Tag Archives: death

Ross Gay

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‘When the world is too much.’ Quando il mondo è troppo. Da sopportare, da sostenere, da seguire.

Non è la mia di voce che importa, che serve, che conta al momento. Rinuncio quindi alle discussioni sull’invisibilità di chi traduce, per fare da tramite a queste, di voci. Una al giorno. Diciassette giorni. Diciassette voci, per più di 530 persone uccise.

Un dettaglio necessario

è che Eric Garner ha lavorato
per un po’ di tempo per il Parks and Rec.
Dipartimento orticulturale, che significa,
forse, che con le sue mani giganti
forse, molto probabilmente,
ha posato gentilmente nella terra
delle piante che, probabilmente,
alcune, molto probabilmente,
continuano a crescere, continuano
a fare quello che fanno le piante, come far da casa
a sfamare creaturine piccole e necessarie,
come essere piacevoli al tatto e all’olfatto,
come convertire la luce solare
in cibo, come rendere più facile
a noi il respiro.

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Jericho Brown

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‘When the world is too much.’ Quando il mondo è troppo. Da sopportare, da sostenere, da seguire.

Non è la mia di voce che importa, che serve, che conta al momento. Rinuncio quindi alle discussioni sull’invisibilità di chi traduce, per fare da tramite a queste, di voci. Una al giorno. Diciassette giorni. Diciassette voci, per più di 530 persone uccise.

Bullet points

Non mi sparerò
in testa, e non mi sparerò
nella schiena, e non mi impiccherò
con un sacco del sudicio, e se lo farò
ve lo prometto, non lo farò
in una volante della polizia ammanettato
o nella cella di una cittadina
di cui conosco solo il nome
perché la devo passare in macchina
per tornare a casa. Sì, sto rischiando,
ma ve lo prometto, mi fido dei vermi
e delle formiche e delle blatte
che vivono sotto alle assi
di casa mia, so che faranno la cosa giusta
ad ogni carcassa più di quanto mi fidi
che un ufficiale della legge
mi chiuda gli occhi come un uomo
di Dio può fare, o mi copra con un telo
così pulito che mia madre potrebbe usarlo
per rimboccarmi. Quando mi uccido, mi uccido
come lo fanno gli altri americani,
ve lo prometto: fumo di sigaretta,
o un pezzo di carne di traverso
o così povero che muoio di freddo
uno di questi inverni che chiamiamo
il peggio di sempre. Vi prometto che se sentite
che sono morto nelle vicinanze
di un poliziotto, quel poliziotto mi ha ucciso. Ha tolto
me dal noi e lasciato il mio corpo, che è,
non importa che ci hanno insegnato,
cosa più grande del compenso che un governo
può dare a una madre perché smetta di piangere, e più
bella del proiettile levigato e scintillante,
estratto dai recessi del mio cervello.

NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 30 – When You Describe War

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When you describe war, death
– words cannot make it.
Tears spring forth
from the soul’s source,
falling in the heart’s chasm.

Spasms of pain
course through your limbs,
lacerating a young smile
– shocking, continuous story
of a split country.

When you describe war, death
– your gaze falls
on the blank page.
Bombed by thoughts
– words die
in the eyes of humanity.

[Original Italian by Grażyna Miller (1957-2009)]

Don’t Fear the Reaper

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‘You could say to the universe, this is not fair. And the universe would say: Oh, isn’t it? Sorry.’
(Soul Music, 347)

Terry Pratchett died today, at the age of 66, at over 70 books, at eight years of struggle with his Embuggerance, at home.

You can find multiple obituaries all over the internet as I type this, and I am not about to attempt another. No, this post is a way for me to process my own thoughts about Terry Pratchett and his writing, his world, and his impact on me as a reader. And to say thank you.

I never met him in person. I always managed to miss events close-by, and was unable to make the further away ones. The closest I ever got was researching his life and works for my first contributions to the Oxford Companion to Children’s Literature. Daniel Hahn – the author/editor – was, in fact, the person who told me the news.

I only met his books, and some of my favourite people through of them. Almost all of his books, at this point.
Starting with a badly received The Carpet People in Italian translation (by Angela Ragusa) at the age of 8, in primary school.
Ignoring them for a long while after that – only to discover Peter Gabriel’s Genesis The Carpet Crawlers, and thinking they were linked.
Being handed the English copy of Pyramids by ‘Auntie Penny’ for the length of a read around the age of 12, and falling, inevitably with a Thud!, into Pratchett’s books and the Discworld , and the world of reading, in English, harder than before. Or at least, that is how I remember it.
Rediscovering the series as I arrived in the UK at the age of 19, staying with Penny and Allan and Pen’s collection, via Reaper Man.
Re-rediscovering Lords and Ladies and Carpe Jugulum at the University of Leeds, with now Japan-bound Maria, who shared my raised eyebrow at the live-action adaptations of The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic.
Seeing the first theatrical adaptation of The Truth, a book that I never thought could be adapted, in Oxford, at the age of 20.
Retracing the pineapple on pizza footnote from The Last Continent for a seminar in my first year of teaching, at the age of 24, while also developing the idea of the T-Space for the British Centre of Literary Translation; an obvious rip-off and homage to the L-Space and its genteel Black Holes.

Softly, silently crumbling, at the age of 26, at the news of Terry Pratchett’s passing.

My enabler, Penny, told me to ‘remember what a legacy he left us all. He wasn’t afraid of dying, just very pissed off. A very sad day indeed, but for all the right reasons.’ She is right. As Neil Gaiman pointed out, he was angry. He was spurred on by fury, in his writing as in his living. And we should learn from that. We should channel that.

Given the equation (that camels also know):

Knowledge = Power = Energy = Matter = Mass

we all carry part of the L-Space and of its ideator’s fierce, furious power within us.

Time to also pick up our pens, and start to write.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #12

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UnwrittenApoc12

Synopsis
FINAL ISSUE

“And I awoke, and found me here…”

Wilson Taylor delivers the apocalypse the only way he knows how: at his son Tom’s expense. It’s the end of the world as we know it. But there’s no need to worry because it’s just a story. Isn’t it? Don’t miss the extra-sized conclusion to the fan-favorite Vertigo series!

Story
How do you write the ending to a story about stories ending the world? How do you wrap up meta-narratives, multiple plots, twisted storylines, intertextualities and gigantic apocalyptic schemes? According to Mike Carey and Peter Gross, you don’t. According to Tom Taylor, you let someone else do it for you. And the two, unsurprisingly, are the one and the same.
The third part of ‘Annals of Comparative Literature’ brings the arc, the Apocalypse chapter and the whole The Unwritten series to a close, and does so with a wonderful flourish of the pen (or other authorial tool) on the page (see previous bracket), and a refreshingly, candidly self-aware reflection on itself as a medium and a series. Characters live up to their descriptions, but not further, stories reach their conclusion, but not more than that, and most of all, the real puppeteers are exposed, reversed, unveiled and dragged down for one last time, in a surprisingly really quite moving sequence.
In the meantime, Carey also manages to voice several thoughts on the comics medium, its relationship to literature, the acceptance of it and experimental fiction in a wider literary canon. There are more quotations, explorations of dangling plots, voice shifts and some fantastic Pauly Bruckner contributions that definitely left me with a satisfied smirk on my face.

Art
Peter Gross, in his co-plotting guise, really sets his skills loose on the script, adapting, twisting and capturing the end of the world that was, what came before, what came between and what will come with the turn of the page. Visual references abound, to external contexts (the human evolution panel is fantastically apt and deployed) and to other moments in the series. I am curious as to whether another artist worked on finished in certain sections of the issue, as no one else is credited but there are some definite callbacks to the Ship That Sank Twice OGN finishes and some of the work by Vince Locke and Al Davison – regardless, the effect is stunning, and the care and detail going into Wilson Taylor in particular is especially moving, throughout the entire issue.
Of course, the visual pleasure of the book, as always, would not be possible without the fantastic chromatic work of Chris Chuckry, who performs double plus good in this super-sized issue. Working with such complex layouts and basic patterns as deployed by Gross’ linework cannot be easy, at all, but once again, for one last time, he delivers. Todd Klein’s lettering performance in this issue was stellar. There are some many fonts, so much personality imbued in each and every other scene, due to its framing, to its context, to its moment in the narrative timeline and the ‘real’ timeline, that only one of the masters of the craft could have tackled it so magnificently.
And finally, but in no means as the least deserving of credit, is the mind behind the hands behind the face of the series as a whole, Yuko Shimizu. I have spoken to several comics readers who have not yet been absorbed by The Unwritten, but they all know Shimizu’s fantastic covers, and we all agreed on the poignant, powerful, sad and beautifully composed final cover, with Tom fading into – or out of – a book (you decide after reading).

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
This is the actual end of the line, for a series that has followed me through the entirety of my higher education (sudden realisation, that). This is a final issue that manages to acknowledge what it is doing, that what it is doing is wonderfully original, is not afraid of saying so, and yet does not brag about it or inflate it to the point of exhaustion. This is an issue about the power of writing, of books, of comic books, the limits and constraints of canon, the loopholes that emerge from it. This is the story of characters trying to lose their author, in order for the story to continue its life. This is the story of a reader turned writer, unable to convince people and himself of a fictional reality, a world that never happened, never existed, and never will be – but who chooses to write it down anyway.

And in those words, in those images, lies the unspoken, unwritten power.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #12 is available in shops and digitally here.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #11

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UnwrittenApoc11

Synopsis
The end is near, and the final battle is about to be fought – and Tom is back where he never wanted to belong. But if he’s going to die tomorrow, then tonight he’s got some unfinished business – with the most derivative boy wizard in all the worlds.

Story
Despite the lateness of this review, I find myself relieved by the fact that the final issue is still a little while away. It allows a re-reading of the eleventh chapter of the Apocalypse (The Unwritten), and time to think about where the story may end up, well, ending. And punches are definitely not pulled.
Writer Mike Carey takes the first part of this issue to focus, on a slightly slower pace, on the relationship between Tommy and Tom, between Count Ambrosio and possibly Pullman, between the major players of the stories so far, keeping true to the ‘Annuals of Comparative Literature’ arc title. But the main focus, across both parts of the plot, are the nature of evil, and its close connection to guilt. And unsurprisingly, though very craftily done, Pullman is right in the middle of it.
Definitely picking up from issue #10 in terms of story beats, emotional crafting and overall narrative weaving, the penultimate issue in the whole run of the series has some excruciatingly painful moments, reminiscent of the darkest children books, and some fantastic dialogue. And I have no idea where it will go in the finale, at all.

Art
Once more, artist Peter Gross has full responsibility for the basic visual rendition of the story in the book, and the job he does is magnificent. Character-wise, Ambrosio, Pullman and Madame Rausch are as terrifying as ever, and the Leviathan lurking in the background is a wonderful touch. But from a structural point of view, Gross shines even brighter – one long sequence in particular, featuring all the major characters is stunningly devised, and the panel borders blur even further when the Taylors are involved.
Chris Chuckry’s colours fully reflect the bleakness of the script, too, with only the first page showing some well-needed vibrancy, and an otherwise abundance of stone, grit, murky water and haunting reds to paint over the panels. And in the hungry eyes of the creepier Leviathan spawn. Deserves equal praise, of course, is letterer Todd Klein, populating the page, minds and panels with sounds, personal speech fonts, and an eery sense of words only just holding together
The cover, as always by the fantastic Yuko Shimizu, is terrifying, beautiful and really touching. Not only does it have the traditional Pietà structure, and bleak colours of the interiors, I dare you to look at it again once the story is over, and not feel a pang of pain at the death(s) in the book. Go on.

Thoughts (May Contain Spoilers)
Remember, if you can, all the worst moments from the best children books you have read. Condense them through the filter of a twisted horror writer with a literary vein. See them play out in front of your eyes, rather than just in your head. You’ll have a vague sense of what Carey and Gross have plotted and done in this issue. And remember that those are some of the best books because of those worst moments. And that is nothing, compared to where the story continues, and begins to end, in the painful aftermath of things being Unwritten.

The Unwritten: Apocalypse #11 is available in shops and digitally here.

Twentyquattordici

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San Martino del Carso

Of these houses
nothing left
but some
shred of wall

Of many
who wrote back
nothing left
nothing at all

But no cross is missing
in my heart

The country most in mourning
is my heart
Dulce et Decorum Est

Piegati in due, mendicanti sotto stracci
Ginocchia nodose, tosse di strega, nella melma bestemmiando
Fino al volgere delle schiene agli spettrali razzi
E verso il lontano riposo ci incamminammo.
Uomini marciano nel sonno. Molti a stivali rotti
Ma sanguinolenti tentennano avanti, mutilati, cecati
Ebbri di stanchezza, sordi anche ai botti
Di stanchi, sfiniti bossoli dietro a loro lanciati.

Gas! Gas! Presto, ragazzi! — Frenesia d’armeggiare,
Sistemando appena in tempo gli elmetti;
Ma ancora fuori si sentono urla e l’inciampare
di chi annaspa, come di fiamme infetti.

Fioco, tra vetri offuscati e densa verde luce
Come sotto un verde mare, lo vidi affogare.

In ogni mio sogno, la mia vista debole lo conduce
a lanciarmisi contro, sempre a soffrire, sempre ad affogare.

Se in sogni soffocanti anche voi poteste marciare
Dietro al carro su cui lo avevamo caricato ,
E vederne degli occhi bianchi nel viso l’agitare,
Quel viso spento, come un diavolo stanco del peccato;
Se poteste dai polmoni schiumanti gorgogliare
Sentire, ad ogni scossa, il sangue
osceno come un cancro, acre come lo scoppiare
Di orrende, incurabili piaghe su innocenti lingue,—
Amici miei, non saltereste dall’ovest all’est
A raccontare a giovani in preda a disperati ardori
L’antica bugia: Dulce et decorum est
Pro patria mori.

Part I is here.

NaPoWriMo Day 29 – The Mother I (Benni)

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Where I live now looks like
an abandoned beach
with dunes and wild herbs
the waves, without horizon
change light and colour
at the clouds’ will.
We, the dead, do not have
night, or day, or days.

Often from here I see you
on the other side of the sea
in a trembling heat
I know your every thought
I spy on your words and letters
like a candle, or a cat
with a breath I show you the lines
about me.

But this is my new land
and I am never allowed a touch
to send you healing.
Only that light breath
like a loving voice
a call from behind the wall
or a hedge of roses
a mysterious birdsong.
You never saw me
waiting outside the bar
you spoke with force and anger
of battles and justice
the you found me laughing.
I was late, they don’t understand.
It doesn’t matter. Take me to the hill
to breathe. To fuck. To see
where we live from up there.
Down there, crucified in your kitchen
you are still the one I loved
never beaten, proud, my man
I shout it, but you can’t hear me.

NaPoWriMo Day 27 – The Father II (Benni)

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Sing to me the stream of acid
and the lead in my lungs
the shadow of a bicycle
on the other side of the river
sing to me of a football flying
between me and my son’s smile
sing to me the ill stars
that I saw from the window.

Because I didn’t know.

I didn’t know how many things were happening
and took them like promises
of something bigger and truer
now I know they were my Story.
That afternoon was the only one of my life
but only now can I say that.
That wound will stay
my deepest scar.
That was the only love
and the friends I waved to
that time really left.
I was happy, but doubted it
those pages were my book.
For I have been
more than what I am, and will be.