Series editor: Manijeh Mannani
Give us wholeness, for we are broken.
But who are we asking, and why do we ask?
Mingling Voices invites the work of writers who challenge boundaries, both literary and cultural. The series issues a reminder that literature is not obligated to behave in particular ways; rather, it can defy convention and comfort and demand that readers summon the courage to explore. At the same time, literary words are not ordinary words, and the series implicitly raises the question of how literature can be delineated and delimited. While Mingling Voices welcomes original work—poems, short stories, and, on occasion, novels—written in English, it also acknowledges the craft of translators, who build bridges across the borders of language. Similarly, the series is interested in cultural crossings, whether through immigration or travel or through the interweaving of literary traditions themselves.
Poems for a Small Park
Jonathan Locke Hart
Windfall Apples: Tanka and Kyoka
Zeus and the Giant Iced Tea
The Metabolism of Desire: The Poetry of Guido Cavalcanti
Translated by David R. Slavitt
Ewa Lipska, translated by Barbara Bogoczek and Tony Howard
Spark of Light: Short Stories by Women Writers of Odisha
Edited by Valerie Henitiuk and
Kaj Smo, Ko Smo / What We Are When We Are
Cvetka Lipuš, Translation by Tom Priestly
|Odprti konec||Open End|
|Jutranja vožnja||Morning Journey|
|Kaj bi||What If|
|Deseti januar||January Tenth|
|Koncert za glas in nebo||Concerto for Voice and Sky|
|Težki od časa||Heavy with Time|
|Naj sonce ne zaide nad jezo||Let Not the Sun Go Down on Your Anger|
|Novi naslov||The New Address|
|Poglej nas, kako lebdimo||Watch Us Float|
|Noč z grozo v gobcu||A Night with a Threat in Its Muzzle|
|Kje si, ko si||Where You Are When You Are|
|Lake Mendota||Lake Mendota|
|Pogled zavesti||The Look of Consciousness|
|Dreams Limited||Dreams Limited|
|To-Do List||To-Do List|
|Prijavni urad||The Registration Office|
|Na levem boku dneva||On the Port Side of the Day|
|Drago življenje,||Dear Life,|
|About the Author and Translator|
In “Passage” (as in many of her poems), Cvetka Lipuš reminds us that we come to know ourselves by each day’s experiences: “I thread days onto the year’s necklace. / The dark ones and the light ones, as they travel / through me, all start to gleam.”
The more experiences that travel through us, the greater our capacity to perceive the world. Lipuš expresses her experiences in Slovenian, which, like all languages, is a habitat for a group’s knowledge. Translated into English by Slavic scholar Tom Priestly, What We Are When We Are provides English readers, for the first time in book form, access to the knowledge of this gifted poet. And what is lost in each poem’s translation? As a monolingual person, I take heart in Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer, who, in his acceptance speech for the Neustadt Prize, said, “The poem as it is presented is a manifestation of another, invisible poem, written in a language behind the common languages. Thus, even the original version is a translation. A transfer into English or Malayalam is merely the invisible poem’s new attempt to come into being. The important thing is what happens between the text and the reader.”
Each time I read a translated poem, an image, a thought, a perspective, once hidden from me, is revealed. I am given a new experience, a chance to widen the scope of my perceptions. Sometimes that new perspective is a recognition that, regardless of language and culture, we share many of the same root concerns and questions. Seeing the familiar in the strange is not only a comfort but expands the gift of empathy.
Much of Lipuš’s work is concerned with the hidden, the invisible, the buried—the strange but familiar forces that reside just outside of our consciousness, as when “somebody in the depths of consciousness / makes for the surface, somebody within me / suddenly grabs my wrist” (“The Look of Consciousness”). Thresholds and liminal spaces are also felt throughout the book, and the poems move with the rhythm of breath, drawing us into Lipuš’s dreams and imagination, then releasing us back into her present.
In “Sleeplessness,” we read,
I shut my eyes and
sibilant consonants unscrew themselves from words,
they rent the five thousand fifth floor of the
Tower of Babel and they lose their harmony.
And later in the poem,
Just for a moment I shut my eyes and
shares fall on stock exchanges.
An alligator in the Florida swamps munches
the foot of a tourist and excretes it
in the shape of a cowboy boot
Lipus’s imaginative leaps are playful and, at the same time, often so startling as to have a visceral effect. We feel ourselves launched from the ordinary into the extraordinary. We sense a glimpse of the unconscious, the hidden. Our perceptions widen.
Lipuš’s ability to step outside of herself creates arresting images. Probing the surreal experience of moving into a new house but feeling only the presence of its past inhabitants, Lipuš writes, “On the mailbox is written my name.