Simin Behbahani, born in 1927, in Tehran, of literary parents –
her father, Abbas Khalili, was a novelist and her mother, Fakhri Arghun,
a noted feminist, teacher, and writer – published her first poem at
14. She is the author of over a dozen books of poetry in Persian, with
one collection of translations in English, A CUP OF SIN,
tr. Farzaneh Milani and Kaveh Safa (Syracuse University Press,
1999). She was awarded a Human Rights Watch-Hellman/Hammet grant in
1998, and similarly, in 1999, the Carl von Ossietzky Medal, for her
struggle for freedom of expression in Iran. A selected list of sites on
the web relevant to her is available on the Resources page.
Thomas Crampton is a Hong Kong-based regional correspondent for the
International Herald Tribune.
Robert Finley teaches literature and creative writing at the
Université Ste-Anne in southwestern Nova Scotia, and is an associate
editor there of Feux Chalins: Littératures des Maritimes, a
bilingual arts journal. He writes regular reviews for The Malahat
Review, and is currently at work on a short book on reading
contemporary poetry, a long book on harbours, and a picture book, with
photographer François Gaudet, designed for web publication.
Clara Györgyey is a Professor Emeritus
of English and Drama and Associate Director of the Program for
Humanities in Medicine at Yale University School of Medicine, and has
been President of International PEN Writers-in-Exile Center since 1976.
She is the author of ten books and translator of more than two dozen
works of different genres, including the long-running play, Catsplay,
by Istvan Örkény, a critical biography, FERENC MOLNAR
(Twayne’s World Authors Series), and translations in A
MIRROR TO THE CAGE, Three Contemporary Hungarian Plays
(University of Arkansas Press). “Confessions of a Marxist Puppetmaster”
first appeared in Hungarian in her book of stories, WITH
ARROGANT HUMILITY (1987), then in two Hungarian samizdat
periodicals; the English version (translated by herself) came out in Légerité,
(1989; now defunct). The piece is a portrait of a very famous writer and
sociologist persecuted by the communist regime. Clara Gyorgyey lives in
Orange, Connecticut, with her husband, Ferenc.
Richard Jones is a journalist and novelist who has tried his hand
at all forms of writing except for the theatre. He is a native of
Cardiganshire in Wales (born in 1926) and was educated in Wales and
France. He worked for Reuters and the BBC, and for a time was a
correspondent in Beirut. After the publication of his first novel, in
1967, he began teaching creative writing in American universities,
including Stanford and the University of Virginia. He has been a book
reviewer for a wide range of publications including The Listener
(the now-defunct BBC publication) and The American Scholar. His
“Hubert Butler, An Appreciation,” appeared in Archipelago Vol.
1, No. 2.
Elizabeth Knies is the author of THE
NEW YEAR & OTHER POEMS, published in THREESOME
POEMS (Alicejames Books); STREETS AFTER RAIN
(Alicejames Books); and FROM THE WINDOW
(Teal Press). New poems will appear in the Spring 2001
Christian McEwen, daughter of Sir Robert
and Lady McEwen, was born in 1956 in London and grew up on the Borders
of Scotland. She has a particular interest in nature writing and the
family memoir. She is the editor of JO’s GIRLS:
Tomboy Tales of High Adventure (Beacon Press, 1997), and is at work on a
video sequel, Tomgirls! She is also the editor of NAMING
THE WAVES: Contemporary Lesbian Poetry (Virago Press, 1988;
Crossing Press, 1989), and, with Sue O’Sullivan, OUT
THE OTHER SIDE: Contemporary Lesbian Writing (Crossing Press,
1989). Her essay “Growing Up Upperclass” appears in OUT
OF THE CLASS CLOSET, ed. Julia Penelope (Crossing Press, 1994),
and her new volume, THE ALPHABET OF THE TREES: A
Guide to Nature Writing (Teachers & Writers Collaborative),
co-edited with Mark Statman, is just out. It contains images of
watercolors by Rory McEwen.
teaches Persian language and literature and studies in women and gender and is presently director of
Studies in Women and Gender at the University of Virginia. She is the
author of VEILS AND WORDS: The Emerging Voices of
Iranian Women Writers (Syracuse Univ. Press and I. B. Taurus) and has
also served as guest editor for two special issue of Nimeye Digar
on Simin Daneshvar and Simin Behbahani. With Kaveh Safah, she translated
A CUP OF SIN (Syracuse University Press, 1999), by
Kaveh Safa has taught courses in anthropology at City Colleges,
New York and Los Angeles, and at the University of Memphis, and in
Persian language and literature at the Universities of Virginia and
Chicago. His current teaching and research interests are in poetics and
sexuality and gender. He is completing a dissertation on concepts of
masculinity in Iranian culture for the Department of Anthropology,
University of Chicago. With Farzanah Milani, he translated A
CUP OF SIN (Syracuse University Press, 1999), by Simin Behbahani.
Renata Treitel is a teacher, poet
and translator. She was born in Switzerland and educated in Italy,
Argentina, and the United States. She has published a chapbook of poetry, GERMAN
NOTEBOOK (1983). Her translations include: Susana Thénon, distancias/distances
(Sun & Moon Press, 1994), and Rosita Copioli, SPLENDIDA
LUMINA SOLIS / THE BLAZING LIGHTS OF THE SUN
(Sun & Moon Press, 1996). Renata Treitel was awarded a Witter Bynner
Translation Grant (1991) to translate Rosita Copioli's SPLENDIDA
LUMINA SOLIS, and won the Oklahoma Poetry
Award (1997) for her translation THE
BLAZING LIGHTS OF THE SUN. This year, she received a Witter
Bynner Translation Grant to translate Rosita Copioli’s FURORE
“X”: The author of AGENT NINE is
currently undercover. Comments and inquiries may be sent in care of Archipelago.
The first part of Book One, “Alice’s Adventures
Overseas,” will appear in six installments in Archipelago, from
September till March. The newest episode goes on-line around the middle
of next month.
THE HUBERT BUTLER CENTENARY CELEBRATION
20-22 OCTOBER 2000 ~ KILKENNY, IRELAND
Hubert Butler (1900-1991), Kilkenny man-of-letters, remains a
largely undiscovered treasure of Irish literature. A celebration of his
life and work is to be held in his ancestral town, on the weekend of
October 20-22. Information and registration forms can be found on this
pdf (requiring the Adobe Reader for viewing), and on the “Hubert
Butler” web site.
The celebration will begin with a keynote address, “Hubert Butler
and His Century,” by the distinguished Oxford historian Roy Foster on
Friday evening, followed by three sessions: “Remembering Butler”
(Saturday morning), “Butler in Ireland” (Saturday afternoon), and
“Butler Abroad” (Sunday morning). In each session a series of
speakers will address aspects of Butler’s life and work. There will
also be Conference Receptions at Kilkenny Castle and at Maidenhall, the
Butler family home. The speakers will include John Banville, Edna
Longley, Joe Hone, Tim Robinson, Fintan O’Toole, Nicholas Grene, Chris
Agee, Dick Crampton, Christopher Fitz-Simon, John Casey,
Proinsias O Drisceoil, Rob Tobin, Peter Smithwick, Christopher Merrill,
Caroline Walsh, Eleanor Burgess and Antony Farrell. The Observer
columnist Neal Ascherson will deliver the closing address on Sunday
afternoon, “Hubert Butler’s Contemporary Relevance.” The
Conference venue will be Butler House, in the center of Kilkenny.
“The Artukovitch File,” by Hubert Butler, appeared in Archipelago
Vol. 1, No. 2. John Casey, novelist, speaker at the celebration,
and family friend of the Butlers, is also a Contributing Editor of this
Edith Grossman, the translator of Gabriel García Márquez, Mayra
Montero, Alvaro Mútis, and Mario Vargas Llosa, among other noted Latin
American writers, has been asked to undertake a new American English
version of Cervantes’ DON QUIXOTE, by Dan
Halpern, publisher of The Ecco Press/HarperCollins. The project is
expected to take about two years, and she will provide notes to the
edition, as well. Her translation of Victoria Slavuski’s “Music to
Forget an Island By” appeared in Vol. 2, No. 1. Edith Grossman
is also a Contributing Editor of Archipelago.
M Sarki, some of whose
poems appeared in Archipelago Vol. 1, No. 2, and
is the author of ZIMBLE ZAMBLE ZUMBLE, from elimae
books, just out. Bibliographic
information: First edition, first printing, limited to 75 copies. 12mo -
over 6 3/4" - 7 3/4" tall. Hand sewn original wraps. Foreword
by Gordon Lish. 99 pp. The text of this book was set in Polophilus.
Front and back covers 80 lb. Crystal Gloss Cover. The front and back
covers were hand cut, and the book was strengthened by an internal
binding and bound (inside and out) with bee's-wax-treated silk thread.
Designed by Deron Bauman.
Persons interested in purchasing a copy (for $55) can contact Deron
Bauman of elimae books either by e-mail
by post at 822 N. Clinton, Dallas TX, 75208. A signed copy from the
author M Sarki can be had for $60 to cover the cost of extra postage
and packaging in the U.S. That address is 1403 Evergreen Road,
Anchorage, KY 40223.
Michael Rothenberg’s THE PARIS JOURNALS,
a book of poems, is to be launched at a publication party given by Suzi
Winson, editor and publisher of Fish Drum Magazine. An evening of
readings by Michael Rothenberg and Suzi Winston, from the book and
magazine, will be part of the festivities. The event takes place on
Sunday, October 8, at the Zinc Bar, 90 West Houston Street (between
LaGuardia and Thompson Streets), New York, at 6:30 pm; small admission
charged. Michael Rothenberg’s letter appears below.
Joan Schenkar’s new biography of Dolly Wilde, niece of Oscar
and a personage in her own right, is called TRULY WILDE
and is to be launched in October by Virago/Little Brown in the U.K. and
Basic Books in the U.S. The cast of characters includes: Dorothy Wilde
(1895-1941), Oscar Wilde, Natalie Clifford Barney, various members of
the Wilde family, Trancred Borenius, Djuna Barnes, Bettina Bergery,
Cecil Beaton, Truman Capote, Berthe Cleyrergue, Victor Cunard, Elizabeth
Eyre de Lanux, Janet Flanner, and a high-spirited gathering of
Joan Schenkar is a widely-produced playwrite, three of whose “comedies
of menace” are collected in SIGNS OF LIFE
(Wesleyan Univ. Press, 1998). Her “Recommended Reading” appeared in Archipelago
Vol. 2, No. 1.
On James Broughton, from Michael Rothenberg:
James Broughton is a celebrated maniac of the beat era and did a lot
of experimental film work and poetry. I have seen some of his films and
have heard his poetry. When I heard it I was uplifted by his lightness
and gaiety and playfulness and love, though sometimes I felt it was
slight and easy.
I met him at Port Townsend about 20 years ago.
I was working with William Stafford, Mark Strand, Carolyn Kizer, Charles
Wright, and Marvin Bell. Believe me, when Broughton dropped in – he
lived around there for a while – it was such a breath of fresh air I
wanted to kiss him, and I told him. But you have to consider the source;
too much of the university professor can dull my senses. He didn’t have
that way about him. That was his beauty. But he was very smart.
Certainly an intellectual. He was concerned with liberation and
experimentation in art and sexuality. Jack Foley who writes at Octavo,
is on KPFA in Berkeley poetry series, and writes
reviews for the Poetry Flash, is a big fan of his and there are
many like Jack.
Michael Rothenberg is a poet and edits The Big Bridge.
“Free to Die Laughing,” an interview with James Broughton, appeared
in Archipelago Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2.
On the Editor’s conversation with Odile Hellier, from Martin
It’s interesting, this whole game of the commercialization of
culture. I recognize how vulnerable a writing career is without a
best-seller under the belt. The quirks and risks are commercially
acceptable from a known name, a “branded” writer; but without those
sales figures I have to keep coming up with a new sleight of hand to get
the next book published.
I recently created a massive chart of factors that created
best-sellers to see if I could write with some of those criteria in
mind. It’s an informative process, though I have come to see that “unique
and strong authorial voice” is one of the necessary categories.
Grisham came up quite a few times in your conversation.
I’ve not read
the new piece serialized in his Oxford Magazine, which got some
wonderful reviews, but actually have been quite impressed by him. There
was one page in one of the books that made me think “wow, he can
really do it if he wants”: beautifully clean prose, a latter-day
Dickensian style. It was like seeing the early paintings of Lowry and
realizing he actually could do great art, so I should revise my opinion
of his stick-people paintings, knowing they were done by choice and not
creative flaccidity! I do find a lot of “literature” to be maudlin
self-reflection. One of the virtues of commercial literature is that it
does not major in self-reflection. It often does take quite an incisive
and informed approach to contemporary society.
“Literature” keeps letting me down. I know Malcolm Lowry is
great, but I’ve sat by his graveside in Sussex and seen what that often
amounts to. There’s a certain celebration of anguish, yet I’m not sure
the exchange is worthwhile: the work for the failed and miserable lives.
I’ve also sat by the river at the point Virginia Wolfe drowned herself.
So much great work, written on the edge, explores the failures of life
to really connect.
I’m not sure that gives the right encouragement.
Some give me hope. William Goyen’s ARCADIO,
Denton Welch, James Purdy, especially in IN A SHALLOW
GRAVE, Michael Cunningham before THE HOURS,
(I realize I’m about to catalogue gay male writing, which shows how
subjective comment is.) Peter Cameron’s ANDORRA,
Mark Merlis’s AN ARROW’S FLIGHT (wonderful), Pete
Russell’s THE SEA OF TRANQUILLITY, and Patrick
White (who was my early hero) ...
Good commercial fiction gives me structure and a satisfying way out
of a tangled mess, plus insights into contemporary aspects of life. “Literature”
can turn my life around, make me joyful for the wonders of language; but
so often seek to drag me into despair without showing me a credible way
through it, and there is a way through it, so I tire of
Martin Goodman is a novelist and essayist. His interview with James
Broughton, “Free to Die Laughing,” appeared in Archipelago
Vol. 4, Nos. 1/2. “Institutional
Memory: A conversation with Odile Hellier, of the Village Voice
Bookshop, Paris,” appeared in the same issue.
On serious reading and the web, from Phil Sheehan:
I think you are generally correct about serious readers. We (I
flatter myself that I am one) take more pleasure, surely, in reading
from the page, and I think there are several reasons for this.
The page in front of us – book or magazine or journal – has
substance, it is real. Its content, therefore, is inherently real,
substantial. And consistent. Every time I open my copy of BLEAK
HOUSE, it begins, “London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the
Lord Chancellor sitting in Lincoln’s Inn.” The computer screen, with
images that come and go and change instantaneously, is the home of what
is called (an oxymoron, in my mind) “virtual reality.” One of its
touted advantages, with respect to the Internet, is that the page very
likely will NOT be the same the next time I look
It is not easy to get comfortable with a monitor: it defies or
prevents many of the truly enjoyable positions for reading – curled up
in a chair, sprawled in the grass, huddled under the covers. And serious
readers – perhaps I need to pause here and define serious readers. In
my mind, they are those who read because the process itself is
important, magic, defining. It may not always matter what they read; in
fact, they are apt to read absolutely anything at all merely because it
is there. My middle son, the most literate of six highly literate
siblings, is virtually compulsive about it, reading cereal boxes and
banana labels and wattage imprints on light bulbs when nothing else is
available. He’s been doing it since childhood, and is now in his
mid-thirties. It might be that we serious readers are intent upon more
than getting the score or identifying the killer or hearing the music:
it is important to us to be able to translate the symbols into
meaningful images; it is a critical step in bringing order out of chaos;
it is a part of coming to grips with, of managing at least to
comprehend, a world we know we can neither encompass or direct.
As I was saying when I so rudely interrupted myself: Serious readers
enjoy the process; it enriches the entire experience, which becomes more
than simply acquiring information. And one can honestly enjoy the
process only if one is comfortable.
Reading on the computer screen is – it has become for most who do
it for any period of time – an interactive phenomenon. It is unusual
for me to read for more than a minute or so without calling on the
computer to so something: call up a new page, go to a different site,
bring up a different program, change parameters of the presentation.
These are not the same as, not even analogous to, turning the page. They
involve a change in direction, a redirection of focus, an intrusion of
other elements. And that is not even to begin dealing with the more
complex details of “interactivity.”
I had a pleasant but ultimately frustrating argument with an
acquaintance lately about the value of what he (and many others, I
suppose) calls “e-fiction.” It is one of the pet toys of the
deconstructionists or some such nonce critical school, a technological
assist in the depersonalizing of literature. He argued that e-fiction
liberates the reader from the tyranny of the writer, allowing said
reader to jump hither and yon in the text at her/his whim, instead of
being led by the writer. My reply was that e-fiction sounded to me far
more restrictive than the old-fashioned kind – readers leap around, to
be sure, but only from predetermined points within the text, and only to
other predetermined points within the text. If I am reading, say, a Tony
Hillerman mystery, I am free at any point to look sideways at the New
Mexican landscape, backward at the Navajo lore, down at the probable
motives of the killer. All that, without clicking the mouse or even for
a moment losing my place in the story. Not surprisingly, neither of us
Probably the dominant period of “serious readers” is at an end.
We will never become extinct, I think, but we will soon be outnumbered,
if we are not already, by those whose reading experience is confined to
the computer screen, or some essentially indistinguishable surrogate.
Looking back through McLuhan, we’d probably find he had outlined a
great deal of this. We are the current incarnation of what he called POBs
– print-oriented bastards. I think we deserve a less derisive title,
though I think McLuhan applied it affectionately.