“We read to know that we are not alone.”
New Arrivals: Review
of Oxygen by Julia Fiedorczuk
Translated from the Polish by Bill Johnston
Zephyr Press (2017), 134 pages Polish & English
From the title Oxygen, one can intimate that Julia Fiedorczuk’s new book of poems, her first book-length bilingual poetry collection, is all about what is essential. As a Polish poet and scholar, Fiedorczuk writes ecopoetry with a “personism” pulse, centering her work around a trust and a celebration of our inherent relationship to nature. Before we even pick up a copy of her beautiful new book translated by Bill Johnston, Oxygen indicates that the main concern of her poetry will be about what is necessary to life. And unfortunately for you, dear reader, that may not be you.
Fiedorczuk’s poetry reveals that that which is crucial to life is not humanity or its existence, but the forces of nature omnipresent: the earth, sea, stars, minerals, and other microscopic bodies. Whether these aspects are “Electricity,” the “Weather,” or the “Evening,” the non-human perspectives take primacy, and in doing so, Fiedorczuk attempts to dismantle mankind’s favorite point of view—the anthropocentric universe.
Although she stated in Asymptote’s review that she would like to be understood as “simply a poet,” and therefore does not necessarily identify as an ecopoet (one that writes in relation to their ecology or ecological surroundings), an ecopoetic approach is at the foreground of her content. She utilizes nature’s chemistry, its movements between light and dark, and its transformative qualities to explore life.
The term “ecopoetry” can often be misunderstood as it has less to do with the content and more to do with the process of the poet in finding connection with the non-human world. “Nature is energy and struggle,” John Berger says and, “Art is not imitating nature, it is imitating creation,” which is exactly what Fiedorczuk does through her language—creating a world full of sound and beauty that relishes “in the outbreath of the world.”
She brings awareness to the natural world by inhabiting non-human perspectives through persona poems such as “Beetle” and “Photosynthesis,” where she uncovers the extreme joy or “dull lament” of being a part of the cosmos. In the “Beetle,” the “tiny heart” has “so much time. Sunday! Like a length of silk” and has “such hunger, such desire / That the day must turn into an endless stream / Of richest yellow,” connecting us to the vastness of the universe and its light. She will attempt to speak for the incredibly, almost invisibly, small creatures or natural processes to appease the ontological questions that she will never disclose.
The book opens with “Lands and Oceans” which begins: “It is literally fire that is dear to us,” signifying that both death and creation—the transformative process—is the one act shared by humans and nature that is revered as sacred. This revelation is grasped . . . Read full article on The Mantle –> HERE.
“I don’t believe in colleges and universities. I believe in libraries because most students don’t have any money. When I graduated from high school, it was during the Depression and we had no money. I couldn’t go to college, so I went to the library three days a week for 10 years… At the end of 10 years, I had read every book in the library and I’d written a thousand stories.”
In Japan, a second library is set to open that is funded by private bookseller Tsutaya. Is this evidence of turning over a new leaf or should we throw the book at the commercialisation of a public service?
It’s been years since I was a heavy library user. Moving to Japan had something to do with that. I use the public libraries in Tokyo but not often; usually it’s just to borrow a book in Japanese on a work-related topic. And I never linger. Libraries here tend to be an uninviting place to read. Same cramped interior. Same utilitarian furniture. Same fluorescent lighting. To get my ink-on-paper fix, I prefer Tsutaya Books in Tokyo’s Daikanyama district. Few libraries can compete with the experience of a bookshop that’s so complete it offers hope for the future of bricks-and-mortar booksellers.
Which brings me to a story in the Japanese media last week about library makeovers. Specifically, Tagajo: a city in Miyagi prefecture, north of Tokyo, that has signed an agreement with Tsutaya’s parent company to build what the two sides are calling a “centre of cultural exchange”. Their plans call for a space that’s a public library, bookshop, café and restaurant all rolled into one seamless package. Tsutaya’s involvement makes it likely that Tagajo’s library will have all the trappings of, well, a Tsutaya bookshop.
This will be the second time a city has tapped Tsutaya to run a library. The first – in Takeo city, in the southern prefecture of Saga – opened in April, to mostly enthusiastic reviews. Anyone who has browsed the cosy aisles at Tsutaya Books in Daikanyama will immediately spot the design similarities. Hanging and standing lamps and bookshelves with recessed lighting complement the daylight that pours in from the skylight and large ground-floor windows – and not a naked fluorescent bulb in sight. Freestanding shelves on the ground floor and floor-to-ceiling shelves in an upstairs loft hold 200,000 books and reference materials. Amid the stacks there are plenty of wooden tables where you can park yourself with a book for hours. Tsutaya also train the staff and provide the black-and-white uniforms that make them easy to pick out in a crowd.
LA ART BOOK FAIR OPENING TONIGHT AT THE MOCA
Free and open to the public, the LA Art Book Fair is a unique event for artists’ books, art catalogs, monographs, periodicals, and zines presented by over 250 international presses, booksellers, antiquarians, artists, and independent publishers.
The event will be open through the end of this weekend at the MOCA’s Geffen Contemporary location in Little Tokyo, and looks to see tens of thousands of print-lovers from around Southern California. A series of lectures and discussions curated by David Senior called The Classroom will draw visitors each and every day of the fair, and Hyperallergic will even be present and hosting a get-together of their own after hours on Saturday.
Downtown Los Angeles, California
Over 250 international outfits are taking part in the assembly, and the range of offerings is highly impressive. Everything is egalitarian, sharply presented and extremely tempting.
Hometown heroes Ooga Booga, KesselsKramer, and Arcana — who are making waves on the international scene — are paired with their out-of-town peers, simultaneously repping their work and acting as ambassadors.
The fair is going on until Sunday and is free to enter and enjoy, thanks to the selfless contributions of many. For more information and for the full schedule for screenings, panels, lectures and special events visit laartbookfair.net.
– Courtesy of The Paris Review
Bookstore in London ruined by an air raid, 1940