Category Archives: Features

Features from Medium

Spotlight #9: Michael Dennis

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.

STATEMENT

Writing poetry is a lifelong affliction that has made for an interesting adventure. I should have grown out of it and become a plumber with a retirement plan.

three poems from Bad Engine: New & Selected Poems, ed. Stuart Ross (Anvil Press, spring 2017)

the wrestler

the bees consort
on the purple Russian sage
in our garden
this is what passes for action in my life
several trees away, a cardinal’s barking
he’s swearing at a crow

the hum of the city is underneath everything
a siren will wail somewhere nearby
then fade into someone else’s worst day
while I fold laundry

a woman on our street
has three dogs
but walks them
one at a time

she used to be a wrestler
Mexican-style, with the mask and everything
but won’t tell me her story
which is too bad
truth usually kicks the crap out of fiction

talking giraffe

the best jokes, the ones
that make the biggest
impression
always start with
an animal
you didn’t know
could speak

…how to raise a bitter child

it helps
if you start early
with disappointments

be stingy with love
and with food

go hard on anger
teach the hard lesson often

enforce it with
the iron hand of the vengeful

be so caught up in the horrors
and lost in the demons
of your own childhood
that you are incapacitated

always best
to take away hope
at an early age

never give the child
something to look forward to:
forward
is the wrong
direction

Michael Dennis published his first chapbook, quarter on its edge, in 1979. Since then he has published several books and over a dozen chapbooks, his work has appeared in numerous magazine and journals. In April of 2017 Anvil Press will be publishing Bad Engine — New and Selected Poems, edited by Stuart Ross.

Dennis was born in London, Ontario, grew up mostly in Peterborough, Ontario and has resided in Ottawa, Ontario for the last thirty years. He lived in P.E.I. for year in the mid-80s and Czechoslovakia in 1989–90.

For the past three years Dennis has been producing a blog, Today’s book of poetry where he writes about books of poetry he admires. He posts a new blog every two or three days. So far Dennis has written blogs about 509 contemporary books of poetry.

Dennis is semi-retired from a career of varied employment. Dennis has installed public art for the Canada Council Art Bank, the Canadian Museum of Civilization, the Ottawa Art Gallery and numerous other arts organizations. He ran a small boutique hotel, The Cartier Inn. He drove taxi and trucks, worked in an ice-cream factory, worked on the motor line at Ford in Windsor, Ontario for a couple of years, a copper mine in northern Ontario. Dennis opened his own non-profit English as a second language school in Jablonec nad Nisou, Czechoslovakia and so on. Now he is supported by his wife and lives the life of luxury afforded most poets.

 

This post was originally published January 2, 2017 on https://medium.com/drunken-boat by rob mclennan.

Spotlight #8: Sarah Mangold

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.

STATEMENT

I have always disliked nature writing. Its pervasive gendered and romantic notions of nature as the “other” seemed to include me as “other.” As a poet living in the Pacific Northwest, I am often asked if Nature inspires my poems — only to be met with sighs of disbelief when I say I mostly write in conversation with what I am reading and about how women appear or are missing from history. As a response to nature writing, I found myself mining natural history texts and taxidermy manuals from the 1800s in an attempt to meld the gendered reveries typically found in the pastoral frame with the actual bodies of women, animals and landscape.

Pistols of Endeavor

Who cannot sympathize
with his enthusiasm

all diseases arising
from the shadow

are incurable
it rushes among them

A particular person
keen capturing soul

the describer must
be remembered

to my shirt is pinned
I remain a mere

photographic plate
going ashore gladly

Classifier for her own reception
scores of tiny throats

of unconscious praise
philosophic naturalist

true butterflies
time moths

I was interested in marking
successive awakenings

phenomena of a series
of day-breaks as seen

I was not the least
striking part of the scene

With palpitating heart
sugared trees

lantern light
splendid son

lovely bride
by the setting sun

a description before admiration
animal life habitually exists

in these awful solitudes
breath barren

crevices of wilderness
I have often been charmed

of other occasions
whirring wings

woodland parks
described as disposition

Sarah Mangold is the author of the poetry collections Giraffes of Devotion (Kore Press, 2016), Electrical Theories of Femininity (Black Radish Books, 2015) and Household Mechanics (New Issues, 2002, selected by C.D. Wright). She is also the author of a slew of chapbooks, most recently A copyist, an Astronomer, and a Calendar Expert (above/ground, 2016). From 2002–2009 she edited Bird Dog, a print journal of innovative writing and art. She is the recipient of a 2013 NEA Poetry Fellowship and lives in Seattle. www.sarahmangold.com

This post was originally published December 5, 2016 on https://medium.com/drunken-boat by rob mclennan.

Spotlight #5: Jennifer Kronovet

Curated by Canadian writer, editor and publisher rob mclennan, the “spotlight” series appears the first Monday of every month.

STATEMENT

The first time I moved abroad, I didn’t know how to talk, so I walked across the city asking people for the time. To get one question right. And then move on to the next: What? Time? What’s time? Time to? Room hour? What hour? HJhksjhdfjkds? What time is it?

If I had to name the feeling I had when a stranger understood the question and I understood her answer, I would call it language, but language isn’t a feeling. I’m drawn to error in my native tongue even as I avoid it feverishly in the languages I study.

And then there’s poetry — a space where mistaking makes meaning. A foreign native tongue. Where you can ask a question that doesn’t have an answer, but still find out the time.

two poems from Bruce Lee Variations

Precision in All

I don’t answer why I love to hit: gender
is at the root of the question
but I can’t find gender in Lee’s diagrams
or in my body when I follow them.

Just: coordinating precision, rhythm,
synchronization
, words that gasp
for breath like I do when I’m not
fighting properly but with the urgency

fighting demands. No more questions.
Just application under fighting conditions
as they arise in the contextless gym,
page, distance. A fight is an intruder

attempting to provoke error, which is how
I defined men before I could hurt them.

It Is Important That Upon Shooting Your Right Jab You Instantly Return Your First to Its On Guard Position

I had places that returned me to myself
(W. 84th St, coming up from underground,
the Museum of Natural History), the whole city —
a museum of familiarity if I worked it.

But the children broke it down, writing
themselves upon all places as the present.
I couldn’t hear myself as alone when alone.
Is that what mother is? The precious gems

multiplying light on the dark walls — I never
wanted to touch. I was always more old armor.
When I’m hit, I return to the first time I was hit
and learned I can take a hit. My talent is returning

to damage, returning damage, because I find
myself there, unhurt in that I’m still me, seeing.

Jennifer Kronovet is the author of The Wug Test, which was selected by Eliza Griswold for the National Poetry Series and will be published by Ecco/HarperCollins fall 2016. She is also the author of the poetry collection Awayward and the chapbook Case Study: With. She co-translated The Acrobat, the selected poems of experimental Yiddish writer Celia Dropkin and cofounded Circumference, the journal of poetry in translation.

Originally published September 6, 2016 on https://medium.com/drunken-boat by rob mclennan.

Peerings & Hearings: Occasional Musings on Arts in the City of Glass

image: Jay Banks

There’s perhaps no better way than a first time of doing something to instruct me on ways I want to do things differently, ways to redirect my ideas, ways to refine my intentions and attentions. In this case, I’m referring to my first blog post on arts in Vancouver. In the first Peerings & Hearingspost (P & H #1), I showcased eight literary arts journals, 32 artists, eight arts organizations, and one arts café. My intention was to shine grateful light upon as many artists and arts organizations as I could to introduce the community without overtaxing your attention. I attempted to be broad-ranging, covering several artistic genres, disciplines, and demographics to give you a spectral lay of this rich land. I see now, with the benefit of time and some lovely responses, that my quest for inclusivity bespoke a recondite motivation to inquire more and learn more about and from community. This has sparked a meditation on the premises and promises of community.

Premise #1: Community is built on and from gratitude to those who come to us. I thank and bow to everyone who has read and passed on P & H #1. Some of you I do not yet know, but I want to. I count you as members of my community. So, leave comments. Say who are and what brought you to the post. Say something. Thank you.

Premise #2: In order to be included in community one must be inclusive of community. This is the premise that motivated the P & H #1 buffet. This premise also entails for me a request to be included. What I’ve learned, as you might have guessed (or even guffawed at!), is that writing about people and events doesn’t automatically obligate reciprocity (likes, comments, reposts, etc.).

Premise #3: Community is built on mutually beneficial support. As good as it feels to be supported, there’s an obverse side to the coin. There’s untold reward and gratification in being of service — writing a review, editing a manuscript, editing a journal, teaching a class, showcasing artists, putting cash in the hat, etc. Each altruistic act brings knowledge of self, of arts, and of community; I’m inspired to be better; to make more; to get involved. Plainly, I receive support while I am in the supportive role. That’s reciprocity. And, that’s one of the qualities I’m after in this community.

Those are the three premises I’m meditating on right now. My sense is that if I look at some examples of people and organizations that are fostering community in these ways, they’ll broaden my thinking about community and what makes it. The example in this post is a partnership between three organizations central to Vancouver, who collaborate to bring Fresh Local Poetry to Vancouver’s parks, the farmers markets, and the people in them.

Fresh Local Poetry Logo

The Fresh Local Poetry pilot project was developed in partnership with the Vancouver Park Board’s Arts, Culture, and Engagement teamVancouver Public Library, and the City of Vancouver’s Poet LaureateRachel Rose. This partnership is an exciting enactment of community.

Poetry in Parks is the result of a Vancouver Park Board motion passed in May 2015 to bring poetry to Vancouver Parks. The cutting edge project kicked off in 2015 and a broader program is unfolding in 2016. The Vancouver Park Board “seeks to actively help everyone access and participate in the arts” because “the arts are an essential element in a vital, creative, and balanced city.”

I’m thrilled to live in a city where the Parks Board is actively engaging and promoting arts. Now in its second season, the Poetry in Parks project “Fresh Local Poetry” invites residents of Vancouver to engage with professional, free-range poets to create and recite poetry in Vancouver’s parks. The poetry created and read is inspired by nature, food, urban farming or by participants’ memories of a favorite experience with nature or food. Participants have the opportunity to read their poetry out loud or have the local poets read a poem written for them.

Kevin Spenst and I are the professional, free-range poets, who are hosting and participating in events in parks and at farmers markets. We’re also Poetry Ambassadors for city Poet Laureate Rachel Rose (look for my interview with her in my next post, P & H #3). Rachel’s community initiatives center on food sustenance and sovereignty. Read on to learn about our free-range, wild, and unfettered appearances at Vancouver Farmer Markets in July and August.

Trout Lake Farmers Market Saturday, July 16, 2016, 9 am to 2 pm

Poets Bonnie Nish, Mark Hoadley, and I had a blast reading poetry to people at Trout Lake Farmers Market. All we contacted were super lovely and open to us serenading them with poems such as: “Odes to Onion,” “Eggs,” “Cherry Tomatoes,” “Peaches,” “Blueberries,” Potatoes,” etc.

 
Jami Macarty, holding Mark’s Chapbook & some blueberries, Mark Hoadley holding Jami & Bonnie Nish

Mark Hoadley made Are Blueberries Blue?, a chapbook for the occasion. He also doled out blueberries, so listeners could bite into a blueberry and see for themselves whether or not it’s blue on the inside, while he read the poem to them.

 
Bonnie Nish & Mark Hoadley

Poets Bonnie Nish & Mark Hoadley from the west of the market to the east end, collaboratively reading poems — her one line, then him the next.

 
The composition of a limerick!

Some kids wrote poems and recited to us.

 
Cat girl!

One of my favorites is by Chloe: “Strawberries like red sweaters.”

 

We handed out poems, recipes, calls for submissions (both Room magazineand The Capilano Review, two literary journals showcased in the first post, plan issues that focus on food) and read to people, their veggies, their fruits, and while they had lunch.

 
Fresh Local Poetry Pins, book marks, Are Blueberries Blue? by Mark Hoadley

As we roamed, ranged, and reveled, many listeners shared poems or stories about poetry with us. We read to the tinned salmon vendor, to the grilled cheese maker, to the wine purveyor. We read to a sustainable farmer selling potatoes, who asked to keep the “Potato” poem, which he wanted to put up in his store — and so on we spread the poetry love! By the end of the five-hour stint, everyone was wearing Fresh Local Poetry pins and the word-revelry was on high. I loved every sumptuous minute of it.

Kitsilano Farmers Market Sunday, July 24, 2016 10 am to 2 pm

Jullian ChristmasTimothy Shay, and Kevin Spenst also had a blast reading and writing poems and recipes to one and all at the Kitsalano Farmers Market.

 
Jillian Christmas on ukelele & Timothy Shay on poetry

Things got started with Tim Shay reading to Jillian Christmas’ ukulele accompaniment at the market’s north end.

 
Jillian Christmas accompanies Timothy Shay reading Scottish recipes as market goers approach

Timothy Shay read some of his amazing poetry and recipes from a Scottish cookbook.

Then, we moved to the center of the action. When we announced in our biggest voices the Fresh Local Poets initiative, a couple requested a haiku. Timothy gave them an enlightening cultural explanation of the Japanese language and evolution of the form.

After engaging with people in the thick of things (the cheese vendor asked them to come back!), we went to a shady area at the north of the market. For the last couple of hours, we handed out pins, read more of our own work — one woman teared up listening to a poem by Jillian — and read the poetry of others.

 
Kevin Spenst, Jillian Christmas, Timothy Shay, & Catherine Evans

It was great to see Catherine Evans, Parks Board commissioner,, the one who spear-headed the Poetry in the Parks initiative, enjoying the fruits of her labors as she looked on and listened to poetry coming to the ears of market-goers in the park.

West End Farmers Market Saturday, August 13, 2016 9 am to 2 pm

For the West End Farmer’s Market all was perfect: the weather; our location in the Park; the market staff and patrons; the poetry; the poets. Everything!

Jeff Steudel, Shazia Hafiz Ramji, & Kevin Spenst

Poets Jeff Steudel and Shazia Hafiz Ramji joined Kevin Spenst to turn some heads and tilt some hearts toward poetry.

Here’s what Jeff and Shazia wrote by way of retrospect:

Jeff Steudel: “It was new for me to say to unsuspecting folks, “Would you like to hear a poem?” …the poems began a conversation, which seemed satisfying to all of us. It certainly was for me.”

Shazia Hafiz Ramji: “This was such a pleasant experience! Writing poetry specially for a wide and family-friendly audience really focused the intention of my poems toward forging connections with people by being candid and using the senses! It felt so good to have my words be of service to hearts and fruits and veggies!”

We ended the season with a two thousand point bang — the score Kevin Spenst got from a ten-year-old for a poem he read, called “Alligator Pie”!

This partnership between the City of Vancouver, Vancouver Public Library, the Vancouver Poet Laureate, and the Parks Board is a gorgeous example of community because it’s a partnership and a collaboration. By definition their working relationship contains mutually beneficial and reciprocal support. Their initiative involves, and engages lots of people at the intersections of many micro-communities within the City’s macro-community. How do they do all that? Intention! Premise # 5: Community is built on intention!

~

Since we seem to be all about food all the time here, in Vancouver this summer, I want bring your attention to a few other community wunderkinds and the ways they proffer sustenance to Vancouver.

SHOUT OUTS!

TO: Bonnie Nish of Pandora’s CollectiveCandie Tanaka of International Centre of Arts and Technology (ICOAAT) and our friends at Room magazinefor sponsoring Odes to Food, the interactive writing workshop focused on the sense of taste I offered to 18 writers at the beginning of July. For two hours, we tasted our way through a smorgasbord of evocative writing exercises that called forth food memories, allergies, guilts, and desires, filling our notebooks and bellies! With these women, who generously offered an open, inclusive space in which to make art with others I found community.

 
A table set for Odes to Poetry at IOAAT

TO: Pablo Neruda and the lovely gathering of people who joined me to celebrate his 112th birthday on July 12. Poet Henry Rappaport was among them. We read Neruda’s poetry, while sipping his mischief-making alcoholic concoction and ate vanilla cake with passion fruit filling from Le Gateau Bakeshop topped with a line — I want/ to revere your ear — from Neruda’s poem 10 in Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda Poems, translated by Forrest Gander (Copper Canyon, 2016). Then, we attended Flin Flon Flim Flam, an InvestigativeMEDIA’s documentary on the worldwide operations of Hudbay Minerals and the company’s plans to construct the Rosemont open-pit copper mine in the Santa Rita Mountains on the Coronado National Forestsoutheast of Tucson, Arizona. With Don Pablo at the center and these pals at my side, we supported Director, John Dougherty, who’s documentary is giving voice and audience to the people and land of Guatemala and Arizona. Concentric, expanding circles of support, Don Pablo would approve.

 
Henry Rappaport choosing a Neruda poems to read; Neruda’s coctelon in the foreground

TO: Kezia Wineberg, Founder and Editorial Director of SITUATE Magazine. “Nomadic by nature, SITUATE is a content-rich online periodical that uses place as the grounding point for each issue.” Shifting geographic focus every three months, SITUATE provides an in-depth look at a different city or small country. The current issue is devoted to Vancouver. I count myself lucky to have two of my poems, Missing Women and On the 135 in this issue, and fortunate to have worked with most professional, grounded, and thoughtful Kezia. I am inspired to collaborate with her to contribute to community.

SITUATE Magazine logo

That’s all for now, dear readers. Look for the next P & H blog in two months; it will feature an interview with Vancouver’s Poet LaureateRachel Rose.

In the meantime, write to me, leave a comment. Tell me what you want more of and less of in this blog — and in your community — and what’s just right. It’s always good to know what’s just right.

Be nice. Make Art. Foster Community.

Originally posted August 25, 2016 on https://medium.com/drunken-boat by Jami Macarty.

Spaces in Translation: Valerie Henitiuk

 

Valerie Henitiuk

Valerie Henitiuk is a professor at MacEwan University, Canada, where she also serves as Executive Director, Centre for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence (CAFÉ) and University Advisor for Indigenous Initiatives. She previously served as Director of the British Centre for Literary Translation at the University of East Anglia, UK. Her books include Embodied Boundaries: Liminal Metaphor in Women-Authored Courtship Narratives (2007); One Step towards the Sun: Short Stories by Women from Orissa (2010, co-edited with S. Kar); Worlding Sei Shônagon: The Pillow Book in Translation (2012); and A Literature of Restitution: Critical Essays on W.G. Sebald (2013, co-edited with J. Baxter and B. Hutchinson); forthcoming is Spark of Light: Short Stories by Women Writers from Odisha(co-edited with S. Kar). Her work has appeared in MetaTTR, and Comparative Literature Studies, as well as in Thinking through Translation with Metaphors (2010); Translating Women (2011); and A Companion to Translation Studies (2014). Since 2012, she has edited the journal Translation Studies. She was recently awarded funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) for a research project titled: “This too is a story. That is how its words go.” The Translation and Circulation of Inuit-Canadian Literature in English and French.

I first met Professor Henitiuk at the University of Massachusetts Amherst where she was the keynote speaker for the 2014 Crossroads Conference hosted by the Comparative Literature Program. She spoke on refraction and topology as metaphors for understanding translation and we shared a fascinating conversation about the origin of the Japanese literary canon — did you know it was founded by women? Most striking however, at least for me, was that Professor Henitiuk hailed from Edmonton, Alberta — my home town! It was neat to see MacEwan University represented and nice to discover someone doing such fascinating work so near to my mom’s house. The next time I swung through town Professor Henitiuk and I met for coffee on campus. Her office is located in the rear corner of the Centre for the Advancement of Faculty Excellence, an inviting space which speaks to her energetic and progressive spirit. Many of her employees worked at standing desks built from pieces of Ikea furniture, the few doors present were open, and the space as a whole was brightly lit and abuzz. Our conversation covered Canadian politics, Alberta’s gradual leftward lean, the challenge of engaging community while working in academia, and what to check out when stopping over in Iceland. Professor Henitiuk was sharp, kind, generous with her insight, and damn good at telling stories. Hopefully a sliver of that comes through in the following interview.

Christopher Schafenacker: Your research ranges from addressing the political and cultural complexity of introducing 10th-century Japanese women’s writing to the West, feminist elements in magical realism, short story writing by women in India, and, more recently, issues involved with translating Inuit literature. The breadth of your work is startling. Where did it all begin? How did you first become interested in translation?

Valerie Henitiuk: Yes, my interests are broad, but there are and have always been common themes running through it all. Since my first MA (1989, in French literary translation), I have been keenly interested in women’s writing. My thesis at the time looked at a novel by Quebec author Louise-Maheux Forcier.

When I began studying Japanese literature, it wasn’t Japan per se that drew me, but rather the unique, surprising fact that the Japanese canon was created by women — Murasaki Shikibu, Sei Shônagon, Michitsuna’s mother… these 10th- and 11th-century authors, drawing on a female tradition that began even earlier (e.g. the 9th-century Ono no Komachi, ranked among the six great waka poets of Classical Japan), produced works in their native language by, for and about women, at a time when their male counterparts were trained to write instead in Chinese. Japanese was in fact known as “onna no de” or “woman’s hand,” an indication of how gendered the situation really was.

I met a professor at the University of Alberta, the great Classical Japanese scholar Sonja Arntzen, and was intrigued by the fact that she was translating a text (The Kagero Diary) that spoke in detail of a failing marriage, a woman’s struggle to raise her child with her estranged husband… it had been written in the year 926 but seemed so modern! So I set out to learn that language in order better to explore what had been written by these women. My first ever refereed journal article (“Translating Woman” in META 1999) was in fact a comparison of Sonja’s consciously feminist translation with the existing version by Edward Seidensticker, dating from the late 1950s.

My PhD being in Comparative Literature — rather than Translation Studies — allowed me more scope to continue to be eclectic and find my own connections among apparently dissimilar things — what David Damrosch calls “the like but unlike.”

After more than a decade working on Classical Japanese women’s writing, its translation and circulation in European languages, I felt last year a need for a fresh project. I happened upon a review of a new English translation of a woman-authored text described as “the first Inuit novel” and was brought up short. It had never occurred to me that Inuit had any literature to speak of, or that rather than going halfway around the world and a thousand years in the past, my next project could in fact arise from my own backyard!

“With Indigenous literature, the danger of appropriation of voice is particularly real and pressing. An Inuk friend and colleague noted just the other day how so frequently curiosity about her culture feels lacking in respect.”

Mitiarjuk[1] started writing Sanaaq in Inuktitut syllabics in the 1950s, when she at the age of 23 had just become literate, although it wasn’t published until 1984. Her work (more a collection of interlinked stories than a novel) has been translated into French by male, Sorbonne-trained anthropologist, Bernard Saladin d’Anglure (2002) and only very recently (2014) into English by his former MA student Peter Frost, also male. This piqued my interest (how could it not?!) in terms of the unexamined “man-handling” of a rare and unique text by an unschooled Inuk woman — the power differential is striking, and no one seemed to be addressing that point.

I’ve since realized there are in fact two “first Inuit novels,” the other being Angunasuttiup naukkutinga, or Harpoon of the Hunter, by Markoosie, originally published serially in 1969–70, and that almost all analysis of Inuit literature to date has been from an ethnographic viewpoint. There are few literary studies (the best book for learning about the Inuit literary tradition remains Robin McGrath’s 1984 Canadian Inuit Literature: The Development of a Tradition and no one has looked at this from a translation studies perspective at all. So, although I am only a beginner in Inuktitut, I decided to wade in…. My first two articles on the translation of Inuit literature are forthcoming in Target and Perspectives this fall.

CS: Often, you address topics far removed from the realm of your personal experience and even when working “in your backyard,” as you say, the texts you address arrive from a minority position that is not your own. How do you navigate the power differential that comes with this territory? Generally, how might translators and theoreticians intervene without intruding? Or can they?

VH: Yes, one of my concerns has long been the risk of being in a position of “speaking for.” With the Odishan short stories, I was approached by an Indian colleague, who is not only from Odisha, but also a specialist in the area, with many literary translations to her credit. So I was asked to contribute specifically on the Translation Studies side, also bringing not only a more general interest in women’s writing but also native English editing skills to the table. We’ve now done two editions of the collection, and so have developed a true partnership, where we each have specific defined roles.

“It is important to remain aware of one’s limitations in doing this kind of work, and humble about what one can accomplish. But the fact is that no one has done the work I’m now trying to do, and I think — I know — it’s important that someone do it.”

With Indigenous literature, the danger of appropriation of voice is particularly real and pressing. An Inuk friend and colleague noted just the other day how so frequently curiosity about her culture feels lacking in respect. And that’s partly what I’m writing about, about ethnographers treating Inuit as specimens rather than human beings, using Inuit cultural production to explain this or that pet theory without considering it as literature/art in its own right. About editors or translators assuming that an English version is close enough to the Inuktitut original that that original can safely be ignored. Where the Inuk author’s voice, perspective and lived experience are utterly absent from the paratext. So it’s a real problem.

As I write in the opening lines of a forthcoming article: “Translation from a ‘minor’ or peripheral language into a central, ‘major’ or heavily translated one (typically English, French or Spanish) cannot help but bear witness to an inherently unequal relationship, whereby minority cultures struggle to survive. While contact zones, famously defined by Mary Louise Pratt as ‘social spaces where cultures meet, clash, and grapple with each other, often in contexts of highly asymmetrical relations of power, such as colonialism, slavery, or their aftermaths’ (1991, 34), may be unavoidable in today’s globalized world, they remain fraught with danger and opportunities for misinterpretation” (Pratt, Mary Louise. 1991. “Arts of the Contact Zone.” Profession. New York: MLA. 33–40). My article explores a striking translation choice in one relay translation of an Inuit text — a translation strategy that I take to be a metaphor for what often functions as that space of “miscomprehension, incomprehension” (Pratt 1991, 37) in which Inuit authors and non-Inuit readers may encounter one another. Although there is the risk that all I will do is add to that miscomprehension, my work strives to focus on “aspects of this project that one can at least begin to explore without more specialized knowledge, and which I hope that other scholars will then pick up and apply in more linguistically informed studies” of Inuit writing.

Again, the only way forward is to ensure that my own areas of inadequacy are acknowledged at the outset, and regularly — I don’t read Inuktitut yet, and in any case am not from the community. It is important to remain aware of one’s limitations in doing this kind of work, and humble about what one can accomplish. But the fact is that no one has done the work I’m now trying to do, and I think — I know — it’s important that someone do it. So my aim is really to start conversations. Ideally, someone with more Indigenous credibility and a more authentic voice will respond to what I say or write and chime in, moving the discourse forward, offering course corrects as and where needed. Hopefully we can even collaborate on subsequent stages of the project, if there is interest on their side in doing so.

It’s odd, as a scholar I am by nature a solitary creature. Working on my own and emerging from the cave only when I have a fully polished piece of work to present to others. But the kind of research I’m doing now has to be approached differently. I know that it absolutely needs a team approach, because there is so much I don’t know, or don’t have access to. And I find myself writing much more personally than I’d ever felt comfortable doing before, explaining the genesis of my project and telling of the journey I’m on, how I got to the point of writing a given article on a given topic. Referencing conversations that have helped me, challenged me, whether with an Inuk elder or a colleague in Linguistics. Revealing my feelings of vulnerability, and explicitly inviting other voices to join in.

“… Inuktitut is all about feelings, and that the process of adding affixes to a word (integral to the construction of Inuktitut sentences and phrases) is entirely to make something more understandable to the other person.”

To be successful, embedded in this kind of work must be the involvement of Indigenous individuals and communities as acknowledged experts of their own cultural production, thus closing the knowledge gap. I have become active with Inuit Edmontonmiut, a community group bringing together the over 1000 Inuit living in my city. I take private lessons with an Inuk elder, where the focus is less on grammatically dissecting the language, and more on how it functions in real life — which is taught through story and memories. This has been my approach so far.

CS: You speak of the collaborative approach required by your research on Inuk literature. Practically speaking, how does this work? Can you share specifics about how your writing process has changed while working in collaboration with members of the Inuk community as well as others with expertise beyond your own?

VH: First off, let’s just clear up some terminology. Inuit is, literally, “human beings” or perhaps “the human beings who are here” — its singular is Inuk (there is also a dual form, Inuuk). The language is known as Inuktitut, or the way of speaking of the humans. Inuit as a noun does not take either a definite or indefinite article, as this is implied in the Inuktitut word, so we might say, e.g.: “traditionally, Inuit lived a nomadic lifestyle.” Inuit is also the adjectival form: Inuit culture, Inuit literature, Inuit language. The word for non-Inuit (i.e. southerners) is qallunaat (singular: qallunaaq), which is usually glossed as “people with pampered eyebrows” or “heavy eyebrows,” although the etymology is unclear.

Inuktitut is in fact a very difficult language — much more challenging, it seems to me right now, than Classical Japanese! One of biggest hurdles is simply deciding which language to learn — across Canada alone there are 16 dialects, and these are not all mutually intelligible. Thankfully the two main texts I’m looking at were both written in the Nunavik (northern Quebec) dialect. Although standardization is a controversial topic, the writing system is for the most part relatively easy to learn. (Caveat: many texts lack any punctuation, as well as the diacritics that are essential to distinguishing between very different words.) Christian missionaries took a syllabic system (based on shorthand) originally developed by other missionaries for writing Cree, then Ojibwe, and tweaked it to suit Inuktitut. Sometimes this script is called an abugida — for each group of syllables (e.g. i, u, a; ki, ku, ka; ti, tu, ta), the same symbol is used, but rotated to indicate each of the three vowel sounds.

“… in today’s world, the internet is allowing the most remote communities to engage and share.”

A major part of the difficulty in learning Inuktitut is the lack of decent language-learning resources. There are few university courses (INALCO in Paris is said to graduate the most fluent speakers, but you need to commit to a 4-year programme). When I asked around for the best grammar textbook to help me study on my own, I was pointed to a book published back in 1978, by Lucien Schneider. Schneider was a great linguist, and widely respected for his mastery of Inuktitut, but his approach to the language is very out of date, and echoes his training as a priest: it is described entirely as if it were Latin — lots of tables full of noun declensions, etc. Of course, it doesn’t help that the copy I was able to obtain through interlibrary loan is badly mimeographed, and has faded to the point of illegibility in many places. My other source in learning Inuktitut is, as I’ve mentioned, weekly lessons with Inuk elder Mini Aodla Freeman (herself an author and translator; the second edition of Mini’s 1978 autobiography, Life Among the Qallunaat, recently won a Manitoba Book Award). Her approach is all about stories, establishing relationships, giving me some tools for a much more organic use of the language. I am expected to find the patterns on my own.

Very few non-Inuit achieve real fluency in Inuktitut, although I suppose it’s easy enough to learn enough to have very simple, everyday conversations. The aim for my own project is really exclusively about gaining literacy, so spoken Inuktitut is a lower priority. In any case, given all these challenges, I need constantly to be checking my understanding and assumptions with others, whether Mini, anthropologist Louis-Jacques Dorais (retired from Laval), or INALCO Inuktitut professor Marc-Antoine Mahieu, who have all been most generous with their time. The simplest questions tend to lead into the most complex correspondence.

To give just one example, let’s consider the Inuktitut for the English verb “to translate.” The entry in Schneider’s important bilingual Inuktitut-French dictionary suggests tukiliurpaa (“s/he translates”), and I asked Mini to help me understand the term. Unfamiliar with it in terms of “translation,” she commented that it meant instead “making understandable” or “explaining how things work.” Together we consulted Taamusi Qumaq’s unilingual Inuktitut dictionary, but the definition there for tukiliurtak refers to other things entirely. We came across another word that Mini said was related to translating, namely tukilik, “the understanding part” and, after some reflection, she suggested instead the word tusajik (literally “one whose habit it is to listen”), while cautioning that this was possibly a neologism.

What particularly struck me about this conversation was how the emphasis in Inuktitut seems to be very much about the effect of the translational act on the other person, i.e. its relational aspect, rather than more simply about words or their meaning, much less a “carrying across,” “setting over,” “turning,” “speaking after,” or any of the other metaphors in various languages with which hegemonic Translation Studies is more familiar. And when I suggested as much, Mini agreed. She further explained that Inuktitut is all about feelings, and that the process of adding affixes to a word (integral to the construction of Inuktitut sentences and phrases) is entirely to make something more understandable to the other person.

Qumaq’s dictionary is in fact full of definitions whose idiosyncrasy seems to challenge me to rethink everything. He defines uqara or “tongue” (which shares a radical with “speech”), for example, as follows: “My own thing, my tongue, it is inside my mouth, it has no bone, my tongue [is] my tool for telling something that makes sense” (Dorais, Louis-Jacques. 2010. The Language of the Inuit: Syntax, Semantics and Society in the Arctic. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press. 262–63).

I next reached out to Dorais, whose book The Language of the Inuit: Syntax, Semantics and Society in the Arctic (2010) serves as an invaluable resource, and we engaged in a lengthy email exchange about this. Dorais concurred that tukiliurpaa has no connotation of translation, and went on to suggest the paired terms “qallunaatituurtisijuq, ‘(s)he makes it [the text] do [i.e. speak] like Qallunaat’” and “inuktituurtisijuq, ‘(s)he makes it do like Inuit’” (personal communication 2016). The equivalent for “making the text speak like Francophones” would be “uiguitituurtisijuq (‘makes it speak like the Oui-oui [people]’).”

The translator/interpreter training programme offered at Nunavut Arctic College, in Iqaluit, uses the term uqausiliriniq (‘the fact of dealing with words’), which can also refer to linguistics or language planning. But, noted Dorais, when inviting students to join the program, it is called tusaajiu[lauqsima]giaksaq, ‘what leads to being a tusaaji [i.e. interpreter’]’” (personal communication). As you may know, York University’s graduate students in translation produce a journal titled Tusaaji, which their webpage defines as “one who listens carefully [, …] who has an exceptional capacity to listen to others.”

Under Qumaq’s entry for tusaaji, he defines tukisititsiji as “one who makes [people speaking different languages] understand each other” (Qumaq 232; Dorais, personal communication). The basic signification of tuki (meaning) is “axis,” “one’s thoughts and words become meaningful when ordered along a specific axis.” Thus, in eastern Canadian Arctic dialects (other Inuit communities use different terms entirely), understanding literally means “encountering an axis,” or aligning one’s mind in the same direction as another’s and thus allowing one’s words to become meaningful, to make sense (Dorais, personal communication).

“Women academics … have perhaps taught me the most, by grounding their work in the very real context of post-secondary education and how they themselves have navigated its pitfalls. And in many cases with such grace and strength!”

CS: Earlier you point out that no one is doing the work you have undertaken and, though you may be an outsider, it is important that a conversation begin around Inuit literature. Why has this literature been neglected? Canada has a rich history of publishing in translation and is home to many of the world’s leading translation theorists. Why hasn’t Indigenous writing played a more prominent role in national discourses?

VH: The answer here is not so straightforward. Inuit culture is traditionally an oral culture (literacy arrived in most Canadian Inuit communities only around the turn of the 20th century), so the existing literary corpus is small. [2] Although there is in fact a great deal of work to do on the more ephemeral journals and newsletters published in the North, many rather shortlived, which have published a range of work and authors. And, in today’s world, the internet is allowing the most remote communities to engage and share — I am fascinated, for example, by the work of Rachel Qitsualik, who writes in both Inuktitut and English. She is a prize-winning author of children’s literature, but also has brilliant short essays published online. Younger Inuit are prolific in the fields of rap music, etc., although I may be of the wrong generation to study that in any depth!

Greenland has a very different history, by the way, and a more extensive network of authors. Of great interest to me is the powerful impact on the early development of literature in Kallalisut owing at least in part to the Danish government’s decision to ensure European literature was translated and available for Greenlandic Inuit to read. Even until the 1960s Canadian Inuit were likely to encounter only Bibles and hymn books translated into Inuktitut, and there remains very little literary translation activity into the language.

Literary analysis of Inuit cultural production really got underway only in the 1980s, and even then was still dominated by more ethnographic approaches. Robin McGrath is the pioneering figure in Canadian Inuit literary studies, but a younger generation including Keavy Martin has taken up the reins, bringing an approach grounded in the work of J. Edward Chamberlin, Robert Allen Warrior, and others. They are also drawing from the better established field of Indigneous literary study more broadly. Canada has a great number of brilliant writers, ranging from Thomas King to Thomson Highway to Lee Maracle to Joseph Bydon, Eden Robinson, Richard Wagamese…. But it’s only recently that such writers are really becoming central to conversations around Canadian literature, rather than being ghettoized. More attention is being paid to this literature, in all its complexity, and publishers (as well as prize adjudicators) are responding. Of course, the specific context politically and socially, in a post-Truth and Reconciliation Canada, is playing a large part in public interest.

CS: You have mentioned a number of mentors in our conversation, including Classical Japanese scholar Sonja Arntzen, Inuk elder Mini Aodla Freeman, and others. Can you speak more generally about mentorship? Who have been your greatest influences? Who most shapes the trajectory of your work?

VH: Mentors are vital, even if sometimes their value to one’s development is fully appreciated only in hindsight. It is by looking back at my career that I see how much impact various colleagues and friends have had on not only what I’ve been able to achieve, but also on the very questions I have felt able to ask. One of my great advisors in the decade following my PhD was of course David Damrosch, who guided my postdoctoral work at Columbia and then welcomed me as a visiting scholar during my sabbatical at Harvard. David is a generous scholar, encouraging of students and junior colleagues, and it may well be that I took his own wide-ranging work (as a student he studied Egyptian hieroglyphics) as a sort of permission for some of my own more esoteric research tangents! He is also very interested in questions of translation as they relate to his own specialization in world literature.

Women academics, though, have perhaps taught me the most, by grounding their work in the very real context of post-secondary education and how they themselves have navigated its pitfalls. And in many cases with such grace and strength! I was privileged to be supervised by the Iranian scholar Nasrin Rahimieh as well as the incomparable Isobel Grundy (whose Orlando Project is so important), to name just two — I couldn’t even begin to list all those to whom I’m grateful for countless opportunities to learn and to grow.

CS: One last set of questions to conclude our interview: First, what new frontiers might Translation Studies broach? Is there territory within the discipline that remains insufficiently explored? Are there silences yet to be filled? And second, on a related note, who needs wider representation in translation? Specifically, which writers, texts, communities, or literary movements go under-translated or not translated at all?

VH: As you know, I edit the journal Translation Studies for Routledge. Our editorial team regularly discusses the need to diversify the content we publish, in terms of topics, languages, cultures, geographic regions represented. In each issue, we certainly seek to include work by colleagues affiliated with universities outside the UK and North America — given that this is where our team is based, we are well aware of the danger of simply reproducing what we already know. We are very keen to publish work by scholars in parts of the world that rarely have a voice in our discipline. But it’s not that easy. Scholarly traditions differ. Not all potential contributors have the grounding in our discipline that we need to see, even in more interdisciplinary pieces. Young scholars need time to develop. Further, we publish exclusively in English, so where the potential contributor has a different mother tongue, that can be another barrier. Our resources are limited, and sometimes we just can’t accept a piece, no matter how interesting, that is going to require hours and hours of editorial work.

This doesn’t mean we just give up, but it is a challenge. Where possible, in declining a contribution, we give constructive feedback on the kind of work we need to see. Carol O’Sullivan and I recently published a book chapter titled “Aims and Scope” with the very specific goal of providing scholars outside of Europe and North America (the book grew out of a Translation Studies conference in China) with specific information on how to write for a Western journal, and what the occasionally painful process of copyediting involves. Of course, the information would prove helpful as well for many located in the West, especially younger scholars just starting their careers!

Clearly, I have a personal interest in seeing more work done around translation relating to First Nations and Inuit in Canada. But minority languages and cultures around the world are calling out for more of a platform, so that’s one way our discipline of Translation Studies can be enriched by difference.

It’s also fun when a submission arrives that addresses something happening in the world right now. TV, film, new technologies, changing world order…. Our journal has recently published on both Arabic Hip Hop and the use of Arabic graffiti in the TV series Homeland. And sometimes I await that one article that never comes — for example, I was so looking forward to receiving a submission on that fake sign-language interpreter at Mandela’s funeral — such a rich vein to be mined!

As I write this, it is August 2016 — the third annual Women in Translation month (https://pen.org/blog/women-translation-month-moving-toward-parity). Now, that’s a wonderful initiative! Helping readers focus on women writers, women translators, women readers and scholars of translation…. Maybe we could use similar initiatives for other voices that deserve to be heard and appreciated. Opening up to such diversity can’t help but enrich our lives as well as our discipline, allowing the many, many silences that exist all around us to begin to be filled.

CS: Thank you!

[1] The author’s full name is Salome Mitiarjuk Attasi Nappaaluk, but it should be noted that naming is a highly contentious topic in (post)colonial Inuit culture. Traditionally, Inuit men and women used a single non-gender-specific name, and were often referred to by terms establishing kinship. Missionaries began baptizing Canada’s Inuit as early as the eighteenth century. In the 1940s, the government assigned each Inuit a number, issuing identification disks not unlike dog tags; then, in the 1960s, Inuit were forced to adopt surnames, often those of their fathers or grandfathers. Addressing this particular history as well as other forms of colonial abuse occurring through the establishment of the nation-wide residential school system for Indigenous children, the 2015 report of Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission calls upon federal, provincial and territorial governments to facilitate the process whereby residential school survivors may reclaim names forcibly changed.

[2] While finalizing this interview, we noted the passing of publisher Mel Hurtig. In the 1970s and 80s, Hurtig Books was responsible for publishing a great deal of Inuit literature in English, including Paper Stays Put (Gedalof and Ipellie), Tales from the Igloo (Metayer and Nanogak), Stories from Pangnirtung (illustrated by Arnaktauyok), and People from Our Side(Pitseolak).

Originally posted August 26, 2016 on https://medium.com/drunken-boat by Christopher Schafenacker.

Notes on a Return to the Ever-Dying Land

August marked 90 years since the birth of Blanca Varela, poet of Peruvian surrealism

 
Picture from Poetas del Fin del Mundo

“The solitude is what unites us in the humidity of the pea-pod, in the swelling of the wave, in the sweat of the root.”

(( La soledad nos une en la humedad del guisante, en la hinchazón de la ola, en el sudor de la raíz ))

  • from a poem by Varela, quoted in José Miguel Oveido’s recent article in Spanish inVallejo & Co. Translation into English by Arturo Desimone

In August 2016, lovers of Peruvian poetry commemorated what would have been the 90th birthday of Blanca Leonor Varela, a poet associated with subversive movements of surrealism that were of great importance to a generation of Peruvian poets influenced by André Breton’s circle in Europe. Many of her generation (such as surrealist Peruvian poet César Moro, Xavier Abril, and Jorge Eduardo Eielson) spent extensive periods in Paris, often because of political exile and the threat of dictatorship in Peru. Varela’s poetic universe shows strong signs of the surrealism that influenced her, but it is also comprised of forces that could not be contained within intellectual or psychoanalytic experiments or absurdism associated with French surrealism. Passion, spirituality, humor, the rancor of frustrated love, the childish paradisiacal thinking of wanting to remain ever in love, abound in her poetry (yes, we are both ribonucleic acid/ but we are ribonucleic acid that remains forever in love from Monsieur Monod Does Not Know How To Sing, which can be read here, below in my English translation) Varela uses references to cooking, (Lima, the poet’s home-town, is spoken of as having all the colors of the clear liquid that spills from a cracked egg) and her time spent cooking— the poet names the elements of cuisine in a similar way to passing references to wild nature, sex, and scientific education. A futuristic Noah’s shipwrecked stampede of animals that dwell upon the sea coasts and river banks of Peru, are constantly rearing their crying heads in her poems. Her grasp of the intimate is that of a revolutionary romantic, (to the contrary of those whose aesthetics emphasize domesticity and the petty-bourgeois private — Blanca is hostile to placid terrains) hers is a poetry lived between many worlds, cities of migration, a poet at once worldly and cosmopolitan, drinking from the contaminated chalice of Dali-esque surrealisms in Europe, while spiritually, deeply engrained into her native and beloved Peru. Her verse is full of the humor of those poets who sing from radical wounds of love and solitude.

 

“I ascend and fall to the bottom of my soul

that regains its green, agonized by light, magnetized by light.

In this coming and going time beats its wings

detained for ever.”

Asciendo y caigo al fondo de mi alma

que reverdece, agónica de luz, imantada de luz.

En este ir y venir bate el tiempo las alas

detenido para siempre.

English translations of two poems by Blanca Varela.

(transl. Arturo Desimone

~with special thanks to Reynaldo Jiménez for illuminating conversations about Peruvian poetry and ‘’el surrealismo sudaka’’~

video of Blanca Varela reading Monsieur Monod no sabe Cantar

Monsieur Monod Does Not Know How To Sing

my dear one

I remember you like the best song

that apotheosis in the coming together of roosters and stars

that you no longer are that I no longer am

that we no longer will be

and nonetheless we both know very well

that I speak from the painted mouth of silence

with the fly’s agony

at summer’s end

and for all the badly closed doors

conjuring or calling that nefarious wind of memory

that record scratched before use

tinted according to the mood of the time

and its old sicknesses

of red

or of black

as a king standing in disgrace before the mirror

as the day of the viper

which is tomorrow and the past and always

night what do you precipitate

(that is how the song must speak)

charged with forethoughts

insatiable female dog ( un peu fort)

splendid mother (plus doux)

child-bearer, and always barefoot

to not be heard by the fool in you who believes

it is better to mash up the heart

of the unveiled

that dares to hear the dragged step

of life

of death

a mosquito’s pit* a torrent of feathers

a tempest in a glass of wine

a tango

the order alters the product

engineer’s error

what a rotten tactic it is,

to keep living one’s own story

like in a movie backwards-rolled

a thick and mysterious

dream with slimming effect

the end is the beginning*

a tiny light oscillates like hope

clear color of eggs

with the smell of fish and spoiled milk*

darkens the mouth of the wolf that will take you

from Cluny to Salazar Park

rolling carpet so speedy and so black

you can no longer tell

if you live or if you are playing at being alive

or playing dead

as a flower of steel

like a very last morsel, twisted and filthy and slow

the better to devour you with

My dear one

I adore all that is not mine

you, for example, I adore,

with your skin, like hide of a jackass covering the soul

and those waxen wings I gave you as a present

the ones you never dared to put on

you have no idea how ashamed I am of my virtues

I no longer know where to put this collection of keys

and lies

with my indecency of the child who must hear out the story’s ending

it is already too late now

for the memory, like the songs

is the worst one

the one you want

the only one

it does not resist ruining another blank page

my being here makes no sense

destroying

what does not even exist

my dear one

in spite of it all

all remains the same

the philosophical tickle after the shower

the cold coffee the bitter cigarette

the Green River-slime

of Monte Carlo

everlasting life continues to be good for everyone

intact is the stupidity of the clouds

intact the obscenity of geraniums

intact the shame of garlic

the little mockingbirds shit themselves divinely in mid-heaven

in april

Mandrake is breeding rabbits in some circle

of hell

always a little leg of a crab is trapped

in the trap of to be

or of not to be

of I don’t want this or the other thing

you know,

those things that befall us

and which have to be forgotten so that they may exist

only in verb-grace of the hand with wings

winged hand without a hand

the history of the kangaroo — meaning the one of the handbag, or the one from life, both —

or of the captain who is sealed inside a bottle

that is forever empty

and the womb, empty too, but winged

and wombless

you know

passion, obsession

poetry prose

sex success

or viceversa

the congenital void

the ovum with a mote in it

among millions and millions of little eggs with motes in them

you and me

toi et moi

tea for two in the immensity of silence

in the atemporal sea

on the historic horizon

for ribonucleic acid is all we are

but I mean only the ribonucleic acid that is always in love

Video of Blanca reciting “Canto Villano” at the Medellín international festival.

VILLAIN SONG

and all of a sudden life

on my pauper’s plate

a meager scrap of celestial pig

here on my plate

observe me

observe you

or kill a fly without ill-will

annihilate the light

or create it

create it

as would he who opens his eyes and chooses

a heaven that spills over

onto the empty plate

rubens onions tears

more rubens more onions

more tears

so many histories

black indigestible miracles

and the eastern star

brought to a blush

and the bone of love

so gnawed upon and so hard

shining upon another plate

this hunger in itself

exists

is the urge of the soul

which is the body

is the rose made from grease

that ages

in its heaven of flesh

mea culpa the turbid eye

mea culpa the black morsel

mea culpa divine nausea

no other one is here

upon this empty plate

without I

devouring my eyes

and yours

To read these poems and others by Blanca Varela in the original Spanish, go to the website of Poetas del Fin del Mundo, a Latin-American online resource for poetry.

A future post will by the maker Notes on a Journey to the Ever-Dying Lands will speak to Peruvian-Argentinian independent publisher, poet and historian of Peruvian literature Reynaldo Jiménez, who was given his first whiskey at the tender age of 16 by Blanca in her library in Lima. The importance of reverberations by the past Peruvian surrealists among a new generation of poets today, will be emphasized (thanks in large part to the information provided by Jiménez and the harrowing drinks provided.)

Monsieur Monod no sabe Cantar

querido mío
te recuerdo como la mejor canción
esa apoteosis de gallos y estrellas que ya no eres
que ya no soy que ya no seremos
y sin embargo muy bien sabemos ambos
que hablo por la boca pintada del silencio
con agonía de mosca
al final del verano
y por todas las puertas mal cerradas
conjurando o llamando ese viento alevoso de la memoria
ese disco rayado antes de usarse
teñido según el humor del tiempo
y sus viejas enfermedades
o de rojo
o de negro
como un rey en desgracia frente al espejo
el día de la víspera
y mañana y pasado y siempre

noche que te precipitas
(así debe decir la canción)
cargada de presagios
perra insaciable ( un peu fort)
madre espléndida (plus doux)
paridora y descalza siempre
para no ser oída por el necio que en ti cree
para mejor aplastar el corazón
del desvelado
que se atreve a oír el arrastrado paso
de la vida
a la muerte
un cuesco de zancudo un torrente de plumas
una tempestad en un vaso de vino
un tango

el orden altera el producto
error del maquinista
podrida técnica seguir viviendo tu historia
al revés como en el cine
un sueño grueso
y misterioso que se adelgaza
the end is the beginning
una lucecita vacilante como la esperanza
color clara de huevo
con olor a pescado y mala leche
oscura boca de lobo que te lleva
de Cluny al Parque Salazar
tapiz rodante tan veloz y tan negro
que ya no sabes
si eres o te haces el vivo
o el muerto
y sí una flor de hierro
como un último bocado torcido y sucio y lento
para mejor devorarte

querido mío
adoro todo lo que no es mío
tú por ejemplo
con tu piel de asno sobre el alma
y esas alas de cera que te regalé
y que jamás te atreviste a usar
no sabes cómo me arrepiento de mis virtudes
ya no sé qué hacer con mi colección de ganzúas
y mentiras
con mi indecencia de niño que debe terminar este cuento
ahora ya es tarde
porque el recuerdo como las canciones
la peor la que quieras la única
no resiste otra página en blanco
y no tiene sentido que yo esté aquí
destruyendo
lo que no existe

querido mío
a pesar de eso
todo sigue igual
el cosquilleo filosófico después de la ducha
el café frío el cigarrillo amargo el Cieno Verde
en el Montecarlo
sigue apta para todos la vida perdurable
intacta la estupidez de las nubes
intacta la obscenidad de los geranios
intacta la vergüenza del ajo
los gorrioncitos cagándose divinamente en pleno cielo
de abril
Mandrake criando conejos en algún círculo
del infierno
y siempre la patita de cangrejo atrapada
en la trampa del ser
o del no ser
o de no quiero esto sino lo otro
tú sabes
esas cosas que nos suceden
y que deben olvidarse para que existan
verbigracia la mano con alas
y sin mano
la historia del canguro -aquella de la bolsa o la vida-
o la del capitán encerrado en la botella
para siempre vacía
y el vientre vacío pero con alas
y sin vientre
tú sabes
la pasión la obsesión
la poesía la prosa
el sexo el éxito
o viceversa
el vacío congénito
el huevecillo moteado
entre millones y millones de huevecillos moteados
tú y yo
you and me
toi et moi
tea for two en la inmensidad del silencio
en el mar intemporal
en el horizonte de la historia
porque ácido ribonucleico somos
pero ácido ribonucleico enamorado siempre

Canto villano

y de pronto la vida
en mi plato de pobre
un magro trozo de celeste cerdo
aquí en mi plato

observarme
observarte
o matar una mosca sin malicia
aniquilar la luz
o hacerla

hacerla
como quien abre los ojos y elige
un cielo rebosante
en el plato vacío

rubens cebollas lágrimas
más rubens más cebollas
más lágrimas

tantas historias
negros indigeribles milagros
y la estrella de oriente

emparedada
y el hueso del amor
tan roído y tan duro
brillando en otro plato

este hambre propio
existe
es la gana del alma
que es el cuerpo

es la rosa de grasa
que envejece
en su cielo de carne

mea culpa ojo turbio
mea culpa negro bocado
mea culpa divina náusea

no hay otro aquí
en este plato vacío
sino yo
devorando mis ojos
y los tuyos

Originally posted August 23, 2016 on https://medium.com/drunken-boat by Arturo Desimone.

From the Folio: An Interview with Julie Batten

Julie Batten is the founder and director of the Glass House Shelter Project, an organization that brings college-level accredited English courses into homeless shelters.

For Drunken Boat 23, Julie Batten curated our Glass House Shelter Project folio in which we featured the work of fifteen writers who have experienced homelessness, many of whom are Batten’s students. Drunken Boat’s Series and Features Editor Peter Mishler spoke with Julie Batten about the inception of the Project, its importance, and her plans for future work in this necessary field.

Peter Mishler: How did the Glass House Shelter Project begin?

Julie Batten: While I’ve always been interested in the social circumstance of homelessness, in part due to my own tumultuous childhood, I taught my first college level reading and writing class in a shelter just five years ago. At the time, Salem State University, under the direction of President Patricia Meservey, whose ambitious strategic plan includes growing a strong civic engagement presence on the North Shore of Boston, had invited me to teach a pilot college level reading and writing course to residents at Lifebridge/Seeds of Hope, a combination shelter and transitional living space in downtown Salem, Massachusetts.

The first class was a success with one of the students completing a 400 page memoir by the end of the class, and another entering into a degree granting program of study at the local community college. This earned us a little ink in the Boston Globe, which caught the attention of a professor of mine from grad school, who then put me in touch with Dr. Rajini Srikanth who then suggested I apply for a President’s Creative Economies Grant at the University.

So you see how it goes. We have a children’s book at home that tells the story of a boy who builds a sand castle on the beach that is so magnificent it inspires others all up and down the beach, to build their own. That’s how it goes with the Glass House Shelter Project; college programs have been in place in prisons for a long time, but to my knowledge, there’s nowhere else in the country where universities are actually setting up shop in the local shelter cafeteria. And the crazy thing is that almost 100% of the students I’ve had come through the Glass House Shelter Project programs are now either working full time, in degree granting college programs and/or at the very least, living independently.

PM: Why were you originally tapped to teach the pilot course at LifeBridge/Seeds of Hope? What were the circumstances leading to this opportunity?

JB: I had met some folks in the administration at Salem State University when working as the interim director of development for MassPoetry in 2011, the year their annual festival moved to Salem. Friendships developed, and somewhere along the way, the circumstances of my emigrating to the United States with my parents when I was four, became known. My dad, a working class Brit, had come over to America on the Queen Elizabeth II with a hammer in his back pocket and started banging nails in Hartford, Connecticut. Six months later, he’d sent for my mom, my sister and I, and that first Christmas we were so poor that my sister and I, sleeping on camp cots at the time (the kind you roll into each night and climb out of each morning as if you’d been cocooned overnight, so slack was the canvas) received one present each, a doll that was perched just above our heads on the pillow. We felt like we’d won the lottery! Something besides the spoons we’d been using to play in the dirt! Later that day, having accepted an invitation from the neighbors to share Christmas dessert, I stood in the doorway of their living room wondering at the ocean of wrapping paper their living room had become. The three boys that lived there, having been well spoiled (one of whom had given me a black eye the week before with his pop gun), were obviously more deserving. I stood, unable to move, bursting with shame. How bad Santa must think me, having brought only the doll, only the one offering, which here in the face of all of this seemed suddenly like a punishment. Poverty shames us, sometimes so deeply that it is hard to reach for the next breath. It was this story that would one day earn me an invitation from Salem State University to teach the first for-credit university course at Lifebridge/Seeds of Hope shelter in Salem, Massachusetts. It was that course that would give way to my founding the Glass House Shelter Project and become the impetus for teaching at other shelters in the Greater Boston area.

“The truth is that all writing is therapeutic — nonfiction, fiction, poetry. Stories are stories; the human condition, whether imagined or lived, is what binds us in our art.”

PM: Just to learn more specifics about the project — do students receive college credit for the course through a participating institution?

JB: Yes. The two institutions I have worked with so far are the University of Massachusetts Boston and Salem State University. The participating shelters pay for the noncredit courses and the universities pay for the college courses (and issue academic credits to the homeless student). It’s critical that I move the Glass House Shelter Project from a grassroots organization into a 501(c)3 so that I might grow a funding base that is supplemented by individual/corporate donors and grants to take a portion of the weight of this program off of the universities and shelters. A few volunteers have recently stepped up to help with this process, including Curtis Nikitas, project manager for MassDOT, who has a long history of dealing with charities. I am also working with a few graduate students from UMB’s sociology department.

PM: Could you tell us about the kind of writing instruction and discussion that are prevalent in GHSP courses? For one, I am curious about whether the course is centered around creative nonfiction.

JB: The class focuses on fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Students are most receptive to ‘real’ stories rather than those that are made-up (no sense in reading stories written by ‘liars,’ eh!?)…I’d strongly suggest that anyone teaching such a course at either a shelter or a prison, invest in a copy of Words Without Walls: Writers on Addiction, Violence and Incarceration, edited by Sheryl St. Germain and Sarah Shotland. These two, co-directors of the prison program at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, have put together an anthology of poetry and short stories that tap into the shame of poverty, domestic abuse and illness that is sure to provoke heartfelt discussion and personal revelation in all who partake. Additionally, graphic memoirs are also a hit. In particular, Stitches by renowned children’s book author David Small, which chronicles his upbringing in an abusive household, has consistently rated as a favorite among students. Overall, the conversation is often about suffering and surviving (seems like it’s what most of the really great writers in the world spend their time pondering).

PM: I can see how creative nonfiction and poetry are both natural genres for bibliotherapy. Could you specifically discuss fiction / imaginative writing as therapeutic genres?

JB: But on occasion and with certain students (typically those who have not had the privilege of a higher education), fiction is perceived as being less worthy because it is fabricated. Lying doesn’t cut it with my homeless students; their BS radar is highly tuned to sniff out the inauthentic, the con job, the egocentric, writerly pyrotechnics of anyone bludgeoning the truth into a self-serving piece of artistic tripe. The Artist is on occasion suspect, the lot of the privileged, the unlived. Why would we need to make up stories when the truth is so damn scarring? Of course, when my classes are full of the self-educated and/or college graduates, those with degrees from Yale or Middlebury, UMass or Suffolk (all of which fine institutions have been at the table at the shelter on occasion), there is a higher tolerance, and even a yearning, for the literary arts; in each case, I am working the crowd, Peter, playing to an audience that taps their toes, moves their hips to the rhythms I’m peddling as they will. It’s sometimes hard to have Eminem and Pavarotti in the same room at the same time, but being open to improvisation is the first rule of creating a successful classroom experience.

“When I begin a class, I am making a commitment to my students to be there, week after week, in the conference room on Tuesday mornings at 9:30 am, with pads and pens and stories.”

PM: What is your educational philosophy as it relates to teaching adults, and in particular, if you wish, to teaching homeless students?

JB: With regard to my teaching philosophy, it doesn’t change according to the politics of any group classroom demographic (and yet, it is changing all the time). The point is that it is reflective, but not reactionary. Age really has nothing to do with it. What matters most to me is that my students know that we are agreeing to enter into a conversation for the next few months; there are no leaders and no followers — we are learning something from one another as we bring our stories to the table (because that’s how we all come to understand one another — through our narratives). As Adrienne Rich made us understand the personal is political, and so I make it clear to my students that every time they open their mouths, they are speaking from their own political position— race, class, religion and gender (and age?). That combination of factors defines us as acutely as do our fingerprints. These factors figure into our very own personal constellation, the place from which we throw light out onto the page.

PM: Can you share some of the specific success stories that you’ve witnessed during your involvement with project. Does a particular student come to mind?

JB: All of them have been successful — here are just a few:

~Scottie*, an unemployed fisherman, arrived in his SSU ENL 110 class at the shelter with a full beard and long hair, his eyes barely visible beneath the brim of a baseball cap pulled low onto his face. His clothes were dirty and he was reluctant to speak. Weeks and many stories later (some of which were written by Scottie), the beard was gone, the hair trimmed, the t-shirt exchanged for a cleaner version of that which he wore on the first day — and Scottie had a girlfriend!

~When Juan* read his work aloud during the second week of class, he tried hard to conceal his anxiety, pausing frequently to breathe, steady his voice. The paper he held shook as he read and there was no way to stop the perspiration once it had started to form on his temples and upper lip. Two months after he graduated from the UMB class, he appeared on a panel at Mass General Hospital to speak to an audience of over 100 people about surviving cancer.

~ Mark Norek, contributor in this folio, is perfectly capable of telling his own success story; it landed him, a few months back, on the cover of the MHSA (Massachusetts Housing & Shelter Alliance) newsletter. He’s a veritable poster child for this program with a brand new degree from the University of Massachusetts Boston.

~ Alan Asselin (a poet also featured in this folio) texted the following 6 months after he graduated from the UMB class held at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans: “Today I read my first published poem on the lawn of the Henry Wadsworth Longfellow House in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Imagine that.” He is now fully employed and an active member of the Warrior Writers group in Boston and frequently teaches the monthly workshops for veterans.

*names have been changed

“Bibliotherapy helps us re-envision ourselves by breaking the recurring cycle of shame, the built-in circuitry of our self-recriminations and insecurities … “

PM: Could you explain some early challenges or difficult learning experiences with the project that have helped shaped how you approach GHSP now?

JB: I teach in the Honors College at the University of Massachusetts Boston and in the English department at Salem State University, my progress with the Glass House Shelter Project proceeds in fits and starts. I’m a bit like the one man band standing on the street corner with a harmonica strapped to my chin, trying to procure a symphony — some days there just isn’t enough of me to hit all the notes, with all of the instruments. A lack of funding and too few hours in the day to court those who have it, has always been the biggest challenge. Although the program is an integral part in getting homeless folks to re-envision their lives, their path forward(100% of graduates are now fully employed, matriculated in degree granting programs and/or at the very least living successfully in independent housing), that success is nothing if it’s not publicized).

Incidentally, I am grateful for the opportunity of this interview with DB and hope that the work folks read here might compel them to visit our GoFundMe account: https://www.gofundme.com/t6m658

There is also the constant challenge of a transient population. I am in Vietnam this week on a research project, and I know that when I return to my class at the Pine Street Women’s Inn next week, I am going to have to go early and round up my students, remind them of where we left off, invite them to re-engage — with as much zeal and enthusiasm as furniture salesman working the floor for his 5%. I will walk out among the women, sitting with some for a while, inquiring about their backs or their teeth or their children, asking what’s gone down since the last time I saw them, how they are today, would they like to read a little Lucille (Clifton)? Some will no longer be there, the system hustling them through to the next stop or the call of what got them here in the first place having won out, consumed them anew, until the next time when the pain sends them careening back in for the 3 squares and a cot that the shelter affords. Our lives are all in a state of flux, and it’s so easy not to show up, to become complacent, to give up. When I begin a class, I am making a commitment to my students to be there, week after week, in the conference room on Tuesday mornings at 9:30 am, with pads and pens and stories. If I don’t show, that can so easily be perceived as a betrayal, just another one of so many disappointments, con jobs, come-ons and lies, contributing to the despair.

 

PM: You mention the outcomes of enrollment in GHSP (employment, education, living independently). I want to focus on the third. In what ways do you think the project might contribute to that independence?

JB: Bibliotherapy helps us re-envision ourselves by breaking the recurring cycle of shame, the built-in circuitry of our self-recriminations and insecurities — some of which ‘wiring’ is passed down through generations inside a family, a culture, some of which is jimmy-rigged in response to our individual life circumstances. Stories help us to connect with others, help us to see ourselves — and function — as part of the larger collective; stories change our politics when they short circuit the internal rhetoric of shame, the language of the ‘other.’ This is not to say that bibliotherapy can end homelessness — of course not. It takes a village. The thousands of people involved in getting good healthcare and adequate housing to the homeless are an integral part of helping the homeless move toward independence. But …without addressing the secret shame of being homeless, the secret homelessness that is shame — without addressing what’s going on between our ears on a daily basis — all the empty apartments and free doctor visits in the world are not going to emancipate the unhoused. Bibliotherapy is the light switch in a very, very dark place.

PM: Is there anything you’d like to highlight or point out about William Keller and Mark Norek’s work [whose work is featured in the folio, and who are interviewed here]?

JB: When I read what Mark and William have written, their politics illuminate me, give me something to make meaning with, to discover beyond myself and inside of myself simultaneously. This dilation of the world, if you will, the prismatic aesthetic of another knowing, is the stuff of epiphanies, of all great learning, but you have to be open to it, to that kind of seeing.

The breathlessness of William’s prose poetry, its pacing and heat and insistence is musical and alive in a manner that is unique to him, can only belong to him — which is quite beautiful when you think about it — as rare as the moment just recently when scientists heard the chirp of gravity, a sound wave that had traveled for a billion years from a black hole to get here. All I can do in the face of so much living on the page, of surviving and resilience, so much poetic invention and cascading, so much solitude, is to put my fingers up to the glass and acknowledge the collage of it, the difficult edges and cold mornings through which the voices of children in Pawtucket echo past that Ford Econoline van — and weep.

William is not a student of mine, but Mark attended the Creative Writing class I taught at the New England Center for Homeless Veterans in Boston in the fall of 2013. “Blowback” is a cathartic offering, as barefaced and bold and courageous as anything I have ever read. That this man, whose life was shattered at such an early age, is able to face his fears on the page with such eloquence, with such unabashed honesty and forthrightness, is nothing less than heroic. That such a brilliant man still struggles to find employment is tragic; his wisdom — and continued hope — puts most of us to shame.

PM: Where does the name of the project come from, and how does it in some way define the project?

JB: The project has been named the Glass House Shelter Project because of the intrinsic value of glass houses. They are green houses for tending lives too fragile to be left outdoors; they are made of glass, a material that shatters, is of a more tentative quality than brick or wood or plaster; best of all, they are transparent, open to the life-giving forces of the sun and easily revealing the transformations occurring within. We can see inside, but we are also seen by its inhabitants, creating a reciprocal exchange so long missing in the efforts to combat homelessness.

PM: What have your students have taught you about the art of writing?

JB: It’s always about seeing.

And gratitude.

To be grateful for whatever flicker of recognition is gifted to me of an hour. Like being at a cocktail party and spying your lover across the room and not needing the out loud part. That good. Like noticing the holes in people’s clothing, where they rub through the weave first, where the weight of a life is brought to bear. Like tasting durian for the first time and seeing the gaping black hole of your unknowing. Take what sparks, stings, smarts — and put it into your writing. Wrangling it onto the page will at first feel like wrangling a boa constrictor into a basket, but with time, the thing will fold in on itself with the ease of a long, languorous woman taking to a divan. That’s the magic.

And truth.

That writing, good writing, is about making connections, tethering our stories to universal truths, knowings. That seeing the unspoken, the holes, the fruit, the wrangling, is our attempt to parse the kaleidoscopic images that come to us of a day, an evening, a waking. All the messiness of our lives, the detritus, seen as clearly as ever we can see without distortion the pebbly bottom of a clear running stream. The inherent shiftiness of our existence makes absolutes impossible, but in any given moment, there can be clarity, fleeting revelations that change the way we walk.

And generosity.

The nakedness we feel in the presence of a revelation is to be shared. As witness, we must dance at each other’s unveiling. Encircle the difficulty with open hearts. Kiss each other and weep.

“As a writer/teacher, I get to be intentionally vulgar in that I am not afraid to name the wounds. It’s kinda like inviting the bully to dinner. We hold him up by his feet, shake him out, try to figure out what makes him tick.”

PM: What have your students taught you about the art of teachingwriting?

JB: That to like broccoli, you have to eat broccoli. Something like that. Meaning that when you walk into a homeless shelter and ask folks if they’d like to join a reading and discussion group, you might as well ask them if they’d like to partake of durian or pepino or carambolo, or any other exotic offering. Put yourself at their table. Partake. That other people’s stories could in any way have a place in their life in the current moment of crisis seems as absurd as a Pinter play. Cajoling those in need of housing and shelter, a warm meal, un-holely socks, into a writing class makes me question the relevance of what I do every single time I begin again. What is it that I am offering? The chance to transcend our physical and emotional pain? Do I really believe that? I am forever re-evaluating the art of teaching writing, making it earn its place, convince me of its merits, its pedigree as a healing endeavor.

Which is a good thing, because it brings a certain urgency to every class offering. Makes me view reading and writing as something necessarily fierce. Imperative. Critical. Sustaining. There is no room for the flabby, the milktoast, the mediocre in my teaching agenda — either pedagogically, the process of it, or the thing itself, the literature. With most shelter clients, I get one chance. Blow it and they evaporate. Hook them and they discover a hunger they know not existed; they come alive, come back, and back again, and a color returns to a world that has long since turned black and white.

So if there’s one thing my students have taught me, it’s to not let up. Become complacent. Teach every class as if everyone in the room is starving (yourself included) and the only thing and the only thing that’s going to save anybody is this feast of words we elaborate on in the moment.

PM: In your introduction to the folio and this interview you use the phrase ‘rhetoric of shame’ which I think you have defined as a feeling of being ‘othered,’ as well as a reticence to reveal one’s homelessness. Can you elaborate on the meaning of that phrase?

JB: The ‘rhetoric of shame’ is very much connected to the language of shame, which is very much born of the personal as the political (class, race, religion, gender) and to be clear, sounds something like this: I am a freak, a loser; I am the wrong color, the wrong shape; I am dirty; There is something wrong with me; I’m such an idiot; I’m pathetic, weak, ineffective; I’m invisible and deserve to be overlooked, erased, voided (The Culture of Shame, Andrew P. Morrison). The body language that accompanies the verbal suggests a turning away from others, a shutting down, a slow descent into the fetal position, a failure to thrive, to breath. People seldom say ‘I am ashamed,’ but rather couch their pain in the self-flagellation of name-calling. This language can be generations old, an inherited rhetoric if you will, or born of events that have occurred in this lifetime and are uniquely detrimental to a single individual (assaults, illness, financial misfortune, sudden poverty, natural disaster). Bibliotherapy works because the reader/listener recognizes this rhetoric as their own and feels an instant sense of community and belonging, and in the ‘un-othering’ of that moment, hope is born. There is no question that suffering unites us.

PM: How does your awareness of this rhetoric inform your teaching methodology and practice? Are there any specific approaches you’ve used in your teaching that you feel are especially informed by a sensitivity to and awareness of shame?

JB: I demonstrate non-judgment daily.

Rather than shying away from the words, the rhetoric — idiot, pathetic, weak, etc. — I embrace them, use them liberally, make their presence among us a thing we shine the light upon rather than eschew. As a writer/teacher, I get to be intentionally vulgar in that I am not afraid to name the wounds. It’s kinda like inviting the bully to dinner. We hold him up by his feet, shake him out, try to figure out what makes him tick. That’s when we realize that we’re all in this dance with victim/persecutor/rescuer and the enemy is us. It’s only our willingness to play the game, buy into the language, that is our undoing.

It’s like the first time you utter a curse word in middle school and find out it doesn’t give you super powers after all. In the end, it’s just a jam-up of consonants and vowels like any other word on the planet. But man, a good curse word and a cigarette can cast a long shadow when you’re only 12 years old. No super powers, but fear is pretty exhilarating, puts a sword in your mitts that you can either lunge forward with … or fall upon.

PM: I ask this because you mentioned to me in an email that you are at work on an anthology of essays on shame that could become a resource for teachers and others who work with marginalized populations.

JB: Yes, I want this essay collection to help us pull back the curtain and see that the wizard is a little roly-poly guy with a bald head and glasses. Without over-simplifying it, what I mean is that there is humor to be found in all of it; at least if we can jointly grab hold of the ridiculousness of our circumstance, the tragi-comedy of this life on earth, we can overcome anything. I mean we all have belly buttons, and think how ridiculous belly buttons are. Even the name of the part lacks dignity. And then there are those who choose to adorn them with jewels! Which is to say that shame is very much a (wo)manmade construct. Of course, I’m joking here, but you see my point.

PM: You also mentioned to me that you are researching the quantifiable need for bibliotherapy in homeless shelters. Would you care to briefly share any data or findings here?

JB: I am working with Dr. Russell Schutt, chair of the sociology department and a team of five graduate researchers from the University of Massachusetts Boston’s sociology department just put together a study on the efficacy of bibliotherapy in shelters. (The study was done on a small group of the women at the Pine Street Women’s Inn over spring semester; they were asked questions with regard to the class I have been teaching there.) The study showed what we already know — that stories heal, create belonging, oneness. And this work will result in a paper that I hope will give funders further impetus to support the cause.

 

PM: Are you working on any other related projects now, personally or otherwise?

JB: It has come to my attention that there is a woodworking shop at the Pine Street Inn which employs mostly men in making products that are sold to benefit the shelter. The women in my reading & discussion group are interested in starting a cottage industry of their own, making mittens and hats out of old sweaters donated to the shelter (and felted).

PM: Thank you so much for your time and consideration, and for your work, Julie.

Julie Batten is the founder & director of the Glass House Shelter Project, a grassroots organization that brings accredited college level English courses into homeless shelters to help clients re-envision themselves, through our stories, our collective narrative, as part of the whole, and also to encourage universities to further their civic engagement and community outreach to those who have become marginalized, invisible. Batten, formerly a research reporter at Time, Inc., is also an Associate Lecturer of English at both Salem State University and the University of Massachusetts, where she teaches writing and a course on Homelessness and the Recurring Cycle of Shame. Along with UMB’s Professor Askold Melnyczuk, she was recently the recipient of the President’s Creative Economies Grant. She holds an MFA in poetry and fiction from Bennington College. She thanks you in advance for your compassion and contribution to this outreach effort at http://www.gofundme.com/ghsp2015.

Originally posted August 15, 2016 on https://medium.com/drunken-boat by Peter Mishler.