Posts filed under 'Italian'

Youmein Festival: Creating Art in the Liminal Space Between Tradition and Imitation

“Is a society made up of endless imitations that become canonized as tradition? Or do traditions change through borrowing from other cultures?"

Diverse languages and artistic disciplines intersected at the Youmein Festival in Tangier where artists and writers from Morocco, Algeria, Spain, and France created pieces to reflect the interplay between tradition(s), taqalid, تقاليد, and imitation, taqlid, تقليد.. Asymptote’s Tunisia Editor-at-Large Jessie Stoolman and writer Alexander Jusdanis report from Tangier. 

For the past three years, Youmein (“Two Days” in Arabic) has brought together diverse artists in the city of Tangier to create art installations based on a central theme over a 48-hour period.

The festival is run by Zakaria Alilech, a translator and cultural events coordinator at the American Language Center (ALC) Tangier, George Bajalia, a Ph.D. candidate in anthropology at Columbia University, and Tom Casserly, a production manager at Barbara Whitman Productions. They’re quick to emphasize their hands-off approach. “We’re not curators,” says Alilech. Instead, they see themselves as facilitators, providing artists the initial inspiration, space and support to realize their ideas. The trio stressed that Youmein is less about the final product and more about the process of making art.

They intend the festival to be an opportunity for the artists and audience to discover Tangier through the lens of each year’s theme. While strolling through the city’s streets, historically a meeting point for peoples from around the Mediterranean and beyond, it is not uncommon to hear any combination of Rifiya, Darija, Spanish, French, English, and Italian. Thus, it is perhaps unsurprising that language has played an essential role in selecting the theme of the Youmein festival from its inception.

READ MORE…

Working Title: The Lost Daughter

When does "lost" mean willful abandonment?

Italian novelist Elena Ferrante has been called scrittrice oscura: an “obscure writer” who never makes public appearances and uses a pen name. In 1991, when her debut novel was due to be published, in a letter to her publisher she wrote: “I do not intend to do anything for Troubling Love, anything that might involve the public engagement of me personally. I’ve already done enough for this long story: I wrote it.”

And in a recent interview, she talked to her editors about her writing practices, the female voice and the origins of her books. While the fourth and final of her Neapolitan novels, The Story of the Lost Child, published this month, is making its triumphant entrance, let’s return to La figlia oscura  (2006), a precursor to the quartet, which, according to Ferrante, is the book she is “most painfully attached to.” Ann Goldstein, Ferrante’s regular translator, has chosen a nonliteral title for it, The Lost Daughter, replacing by “lost” the word that usually means “unclear” or “murky”, all the better to convey the multitude of meanings the original title encapsulates.

The “lost daughter” of the title has many incarnations: as a little girl who wanders away on a beach; as the narrator’s own daughter in a similar situation; as both of her daughters (now in their twenties), living far away and calling only when they need her; as Leda herself, who “didn’t start liking myself until I turned eighteen, when I left my family, my city.” Another interpretation of the title can be found in Nina, the mother of the girl lost on the beach, a beautiful young woman chosen by Leda as a mirror in which to scrutinize her own past life: “Choose for your companion an alien daughter. Look for her, approach her.” READ MORE…

Translation Tuesday: Five Poems by Michela Zanarella

Translated by Leanne Hoppe

I Chain Myself to the Origins

 

I chain myself to the origins

of light,

I undo a sunset,

just as poetry touches me,

with my lips I create the fate

of a horizon that glorifies

cemeteries filled with bones.

I rest in the sudden vibration

of a cloud,

intersecting rivers of silence

at the whimsical azure of a crowd

of instants.

Embodied in the exile

of earth and water,

I bind myself to the wind, I yield to the flames.

To eyes permeated by the world

surrounding the sun,

I make myself eternal

like Daphne. I make myself

a forest of olive trees.

READ MORE…

Weekly News Roundup, 19th June 2014: World Cup in Books, New Neruda

This week's literary highlights from across the world

(Re)discovering familiar authors. Those familiar with Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (that is to say: everybody) might be happy to discover that more than twenty previously unknown poems have been uncovered and are slated for publication later this year in Latin America (no word on translations quite yet).

Big, big news in letters across the globe (especially for us Asymptote-fans): the shortlists for the PEN Literary Awards have been announced, and the translation categories are peppered with our very own past contributors. In the prose category, Vasily Grossman’s An Armenian Sketchbook sports a nomination. You can read an excerpt from the novel, translated by Elizabeth and Robert Chandler, in our January 2013 issue! And Asymptote alum and professor Michael Hoffman is up in the same category for his translation of The Emperor’s Tomb by Joseph Roth (read his essay on Wolfgang Koeppen in our January 2014 issue here). We like to see our past contributors doing big things: Reif Larsen, frequent contributor and goofy Asymptote friend, writes in The Guardian on the trials of seeing his first novel receive the Hollywood treatment.

READ MORE…

Translation Tuesday: from SOFIA ALWAYS DRESSES IN BLACK by Paolo Cognetti

Detergent plus fabric softener plus ironing and starch: a providential sedative that helped her to stop her sobbing in no more than thirty seconds.

TWO HORIZONTAL GIRLS

The little girl had taken all the postcards to bed with her. She called them the collection. They were scattered all over the sheets and wedged between the pillows, where she could line them up, arrange them in columns, switch them around, alphabetize them or put them into chronological order, or distribute them as if they were cities and towns and the mattress was one big map. The big girl, stretched out on the floor at the foot of the bed, had first explained to her that she couldn’t really refer to them as a collection, since they had all been sent by one correspondent, that is, her father, and then she’d done something far worse. With an enormous effort of the will, she’d reached up a hand from the linoleum-level where she lay to the bed-level, and she’d convinced the little girl to hand her the first three, four, or five postcards in the row. The room they were in was dominated by white. The walls were white, the sheets and pillowcases were white, the curtains on the windows were white, the gauze bandages on the little girl’s wrists were white. The big girl had laboriously opened her right eye, like a shipwrecked sailor blinded by that expanse of blinding white pack ice; then she’d checked the stamps and the postmarks and asked the little girl why on earth she thought the postcards had all come from the post office of East Verona, if each of them were marked with a different city: Amsterdam, Aosta, Athens, Bangkok, and Berlin. She had even been on the verge of explaining to the little girl that her father wasn’t an archeologist or an explorer, much less an agent working for the intelligence service, constantly moving around the world. Her father was quite simply just one more husband who had left his wife to start a new life, probably with a younger woman, somewhere in the greater Verona metropolitan area. Then the thought of family, any family at all, had triggered a surge of nausea, so instead all she’d said was: “Oh what the fuck do I care; as far as I’m concerned you can all just drop dead. I’m mustering my last ounce of strength to keep from vomiting.” READ MORE…

But will translators scare the children?

"My sons can handle knowing their Calvino was translated."

My first literary entanglement—or the first one I remember—was with folktales. While Danish and German tales were undoubtedly my introduction to the form, by the time memory kicks in, I am scouring local libraries and filling Christmas wish lists with requests for Greek myths, Norwegian sagas, Chinese tales, Italian fairy stories (yes, the Calvino), and any others that an intrepid relative might find.

READ MORE…