Translation into french : Raphael Urweider’s poems in “Terre à ciel”
(Just made this link active. Bill)

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Updatapam: where we are losing now

As the collapsing table of dubious poetic comestibles continues to rain rum upon the unwary in its second year of uncoordinated activities, I thought I’d just flash fry the News Fish with a series of unlikely and largely mendacious updates as to what the Losers are up to at present. We’ll just see how how it takes them to notice and correct these actionable and libellous assertions – they can’t catch me…or can they?

First up is Sampurna, who is currently a visiting fellow at the University of Kent in Canterbury – the very fellowship that Meena held last year. She is in charge of leading a revival of the famous Canterbury scene of the late 60s and early 70s, where bands like Soft Machine and Caravan pioneered a whimsical jazz rock-based movement of laid-back high-pitched singing. Her avowed aim is to tranquillise mice, then insert them in a ‘fur Farfisa’ – evidently some sort of synthesizer. Here‘s a link to another Welsh-Indian translation exchange she took part in.

Then there’s Roselyne, who has been making art books the size and shape of Mediterranean vegetable and fish dishes. Unfortunately these are literally snapped up by a hungry mob pretty much as they appear. But they consume the poetry in any case and their heads glow as though luminescent shrimp were floating around inside their glassy skulls. This is actually due to the books being digested into the form of short movies, including Ratatuilieries by the Courgette Brothers, and Bouillabasic Instinct by Paul Verhoeddock.

Next is Arjun, who is now making a cartoon epic about a hungover sparrow who is contacted by aliens with an urgent message for the entire planet. Unfortunately the sparrow has a throat infection and is reduced to whispering the message huskily to a small boy who thinks the sparrow is out to get him and beheads him with a spinning DVD of The Monkees’ psychedelic folly ‘Head’. A kindly passing madman cryogenically preserves the sparrow’s head and the sparrow delivers the message agonisingly slowly as a huge space furball spins uncontrollably toward the Earth.

Then there’s Zoe, who in addition to editing the very marvellous Poetry Wales was co-involved with me (a liar) in making a radio programme called ‘Guns Roses and Poetry Readings’ with Pier Productions about poetry festivals around the world. Zoe did most of the work, naturally, travelling to Venezuela, Nicaragua, Macedonia and Serbia. This was broadcast by BBC Radio 4, but of course I didn’t post anything about it then, so you can merely look at the husk of it here.

Then there’s Meena, who has really does have some very good news, in that the genuinely nasty court action raised against her editing work has been dropped. Details of the original action are available on her blog here.

Robin has been maintaining an enigmatic silence whether about appearing in Poetry Wales or about the project he did in Wales in June with Sampurna and Alexandra, though this discussion on Soundcloud is a little noisier.

Raphael‘s visit to Medellin in June baffled thousands, who’d been expecting him to wear a comedy moustache and discuss the numismatic systems of Northern European squirrels: you can see them weep openly, both frightened and in dismay, here.

Finally, Alexandra, tired of providing alibis for her alter ego, the international jewellery thief Francesca, has started teaching Limpy the Parrot (a parrot), who lives in the Megara Palace, Istanbul, how to cheat at poker.

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Translation into french : Bill Herbert’s poems in “Terre à ciel”
(Just edited this to make it an active link. Bill)

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Poésie vivante et co-créations de Roselyne SIBILLE, an exhibition of artist books and some translations into ten tongues

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…and then i will have to drink for all of us

losers convention

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Just back from the Writers’ Chain Translation Workshop in idyllic Kovalam (on which some random musings here) followed by readings at Hay-Kerala, all of which had the effect of making me hugely nostalgic for Adishakti. It’s almost exactly a year since the Losers met. To celebrate that event, here is the poem (with apologies for the double-spacings which I know not how to banish) I wrote as my own desi-riff on Raphael Urweider’s ‘Self-experiments’ – the result of a self-experiment of my own – the poem I read at the Manchester event, and wish I had taken with me to Kerala. Cheers, dear dubious saints!


Jan 5th 2011, night


feni you rockrhythm slyheaven acrid frill of foam

around the sea that laps and licks my throat

you narrow boat you slow barge you silting sand

you cashew nut grown in a green shade smooth

as you slide into the centre of my chest you liquid

rope fickle as you burn you small sickle you large

measure of sun you tongue drum you gathering calm

you hint of rut of rot precursor to a sudden drunkenness

you warm my gut i smell of you weak-kneed lockjawed i float


Jan 6th 2011, morning


feni you racing undercurrent in my mind

clear glass malady rockbottom searching

for roots that rise in the air i swear i don’t like you

but i drink you i think you you stink to high heaven

it’s like drinking jackfruit then don’t but i will i do

i do like you feni even when i sometimes hate

the sour edge you bring to my day feni go away


Jan 6th 2011, afternoon


feni first cousin to cazulo second to urak

child of the three-eyed golem totemic

on the hill i could bend my head and pray

to this little clay god which feels like it may

speak put this geni back in the bottle aunty

and thank my stars for the hardboiled eggs

and the dullred light that hides the tremor

in my hand as i raise you to my lips and sing


Sampurna Chattarji

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Translation into french : three poems of indian poets published in “Terre à ciel” (Sampurna Chattarji, Meena Kandasamy, Arjun Bali)

A quick update to make this link live (Bill):

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Little Lifter

First and stupidest of the media from our recent outings to Manchester and Ledbury is this film of Raphael living out his tiny rap dream upon the Curry Mile:

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Losers Reunited

Soon several if not all of the writers who gathered at Adishakti’s famous Losers’ Table to fling fruit at each other and draw menacing tattoos on their arms in biro will be reunited at a couple of readings.

First up is a series of events in Wales you can find out about here. Basically, Welsh poets Menna Elfyn, Eurig Salisbury, Hywel Griffiths and Karen Owen will spend a week collaborating with the Keralan literary legend K. Satchidanandan, plus our very own Meena, Sampurna and Robin.

This leads to a couple of events: ‘Reading India, Translating Wales’ at the Blue Sky Café, Bangor Sunday 26th June, 7pm (£3/£2 students/unwaged – Tickets at the door). The event will also feature the Welsh launch for the artist’s book What does and doesn’t come to pass (Redfox Press), a collaboration between artist Robert Brandy and poet Jean Portante, both from Luxembourg, with translations from the French by Zoë.

There’s also a poetry dinner on Wednesday 29th June, 7pm at Ultracomida, Aberystwyth (The event, a three course dinner and a glass of wine will be served for a special price of £20. You should book by emailing or calling +44 (0)1970 622 544.) This is billed as an evening of innovative performance, movement and language, presented by poet and writer Nigel Jenkins.

On July 1st Zoe Skoulding, Sampurna Chattarji, Meena Kandasamy, Robin Ngnangom and Raphael Urweider will read (oh, and me) in Manchester as part of a double bill also featuring the Keralan poet K. Satchidanandan. Here are the details:

Friday 1st July, 6.30pm
International Anthony Burgess Foundation,
Engine House, Chorlton Mill,
3 Cambridge Street, Manchester, M1 5BY

Entry is free, and here’s a link with further info.

Then in Ledbury on Sunday July 3rd, the same line-up, but minus Robin, will take part in two events: a translation discussion at 2.15 in Burgage Hall; then a reading at 7.30 in Hellens which apparently includes a buffet supper (I knew there was some reason Kulturweider was showing up). The Ledbury site is here.

In other news, the anthology is in production, but as yet we have no publication date. As soon as that changes, we’ll start thinking things like, ‘if we were really efficient we’d probably post something about this on the blog.’

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Zoë Skoulding’s poems in Bangla

Zoë’s poems only in PDF, as their format gets completely wrecked in the body of a regular post.

 Zoe’s poems in Bangla

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