My latest review for the Chicago Review of Books is up! This is a nonfiction account of an “honor killing” of a Pakistani internet celebrity for her provocative online activities. It was published by the wonderful Brooklyn-based small press Melville House. I learned so much about Pakistan, about the clash between online and traditional culture, and about this brave woman. Check it out my review here.
MONGREL TONGUE was a poetry bestseller on Small Press Distribution in December 2019! It’s in great company. Thank you to everyone who has supported the book! Long live small presses!
I’ll be hosting a group reading with a dozen poets to celebrate the launch of my book. (I need poets close by). Party to follow! At the fab Sociëteit SEXYLAND.
Readers will include Larry Kearney, who recently published a memoir of his friendship with Jack Spicer (!!), eminent translator of Dutch poetry David Colmer, and Dutch, American, Canadian, British and Sri Lankan poets: Anna Arov, Dean Bowen, Nadia de Vries, Lucia Dove, Erin Russell, Pubudu Sachithanandan, Milla van der Have, Marc van der Holst, and Laura Wetherington.
Doors open 3pm, reading starts at 3:30pm. Intermission at 4:30pm.
Party starts at 6pm. RSVP at the FB event if you so desire.
Address: Ms. van Riemsdijkweg 39, NDSM Werf, Amsterdam Noord.
Wednesday, November 13
At The New School with Nick Laird, Manhattan
A reading and conversation, moderated by poet extraordinaire, Laura Cronk. 6:30-8pm. Lang Cafe, Eugene Lang College, 65 West 11th Street, New York
Thursday, November 14
At Berl’s Poetry Shop, Brooklyn
A reading with Israeli poet Daniel Oz and others, 7-8 pm. 141 Front Street in D.U.M.B.O, Brooklyn.
There was a word in his language, I said, that was hard to translate but that could be summed up as a feeling of homesickness even when you are at home, in other words as a sorrow that has no cause. This feeling was perhaps what had once driven his people to roam the world, seeking the home that would cure them of it. It may be the case that to find that home is to end one’s quest, I said, but it is with the feeling of displacement itself that the true intimacy develops and that constitutes, as it were, the story. Whatever the kind of affliction it is, I said, its nature is that of the compass, and the owner of such a compass puts all his faith in it and goes where it tells him to go, despite appearances telling him the opposite. It is impossible for such a person to attain serenity, I said, and he might spend his whole life marvelling at that quality in others or failing to understand it, and perhaps the best he can hope for is to give a good imitation of it, as certain addicts accept that while they will never be free of their impulses they can live alongside them without acting on them. What such a person cannot tolerate, I said, is the suggestion that his experiences have not arisen out of universal conditions but instead can be blamed on particular or exceptional circumstances, and that what he was treating as truth was in fact no more than personal fortune; any more than the addict, I said, ought to believe that he can regain his innocence of things of which he already has a fatal knowledge.
From Kudos, by Rachel Cusk
I finished this last book in Cusk’s incredible “Outline” trilogy today, and I’m still pondering this passage. Faye is responding to a young interviewer who’s trying to persuade her that she would be happy if she lived somewhere sunny. Her response appears to be that the questing dissatisfaction that drives her shouldn’t be attributed to her personal misfortunes, and that it is not ultimately a quality that she can or perhaps even wants to reject. This follows on one of the central questions Faye/Cusk seems to be asking: What does suffering bring? What does it make possible?
I’m excited to be teaching a creative writing course for beginners with the International Writers’ Collective at the American Book Center in The Hague this spring. All of the details are here. UPDATE: The class is full!
This struggle to get the words out of my mouth took me right back to a year in my childhood when I did not speak at all. Every time I was asked to speak up, to speak louder, the words ran away, trembling and ashamed. It is always the struggle to find language that tells me it is alive, vital, of great importance. We are told from an early age that it is a good thing to be able to express ourselves, but there is as much invested in putting a stop to language as there is in finding it. Truth is not always the most entertaining guest at the dinner table, and anyway, as Duras suggests, we are always more unreal to ourselves than other people are.
Deborah Levy, from The Cost of Living