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masthead photo by cheryl marland

The Story, So Far: Marcus Speh

image

«I’m an online writer. Apart from a few print publications, I can only be read online. Sometimes I feel “online” is like a birth mark: can’t get rid of it. Goes with you everywhere. Obscurely related to your gene pool. Not pretty perhaps but, in the right light, one might take it for a giant tick or for a smudge. 

Of course “online” is not a smudge. It’s the dog’s bollocks, the bee’s knees of contemporary writing. It’s writing for billions out there, potentially. It means striking fear into the very heart of the publishing industry. It’s “occupy literature” before anyone thought of occupying anything anywhere.

That online community, however, is a tent settlement, albeit of unknown extension. It doesn’t really occupy anybody else’s space either: rather, it creates land where it needs more. A little like the Dutch people, who wrestled most of their land from the sea at no small a price. Though the modern Dutchmen, I hear, have plans to save the money for repairing their dams and will instead live in houses that shall float when the flood comes to fetch them.

Perhaps that is the future of online writing also: no more pioneering spirit of the wagon fort, sitting around a virtual camp fire sharing stories of the bravest tweet, the most daring Facebook thread or the latest Duotrope submission tracking tale, but life raft-like constructions that can come together when and where needed and that help writers survive and attach themselves to reading communities as readers can attach themselves to us. Futurology is all about the right metaphor.

“Goodreads,” I say to you, fellow online writers, and then I disappear in ‘Ulysses,’ which, in this case, is not a book by Joyce, but an app by German software engineers who like writers. There’s this dependency of course: not only the fear of the blank page (or the blank screen) but the fear that you might not have the best app on your iPad. That you might not have an iPad. That you might be as alone on the Internet as you are anywhere else.

Because, whatever the future of online communities might hold, whoever might be in it or not in it (anymore): the fact remains that writing happens inside your head first and last of all, as a dialogue between your many selves, a loner’s love. There’s no reason, of course, not to have a lot of fun with others along the way. Or, as in my case, connect with a multitude of writers outside of my Germanic exile.

* * * * *

My earliest published online (literary) work is also the earliest work I ever published: “Tickled Pink” at Metazen, in June 2009. My earliest online non-literary work dates back to 1989, when as a young physicist at CERN I worked with the group of people working with Tim Berners-Lee on the creation of the World Wide Web.

[Published at Northville Review.
Illustration: © “Ceaseless murmuring” Carlye Birkenkrahe]

A TOURIST IN SIBERIA by Carol Novack

"A Tourist in Siberia"  (first published in MILK) from Carol’s book “Giraffes in Hiding—The Mythical Memoirs of Carol Novack”. Recording by Marcus Speh who also wrote a tribute for her.

Carol Novack, publisher/editor of Mad Hatter’s Review & Press says about herself: “I would say that I’m an outside of the box writer, if I could recall where I put the box." She blogs at «I am not who I think I am or is I whom?»

Update: ”Carol Novack is dead. She died of lung cancer today [29 December] at 8:55 pm. She was a genre-defying writer of lyrical and inventive work who single-handedly brought together thousands of artists from around the globe in collaboration and exploration as publisher of the groundbreaking Mad Hatters’ Review. She was also my good friend, quite irreplaceable.” —Larissa Shmailo


«I am floating in a world made entirely of text. Lines of white courier type stretch away to the horizon, spelling out passages from Borges's 's “Library of Babel”: “The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries …” I look down and experience a sudden twinge of vertigo. Below my feet, strings of letters plunge down into an inky black void.»

from: Robert Coover: A Life In Writing — by Hari Kunzru in the Guardian.

«I am floating in a world made entirely of text. Lines of white courier type stretch away to the horizon, spelling out passages from Borges's 's “Library of Babel”: “The universe (which others call the Library) is composed of an indefinite and perhaps infinite number of hexagonal galleries …” I look down and experience a sudden twinge of vertigo. Below my feet, strings of letters plunge down into an inky black void.»

from: Robert Coover: A Life In Writing — by Hari Kunzru in the Guardian.


[Christopher Hitchens] … also threw himself into the defense of his friend Mr. Rushdie. “It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved,” he wrote in his memoir. “In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual and the defense of free expression.”
from the NYT Obituary by William Grimes

[Christopher Hitchens] … also threw himself into the defense of his friend Mr. Rushdie. “It was, if I can phrase it like this, a matter of everything I hated versus everything I loved,” he wrote in his memoir. “In the hate column: dictatorship, religion, stupidity, demagogy, censorship, bullying and intimidation. In the love column: literature, irony, humor, the individual and the defense of free expression.”

from the NYT Obituary by William Grimes

Calle Principe, 25

rabbit-light:

 

Without warning we lose
the vastness of the fields
singular enigmas
the clarity we swear
we’ll preserve

but it takes us years
to forget someone
who merely looked at us

José Tolentino Mendonça

The Dummy’s Guide To Marriage Proposals by J.A. Pak
She first asked him to marry her when she was five, when `marry me’ meant `I like you more than anybody else’ and she loved everybody around her who was nice to her.  And he was so very nice to her.
She waited two more years to ask again.  He informed her, with regret, that he was already married.  She shouldn’t have dallied at recess.  She wanted to ask again when she was eleven, but she’d begun that process of self-suppression.  Her next proposal was when she’d just turned nineteen.  She was a little on the drunk side and he was so beautiful and all her emotions, her desires, her ambitions, her hopes just kept tumbling and tumbling out of her.  It was her longest proposal — about twenty minutes.  She cried.  And cried and cried.
She didn’t have the opportunity to ask again until she was fifty-six. She asked very lightly and he said that he loved her and always will.
Time flew and suddenly they were eighty-two.  Week by week he came by and they took long walks and he’d find himself proposing. And she’d smile and hold his hand and the question flies in circles, in small, looping circles like a toy aeroplane caught in a drift of warm air.
(Published at: Smoking Poet)

The Dummy’s Guide To Marriage Proposals by J.A. Pak

She first asked him to marry her when she was five, when `marry me’ meant `I like you more than anybody else’ and she loved everybody around her who was nice to her.  And he was so very nice to her.

She waited two more years to ask again.  He informed her, with regret, that he was already married.  She shouldn’t have dallied at recess.  She wanted to ask again when she was eleven, but she’d begun that process of self-suppression.  Her next proposal was when she’d just turned nineteen.  She was a little on the drunk side and he was so beautiful and all her emotions, her desires, her ambitions, her hopes just kept tumbling and tumbling out of her.  It was her longest proposal — about twenty minutes.  She cried.  And cried and cried.

She didn’t have the opportunity to ask again until she was fifty-six. She asked very lightly and he said that he loved her and always will.

Time flew and suddenly they were eighty-two.  Week by week he came by and they took long walks and he’d find himself proposing. And she’d smile and hold his hand and the question flies in circles, in small, looping circles like a toy aeroplane caught in a drift of warm air.

(Published at: Smoking Poet)

BLACKROCK by lucien quincy senna

BLACKROCK



Always say you hunger for me
then maybe it will be true
Puss in Boots
as you strut the saddest tale
by the Liffey
its iron lacing.
I can only make this walk
with you
so far huffing
thrusting like a crowd
at the hastening
the longest walk.

Wait for me pale blue child
meet me at the edges
make me peril of your
hush heavy hands
a farmer’s boy
fond of my obscenities
waves of unknown bells and carnal yells
bronze girl thundering
the forgotten streets of Blackrock
already too dark and too late
for love
for teenage goodbyes made.

Photo: Celbridge Abbey, County Kildare, Ireland (above); Black Rock City, Nevada (below). 


«Even as dawn approached, the number of moons didn’t increase. It was just the same old familiar moon. The one and only satellite that has faithfully circled the earth, at the same speed, from before human memory. As she stared at the moon, Aomame softly touched her abdomen, checking one more time that the little one was there, inside her. She could swear her belly had grown from the night before. 
I still don’t know what sort of world this is, she thought. But whatever world we’re in now, I’m sure this is where I will stay. Where we will stay. This world must have its own threats, its own dangers, must be filled with its own type of riddles and contradictions. We may have to travel down many dark paths, leading who knows where. But that’s okay. It’s not a problem. I’ll just have to accept it. I’m not going anywhere. Come what may, this is where we’ll remain, in this world with one moon. The three of us—Tengo and me, and the little one.
Put a tiger in your tank, the Esso tiger said, his left profile toward them. But either side was fine. That big grin of his facing Aomame was natural and warm. I’m going to believe in that smile, she told herself. That’s what’s important here. She did her own version of the tiger’s smile. Very naturally, very gently. 
She quietly stretched out a hand, and Tengo took it. The two of them stood there, side by side, as one, wordlessly watching the moon over the buildings. Until the newly risen sun shone upon it, robbing it of its nighttime brilliance. Until it was nothing more than a gray paper moon, hanging in the sky.»

(from: 1Q84.)

«Even as dawn approached, the number of moons didn’t increase. It was just the same old familiar moon. The one and only satellite that has faithfully circled the earth, at the same speed, from before human memory. As she stared at the moon, Aomame softly touched her abdomen, checking one more time that the little one was there, inside her. She could swear her belly had grown from the night before. 

I still don’t know what sort of world this is, she thought. But whatever world we’re in now, I’m sure this is where I will stay. Where we will stay. This world must have its own threats, its own dangers, must be filled with its own type of riddles and contradictions. We may have to travel down many dark paths, leading who knows where. But that’s okay. It’s not a problem. I’ll just have to accept it. I’m not going anywhere. Come what may, this is where we’ll remain, in this world with one moon. The three of us—Tengo and me, and the little one.

Put a tiger in your tank, the Esso tiger said, his left profile toward them. But either side was fine. That big grin of his facing Aomame was natural and warm. I’m going to believe in that smile, she told herself. That’s what’s important here. She did her own version of the tiger’s smile. Very naturally, very gently. 

She quietly stretched out a hand, and Tengo took it. The two of them stood there, side by side, as one, wordlessly watching the moon over the buildings. Until the newly risen sun shone upon it, robbing it of its nighttime brilliance. Until it was nothing more than a gray paper moon, hanging in the sky.»

(from: 1Q84.)

A Dreamby Jorge Luis Borges In a deserted place in Iran there is a not very tall stone tower that has neither door nor window. In the only room (with a dirt floor and shaped like a circle) there is a wooden table and a bench. In that circular cell, a man who looks like me is writing in letters I cannot understand a long poem about a man who in another circular cell is writing a poem about a man who in another circular cell … The process never ends and no one will be able to read what the prisoners write.(Translated, from the Spanish, by Suzanne Jill Levine.)Un SueñoJorge Luís BorgesEn un desierto lugar del Irán hay una no muy alta torre de piedra, sin puerta ni ventana. En la única habitación (cuyo piso es de tierra y que tiene la forma del círculo) hay una mesa de madera y un banco. En esa celda circular, un hombre que se parece a mí escribe en caracteres que no comprendo un largo poema sobre un hombre que en otra celda circular escribe un poema sobre un hombre que en otra celda circular… El proceso no tiene fin y nadie podrá jamás leer lo que los prisioneros escriben.
Text via: A Thousand Words. Podcast: spoken by Nic Sebastian (of whalesound fame, now seen at Pizzicati of Hosanna). 

Photo: folioline:

asemic integration for j l borges

A Dream
by Jorge Luis Borges 

In a deserted place in Iran there is a not very tall stone tower that has neither door nor window. In the only room (with a dirt floor and shaped like a circle) there is a wooden table and a bench. In that circular cell, a man who looks like me is writing in letters I cannot understand a long poem about a man who in another circular cell is writing a poem about a man who in another circular cell … The process never ends and no one will be able to read what the prisoners write.
(Translated, from the Spanish, by Suzanne Jill Levine.)


Un Sueño
Jorge Luís Borges

En un desierto lugar del Irán hay una no muy alta torre de piedra, sin puerta ni ventana. En la única habitación (cuyo piso es de tierra y que tiene la forma del círculo) hay una mesa de madera y un banco. En esa celda circular, un hombre que se parece a mí escribe en caracteres que no comprendo un largo poema sobre un hombre que en otra celda circular escribe un poema sobre un hombre que en otra celda circular… El proceso no tiene fin y nadie podrá jamás leer lo que los prisioneros escriben.

Text via: A Thousand Words. Podcast: spoken by Nic Sebastian (of whalesound fame, now seen at Pizzicati of Hosanna). 

Photo: folioline:

asemic integration for j l borges