In celebration of Asymptote’s milestone 30th issue, Podcast Editor Dominick Boyle dives into the archives to uncover some of his favorite recordings from the archive. In this episode, he revisits poetry set to music in Tamil and Spanish from Aandaal and Enrique Winter, and snarky telephone conversations with a whole city by way of voice-mail from Jonas Hassen Khemiri. He also spotlights: the touching suicide notes left by Jean Améry, which reveal 3 different sides of a man in his death; experimental Vietnamese poetry by Bùi Chát, which comes to life read by translator Jack J. Huynh; and Owen Good’s translations of Hungarian poet Krisztina Tóth, which Eliot Weinberger awarded first prize in our inaugural Close Approximations contest. Take a walk down memory lane—this time with your headphones on!
Dig through our archive with Dominick Boyle, who unearths gems from South India, Chile, Sweden and more!
Our very first contest honored emerging translators. Now, a year later, our winners reflect on just what this contest means today
To witness the broad reach of Asymptote, one need look no further than Close Approximations, Asymptote’s first-ever international translation contest targeting fledgling translators and awarding $3,000 in prize money for two categories: poetry and fiction. (That’s $3,000 from your generous donations going directly into the pockets of these literary practitioners, but don’t forget that running a contest also requires heavy promotion—both paid and unpaid—, Asymptote‘s own editorial brainpower—in this case, to screen for the 20 best prose entries—, unseen but substantial administrative work—organizing contest entries and fielding queries from prospective contestants.)
Judged by no less than acclaimed translators Eliot Weinberger (in the poetry category) and Howard Goldblatt (in fiction), this contest received close to 200 submissions. Those who emerged victorious were lauded for their ability to “successfully cross the linguistic boundary,” and render translations that “zip along.” (Here are the complete judges’ citations.) Read on to see where these gifted newcomers find themselves now, a year after winning. If you would like to help us run a second contest (that will include a new nonfiction category!), give us some love—especially now that we’re entering the final stretch of our fundraising campaign, with TEN NERVE-WRACKING DAYS left!
—Lee Yew Leong, Editor-in-Chief
A dispatch honoring one of Mexico's most celebrated poets
From October 1st to the 8th, the Mexican Cultural Institute of New York paid tribute to the centennial of Octavio Paz’s birth with a series of discussions, readings, concerts, and film screenings. A prolific poet, essayist, intellectual, translator, editor, publisher, and diplomat, Paz published his first poetry collection, Luna Silvestre (Wild Moon, 1933) at 19 years old, penning over 26 volumes of poetry until his death in 1998. Paz was also an accomplished essayist: his 1950 treatise on Mexican identity, El laberinto de la soledad (The Labyrinth of Solitude) is considered a seminal work of literature. The recipient of the Cervantes award in 1981, the American Neustadt Prize in 1982, and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1990, Paz founded three literary magazines, Taller, Plural, and Vuelta; Vuelta is still published as Letras Libres.
Now that we’ve gotten that dry but necessary introduction out of the way, let me truly begin.
The centennial celebration was a sumptuous banquet I wanted to gorge myself on until I developed gout, like those rich men of old. I eagerly chased Paz throughout New York City, from the second-floor gallery of the Mexican Consulate in Midtown to the ornate ballroom of the Americas Society in the Upper East Side, and finally to where the river meets the city, the “navel of the poetic universe,” as Paz’s translator Eliot Weinberger playfully referred to the Poets House in TriBeCa.
Asymptote’s 3rd Anniversary Celebrations in March and April (Plus: our New Events Page, with Multimedia!)
Check out highlights from our past celebrations in London and New York, and don't miss our upcoming events!
We’re thrilled to announce that Asymptote’s globetrotting third anniversary party, which kicked off in London and New York in January, will continue across five continents over the next month—watch our brand-new video trailer below for a taste, and don’t forget to RSVP at our Shanghai (March 29), Philadelphia (March 29), Berlin (April 3), and Sydney (April 11) Facebook Event pages, already live.
In case you can’t make it, don’t fret: we’ve launched a new Events page, where you can find photos, podcasts, videos, and dispatches of all the events we’ve ever organized, as well as an up-to-date pulse for all upcoming events!