Hospital, the nurses and Dr. Tarek deny ever admitting Yehya on that night and deny his situation—though they all know it to be true. The people in the queue in front of The Gate have no knowledge of when it will open. They stand there—each with a legitimate need of authorization. Soon enough, they seem to forget why they are there in the first place. There are many obstacles between them and the authorization they came for.

The mindful symbolism of the novel includes the bullet in Yehya; Violet Telecom, the cellular network company giving people free phones that records conversations; Amani and what happens to her; and the relationship between the High Sheikh and The Gate. The bullet symbolizes the disregarded and denied pain of not only the Egyptian people but also Egyptian society as a whole. Violet Telecom symbolizes the larger significance of technology and the detrimental effects that it has in terms of politics, authority, and connectivity of society. Amani symbolizes all those who question the authority and are harmed by the authority—mentally and physically. The High Sheikh clearly represents the Muslim Brotherhood and religious authority more broadly, which promotes and endorses the Gate—the major authority.

The major themes that run through the novel are fear and distrust, as well as uncertainty not only in authority but also among the community. There is much significance in the role of technology and censorship. There is also a sense of distrust of religious power, and a theme of existentialism. These are influences of George Orwell and Franz Kafka—authors who found political surrealism to best explain and describe political uneasiness and uncertainty.

The Queue, written in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) instead of being scripted in colloquial Egyptian Arabic dialect, contributes to the idea that the novel is intended for all Arabs of countries active during the Arab Spring to relate to. The translation by Elisabeth Jaquette might be compared to Kwame Anthony Appiah’s notion of a “thick translation” which should reflect a learning experience of culture while being true to the original meaning of the text. Jaquette occasionally goes so far as to leave words in the original Arabic—a method not unlike that employed by Jerome Rothenberg and John Felstiner in their translations of Paul Celan’s “Todesfuge.” The words Jaquette leaves in their original are colloquial words, a choice that effectively transmits a lot of the culture and originality of the text. The novel, in Arabic—as written by Abdel-Aziz—does not have much description, but rather has a focus on narration which is what Jaquette preserves in the translation. Initially, this makes it harder to ease into the novel and forget that I am reading a book, but after reflection this made me realize that maybe this is the intended effect of the novel. We’re supposed to be like Tarek, a part of the omniscient authority that knows everything and causes us as reader to question their position in the novel. With this in mind, the translation, like the writing style, is quite effective. The political surrealism and defamiliarization of the novel is certainly portrayed in the translation, which makes it more or less a successful translation. The Queue suggests an uncanny unusualness, the uncertainty, and the dystopian nature of post-revolution countries. The use of speculative fiction by Arab authors like Basma Abdel Aziz makes readers question whether it was worth going through the revolution in the first place.


Aia Hawari is a Muslim American writer, poet, and community servant-leader from Southern California finishing up her Literature/Writing B.A. at UC San Diego. Her work has been published in Huffington Post, UC San Diego’s Common Ground, and UC Berkeley’s Threads (formerly known as Al-Bayan Magazine). Since Muslim women are often a hot topic that everyone and their mother has an opinion about, Aia recognizes that her voice and narrative has the power to dispel misconceptions and misrepresentations about her faith and what it means to be a visible Muslim woman. Currently, Aia is working with Alchemy, an academic journal of translation at UC San Diego as the Assistant Editor.

Who

May 16, 2017 in Autotranslation, Korean, Poetry

누구 – 이은현

나는 누군데?
내가 아니다.
왜 내가계속 연기를해?
지금 누구를 위해서 내 자신에 속이는거야?

아니다.
지금 나 뭐해?
왜 네말은 듣고니?
네가 뭔데?
너는 누군데?

Who

Who am I?
I am not me.
Why do I keep acting?
For whose benefit am I now tricking myself?

No.
What am I doing now?
Why I am listening to your words?
What are you?
Who do you think you are?


Grace Lee (1996) is a Korean American writer and artist. She uses writing and art to express her passions for literature, music, beauty, and fashion as well as the cultural and social customs and issues of today in both American and South Korean society. Her hobbies include socializing with friends, walking/yoga, and reading. She is studying for a bachelor’s degree in creative writing at the University of California San Diego, where she is currently working on a short story about unhealthy relationships.

Don’t Do This

May 16, 2017 in Autotranslation, Korean, Poetry

하지마요 – 이은현

기억하다. 아직도 기억하다.
밤에 기억하다.
아침도기억하다.
매일 기억하다.

째깍째깍. 째깍째깍.

안 하고 싶은데.
그래도 내 기억은 껌 처럼 내 머리 속에붙어있다.
아침에 일어나면 숨을 쉴수없다.

헐떡 헐떡.
마음이 노무 빨이 뒨고다.

헐떡 헐떡.
목이 마르다.

헐떡 헐떡.
내 몸이 땀을 흘린다.

내눈은 다.
그가 다.

“나는 이제 안 할에.”

Don’t Do This

I remember. Even now I still remember.
At night I remember.
Also at daybreak I remember.
I remember everyday.

Tick tock. Tick tock.

I don’t want to.
But still my memories are stuck like gum to the inside of my head.
When I wake up in the morning I can’t breathe.

*Gasp Gasp*
My heart is beating too fast.

*Gasp Gasp*
My throat is dry.

*Gasp Gasp*
My body is dripping sweat.

My eyes are opened.
He is there.

“I don’t want to do this anymore.”


Grace Lee (1996) is a Korean American writer and artist. She uses writing and art to express her passions for literature, music, beauty, and fashion as well as the cultural and social customs and issues of today in both American and South Korean society. Her hobbies include socializing with friends, walking/yoga, and reading. She is studying for a bachelor’s degree in creative writing at the University of California San Diego, where she is currently working on a short story about unhealthy relationships.

Don’t Leave

May 16, 2017 in Autotranslation, Korean, Poetry

가지마요 – 이은현

가을 밤에 한
남자가 집에
들어갔다.

마음이 무거웠다.

사랑은 뭐야?

오늘 아침
조용하다. 그리고 내
첫 사랑이 파리로 갔다. 너랑
키스 하고싶었다 (첫). 네가 가기 전에.
틀렸다 – 내가.

파리에서 해가 떠났다.

행복하게 살아. 나는 너의옆에 이제는 못을것 같아.

Don’t Leave

One autumn night, a man
Went home.

His heart was heavy.

What is love?

This morning is quiet. And my
First love left for Paris. I
Wanted to have my kiss (first) with
You. Before you left.
I was wrong – I was.

The sun has set in Paris.

Live happily. I think I can no longer stay by your side anymore.


Grace Lee (1996) is a Korean American writer and artist. She uses writing and art to express her passions for literature, music, beauty, and fashion as well as the cultural and social customs and issues of today in both American and South Korean society. Her hobbies include socializing with friends, walking/yoga, and reading. She is studying for a bachelor’s degree in creative writing at the University of California San Diego, where she is currently working on a short story about unhealthy relationships.

“In a frightening silence”

May 15, 2017 in Poetry, Spanish

Num silêncio assustador
Onde ouço somente o ruído
Que o ventilador insiste em fazer
Sem nem mesmo querer

Pensando bem,
Há um cutucar
De lápis sem parar

Estou sozinha no silêncio
E ainda escuto vozes
Ao longe a cochichar
Para ninguém desconfiar

Será que é minha mente,
Ou está cheio de gente?
Nem sei mais identificar
Aonde posso estar.


Gabriela Helena de Oliveira Borges was born on November 25, 2000, in a city in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil, called Franca.  She is the third and youngest child of a fierce and kind couple.  She was educated in private secondary schools and it was in the first of these, Escola de Arte Criativa Toulouse Lautrec, that she discovered the magic of art and developed her charm for writing, always with the support of her family.  For two consecutive years she won first place in the school poetry competition and she never stopped writing.  She currently attends hight school at Novo Colégio, in her home city


In a frightening silence
In which I hear only the sound
That the fan insists on making
Without even wanting to

Thinking hard,
There’s a never-ending jab
Of the pencil

I am alone in the silence
And still I hear voices
From afar whispering
That nobody distrust them

Could it be that it’s my mind,
Or is it full of people?
I don’t know nor do I recognize
Whither I can be.


Tucson, Arizona born-and-raised, Shelby London Salemi practices capoeira angola and is earning her MFA in Writing at the University of California San Diego.  Her writing has appeared in the online journal Spiral Orb and the 2016 print anthology The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide.  She is working on her first novel.


 

Sentimento Latente

May 15, 2017 in Poetry, Spanish, Uncategorized

SENTIMENTO LATENTE

Sob a luz do luar
Feliz a cantar
Era um sonho que um dia
Ia acabar

Calaram-me
Desaparecimentos iam ocorrer
Logo então
Exilaram-me

Essa tortura logo
Me enlouqueceu
Mas não me esqueceu

Então me lembrei
Que este país
É meu,
É seu,
E eu lutarei.


Gabriela Helena de Oliveira Borges was born on November 25, 2000, in a city in the interior of São Paulo, Brazil, called Franca.  She is the third and youngest child of a fierce and kind couple.  She was educated in private secondary schools and it was in the first of these, Escola de Arte Criativa Toulouse Lautrec, that she discovered the magic of art and developed her charm for writing, always with the support of her family.  For two consecutive years she won first place in the school poetry competition and she never stopped writing.  She currently attends hight school at Novo Colégio, in her home city


LATENT FEELING

Under the moonlight
Happily singing
There was a dream that one day
It would end

They shut me up
Disappearances would occur
Soon after
They exiled me

This torture soon
Made me go crazy
But it didn’t pass me by

Then I remembered
That this country is mine,
Is yours,
And I will fight.


Tucson, Arizona born-and-raised, Shelby London Salemi practices capoeira angola and is earning her MFA in Writing at the University of California San Diego.  Her writing has appeared in the online journal Spiral Orb and the 2016 print anthology The Sonoran Desert: A Literary Field Guide.  She is working on her first novel.