Archive for April, 2012

New Books from Our Contributors

Four of our past contributors have new books out recently, and we think you should buy them both. First up is:

Cataclysm Baby

by issue six contributor, Matt Bell.
Paperback · 118 pages
5″ x 7″ · $12.00
ISBN 978-0-9830263-7-2
Mud Luscious Press

Beset with environmental disaster, animal-like children, and the failure of traditional roles, the twenty-six fathers of Cataclysm Baby raise their desperate voices to reveal the strange stations of frustrated parenthood, to proclaim familial thrashings against the fading light of our exhausted planet, its glory grown wild again. As the known world disappears, these beleaguered and all-too-breakable men cling ever tighter to the duties of an unrecoverable past, even as their children rush ahead, evolve away. Unflinching in the face of apocalypse and unblinking before the complicated gaze of parental love, Matt Bell’s Cataclysm Baby is a powerful chronicle of our last days, and of the tentative graces that might fill the hours of our dusk.

You can order it here. And note that anyone who buys a copy of the print edition also receives a free ebook copy—so you get the choice of paper or plastic.


And also:

Surrounded by Water

by contributor, Stefanie Freele.
Paperback · 175 pages
5.5″ x 8.5″ · $14.00
ISBN 978-1-935-70857-5
Press 53

Awards for stories in Surrounded by Water include First Place in the Glimmer Train Fiction Open for “While Surrounded by Water”; Second Place in the Glimmer Train Family Matters Contest for “Us Hungarians”; a 2010 Million Writers Notable Story award for “Buccaneers”; an Editor’s Pick in the Mid-American Review Fineline Competition for “Removal of Oneself From Corporate Identity”; and a Pushcart Prize nomination for “Pozniejszy.”

Order Surrounded by Water here.



The Widow Teasdale and the Ineffable Warmth of Personal Services

by issue six contributor, Drew Jackson, which is comprised of the story we originally published here on the Monkeybicycle site.

Limited Edition Book
5″ x 21″ (open) $25
Rust Belt Bindery

This book features a story by Drew Jackson and photography by Dorothy Hoover. The accordion can be completely removed from the case to be displayed on its own, or left in the case to be read as a more conventional book. This edition has a hardcover case, bound in book cloth with inset labels. The standard edition has a paper case.

This is an edition of 40. Each book is numbered.

Order it here.


If you’ve been a Monkeybicycle contributor at any point and have a new book out, drop us a line and let us know!


We’re Getting On Film Premiere

If you’re an avid Monkeybicycle reader, you’ll remember James Kaelan’s terrific fictional profile of Carl Roberts, the San Francisco restauranteur, in issue seven. Or, you might have read his novella, We’re Getting On, which Poets & Writers called, “a devastating debut book.” Or, you might’ve even seen him as that magazine’s cover story when he was on what he called the Zero Emissions Book Tour, where he rode his bicycle up the west coast from Los Angeles to Seattle (a trip it took me four days to make in a car), stopping along the way to read from We’re Getting On at local bookstores.

This trip, like everything these days, was documented. And now it’s the subject of a full-length film. I haven’t seen it yet, but from the looks of the trailer below, it’s pretty damn amazing. And if you’re in the Los Angeles area on Saturday, you can see it in its entirety as part of the United Film Festival. It premieres at the Los Feliz 3 Cinemas at 2:30, and is preceded by a reading and book-signing at Skylight Books. If you’re around, you’ll want to get yourself to this. And just for fun, why not ride your bike to the theater.



With our ninth print issue right around the corner, we need to make some space in the ol’ warehouse. So we’re holding a contest and giving away a bunch of back issues. Here’s how it works:

All you have to do is read through our web archives and pick your favorite story. Then, leave a comment below this post telling us which story struck you the most and why. Each day from today through Sunday, we’ll pick one random winner to receive a back issue of Monkeybicycle. Then at the end of the week we’ll select one grand-prize winner based on the responses to receive a collection of all our back issues—five in total.

There are a lot of great stories in our archives, so be sure to dig deep. And the farther back you go, the funnier our website design is. Entertainment on two levels!

Click here to get to the archives and start reading. And be sure to tell your friends. Whether you receive a book or not, you’ll feel like a grade-A winner after reading a few of our great short stories.

Our grand prize winner will be announced here on Monday, April 30th.



Monday: Sandra Ketcham
Tuesday: Thomas Michael Duncan
Wednesday: Shannon Barber
Thursday: Nathan Thornton
Friday: Doug Paul Case
Sunday: Justin Brouckaert



interview /// The Silhouettes by Lily Ladewig

I don’t know about you, but I always want to know what a new indie press is going to offer to this readerly world, what new lit stakes they will be touting with their first set of titles. SpringGun Press, run by Mark Rockswold and Erin Costello, has been a journal since 2009, but now has several print titles of both fiction and poetry, including Lily Ladewig’s The Silhouettes – a charming poetic collection that sings of bodies and fragments, and that we feel lucky to ask after for a bit here.

MB: As we mentioned above, SpringGun Press is relatively new to the print scene, so can you share with us a little about the process that The Silhouettes went through from selection to release with SpringGun?

LL: I submitted to SpringGun’s first open reading period in June. I had enjoyed reading their journal — they published a lot of writers who I really respected (Kate Greenstreet, Brian Foley, Nate Pritts, etc.) and the design is always smart and little cheeky. In September Erin and Mark emailed me to tell me they wanted to publish my book. I emailed back and forth with them and immediately felt comfortable working with them. I knew that we were on the same page in terms of what we wanted for the book and we worked together on reshaping the manuscript. I think it’s natural to be a little nervous about how a book will turn out when working with a new press, but for the most part I was really excited that we would be embarking on this together. It was a very collaborative process.

Something that was also really appealing about SpringGun is that all of their covers are created by artists in direct response to the book. Erin was assigned to my book and she’s a really talented graphic designer. She had spent a lot of time with the poems and also had me fill out a questionnaire asking about my thoughts on the aesthetics of the cover. I knew I didn’t want it to be a typical side-profile portrait, but I wanted something that alluded to and deconstructed the traditional silhouette. She sent me six options, all of which were great, and we went back and forth between two, ultimately deciding on the current cover. I am incredibly happy with how it turned out — Erin’s cover design is exactly what I had envisioned, and Mark’s layout really highlights the poems. I’m super proud to be one of their first authors, along with Adam Peterson, Joe Hall, and Chad Hardy.

MB: Moving into the collection itself, the ‘body’ is heavily invoked throughout The Silhouettes. For instance, ‘I Put a Body On’:

Like a clever bride


her skeleton

key close at hand,


I put honey on my body.

Or, in ‘Husbands & Other Seasons’:

I’ve always thought weekends were the worst.

What to do

with myself. With my hands

at the gallery opening.

Can you talk to us about where this focus on the body or body parts comes from and how it features in your writing process?

LL: I think my preoccupation with the body partly stems from being a dancer for most my adolescence. From the age of three to sixteen I took ballet classes and I still love going to dance performances, especially contemporary troupes like Mark Morris, Shen Wei Dance Arts, and Merce Cunningham. Wim Wenders 3-D film documentary on the choreographer Pina Bausch was the most incredible and inspiring movie that I saw this past year!

In college I was a member of the Tufts mime troupe, which was an amazing creative experience because we were able to evoke stories and emotions for the audience without the use of words, props, sets, or costumes. I have always been interested in using body movement as a form of communication; gesture (both physically and linguistically) is a means of storytelling that can blur the line between literal and figurative interpretation.

Similarly, around the time I started writing the poems that are in this book, I received my certification to teach yoga. This posed a different challenge because I was now called upon to instruct students on how to move through verbal cues: ‘Inhale the right leg up and back, exhale and draw the knee to the chest, place the right foot between the hands and lift your arms overhead, open the heart and spread the fingers…’ In a sense it was the opposite of the performances I’d done in the past. I had to find new ways of articulating body movement through language, which was both fascinating and surprisingly complicated.

Finally, bodies are sexy and they are at the center of all of my love poems.

MB: There is also a second person ‘you’ addressed throughout the poems in this book. Who is this person and where does he/she manifest from?

LL: Every poem in this collection was written with a specific ‘you’ in mind. For the most part they were written to people I have been involved with romantically, but in some cases these poems were also written to friends. For example, the last poem in the book, ‘Apologia’, I started to write to Anne Cecelia Holmes who was subletting my bedroom for the summer. I actually began writing it as though I was giving her instructions and warnings about living in my house (and a lot of it was true, like the skunks and the arsonist who had terrorized the neighborhood the year before) but then, halfway through, the poem took on a life of its own and it turned into a kind of spooky ghost story. I surprised myself with it.

Saying this makes me feel a little like a magician giving away her tricks. I hope this doesn’t ruin any mystery for readers but that’s the truth of it. I encourage people to consider the ‘you’ to as consistent person, or to imagine that I’m addressing them directly throughout.

MB: Both the ‘Shadow Box’ and the ‘On Silhouettes’ pieces are threaded throughout The Silhouettes, so I’m curious if you view this book as a collection of poetry or as a poetic narrative, meant to be read altogether as well as separately?

LL: That’s a really great question. This book began as my MFA thesis, and the UMass program requires everyone to write a brief introduction for our defense. I wrote mine as a treatise on ‘silhouette’, giving a history of the word (it derives from the name of an 18th century financial minister in France, Étienne de Silhouette), and discussing how shadows and outlines relate to fashion and my thoughts on poetry. The ‘On Silhouettes’ poems stem from this essay and function as a kind of thesis for the book.

Originally the ‘Shadow Box’ poems were grouped all together and I considered them to be one long poem. I wrote nine of them in the span of a couple of days in the spring of 2009. Leigh Stein asked me if I would participate in one of her Poets & Puppets reading so I thought it was be fun to build a little shadow puppet theater to accompany the poems. A couple of friends who come to the reading encouraged me to write more, and I wrote another seven over the course of a week in early summer 2011. When I began revising the book with Mark and Erin, they suggested breaking them apart and mixing them throughout the rest of the book. At first I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this because I saw the ‘Shadow Boxes’ as a distinct story with a real beginning, middle, and end. However, in spreading them throughout the book, this had the wonderful effect of giving the entire book an overarching narrative.

MB: ‘silhouettes’ also carry in both the series ‘On Silhouettes’:

When Peter Pan’s shadow misbehaves

Wendy must sew it back onto his heels

with a needle and thread. As a fashion term

a silhouette has as much to do with the cut

and shape of a garment as it does with the body

and are embedded in others, like ‘Good Winter’:

I am none of these winters.

I am the silhouettes

of two girls

in black coats clicking

down a Roman side street.

To wrap up this interview, can you talk with us about the importance of the silhouette as a recurring image or theme throughout this book?

LL: It’s interesting that you point to ‘Good Winter’ because that was the first poem I wrote that had the word ‘silhouette’ in it and it’s from this poem that I pulled the title for the book. I love the glamour of fashion and the idea of building a persona through clothing and costume. I read a lot of fashion blogs, and one of my favorites is The Sartorialist, which features candid photographs of street fashion. A few years ago I came upon a beautiful shot of two women wearing dynamic black coats, black stockings, and black high heels. They looked like two walking shadows, mirroring each other.

On a more theoretical note, what makes a silhouette so appealing to me is its inherently ambiguous nature. I find art and poetry to be the most effective when it inhabits a shadowy space, when we are given hints of narrative or persona but our responses are not explicitly dictated. I am interested in the shape of a poem—not only the formation of black ink set against the white space of the page but also the effect that imagery and syntax has on the mind of the reader. I like poems that are evocative – when the poet gives us clues, or outlines, and then we have to fill in the blank with our own ideas and memories.

If you want to silhouette us here at Monkeybicycle, get yourself a copy of this book and read it on one of these springish days in a study of SpringGun Press’s evolution – a press we will no doubt have more interviews from very soon. In the meantime, get yourself a copy of The Silhouettes from SpringGun Press here, & read more from / about Lily Ladewig here.

interview /// Hot Teen Slut by Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz

The story of Hot Teen Slut (Write Bloody Publishing, 2011) goes like this: a recent lady college grad searches for a job and finds one described as ‘Guide Service Manager’, which turns out to be a job in porn copy-editing / writing, but she takes it anyway – money is money, right? – and the rest unspools poetically from there. And now, here, we get the chance to ask Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz some questions about Hot Teen Slut, this journey of ‘Guide Service Manager’:

MB: Apologies in advance, but here is the obligatory opening volley: Is Hot Teen Slut a true experience? Did you in fact take a copywriting job in the porn industry while still a virgin and did it all lead to your writing of this book and then beginning to perform your poetic art across the world?

COA: Yes, sadly, it is all true! I was a 21-year-old virgin and recent NYU grad when I landed literally the only job that would hire me in New York City—a writer and editor for an online porn website. My poor mother had a hell of a time figuring out how to write about it in our family’s annual holiday newsletter that year. But then, I supposed it prepared her for a lifetime of having to creatively answer the question, “And now, what is it that your youngest actually does again?”

MB: And regardless of where the poems in Hot Teen Slut originate from, the idea across this collection is that even porn inspires poetry, as you write in ‘New Millennial Badass’”

And I’m so hardcore, that I write poetry

during my lunch break.

And I’m so hardcore, that I am writing this poem

during my lunch break.

And I’m so hardcore, that I wish my lunch break

lasted all day, because I’d much rather be known

as the poet girl than the porn girl

Do you feel like poetry is everywhere, can find its legs anywhere, even where people least expect / anticipate it?

COA: To me, poetry has this wonderful ability to give you insight into very specific moments in people’s lives. Unlike nonfiction, where I feel like the audience expects some balance (or at least some deference paid to the fact that there could be another side to the story than just the author’s emotions or reactions), poetry gives the poet such freedom to just express themselves with a real purity and almost selfish single-mindedness. You can really focus in how you are feeling in just that one moment, and not worry if you contradict yourself in the very next poem, because for that one moment, whatever you are feeling is the truth.

And that freedom was very helpful when writing the poems in Hot Teen Slut. Because there were definitely times when I loved working in porn, and other times that I hated it. It was—at different points—confusing, titillating, distracting, inspiring, offensive, hilarious and revelatory. To be able to tease of all these feelings out in separate poems was incredible. All I wanted was to be as authentic as possible in my writing while I was working this incredibly surreal job, so that when I looked back I could remember it all accurately: the good and the bad, the strange and the strangely normal.

MB: And though most might never connect ‘porn’ with notions of ‘heart’, your poems in Hot Teen Slut often evoke the parallel between the two, even in odd or battered ways, for instance in ‘Falling Down on the Job’:

I have a bad heart.

I wish I were being poetic, but I’m not.

My heart sucks. Medically.

Can you talk to us a little about how this contrast works, how the ideas of ‘love’ and ‘heart’ run throughout these poems so pornographically charged?

COA: I think one of the big lessons I learned in working for porn is that people are searching for a connection. Yes, porn is designed to get someone off, but I also think there is an undercurrent of hope, as strange as that sounds. You are getting off in the moment, but you are also looking into the future, and thinking about a time when you might be able to fulfill that fantasy with someone else. You are taking mental notes about what you’d want to try with your current partner, and what you might want from a future partner. I quickly discovered that the most popular sections (or videos or pictorials) on the sites I edited where often ones where the actor(s) and/or actress(es) were surprisingly human: friendly and engaging the viewer as a girlfriend or boyfriend might. Even today, you have James Deen, a male porn star who is getting a lot of mainstream attention because he looks and acts like a boyfriend might, and thus, is gaining a large fan base with high school and college age women—a population not traditionally thought to be big porn consumers.

So to me, porn, love and heart aren’t necessary mutually exclusive. I mean, that isn’t to say there isn’t porn out there that makes you doubt the existence of God, BUT I don’t think it is all like that. And I think you can be a big old romantic and still love porn too.

MB: In terms of Hot Teen Slut as a whole, one could definitely read many of the individual pieces as fiction vignettes as easily as they can be read as poetry – can you tell us a bit about how you see this as a poetry collection, and all of the pieces within as poetry, as opposed to fiction or a fiction / poetry hybrid?

COA: At the time that I was writing Hot Teen Slut I was running a poetry series in the basement of NYC’s infamous rock venue, CBGBs. As you can imagine, the rowdy CBGBs crowd was the perfect audience for poetry about working in porn. They ate it up, and it was almost like a telenovela—every week, I would come in with a new story to share about my journey through the porn world.

It was only after I put the collection together that I realized how much the book was sort of a memoir-in-verse. I had limited success in publishing the poems in the collection in literary journals—probably to some extent because of the extremely vulgar content, but also because I think so much of the success of the individual poem depends on seeing it in the context of the larger story the book tells. Individual poems work, but I think they collection works best as seen together as a whole.

So in that sense, having it be a nonfiction/poetry hybrid might be somewhat correct. But I do consider the work—for the most part—to be pure poetry.

MB: Hot Teen Slut ends (spoiler alert) with the demise of your position in the porn industry’s machinery but with the simultaneous rise of your work as a poet and a poetic performer. So much has surely changed since then though, so can you give us a little update on your poetry / performance since the release of Hot Teen Slut in 2010?

COA: It is absolutely true that I was laid off the same day I was being flown to Australia for two weeks of poetry performances. The metaphor wasn’t lost on me at all, and so while it sucked to be laid off (I’m a working class girl, so losing your job is always going to suck), I felt like fate handled it in the classiest way possible. I was able to leave that job filled with hope and possibility.

After I was laid off, I put together the first incarnation of Hot Teen Slut, a handmade book that I sold out of my backpack at readings. I have to admit, I was nervous about it. As a young feminist poet just starting out, I wasn’t 100% sure that having a title called Hot Teen Slut in my back catalogue was the smartest idea, but I thought if my poetry is going to be truly honest and truly autobiographical, then putting Hot Teen Slut out there was a fait accompli. And I don’t regret it at all. In fact, of all my books, Hot Teen Slut is the one most often brought up in interviews—and for good reason!

In the years since I left porn, I’ve written five books of poetry, all of which are currently available on the fantastic indie poetry press, Write Bloody Publishing. I also wrote the nonfiction book, Words In Your Face: A Guided Tour Through Twenty Years of the New York City Poetry Slam, which was published in 2008 by Soft Skull Press.

Most recently, I served as the 2010-2011 ArtsEdge Writer-in-Residence at the University of Pennsylvania, won a 2011 National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Poetry and was named the 2013 Writer-in-Residence at the Amy Clampitt House.

If you would have told me this is where my life would have lead during the days in porn, I would have never believed you. But I suppose it is a testament to the transformative power of poetry!

And porn has never been so poetically charged, never rendered with such humor and careful control, making Hot Teen Slut not only a fantastic book but a unique one in every sense of the word. Thanks again to Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz for chatting with us here, and now that you know how highly we recommend this one, buy your own copy of Hot Teen Slut here, & read more from / about Cristin O’Keefe Aptowicz here.

interview /// Transfer Fat by Aase Berg (translated by Johannes Göransson)

I fell in love with Ugly Duckling Presse after seeing / reading / holding Christian Hawkey’s Ventrakl (2010), a book that is as lovely to look at as it is to read, simple in design yet rich and powerful in content. And now, after having digested Aase Berg’s Transfer Fat, translated by Johannes Göransson, my love has turned to lust, and I’m already salivating over the idea of reading more and more from Ugly Duckling Presse. In the meantime, before I empty my pockets for UDP books, Johannes Göransson graciously agreed to take some time with us to talk about this bull-stampeding book Transfer Fat.

MB: Transfer Fat is your third translation from Aase Berg, following Remainland (Action Books, 2005) and With Deer (Black Ocean, 2009). Can you talk to us a little about how you became connected with Berg, about how this translator / poet relationship began and has developed over time?

JG: I started reading Aase’s poetry when I was in college. I came across her work in a Swedish literary journal and immediately I got my grandma in Stockholm to go out and buy me a copy of the book (Aase’s first book, Hos Rådjur). I was really blown away: not only were the poems viscerally powerful but I also felt a deep affinity with her sensibility. It came at an important time for me: Ever since I started writing poetry and other musings in junior high, I had never really doubted my own vision until I got to college and got in contact with the official aesthetics of modernism and contemporary american poetry (whether quietist or experimental), and they had informed me that what I was doing was tasteless, “too much”, unrefined, and that there was no place for me and what I was doing. Aase’s poetry was beautiful, gothic and absolutely entrancing. There was no poetry like it in contemporary American poetry. Her poetry inspired me to be more fierce, more obsessed and possessed, more occultly glamorous without caring for the official standards of taste. I didn’t start translating the book until a couple of years later when I was in MFA school, and then it was to show her work to some of my friends who I knew would like it. When I graduated I continued to translate her work; I contacted Aase and she sent me her next couple of books – Mörk materia and Forsla fett – and I started translating them as well. Forsla fett (Transfer Fat) was the one that really forced me to develop as a translator – to be more creative in my translation practice and to theorize that practice, to think about both the translation act/crime and Aase’s poetry. I tried to get my translations published in the early 2000s and then when I couldn’t, those refusals really made me think about the role of translation in US literary culture and sent me back to the weird writer’s block I was in when I first encountered Aase’s work and that nexus of feelings was the main impetus behind me and Joyelle starting Action Books, which published Remainland: Selected Poems of Aase Berg as one of our first books. Over the years, Aase and I have developed a comorbid relationship as translators and writers. One example I can mention is that through Remainland, an Iraq war veteran became enamored of Aase’s work and asked her to channel a 3-year-old Iraqi girl he had accidentally killed in order to exorcise his traumatic feelings about it; she did and the resulting poem is in her fifth book, Loss, which was published a few years ago. Loss is the Swedish title (in Swedish it’s what you yell at a dog when you want it to let go of something, but it obviously invokes the English word as well, as part of the book takes place in the US).

MB: Transfer Fat works on the ‘deformation’ of language, a process you explain in the translator’s note as Berg’s use of puns, near puns, connotations, rhythms, and other complicated linguistic machinery to create work that re-renders and evolves language. This, in turn, affects the translation, which you describe thusly:

Rather than writing a “faithful” translation of a text so unfaithful to its own native language, I hope to bring into English this unfaithful translation ambience, this language fat.

In doing this ‘unfaithful’ translation, how frequently were you in contact with Berg to clarify or define or guide the translation and, likewise, how often was the translation built upon your own gut reaction / linguistic interaction with the text, outside of Berg’s influence?

JG: Aase and I email quite a bit while translating. We have a similarly “unfaithful” view of poetry to begin with, so it’s fun – neither one of us are really interested in being correct or official in our writing, so it’s really about possibility, mutation, infection. Sometimes I’ll make mistakes but Aase’s will want to keep them because she likes the ways the mistakes open up the poems (but mostly I’m more “faithful” than she is, and I’ll “correct” it!). I should say that when I use a word like “unfaithful” I could just as well have used a word like ultra-faithful. I don’t mean to suggest a sloppiness or casualness. I read her texts incredibly closely. Sometimes so closely that my readings become insanely close; the closeness creates a kind of distance, or disorienting, defamiliarizing.

MB: The idea of language as a disorienting illusion also seems to connect directly to your own writing, specifically in works like Entrance to a colonial pageant in which we all begin to intricate where language is definitely at ‘play’. How much does your translation work of a poet like Berg impact or inform your own writing?

JG: Translation itself has a big influence on my view of writing. Or perhaps I should say “bilingualism” has a lot of influence on my work. I love the puns and occult connections generated by languages conglamorating and intersecting. I love the strange echoes and the corridors that open up in source texts and target languages and target practices. My book Pilot (Fairytale Review Press, 2008) was directly resulting from having spent years translating poetry and working as a professional translator: I wanted to do translations that were so irregular/occult that they couldn’t even be called translations anymore; I wanted to write-translate; I wanted to create a text infected by its own foreignness, a mobius strip, a ridiculous body. (It’s also about getting a child… strange demonic child who nearly killed her mother and herself getting born. ). I’m not sure if “illusion” is a word I would use – it perhaps exposes the illusion of correctness and certitude that goes along with monolingualism- since “illusion” suggests that there is a true account contrary to art. That’s I think the least intersecting way of viewing art, and it’s very common in a wide spectrum of poets: the idea that art interferes or distorts sincerity, realness etc. Art is always there. When poets attempt to write poetry that is not artful, all they accomplish is a style of style-less-ness. But to get back to your question: Yes, Aase’s work has certainly influenced not only my own ideas of translation and language but also, thusly, my own writing.

MB: There is also, at least in my reading, a link between Berg’s recent English translations and other new and glorious poetic works – for example, Joyelle McSweeney’s Percussion Grenade (Fence Books, 2012) – and I wonder how you might view Berg in terms of her influence on our contemporary poetic landscape?

JG: Soon after I published the poem “Blubber biter” (from Transfer Fat) in the journal Circumference, I noticed all my friends started writing blubber poems. So weird things like that happen due to translation – the “blubber” comes out of a myopically “faithful” translation of the Swedish word for “killer whale”, “späckhuggare”, which is a compound word consisting of the words for blubber and biter. But this to me suggests a more interesting model of influence than “influence”, one that allows for all kinds of secrets opened up in the “transfer” of signifiers. Berg is obviously a very famous and influential poet in Sweden (her latest book just won one of the biggest awards over there) but she’s not as acclaimed in the US, in part because she’s a foreign poet (and they seldom if ever achieve official recognition form the US establishment) and partly because her work is too grotesque and gothic and visceral for the taste standards here. Nevertheless, a lot of people (mostly younger) tell me her poems have transformed their own writing, which suggests she is just beginning to have a wider influence on US literature. Presses and journals are asking me for the translations, so that’s a big shift already.

MB: Lastly, in your translator’s note for Transfer Fat you reference Berg’s next book Uppland (Swedish edition, 2005). Can you tell us when and where we can look forward to that next book? And will it – we hope – be published in a Göransson translation?

JG: Not for a while. I’m just finishing her second book, Dark Matter, which Black Ocean will publish in the fall. After that I’m taking a break from translation for a while. But Uppland is Joyelle’s favorite Aase book, and we occasionally translate it for fun together, so we might do the whole book in the future. But even after that, Aase’s had two books of poetry and a young adult novel and a book of essays. So I’ve got my work cut out for me.

If you want to tumble down a rabbit-hole of language that is choked with whales and fat and brilliance, pick up a copy of Transfer Fat right now. You can purchase your copy direct from Ugly Duckling Presse here, & read more from / about Johannes Göransson  here.