one · june 2012
a quarterly journal made by women
• darja bajagić
emily berry laura jane faulds alicia rodriguez
7 8 14
anna metcalfe bea fremderman emily toder maya malou lyse daniela olszewska željka marošević jan carson alice charlotte ray
30 33 35 38 41 42 43 45
• tender /’tendə/ n. 1 ‘the act or an instance of tendering; offer’ • editors sophie collins & rachael allen email@example.com cover art by faye mcnulty
What is commonly called literary history is actually a record of choices.
— Louise Bernikow, The World Split Open
The idea for Tender came to us as a direct reaction to a quasi-viral YouTube video1 of Mark Grist performing his spoken-word piece ‘I like a girl who reads’.2 Presenting us with a female cypher who has basic literacy but no critical faculties, Grist’s poem expresses desires that correspond with the qualities historically demanded of ‘ladies in society’. His ideal girl is charming, acquiescent and, quite literally in this instance, voiceless. We are very conscious that Grist’s poem, when compared with some of the consciously misogynistic violence and vitriol women encounter on a day to day basis, doesn’t seem particularly threatening. But it is a clear manifestation of the attitudes of ingrained sexism that are alive today, evident in the way women continue to be objectified through men’s writing, and in the chronic marginalisation of female writers, artists and critics. Grist’s poem makes a promise to the reader to perpetuate these attitudes. This type of female representation, the silencing of the female voice and its writing out of history is just one fraction of a complex system of roots that exists in women’s everyday experiences in the street, in the media and in our relationships. It acts as a catalyst for a society where men feel entitled to target women publicly, where we always know what the rape victim was wearing, where female victims of domestic violence are the ones facing judgement, expected to speak out against their abusers and/or lambasted for remaining with them. VIDA counts released in March are evidence of a problem persisting. A project stemming from a simple idea ‘to count the rates of publication between women and men in many of our writing world’s most respected literary outlets’, VIDA’s efforts met with an unanticipated volume of response on its exposition of the neglect of magazines such as Harpers, The Paris Review and the Times Literary Supplement (among many others) to publish female writers’ work.3 Reactions to the counts were as reprehensible as the numbers themselves, ranging from ‘women writers should submit more work to magazines’ and ‘male
writers should submit less’ to ‘women writers are whiners and should simply write better books’ and ‘women writers should write about more “important” subjects’, examples of the pervasiveness of internalised sexist attitudes that demonstrated, at best, a widespread ignorance of the history of a system of privilege and whitewashing, and, at worst, complete denial of it. The idea that work of high quality will, against the odds, always out is based in myth. The subject matter of women in the arts has always been a point of contention. Louise Bernikow notes that ‘it is interesting how the preoccupation with love, in life or literature, has been turned against women.’ Historically, women have had to work within the confines of male tastes. Some recognised that to write within these confines would place them in a position where they could hope to achieve success as authors; some saw no other way to write. But when they did deviate from themes of love or religion, both of which are reinforced by a patriarchal value system, they were heavily criticised. At the same time, the moment women began publishing love poems in their multitudes, male arbiters of taste deemed ‘the genre deflated’, these feminine efforts dubbed sentimental, saccharine— ‘the heightened states of emotion out of which male poets were creating poetry were praised as revolutionary; the heightened states of female emotion were denigrated and dismissed as second-rate.’4 The same problem extends to visual arts. In a recent article for The Guardian, installation artist Judy Chicago professed to adopting ‘“male drag” – [making] work that looked like that of [her] male peers and echoed their concerns’ in order to create a space for herself.5 We accept the belief that all-female platforms can be considered reductive, arguably acting to increase the gulf between male and female writers/artists through segregation. Certain feminists will refuse inclusion in all-female anthologies on this basis, not wanting to be defined by their gender, allowing for a different kind of empowerment. But because the concept of an all-female journal is still controversial, provoking knee-jerk reactions to their exclusivity and accusations of (inverted) sexism; the term‘women’s work’ is still perceived as derogatory and archaic. A female space is necessary. — Editors 1. Video here. 2. Full text here. 3. Look at the numbers here. 4. Introduction to The World Split Open, Bernikow (Ed.), p.6. 5. ‘We women artists refuse to be written out of history’.
tender• one • one tender
Soap This hope with Australian wild peach is what keeps me going I spell your name with macademia nut never mind jojoba One oil is the aroma, the other is the carrier Often I wonder: how does the carrier feel? I always see hierarchy Some letters of the alphabet, for example, are more powerful T is one T is such a strong character . . . Top note, heart note, base note: which would you rather be? I call my dad to ask what botanicals were in vogue in his day Whenever I pick up the phone I hear the sea Maybe balsam? he says Sometimes the last one you think of is the one whoâ€™ll know
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laura jane faulds A List Of All The Things I Want To Do, Like, In General 1 I’ve got this plant in my window. I named it Harriet but I’m not really attached to it or anything. Harriet is dying. I don’t care. Sometimes I’ll just dump some water out of my water bottle all over Harriet but for the most part I’m letting her die. I might throw her out before she even dies fully. 2 Every morning I wake up generally sort of jazzed to start out a new day. My room is a filthy disgusting mess. I don’t even like coffee. I just drink it because I do. I bought some stupid pyjama pants at Value Village a month ago. When I’m doing things in my apartment, I usually am wearing those pants. They’re very ugly pants. I think they’re meant for a man but, obviously, I don’t care. The city I live in is ugly. It’s Toronto. All cities are ugly, in my opinion— I feel like I have to make that clear to you. I don’t want you to think I’m running around writing stories about how ugly Toronto is at the same time as I’m claiming I think, say, Paris, is very beautiful. I think Paris is ugly, I guess. I don’t know it well. I went there once when I was eleven and the next summer I went again, when I was twelve. I remember eating a tuna sandwich with egg on it in the shade of the Eiffel Tower and really liking the egg, the sandwich in general. I know, now, it’s called a panbagnat, and I guess I should feel pretty cool about that, pretty great that I have that snazzy, cool Paris memory, but I don’t care about it. I don’t care that I have that memory. I don’t care about Paris, and I hate when people make a big deal out of talking about all the fancy things they did the time they went to Paris once. Or anywhere in France, really— unless it’s food or wine-related. Food and wine I’m always down to talk about. Otherwise, I’m tired of listening to people explain about their stupid memories from Paris. Boring brags. I feel like most adults can’t handle the responsibility of Paris existing. My mother is from France. Her father died and her mother is dying. Her one brother is very macho, very crass, and then her sister is somebody’s wife, and her other sister is somebody’s alcoholic wife, then she’s got just a normal brother, Luc, who’s just a regular guy. So I guess this is me trying to prove that in real life there’s nothing very cool or interesting about being from France. 3 I was looking at a woman holding a Banana Republic shopping bag. She was resting the shopping bag on the mucky subway floor and I was standing so I could see into the bag. I looked at the woman’s face and clothing, the make-up on her face. 8
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It was a long shoebox in the bag so I could tell it was for knee-high boots. I looked back up at her face and thought: ‘This is you on the day you bought those boots’, maybe I was staring a little. I was just staring down that box thinking of every day she’d ever wear them, boots like that, probably leather boots I imagined— very durable. You buy them for work and fall and spring and snow and sleet. You buy them to take them off at the end of a long day. You’re pretty happy to take them off but by a point they’ll pretty much’ve welded to the shape of your foot and you’re pretty happy you don’t have a boyfriend, at a point, you’re pretty happy nobody ever has to smell that smell of your five-month-long boot-foot except for you. Some lady on the subway’s future boots-relationship with her boots. The boots just hanging out in the wherever she keeps her boots section of her apartment, or home all summer long and then the frost, the air chills, socks you remember socks, all her different socks and stockings, touching the boots, the elements beating them up— Banana Republic is a pretty high-quality brand or at least it claims to be. She’ll have those boots for awhile. She’ll do a lot of stuff. The dates she’ll go on in those boots and the work-things, the work Christmas parties, nights when she thought she was going to wear sexier shoes but her feet hurt from a long day and she can’t be bothered so she’ll just throw her good old boots on. And she’ll be happy to see them at the end of every summer and many, or few, but definitely some years will pass and air and time will surround her and I was just some girl who can’t remember what her face looks like and couldn’t even an hour later. It makes me sad that I can’t see it all at once. It doesn’t make sense to me how you could look at me and not see every single thing I ever did. I want to know everything about her boots until the day she throws her boots out and I want to know about her post-boots life and her boot’s post-her life and I want you to know everything about my boots. I want to know everything about my own boots. I want everyone to know everything about everyone. 4 I work at a restaurant. I went to work last night. It’s spring, really decent spring, and the weather’s making some songs sound so good, which makes me want to write down lists of songs I think sound so good and post them to the Internet but I haven’t yet and probably never will; it just seems like a really trite and dumbass thing to do with my time. The front wall of my restaurant is floor-to-ceiling windows; they open up into doors to let the breeze blow in. My old bartender came from Mexico City and last September when the breeze turned cool and blew in he told me that’s how the weather always feels in Mexico City. I said I didn’t know that. I said I just thought it was really hot in Mexico City because I don’t know, Mexico, that’s just how we think of Mexico. As being a hot place. He told me Mexico City’s on top of a mountain and that sounded really nice to me. When I think about being on top of a mountain I think about the blood inside your ears going thin. Last night it was just me and a busser. A little busser. I don’t pay very much attention to him. The night passed and the sun set. The air cooled down a bit as it naturally would do. In the night the breeze can get a bit haunting.
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A group of three ladies walked in around 8, as my restaurant was just about to peak at its most ‘Mexico City on the peak of a mountaintop’ weather-vibes of the whole night. I don’t know if I mean to say ‘It felt safe and magical’ or ‘I felt safe and magical,’ I expected myself to write ‘Probably both’ after writing that sentence but I don’t think ‘Probably both’ is true either. I think it was either one or the other and my inability to figure it out is just sort of ‘where I’m at’ these days. ‘Where I’m at’ is just one of those things people say that pretty much mean nothing but occasionally mean kind of something. They were probably not too much older than I am but they may as well have been forty-five and I may as well have been seventeen. They probably got married when they were five years younger than I am and had babies one and three years later. We obviously made some very different choices, they and I. Two wore glasses and one did not. There was this whole affair with the air. I don’t know why some people get so hung up on making sure it’s always exact perfect room temperature. I hate extreme cold as much as the next guy, but you’ve got to feel it. You’ve got to get so hot your stomach hurts. ‘I can’t have air blowing on me,’ said the one lady, a glasses-wearer. She had a voice so nasal it sounded literally like, pinch your nose and say the sentence ‘Well, if she doesn’t get it without serrano she’s going to send it back’ out loud, and then there you have some insight into what it felt like to be me living my life last night. (‘That’s tragic,’ I imagined myself saying, or maybe: ‘Yes you can, you’ve got to have air blowing on you sometimes.’) I turned off the AC and shut the window. The night unfolded and was a night. I opened the window. I made a joke. What if I lived in a parallel universe where I hadn’t cut the hem off that vintage dress I bought? I wouldn’t have cut it too short to wear over bare legs and so what would all the days I didn’t wear it have looked like had I worn it, and aren’t you so happy you’re not a fish? Or are you sad you’re not a fish? It seems like you’ve got to be one or the other. You could never be indifferent: ‘Fish or human, fish or human, same thing.’ I’m personally very happy I’m not a fish. I’d rather be a tree. The leaves are popping out of the branches (it’s spring), the leaves are babies and they are alive, the trees are so tall the branches form a canopy, it’s magic, it’s the most beautiful thing— safe and magical, I just realised, the best two things any thing could ever be— I just think about how old they are and I get so jealous of the trees for living as long as they do. So much longer than me. And then I pity the trees for not getting to think about things but I still think I’d rather be a tree. I’d pick a couple hundred years over thinking. I’d pick a couple hundred extra years over just about anything. But I guess I’m still pretty young. Maybe when I’m old I’ll be more bored of life. 5 They drank water and were chintzy. The one without the glasses was my favourite for no reason except that sometimes certain weirdos turn up in life so they can be arbitrarily loved by you. Sometimes they teach you a lesson but for the most part they don’t. They’re just semi-pleasant to be around for an hour or so and then they’re gone and you’ve forgotten.
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She wrapped her olive-drab chenille blanket tighter around her shoulders like she was Beth from Little Women dying. I guess maybe it wasn’t a blanket; it was probably a shawl. She spoke in a whispery lisp. It made me want to give her things. While I was filling up her water glass she asked her friends, ‘Are you going to come watch me do my Spice Girls thing?’ They said nothing. ‘I’m going to be Ginger,’ she went on. ‘Ginger’s my favourite,’ I said— nah, interjected. ‘Do you think I could pull it off?’ she asked, ‘The red hair?’ I wondered why she was asking me that. I was a stranger. I said ‘Yes,’ and brought her some tea. 6 I do feel like she oddly clung to me. ‘I’m so weird,’ she said, as I was waiting for the one with the nasal voice to finish paying up. Her friends, again, ignored her. She ignored their ignoring her, and held up her phone to show them something. It was an iPhone, set to the program ‘Notes.’ That awful yellow picture of a page and that font. She looked up at me. Her eyebrows were thin and short. I thought: ‘Her eyebrows are thin and short.’ ‘I make these lists,’ she said, ‘These weird lists.’ ‘That’s cool,’ I said, ‘I make lists on Notes too.’ (I thought about the last list I’d made on Notes. It was a list of the more whimsical CAPTCHAs I’d been offered while illegally streaming episodes of 30 Rock on vidxden. com last February— Lucille 2 Never give up Sandy beach Abra cadabra Dark horse She sells Star wars kid Him with her Chicken soup Worship nothing) ‘I make lists of, like, all the things I want to do,’ she said. ‘That’s normal,’ said her friend, ‘To-do lists.’ ‘I make to-do lists!’ I piped up. (I thought about the last to-do list I’d made:
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Figure out Karen Walker dress cleanliness levels Shampoo Condish Apples Breakfast Call Canada Revenue Agency Drink 0 or 1 night this week) ‘It’s not a to-do list,’ she snapped back, a rubber band snapback: ‘It’s a list of all the things I want to do, like, in general.’ ‘Like what?’ I asked. ‘Knitting,’ she said, ‘Knitting’s a big one. Knitting, sewing. That place Sew It Up? I want to take a class there.’ ‘That’s awesome,’ I said, ‘You should do that. You should definitely do that.’ ‘Swim with the dolphins,’ she said like duhhhhhh, ‘Work at McDonald’s—’ ‘Really?’ I asked. ‘Yeah!’ she said, ‘I just want to see what it would be like!’ ‘Probably terrible,’ I said. ‘But I just want to know,’ she said. I said ‘I’m sure they’d hire you,’ and wondered what it would feel like to have been born so rich you’d wonder what it felt like to work at McDonald’s, instead of just being grateful you never had to, or worried that you one day might. 7 (A list of all the things I want to do, like, in general) I want myself to have already written every word I’ll ever write and I wish I never wrote any of the words I already wrote. I want to save a child from drowning. I want to play baseball in a league, or field hockey. I want to ski again. I want to be the kind of person who calls other people by their last names and it’d sound really breezy, very easy. I want to make up nicknames for some of my co-workers and call my coworkers by their adorable new nicknames that make them feel loved by me. I want to go to one of those perfumiers and get my dream perfume made. I want to be nicer to my mother. I want to hire a personal trainer and get ripped. At Starbucks when they ask me my name for the cup I want to start lying and saying my name is Kate. I think I’d make a really good Kate. I want to move away. I want to make a lot of money. I want to move to London. I want to run away. I want a dog. I want two dogs. I want a dog and a cat. I want two dogs and two cats. I want to live in tiny terrible apartments for most of my life. I want to spend all my money on clothes and food and booze. I want to live in a treehouse for a while. I want to be a tree. I want to run restaurants and own restaurants and sell restaurants. I want a husband and a dog. When I’m old I want my hair to turn white and I’ll have a bob. I want to spend so much time in the sun my skin turns to leather like an 12
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Australian person’s. I want to write a novel but only one. I want the world to be sad I only wrote one novel and I’ll roll my eyes and curl up my lip and tell the world, ‘Suck it up, world!’— I want to get harder and harder. I want someone to tie me up. I’d like to own an extensive collection of vintage office supplies. I want a Rolodex. I want to cry a lot because I like crying. I want to kiss his collarbone. I want him to kiss my collarbone. I want a winery. I want ‘I’m gonna make a lot of money, and I’m gonna quit this crazy scene’ to just get truer and truer about me. Maybe I don’t want a winery after all! I’d probably move to France. I believe that I am a person who can handle the responsibility of France existing. I want to get bored of France. I want to be extraordinarily successful so I can scorn my success and run away to India. I’ve seen God but only on psychedelic drugs; I always think it’s going to stick but it never does. I want to stop painting black crap on my eyelashes and thinking I look like shit if I don’t. Sometimes when I have a crush on a boy I entertain myself by looking through all the pictures on my phone from his perspective, think about how many cool things I look at and then remember to take a picture of and applaud myself. I try to be sweet to service employees and not sigh audibly when people are taking a long time in line in front of me. The other day I hated a guy I went to high school with for Facebook status-updating, ‘McMuffin for dinner… I’m a bad widdle boy!’ which is also really weird when you think about how it’s kind of common knowledge that McDonald’s stops serving egg McMuffins at like ten in the fucking morning, so I guess maybe he uses the blanket term ‘McMuffin’ to designate all breakfast sandwiches, and I hated him for that and I sort of hate myself for bothering to write down the words ‘breakfast sandwich,’ ‘designate,’ and italicizing all. How drippy. And earlier today I hated a girl for saying ‘I’m fatter than you’ to her two friends meaning she had eaten her full sandwich while they had each only eaten one sandwich half, and then I hated her again when she said she was worried about how the boy she had a crush on ate mushrooms. Mushrooms the drug. She was really making a mountain out of a molehill. He already took the mushrooms. He didn’t die. So ideally I would want to eliminate all parts of my personality that make me think those sorts of thoughts. I want to paint that colour powder on my face that people paint on their hair and faces when they go to India. I want them to invent an iPod screen that works with mittens on I guess. I want AmEx instead of Visa and while I’m on the subject, sort of, why do Visa the credit card and Visas the travel document have the same name? They’re too similar to have the same name, but not similar enough to be the same thing. I just looked it up on the Internet and found out that ‘visa’ is Latin and means ‘paper that has been seen’— what a beautiful five word phrasing! This is a visa too, then. This is visa.
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My mother who I miss from now on more than ever, 2013 Oil on mdf board, 12 x 12cm
Votive, 2013 Oil and dammar varnish on mdf board, 7 x 11cm
un)touchable the sunglasses on my head are hilarious to the women who wash dishes in the back of the hotel which is not a hotel but a restaurant at a bus station which is not a bus station but a collection of tin cans hoofing dust beside a concrete platform on which the hotel stands grimy as anything— I thought I could use the bathroom walk through the kitchen into a man taking a piss in a cupboard that is not a cupboard but a room I’d rather not talk about and the women laugh at my glasses pull my scarf over my eyes they laugh touching my head and my eyelids they mean your eyes are on your scalp that is not where eyes belong and I don’t understand for a long time until they each try my eyes and put them back and shake my hands for too long whispering are you ready yet, nearly?
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The First Husband Poem I was making a film watching the film back making another of a green and white patterned sheet drying on the balcony the wind pushing up to reveal a brown glass bottle trying to get the film the shadows the frame just right exclude the beaten plastic chairs the chicken wire went downstairs to where my husband had pulled back the mosquito net set the covers lain a single pillow down I waited he says how is your film not finished yet I say and help him shave the bits of his head he canâ€™t see or reach then he lays me down on a green and white patterned sheet and puts his head between my legs his tongue inside me it is hot we leave the fan off until the bed is wet stripes bleed like newsprint the psychedelic flowers cling what are we going to do about all this muff he says we shower dress rub sun cream on our bodies make another film this time the green and white patterned sheet at odds with itself at once falling and rising the stripes are newsprint he says the curtain sticks to the wall wonâ€™t let go of the brown bottle now not ever
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The Draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq
The Restoration of the Marshes is an Act of Peace
Lake Urmia 37.7000° N, 45.3167° E Mesopotamian Marshes 33°00’N 47°00’E
Suez Canal 30.7050° N, 32.3442° E Sudd Swamp 6–9N 30–32E
The Draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq is a research and design initiative that uses the trans-boundary narrative of modern conservation as its founding basis.
low as sculptural and painterly anchors. The metal desk is displayed with the drop-leaf down, making space for a fluid mental movement whereby the desk can lift its wing, as such, to accommodate two rather than one persons.
The project operates from dmmiraq.info and serves as a pooling of information and data relating, in the first instance, to the marshes in Iraq, then spreading radially to other sacred bodies of water located in the Middle East, Europe, the Americas and Africa. This gives rise to a geographic nomadism which renders each site replaceable with another, thus creating a sense of universality.
The act of draining the marshes is at once symbolic, deeply tragic and hugely significant in understanding our position within this anthropocene. Our tragedies can be seen diagnostically as an extended meditation into the movement of water and the healing potential of reflooding.
The Draining of the Mesopotamian Marshes of Iraq uses its title and subtitles The Restoration of the Marshes is an Act of Peace ~ the consecration of the entire world as weighted mantras which, when vocalised, serve to evoke a sense of space, action, re-action and power. These movement orientated words should be taken with the sensitivity and receptivity of a sea anemone; the space to breathe deeply and consciously; the agency of action and reaction and the transference of power.
To these ends the project employs a globally available drop-leaf desk and the colour yelAral Sea 45.0000° N, 60.0000° E Lake Hamoun 30°50’N 61°40’E
Persian Gulf 26.9047° N, 51.5475° E The Everglades 26°0000°N, 80.7000° W
At the start of the twenty-first century, the once-lush, richly diverse wetlands of Mesopotamia had been decimated. In the decades leading up to the new century, hydro-engineering — dams for flood control and hydroelectricity, canals and reservoirs for agricultural irrigation — had greatly reduced the volume of the annual marsh-renewing floods. Then, in the 1990s, the marshes became a political pawn: former Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein drained large areas, in part to punish the tribes who lived there, the Marsh Arabs, for participating in anti-government rebellions. Following the Second Gulf War and the end of Saddam Hussein’s regime in 2003, the demolishing of the dikes and canals that had drained the marshes began. By February 9 2004, a dramatic transformation was underway in Mesopotamia. Several large marsh areas north and south of the Euphrates had been re-flooded, and the dry land south of Al-Hawizeh Marsh was being systematically filled. In aerial photos these areas appear almost purely dark blue or nearly black, which indicates that standing water was present, but that vegetation was absent or extremely sparse. By 2005, additional areas were flooded, especially north of the Euphrates. In some places, the water appeared more greenish than it did in 2004; this could be because plants or algae were growing, or because the water was shallower than it endemic UUPantheism
was the previous year. As the decade drew to a close, the recovering marshes faced new threats, including new dam construction upstream and drought. The amount of flooding visible in the 2009 image was considerably less than in 2008; not only the marshes, but also the adjacent irrigated crop areas appeared far less lush than they did the previous year. The 2009 drought had a severe impact on winter and spring crops in Iraq. The image from 2010 seems to tell a different story, however. While the marshes appeared to have shrunk still further, the irrigated agricultural areas in the center of the image appeared more extensive and greener than they were the previous year. A United Nations Environment Program assessment of the Iraq marsh restoration in 2006 concluded that roughly 58 percent of the marsh area present in the mid-1970s had been restored in the sense that standing water was seasonally present and vegetation was reasonably dense. Two years of field research by Iraqi and American scientists concluded that there had been a ‘remarkable rate of reestablishment of native macroinvertebrates, macrophytes, fish, and birds in re-flooded marshes.’ However, the lack of connectedness among the various re-flooded marshes remained a concern for species diversity and local territorial transformation cultural shifts
extinction. In addition, the volume of water that flowed into the marshes in the first years of restoration may not be able to be sustained as the country stabilizes and economic and agricultural activity resume. As a result, the ultimate fate of Mesopotamian marshes is still uncertain.
confluence riparian zone
Rivers Information System transboundary dialogue
interview with luna miguel Luna Miguel is a poet and journalist currently living in Barcelona. She has published multiple books of poetry in Spanish and, more recently, her first English language collection, Bluebird and Other Tattoos (Scrambler Books). She is twenty-three years old. We spoke to her via email with the help of translator Sharon Black. We encountered you and your work online via e-zines like The Scrambler and New Wave Vomit. Beyond being a great publicity tool, do you think your daily interaction with the Internet has had an effect on your writing? And what are your feelings on Alt Lit as a scene generated and working online? The Internet has given life to a generation in the sense that, thanks to this tool, we have been able to create our own codes and our way of managing literature differently. As you say, it’s true that today it is easier to have followers or to be read in many parts of the world. One of the wonders of this is that we are able to find out what writers such as David Meza (Mexico, 1990), Lysiane Rakotoson (France, 1987), Tao Lin (USA, 1983), Radu Vancu (Romania, 1978) or Natalia Litvinova (Belarus, 1986) are doing at this precise moment in time. Moreover, having everything at your fingertips isn’t easy— we have to get out there, learn languages, and learn about other literatures, other gazes, which will inevitably influence our writing. Not stylistically I don’t think; but rather by opening the mind of the new writer. We have new horizons. Bluebird is an unusual thing. It features small selections of poems from each of your previous four books, statements from yourself and your translator as well as a range of contemporary American writers regarding your work and you personally. It therefore acts as a general introduction to you as an author for an English speaking readership. How come you decided to go with this for your English language debut, rather than simply translating the most recent book? When Jeremy Spencer suggested to me that we publish
something together I still hadn’t finished writing my latest book, La tumba del marinero, so I wasn’t absolutely sure that I would be able to publish it in English, as it would require a lot of translation work. So we chose this selection of my poems, effectively, in order to recognise development. It was also useful for me to revisit my work and find out what it was about and where I wanted it to go. I consider it an honour that some of my colleagues — Ana Carrete, Kendra Grant Malone and Blake Butler — have read these texts with care and affection. My gratitude towards every reader of Bluebird outside of my country is infinite. You’re a translator yourself. How closely did you work with Jeremy Spencer on the translations? Do you feel a certain protectiveness over the rendering of your work in another language, or a need to step back and allow the translator their process? I wasn’t greatly involved in the translation, with the exception of sorting some queries raised by the translator. I prefer to grant total freedom to the person who has decided to carry out this task of transfer into another language. I also really liked Jacob Steimberg’s translations of some of my new texts, and I was struck when I read some of my poems in Romanian and Portuguese. It’s a beautiful thing because you don’t recognise yourself. It’s as if your texts didn’t belong to you. I like that sensation. In another interview, you said you couldn’t understand why contemporary Spanish poets in translation haven’t received more attention in the English-speaking literary world. In Ben Lerner’s novel Leaving the Atocha Station, his protagonist gives a fairly damning review of the Spanish reading/poetry style: Tomás looked less like he was going to read poetry and more like he was going to sing flamenco or weep [...] the delivery was so cloying the thought crossed my mind that his apparent earnestness might be parody.’ Do you recognise his description of this stereotype and the charges of over- sentimentality which are maybe levelled against contemporary Spanish poetry? I think this stereotype can be found everywhere— there are silly, vain or fake poets in every country and in all literatures. This excerpt really made me laugh because it is representative of many in the literary scene in Madrid, which I am not interested in. This
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type of figure makes poetry old. Fortunately, on the other hand, we have Unai Velasco, Elena Medel, Berta García Faet, Laura Rosal, Layla Martínez, Juan Andrés García Román— examples of young Spanish poets who represent the complete opposite of Lerner’s description. I hope someone will dare to translate them. They deserve to be read outside of our borders.
it’s a different genre’. Has your attitude toward these types of publications changed, or do you still think that, beyond the all-female websites and magazines in which your work has been featured (Very Beautiful Women, Illuminati Girl Gang), such ‘official’ or ‘authorised’ or ‘historical’ collections of ‘women’s writing’ are damaging on a greater level?
Did you ever had any reservations about your poems, which frequently deal with distinctly feminine experiences and rites of passage, being translated by a male writer?
I think that the work of Gabby Bess and other editors of female magazines is very interesting. I also created an anthology recently on the theme of menstruation (Sangrantes, Origami, 2013)— a collection of poems by very important writers in the Spanish language and also by young poets. What I am against is the use of absurd categories, particularly as critics are saying that all women ‘write the same’. However, there are anthologies like the one mentioned above which are created on the basis of common themes, connections and obsessions. I think they make sense when they are well justified. And they make sense when they do not exclude male readers. This is also paramount.
It’s strange, but I had never thought about this. But now that you say it, I am really excited about the fact that a considerable number of my texts have been translated by men. On the other hand, the Italian edition of Bluebird and Other Tattoos (entitled Musa ammalata – Damocle Edizioni) was translated by Sunshine Faggio, a female poet who is very committed to feminism and to poetry written by women. We understood each other very well, but then the same can be said of Jeremy Spencer, and of Jacob Steinberg, even though they are men. I suppose this demonstrates how literature transcends genres, generations and stereotypes. In an interview with 3:AM dated 2010, you were asked about the visibility of female writers in your country. You seemed to express some aversion to the publication of all-female anthologies— ‘I don’t think
As a female poet who has been photographed a lot, are you conscious of your image or personal brand in relation to your poems? I am conscious of it, but I understand it as something purely generational and circumstantial. I don’t know if you will agree with me, but haven’t we all taken millions of photos of ourselves since the creation of blogs, social
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networks, smartphones, and so on? It’s true, I do sense a certain ‘brand’ behind my image, but I relate it more to my life as a blogger, journalist and editor than to my life as a poet. Could you give us a brief overview of your impressions on the contemporary Spanish poetry scene, and how do you feel you work sits within it?
those texts and without everything that happened when they were published, I wouldn’t have been able to progress and continue on my path. You have to read the texts you wrote in the past to learn how to correct yourself. To criticise yourself. To grow.
I think there is a very rich panorama and we should ensure we do not lose it. Despite the recession and the difficulties, there are many interesting poets, some of which I have already mentioned above. Regardless of their ages, they are unique writers, each one with her or his own distinct style. Poetry is becoming increasingly fashionable, and there are more blogs, more anthologies, more magazines, more parties, more meetings, more connections. We want to read, and to discover, and to travel outside of our country, and to translate, and to meet in other places. This is a curious and collaborative generation. As I said before, I hope you’ll be able to read the work of all of those writers very soon. I hope Bluebird will only be the beginning and that soon, English and Spanish-speaking poets will be able to collaborate more and learn from each other. That would be absolutely wonderful. Who are your favourite contemporary poets, Spanish or otherwise? Who do you think has influenced your writing? The contemporary poets that most stand out for me are Tracy K. Smith, Dorothea Lasky, Daniela Camacho, Natalia Litvinova and Julieta Valero. How curiousthey are all women. However, if I had to say who has influenced me most in my writing, I would go a little further back in time to authors such as José Ángel Valente, Joyce Mansour, Sylvia Plath, Leopoldo María Panero, Ingeborg Bachmann, Ted Hughes, René Char, Charles Bukowski, Paul Celan… You started writing and publishing when you were still a teenager. Are you embarrassed of anything you’ve ever published? The truth is that I always have many doubts, and I can feel embarrassed about some of the texts in my books Estar enfermo and Poetry is not dead (both written before I was 19). However, I also know that without
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Jealousy I don’t know how to tell you that I don’t think of other men: shave off to zero, shave the word, scrape with silence other hands that I don’t want.
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anna metcalfe Translating Kafka The Notebook I have examined the notebook carefully and have seen that nothing good can be written in it. Its brown leather covers are dirty. The pages are a fraction too narrow so that one cannot get into the run of a sentence. Furthermore, this particular notebook is littered with scraps of abandoned ideas and quite dreadful early drafts of pieces later rewritten in other, superior notebooks. The notebook is an uncomfortable confrontation with the disorder of my thoughts. I am going now to buy a new notebook. Being Outside It is a shock to be among people. Solitude After several days of being in my own company, I forget to appreciate the soothing powers of solitude. I have bought my notebook. It is clean and new. I am going home where it is quiet. Going Home Walking into the entrance hall of my building I am watched by my neighbour’s cat. It is a pleasant kind of watching. I am included in his collection of familiar, tolerable things. A Slice of Fruitcake Having not yet eaten today, I go to the kitchen where I find a single slice of fruitcake in the biscuit tin. I do not remember buying it but it looks to be of good quality. I break off a piece and put it in my mouth. It does not taste good. Why so difficult to obtain proper sustenance? For the Consideration of the Housekeeper Upstairs and the Taxi Driver Outside The housekeeper’s broom across the floor of the apartment above, the floor that is at the same time my ceiling, is somehow louder than the engine of the taxi outside, which the driver leaves running long after the vehicle is stopped and parked at the side of the road. Description of a Sunday Afternoon From the window by my desk I see them wander down the street decked out in their Sunday best. At this remove they appear far more charming than they do as I walk among them. I can appreciate them for what they are. That is, strangers.
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Wasted Hours I have achieved nothing. There used to be a fever or a fervour that made me swing from side to side, never restful or at peace. Now I simply look at my thoughts as though from above refusing to be moved. However, while asleep, I had a quite interesting dream. Dream The sun is shining and a great crowd is gathered. I am standing by the side of a large, openair stage. I look about me and I know that I am in Athens, but not the Athens of today, the Athens of the tragedians, although it is unclear to me whether I am in the Hellenic Athens of the performance or the distant bronze age in which the tragedies are set. I turn to face the stage and see that it is the Antigone that is being performed. A young boy takes my hand and pulls me onto the stage. Suddenly I choke. I feel that I must have lines to say but I cannot remember a single word. I do not even know what role I am to play. The boy speaks for me while I remain frozen on stage. Then, I understand that I am Tiresias, but instead of being blind, I am mute. I forget to listen to the fable of warning the boy is telling on my behalf, distracted as I am by the audience and the bright colours of their robes. Absurd that I could play such a role. A Sentence ‘When he awoke from the dream, it was as though nothing in the world had ever happened.’ It is a sentence that appears as though one must have read or heard it before. Yet it is entirely possible that one has never encountered this particular arrangement of words as they appear in this moment upon this particular page. The Electric Light It is almost midnight and the building is silent. I am sitting down to write by the electric light. At this stage of the day, it will only be the most necessary and miserable stuff and I should write it in a hurry. Italian How a single Italian word — intaglio — can brighten up a dreary German sentence. A Sun Beam A sun beam through the leaves of a tree outside my window is scattering leaf shapes over my desk. It is joyous to see the light and shadow play, but, at the same time, it is quite distracting. Writing A Novel I will never finish the novel. Towards Stillness I am absolutely calm. Will it never end?
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Hope There is a sudden glimmer of enthusiasm. It makes me afraid. A momentary optimism. A reckless hurtling towards the future. The demise of some fundamental, critical faculty. It is precisely this genre of whimsy that entices me to write more nonsense. Numb The enthusiasm has passed. Thank god. Still, I am so numb that I fear I must be becoming very ill. Doubting My Presence in the Room I am more than a little unconvinced of my presence in the room. Towards the End I have not enough in me for another sentence. Would that I could find a single syllable into which I could pour my whole self. The Letter I have opened a letter from my mother. I am furious with her. Too furious to write any more. I need only imagine her voice making the sounds dictated by the hieroglyphs (such is her handwriting) on the page and I almost scream. The day is ruined. Appetite The single sensible thing expressed by my mother in her letter was to enquire as to my eating habits. I am reminded that I have not eaten since the morsel of fruitcake. I am utterly incapable. On Self-Loathing An indulgence. Writing with the image of the published book before you. If there were less time, perhaps, I would not bother. But then, there is never enough time as it is. Novel I have almost finished the novel. No. That is not the case. I have almost finished the words of the novel. Being Alone Finally in my bed, there is a sudden pang of loneliness amid all my cravings for solitude. How I loathe such contradictions. How they are repugnant to me. And the happiness of being with other people.
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Assisi Each day I invent a way to pray cause I want to win The limestones are cheery in the grey rain and in the cheesy rays I visit the churches and truly pray cause I want to win The weather systemâ€™s huge news to the pork chefs who grin having killed or not killed hardly thinking, too kind and tired The branches sink in dew, time doesnâ€™t move, space moves, the trees shake in the chrome mountains and droop the mountains decay in the chrome sky and erode the wolves die in the dirt
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Cleaning the Basilica I’m really sorry you had to clean the basilica it’s so big and vaulty I’m so sorry I can’t eat food What’s art?? The friend of the friend’s skinny daughter throwing up while giving blood The limp rag on the face of the dead son of God moving down the stone of his dead knees
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Throwing Life Away
O, I’m so good at throwing life away I can do it driving a manual manually with my hand, with no other power, with a man I can throw my life away by a river yes it’s incredibly easy when the water is moving but you know, I can also toss it into a lake, no problem I can stand in a wet forest not a rain forest per se but a wet one and throw it away just smoking into the chlorophyll thrilled to strip my own air of juice I can instead of observing embers think I can think while others lecture I can hold and kiss a tiny baby I can change a tire! I’ll hold a cat or dog The world is rich and each gorgeous place is a place you can completely forget it That’s what people forget, that natural beauty actually worsens grief Still people speak of the tawny sun all the time moving up or down at the crust, the magic of that making the others cry.
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daniela olszewska THIRTEENZ
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IMHO,ComfortIzKind OUnderrated.EFF This<3<3<3<3Affair W/Suffering.Saturday LoungeOnCherry FeatherOrWater DeerBed.ClipYrNest HairPurtyYet'Fessional. HideATiniestMatryoshka InYrMiddleLuxeOrgan. Don'tBAnOffTopicHaute Mess.ThisRequirezMOAR Efforzt,ButLesserAchez.
THIRTEENZ My zROverly Pedestrian,ButIFeel IDeserveAReward4Switching FromCoffee2Tea,FromGiving UpOnCrushingOnStraight Women+GayMen.TMI: MyParentzRGr8Patriotz, ButIndifferentAffectionistz. UKeepThinkingThatGetting BackIntoRiotGrrrlMightSAVE Me,ButAllThaRealRiotGrrlz InRussianPrisonzNow, +I'mWay2Attached2Comfortz.
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Violins Babies swim towards violins I saw so on TV but will they remember the swivel chairs upturned in fight. Prince Nicholas is sleeping In his hotel bed in Paris. From the mountains they came uninvited we gave them bread and our stares. ‘Think of the unarmed rings’, she wasn’t joking, after the explosion, in her quest for limbs. Is it possible our people are petty is it possible they’ll watch the money under the floorboards, and eat it. They aim for the kneecaps, you topple a man like you topple a tower. Men can sew they taught us that they taught us the tank, when tradition comes we can’t keep our hands off each other. Stranger squatting in our flat in his suit wearing my slippers he had leafed through your books I said were you looking for money he said no I was looking for words. I left him there. Hold its head it’s a good brown nut there’s a room where they leave the mongrel babies. Don’t save torture only for the extravagant, it can also be used for parking tickets. You scrubbed their floors naked and you let them see your blood, aren’t you ashamed to remember that. Babies swim towards violins but we scooped ours up before they could remember and wiped them dry.
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When Things Were Over People Forgot When things were over people forgot. Women gave birth in hospitals and beds. The pain was tremendous. At the time they imagined themselves splitting in two, tectonic plates straining East and West until all that remained was a volcanic new continent of smart, red heat. Afterwards they did not remember and gave birth to many more babies. When things were over people forgot. They ate their cookies and drank their milk and afterwards wondered where the crumbs had come from. They reached for a second cookie and poured a second glass of milk because milk sounded good and the cookie jar was present and available. They were capable of three, maybe four rounds before the inclination quit or the milk ran out. Even then, belly full of oatmeal raisin, they could neither recall nor regret their eatings. When things were over people forgot. They argued on the bus ride home, fell into silence and recommenced the very same argument during the ten blocks from bus stop to home. They fell through the door fists flying and when the morning found them reconciling greedily on the living room floor, invented stories for their battle wounds. ‘Where,’ she asked, tracing her torn fingernails across the spot where she’d left teethmarks, ‘Did this come from?’ ‘Downtown foxes,’ he replied and instantly forgot her question so when she asked a second time, he had the audacity to suggest dinosaurs. ‘Dinosaurs,’ she yelled, ‘What the Hell’s a dinosaur?’ And because dinosaurs were at least five thousand years forgotten, he could only shrug and brace himself for the next argument. When things were over people forgot. This was, for the most part, a choice. People wished to forget. They favoured forwards over backwards. They could not remember a time when the future had been more accessible or appealing. A cross section of the community – approximately nine hundred participants in total – were rigorously surveyed and agreed that things would be much better forgotten once they were over. ‘For example films,’ suggested one participant, ‘Who has time to talk about something they’ve already seen?’ ‘Or television programmes, or people, or vacations.’ ‘Similarly surgery. No one wants to remember the stitches coming out.’
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When things were over people forgot. To avoid confusion almost everything was given an expiry date. Every event commenced and concluded with a stopwatch. People soon found they could endure almost anything – five hour sermons, two day funerals, Ben Stiller movies – if amnesia came as standard. The stopwatch simply reminded them how long to hold out for. In other circumstances individual items could be turned upside down and scanned for an accurate idea of when they would be over. This helped people not to have unrealistic expectations. ‘It’s better this way,’ they explained. ‘If you’re aware that there are only twenty seven chips in the bag you know you’re going to be disappointed before you even begin eating.’ ‘And then,’ they added, ‘once you’re done you can forget your disappointment and open another bag of chips.’ This made sense to most people. Most people were realists but did not like to be reminded of this in polite company. When it came to people, babies were easy to read. Adults were more difficult. The elderly, in particular, resented both the inconvenience of being tipped upside down and the casual reminders of just how soon they’d be forgotten. Discovering your expiry date was universally frowned upon. Most individuals – gymnasts and contortionists withstanding – were incapable of examining their own heels. This was no accident. Ordinary people could not cope with knowing. Secretly they did not want to disappear. Though they all agreed that things were much better forgotten once they were over, they saw themselves as the exception to this rule. Those who cheated, using periscopes or bathroom mirrors to read their own heels, developed unrealistic expectations, driving themselves thin and frantic with overliving. Regardless of how loudly they’d lived, when they were over everyone still forgot the helicopter rides, the champagne, Caribbean vacations and exciting sex these people had crammed into their last few months. When things were over people forgot. They stood on the edge of the city and asked themselves honestly if they’d ever been here before. They looked at their hands and wondered if they’d ever been held fondly or even in spite. They contemplated an entire world of songs and books and theatre plays and could not recall a single word. And they felt very old and very empty and could not remember the name for this place.
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Darja Bajagić was born in former Yugoslavia, raised in Egypt, and has lived in the United States since 1999. Currently, she is an MFA Candidate at Yale University. She will be exhibiting a solo show at Appendix Project Space in Portland, Oregon at the end of June. Emily Berry co-edits the anthology series Stop Sharpening Your Knives and is a contributor to The Breakfast Bible, a compendium of breakfasts. Her debut poetry collection is Dear Boy, published by Faber & Faber. Jan Carson is a writer and community arts development officer currently based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has a BA in English Literature from Queen’s University Belfast and an MLitt. In Theology and Contemporary Culture from St. Andrew’s University, Scotland. Laura Elliott studied at Norwich University College of the Arts, and has since completed her MA in Poetry at the University of East Anglia. Emily Jones lives and works in London. She graduated from Oxford Brookes University in 2008. Recent works include Lingua Franca and Universal Donor which explore motherhood and were recently shown in #FUTUREMYTH at 319 scholes, New York. Laura Jane Faulds is a Toronto-based writer of French-Moroccan descent. Her work has been published in Hazlitt, Drunken Boat, and Cal Morgan's Forty Stories; she also co-runs the blog Strawberry Fields Whatever. strawberryfieldswhatever.blogspot.co.uk Born in Kishinov, Moldova, Bea Fremderman finished her studies at The School of the Art Institute in Chicago in 2012 where she currently lives. Maja Malou Lyse (also known as boothbitch) is a 20 yr old photographer and internet-based artist currently living in Copenhagen and studies at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. Željka Marošević writes fiction and poetry. She also runs Melville House UK, an independent publishing house. Faye McNulty is a textile designer and illustrator. She teaches at Chelsea College, UAL across a range of hand print techniques. Her work has been exhibited at galleries such as 193c Gallery, Brooklyn, NY and Customs House, Newcastle. Anna Metcalfe was born in Germany in 1987. Her work has been published in Elbow Room, Lighthouse Journal and elsewhere. She lives in Norwich. Luna Miguel lives in Barcelona where she works as a journalist and as an editorial assistant at Random House. She is the author of seven poetry books and has written a novella with her husband, Exhumación: lunamiguel.com Daniela Olszewska is the author of four books of poetry, including Citizen J, forthcoming Autumn 2013 from Artifice books. You can follow her on tumblr: danielaolszewska.tumblr.com Alice Charlotte Ray is a dancer and artist living in London. She is mostly unable to see the line between being the subject and discussing the subject. alicecharlotteray.com Hannah Regel lives and works in London as the co-editor in chief of SALT. Magazine. She has exhibited internationally and has been selected to take part in the Bloomberg New Contemporaries later this year. salt-magazine.blogspot.co.uk Alicia Rodriguez is currently completing a degree in Fine Art at NUA. Over the past two years, Alicia has exhibited in group shows around Norwich and performed at Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery. alicia-sasa.blogspot. co.uk Donya Todd is an illustrator and comic artist who lives on a farm in Cornwall, England. Donya’s graphic novel Death & The Girls is being published by Blank Slate Books this summer. She is the publisher of all-girl comic anthology Bimba. bimbagirlcomics.co.uk Emily Toder is the author of Science (Coconut Books) and the chapbooks Brushes With (Tarpaulin Sky), I Hear a Boat (Duets), and No Land (forthcoming 2013 from Brave Men Press). She lives in Northampton, USA, where she translates Spanish and Catalan literature and works at a university archives.
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a quarterly journal made by women