Podcast

Asymptote Podcast: The World of Mundartliteratur

Writing in their own language.

The Swiss are known for their rules and order. Language is not exempt from this trend, except when it comes to Swiss-German in which case there are no rules and there is no order, because there is no Swiss-German. Instead, the German-speaking part of Switzerland is home to many different dialects, often referred to as distinct languages: Baseldytsch, Bärndütsch, Züritüütsch. Despite the lack of a standardized writing system, authors in Switzerland are writing the stories of modern Switzerland the way they hear them and in the language in which they live. This literature, referred to as Mundartliteratur, is a unique form of translation from the spoken to the written, as each author must create their own method for transcribing the unique sound of their “Swiss-German”. In the first of two episodes exploring MundartliteraturAsymptote Podcast Editor Dominick Boyle speaks with Professor of literature at the University of Fribourg, Ralph Müller, to provide some valuable historical context, and Swiss writer and poet Beat Sterchi who explains just why it is so important for the Swiss to write in their own language. Sterchi, a member of the collective Bern ist überall, also shares a reading, giving us a true sense of his work and the sound of his Bernese Swiss-German.

Podcast Editor and Host: Dominick Boyle

All sound recorded and produced by Dominick Boyle.

Asymptote Podcast: Of Hybrids and Habitats

Thriving in a new creative (eco)system.

It’s early March and here in the northern hemisphere, we’re all ready for spring. Take a walk in the park with the new Asymptote podcast as Layla Benitez-James discusses all manner of transplants. Crossing borders and taking root in a new creative (eco)system, artist Lauren Moya Ford shares new writing in her native English and non-native Portuguese—a language she is still learning, but already exploring in her composition. In a kind of mixture of translation and botanical study, these writings blend bright description with flora inspired research calling back to the likes of Andrea Wulf’s The Brother Gardeners and W. G. Sebald’s own hybrid text Austerlitz. Imagine flowers “the size of loose fists or dinner plates”, or hothouses that defy natural habitats and artificial borders. Our latest episode will be a breath of fresh air and more.

 

Podcast Editor and Host: Layla Benitez-James

Music provided by TinyTiny Trio, free for non-commercial and artistic use.

Asymptote Podcast: Opera and Translation

Translating opera is a multimodal undertaking.

Starting off the new year fresh, we’re taking a look at opera, an art form that purports to have it all: poetry, music, costumes, and lots of drama. Opera in translation is ubiquitous, and what originally started as a private performance for Florentine nobles quickly spread beyond the palace walls and around the world with the aid of translation. With so much going on, translating opera is a multimodal undertaking. Our new podcast editor Dominick Boyle talks with Lucile Desblache, a professor at the University of Roehampton in London who led the project Translating Music. She guides us through the history of opera, explaining that translation has been there all along—just in different costumes. We also talk to Amanda Holden, a practicing opera translator who specializes in creating sung translations. She talks about how our image of opera as a boring and staid art form is a problem of translation, and how its true power can be revealed. With enough twists and turns to fill an opera, this is the Asymptote podcast.

Podcast Editor and Host: Dominick Boyle

Music provided under a Creative Commons license from freemusicarchive.com and copyright free from museopen.org and europarchive.org.

Asymptote Podcast: Readings: The Tarot in Literature

We explore the Tarot and its influence on different corners of fiction and poetry from around the world.

Our last Asymptote Podcast for 2016 takes a turn for the mystical as we explore the Tarot and its influence on different corners of fiction and poetry from around the world. In recent times, there have been many new “translations” of the Tarot in updated editions of the mysterious 78-card deck: see, for example, the ingenius “Black Power Tarot” deck by the Canadian Musician King Khan, who found his inspiration after attending readings by Chilean director Alejandro Jodorowsky! We’ll also delve into Spanish artist Andres Marquinez Casas’s “Macondo Tarot,” a deck crafted with characters from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez, and hear from the creator of the most recent Tarot reimagining, American artist Courtney Alexander who has updated the ancient deck with characters like Grace Jones and Duke Ellington. Stay tuned: you might just have your future unveiled! This is the Asymptote Podcast.

Podcast Editor and Host: Layla Benitez-James

 

Asymptote Podcast: Literature and Lies

A new episode has landed!

In this episode, we’re unveiling wild new poetry in translation from Asymptote’s Fall Issue, by taking a close listen to poems by Iran’s Rasool Yoonan (read in Persian by Amir Maleki and in English by Siavash Saadlou), Singapore’s Tan Chee Lay (read by the poet himself) and Iraq’s Jan Dammu (read by translator Suneela Mubayi).  Metaphors unfurl from these lines and stretch into works of art. Finally, we’ll consider the written component of the multimedia poem, “First Person,” by Taiwan’s Hsia Yü. To help us unpack how a translator navigates the original writer’s web, our podcast editor Layla Benitez-James turns to Anita Raja’s essay, Translation as a Practice of Acceptance, which we also featured in the Fall 2016 issue. Exploring lies, little and big histories, and figuring out what Proust is doing in an action movie, this is the Asymptote podcast.

Podcast Editor and Host: Layla Benitez-James

Audio Editor: Mirza Puric

 

Asymptote Podcast: Multilingual Writing

A new installment goes live!

In this episode, we crack a window into the creative impulses behind the multilingual writing in our Summer issue. There, Spanish and German, French and Arabic, Romanian, Sanskrit and Afrikaans all find their way woven in with English in poems and a story you don’t want to miss. Here, in this latest installment of the podcast, Omar Berrada and Klara du Plessis allow us a deeper understanding of how their linguistic backgrounds and travels shaped their current writing; while Greg Nissan uncovers other origins for his multilingual creations. So how does a translator go about translating a text already leaping across languages? And what does it take to write in the multilingual mode; does it create its own form, its own genre? What makes a writer feel driven and compelled to step outside the bounds of one language without leaving it entirely? To help us continue down this rabbit hole, Asymptote editor-at-large for Romania and Moldova, MARGENTO (Chris Tănăsescu), uncovers more about his process of translating Șerban Foarță’s poem “Buttérflyçion” for the Summer issue. We’ll explore radical nomadism, emotional chunks of language and more. This is the Asymptote podcast.

Podcast Editor and Host: Layla Benitez-James

Audio Editor: Mirza Puric

 

Asymptote Podcast: Science Fiction

A new episode goes live!

In this month’s episode we look at science fiction from all over the world. We’ll start with the Hugo awards, the Oscars of science fiction, where a group calling themselves the Rabid Puppies is trying to take over the ceremony to protest diversity in science fiction which they see as destroying the genre. To prove them wrong, we’ll look at fantastic works from America, Russia, Cuba, and Nigeria that tell stories about dreaming robots, alien plagues, time travel, monstrous sea creatures, and the perils of extra terrestrial communication. This is the Asymptote podcast.

Editor: Mirza Puric
Voice Actors: Piyali Syam, Alessio Frank, and Rron Karahoda.

Music: Spare by Ono, Gotta Run by Wahyas, Let it Me by Drag Sounds, I Was Born on the Wrong Day by Cate Le Bon, Mary Bumble Bee by Purling Hiss Here, Masked Laughter by Dalek, Devil Do by Holly Go Lightly.

All music provided under a Creative Commons license from freemusicarchive.com

Works read: Space Raptor Butt Invasion by Chuck Tingle, Robot Dreams by Issac Asimov, Moom by Nnedi Okparanta, Memories of the Future by Sigizmund Khrizhanovsky, The Cosmonaut by Angel Arango.

Asymptote Podcast: Literature in Transit

A new episode goes live!

What ever happened to savoring the moment, or better yet, the moment in between two others? Why don’t stories ever focus on the euphoria of transition? There’s a lot to be learned in between point A and point B that we might not recognize. Today on the Asymptote Podcast, Blog Editor, Allegra Rosenbaum brings us literature in transit; literature from the places in between places, where the rules and regulations that govern our lives disappear behind us, as new ones loom up ahead. Allegra has spent most of her life traveling and with the help of Ezra Pound, Blaise Cendrars, Agustín Fernández Mallo, and Teju Cole, she tries to figure out what is going on in those moments of transition. This is the Asymptote Podcast.

Asymptote Podcast: Highlights from our New York Event

A new episode goes live!

Asymptote‘s fifth anniversary celebration in New York brought together top literary translators Ann Goldstein (translator of Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan tetralogy) and Natasha Wimmer (translator of seven Roberto Bolaño novels including The Savage Detectives and 2666) for an evening of conversation moderated by acclaimed fiction writer Frederic Tuten. Whether you couldn’t join us in NYC or just want to revisit this fun and informative discussion, this month’s Asymptote Podcast gives you a front-row seat! Podcast Editor Daniel Goulden brings you the highlights from the New School panel, which includes introductions by Poorna Swami, our own Editor-at-Large for India, and several terrific questions brought forward by audience members during the Q&A. Download your copy now. It’s almost as good as being there in person!

This event was co-sponsored by the Liberal Studies Department, New School for Social Research.

Asymptote Podcast: Experiments

A new episode goes live!

In this episode, we dive into the innovative poetry and translations of Asymptote‘s Winter Issue. First, we take a look at the rhythmic poetry of South African poet Toast Coetzer, which blurs the line between music and poetry. Then we examine how Victoria Cóccaro and Rebekah Boudon translated Pablo Katchadjian’s supposedly untranslatable poem “Martin Fierro Ordered Alphabetically.” After that we’ll listen to Rajiv Mohabir wonderful translation of Lalbihari Sharma’s folk songs from Holi Songs of Demerara. And finally, we’ll see how Jared Pearce brought ancient Babylonia to America with his poetic translations from Babylonians as Americans as Babylonians. This is the Asymptote Podcast.

Asymptote Podcast: The Devil

New Year, new podcast episode!

This month, we examine a character who has been influencing the minds of authors for thousands of years: the Devil. We’ll be taking a look at that fiery hell-demon we all know and love to hate (or fear), but we’ll also discuss how other cultures view this figure. We first consider Maximon, a Guatemalan saint not recognized by the Catholic Churcha fusion of Satan, Judas, Cortes, and the Mayan trickster god Mam. Then we’ll move on to Russia, where we will look at how the Devil influenced two hundred years of their literature. We’ll end with an exploration of the Voodoo religion, which isn’t as devilish as you may think.

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New Podcast Episode

In this month’s podcast, storytelling—from the factual to the fractured

In this episode, we look at divergent forms of storytelling in translationfrom the fact-centered world of literary reportage to the poetic proclamations of a third-millennium heart. Beatrice Smigasiewicz brings us coverage from Krakow’s Conrad Festival, where she caught up with one of Poland’s most prominent writers of literary nonfiction, Mariusz Szczygieł, and his award-winning translator, Antonia Lloyd-Jones. They discuss the legacy of 20th century reportage in Polish literature and the power of storytelling in dealing with the country’s wartime experience and postwar Communist era. Katrine Øgaard Jensen presents new translations of poems from Ursula Andkjær Olsen’s Third-Millennium Heart, an explosive collection that pushes story to the limitbreaking every rule of storytelling and yet bringing us a character who feels real. Olsen won the prestigious literary award Montanaprisen in 2013 for the book, excerpted here in its original Danish along with English translations.

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Asymptote Podcast: Home

In this month's podcast, how home is—and isn't—always where the heart is

In this episode, we look at the concept of home; how we shape it and how it shapes us. Yardenne Greenspan takes a look at literature of trauma, bringing us work by two Israeli authors Yonatan Berg and Ron Dahan, who recount the horrors they have seen (and have been a part of) in their country, as well as Yehiel De-Nur better known by his pen name, Ka-Tzetnik 135633, a Holocaust survivor who in bitter detail recounts his time in Auschwitz. What unites these authors is their experience with LSD. Flashbacks to their traumatic experiences directly inform upon their writing and present the reader with a complex portrait of trauma. Daniel Goulden brings us a report from the Brooklyn Book Fair with recordings of Jonathan Lethem, Vivian Gornick, John Leguizamo, Cecily Wong, and Chinelo Okparanta discussing their respective homes and how that informs upon their work.  READ MORE…

The Uncanny Listener… (Part 2)

More stories from the shadows, featuring Franz Kafka, Yoko Ogawa, Dean Paschal and Mansoura Ez-Eldin.

The Uncanny Listener: Stories from the Shadows (Part 2)

We’re back with a second portion of scary stories! Following on from last month’s episode, part two of our audio anthology ventures even further into the dark and dingy corners of world literature. This installment features haunting tales from Japan, Egypt, America, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire, with writing by Franz Kafka, Yoko Ogawa, Dean Paschal, and Mansoura Ez-Eldin. Along the way you’ll find a hallucinatory giant, a doll with a mind of its own, a hideously disfigured carrot, and the Statue of Liberty as you’ve never seen her before. Plus there’s a conversation with cultural critic Adam Kotsko about the epidemic of creepiness on our TV screens, from Happy Days to Mad Men to the Burger King commercials. Join us as we continue exploring the questions: What is the uncanny? And why do we enjoy it so much?

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