Welcome to the November 2017 issue of Transnational Literature. We begin our tenth year with a wide-ranging selection of peer-reviewed articles, review essays, translations, poems, stories and book reviews from more than fifty contributors based all over the world. And as a recent post on the Flinders University Library eResearch blog points out, you – our readers – come from all over the world as well.
The literature covered in our seven peer-reviewed articles stretches geographically from America to the other Georgia (in the former USSR), with intersecting links between France, India, Persia, China, Poland and Australia. Chronologically, the writers dealt with range from Alfred Jarry in fin-de-siècle Paris, to the American Agnes Smedley in China in the 1930s, to Polish poet Andrzej Chciuk, writing in Australia after the second world war, and Iranian poet Nader Naderpour, writing in the USA in his last years following the Iranian revolution of 1979, up to the present with Indian writers Anita Desai and Lavanya Sankaran. The diasporic and the exiled take their places alongside the confidently American voice of essayist Edward Abbey and the beleaguered members of the avant-garde in 1920s Georgia. Ron Singer's review essay surveys an important African literary prize, and Paul Sharrad provides an in-depth consideration of a new work on post-colonial studies.
We have also included Melinda Graefe's eloquent tribute to Jaydeep Sarangi's latest book of poems, Faithfully I Wait¸ delivered at the launch at Flinders University during Jaydeep's eventful visit to Adelaide from Kolkota in October.
Translations of Iranian and Bangla poetry form a bridge to the riches of the poetry section curated by our new Poetry Editor, Alison Flett. Alison has instituted a new tradition. For each issue there will be a feature from a different country. For this issue, she has invited Cyril Wong, an established poet from Singapore, to choose three of his own poems, and to invite contributions from three other Singapore poets. (Followers of the TNL poetry section will remember that when Alison was the guest poetry editor back in November 2014 she included a feature on Scottish poetry.) There is also an equal number of poems from Indian and Australian poets, including a feature on Adelaide poet Jill Jones.
Six short stories make up the prose creative writing section. Three of the writers this time are Australian, and the others are from Kashmir, the UK and the USA. All write, in fiction or memoir, about unique experiences and memories in places as widely dispersed as Alsace, Kuwait, the Upper Murray River and Macedonia.
Nearly thirty book reviews round out this issue, divided between creative writing and theoretical and critical works.
Thanks to all those who have helped make this issue possible – the anonymous peer reviewers, the section editors Alison Flett (poetry), Md. Rezaul Haque (translations) and Ruth Starke (prose creative writing). And my gratitude goes also to the team of dedicated people who keep the wheels turning – who read and assess submissions, edit articles and reviews, and help with the many administrative tasks involved in running a journal which is transnational in nature as well as name, especially Melinda Graefe and Elizabeth Weeks who took on the day to day editorial tasks while I was overseas for much of August and September. It has also been splendid to have Annette Couch on the team as an intern during the past few months.
This paper offers a new picture of a modern Iranian poet and Nobel Prize nominee, Nader Naderpour, in light of his take on the feminine. The paper is an analysis of some less known love poems most of which were expurgated from his collections of poems after the Islamic revolution in 1979 in his home country. In his long and prolific career, he composed many poems celebrating the beloved in various ways. His outlook on the feminine ranged from simple poems detailing erotic and sexual scenes to very romantic and idealistic pictures of ethereal soul-mates. Naderpour’s well-known power of vision, making him a significant modern Persian poet in this regard, enabled him to produce women in many forms, earthly or heavenly, literal or symbolic. Thus, in Naderpour one can find the voice of a typical modern Persian male poet as regards the beloved.
Like much of my fiction, 'Crossing the Danube' is informed by an urban landscape. Other stories I have written in a similar vein have been based in Tbilisi and Damascus. The disjuncture between the world as we imagine it and the world as it exists link these stories thematically
Announcing his bid for the US presidency, Donald Trump caused outrage by claiming that undocumented migration from Mexico to the US showed that America had ‘become a dumping ground for everyone else’s problems’. Trump began his typically bombastic speech by declaring that the Mexican government was ‘sending people that have lots of problems ... they’re bringing drugs, they’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.’ However, Trump’s framing of undocumented migrants turning America in a ‘dumping ground’, whilst shocking, can be clearly situated within a persistent strain of rhetoric in mainstream American culture and media that uses imagery of pollution and toxic waste to depict Mexican immigration. In this essay, I want to show how such rhetoric and imagery survives in popular American culture and literature as part of a sublimated discourse that adopts and adapts the terminology, imagery and conventions of genres such as travel or nature writing in order to convey a message which implicitly frames the immigrant (and particularly the Hispanic immigrant into America) as a form of pollution. As a case study of this process, I will analyse some previously under-researched articles by American nature and travel writer, Edward Abbey.
This article looks at some poems by Polish Australian writer Andrzej Chciuk (1920-1978). Chciuk migrated to Australia from France in 1951, having escaped Nazi-occupied Poland as a twenty-year-old in 1940. In Australia he worked as a schoolteacher in Melbourne while continuing to write poetry and fiction in Polish. His work was published in prestigious Polish emigré outlets like the Paris-based journal Kultura and in Australia with sponsorship from the Polish migrant community; to date no English translations of it have appeared. My article focuses on a sequence of poems in his 1961 Pamiętnik poetycki (Poetic Memoir) called ‘Tamta Ziemia’ (That Other Land), about the cities and towns of Chciuk’s childhood: Lwów, Borysław and his hometown of Drohobycz. When the author was growing up these towns were in eastern Poland; by the time of his writing, in the 1950s, however, they had become part of Soviet Ukraine, and were thus doubly removed from his life in Australia. He wrote as a displaced person whose childhood home had itself been displaced. Hence the powerful note of longing that pervades his ‘poetic memoir’. Through a reading of some passages in my English translation, I hope to convey something of Chciuk’s lively poetic voice, and to show that he deserves admission to discussions of twentieth-century transnational Australian literature.
In theory, bilingualism sounds like a natural and reasonable option for many transnational families, yet in reality it can be complicated and at times impractical. I wanted to play with the term 'alien' and its legal connotations in the US, and expand it to include family relations in order to see how language can both connect and alienate. Most of all, I wanted to show that there are no definite answers when it comes to language usage in multilingual families.
'Finding Mathilde' explores the struggle I had discovering a fictional character while researching my PhD novel in Alsace, France, the conflict between expectation and reality, and the complicated power of the witch archetype