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Coming soon from Literaturverlag Droschl: The German edition of Like Lips, Like Skins.

I’ve been co-translating it, we’re happy with the results, but the essentially untranslatable title has transformed into a word that means cycles, circuits, circulations, in other words contains multiple meanings that fit this novel about family trauma well.

Warily, circuitously, I peer back in time; I slip on my coat feeling raw and vulnerable. Sudden insights spark strobe-like in the dark, momentarily illuminating long-ago scenes in chiseled, lightning-etched detail. I shiver and tremble as unanticipated stabs of anxious rumination slice through the everyday like shrapnel. Discovery, when it comes, can be strangely unspectacular. Climbing the subway steps one drizzly morning, emerging onto Oranienburger Strasse as the copper-colored reflection of a streetlamp not yet turned off from the night before flashes in the scattered drops dotting the asphalt before me, I suddenly see it: each generation blindly, unknowingly conscripted in a mission to correct the failures and heartaches of the one preceding it, to undo the damage of time. 

Zaghaft und über Umwege blicke ich in die Vergangenheit. Ich ziehe mir den Mantel über, fühle mich roh und verletzlich. Plötzliche Erkenntnisse leuchten wie ein Scheinwerfer in die Tiefe und erhellen für einen Augenblick längst vergangene Szenen in feinen, blitzartig gestochenen Details. Mich fröstelt, ich bekomme Gänsehaut, wenn Momente ängstlichen Grübelns wie scharfe Pfeile den Alltag durchbohren. Entdeckungen können, wenn sie eintreffen, verblüffend unspektakulär sein. Als ich eines regnerischen Morgens die Treppen der U-Bahnstation Oranienburger Straße hinaufsteige und auf dem von Regentropfen gesprenkelten Asphalt vor mir den kupferfarbenen Widerschein der Straßenlaternen sehe, die von der letzten Nacht noch nicht erlöscht sind, erkenne ich plötzlich, wie jede Generation blindlings und unbewusst einem Auftrag unterworfen ist, die Fehler und Schmerzen der Generation vor ihr zu korrigieren, um die Schäden der Zeit wiedergutzumachen.

Recorded and now on Youtube: Andrea Scrima speaks with Cheryl Sucher as part of the “Between Two Worlds” series about editing the new anthology Writing the Virus, a New York Times Sunday Book Review “New & Noteworthy” title of 2021.

“Vivid testimony to the depth and breadth of suffering during this uniquely stressful time.” Kirkus

In a time when the virus and the viral political climate form a single continuum, we’d like to announce Writing the Virusan anthology compiled from the Corona Issue published online at StatORec magazine from mid-April to September 2020. Its 31 authors—among them Joan Juliet Buck, Rebecca Chace, Steven Cheslik-DeMeyer, Barbara Fischkin, Edie Meidav, Caille Millner, Uche Nduka, Mui Poopoksakul, Roxana Robinson, Jon Roemer, Joseph Salvatore, Liesl Schillinger, Andrea Scrima, Clifford Thompson, Saskia Vogel, Matthew Vollmer, and David Dario Winner—explore the experience of lockdown, quarantine, social distancing, and the politicization of the virus from a wide variety of perspectives: tracking the virus’s progression from epidemiological threat to international crisis and sketching out the evolution of Corona’s rapidly changing meaning over the past half year.  One of the first to offer advance praise is Jacquelyn Mitchard: 

The essays and reportage in StatORec’s new anthology are about time: Time is upon us. Time may be running out. Time is lost; time is found. This is a new time, in which our Western predilection to plan is revealed as a cardboard construct, blown down by an enemy contained in a breath. Yet with its literary response in real time, this dedicated issue stands as witness to our illusions and our failures but also to our tenacious willingness to love and to learn. 

Writing the Virus, ed. by Andrea Scrima and David Winner, publication date: November 1, 2020. (9781944853754, 280 pages, $18.50, Outpost 19 Books). 

AUTHORS’ VIDEOS: 

The downtown Manhattan performing arts space HERE Arts Center has been featuring a video each week of our authors reading short excerpts from their essays, poems, and short stories in an exclusive #stillHERE with StatORec playlist

Writing the Virus can be ordered on Amazon or directly from the publisher

ADDITIONAL PRAISE FOR WRITING THE VIRUS

We live in the era of the pandemic, more than one million still die each year of TB, 700,000 from HIV and AIDS, nearly half a million of malaria. And since January: COVID-19. As I read Writing the Virus, the death toll from this new disease surpassed one million. The scale of this loss is unimaginable. We need to feel it one person at a time, which is exactly what Writing the Virus does with its moving diaries and essays, with its psalms of grief. This is a hard issue to read, but it preserves the truth of a bitter, bitter time, maybe it will even help us mourn. A task many of the world’s most powerful governments have proven unwilling and even eager not to do. 
—John Freeman, author of How to Read a Novelist and The Park; editor of the Freeman’s anthologies

The months spent living in the shadow of the pandemic have compressed and expanded time in unusual ways. Writing the Virus is an important and compelling reminder of the days we might otherwise lose to the haze of the past and evidence of the myriad reckonings—public and personal—that will shape us going forward. 
—Oscar Villalon, Editor, Zyzzyva 

If a literary remedy could soothe the nested anxieties of our current moment, Writing the Virus would be the antidote we’ve been seeking. This bold new anthology from the editors of StatORec draws on 30 essays, stories, excerpts, and poems published on the magazine’s website as the pandemic unfolded. The authors, including Edie Meidav, Uche Nduka, and Liesl Schillinger, share trenchant investigations and paeans to love and survival while the irregular rhythms of locked-down days undulate beneath the surface. This impressive anthology lets readers view the virus, racial violence, and volatile political climate as a triad within a continuum. A testament to the vital role of writers—as witnesses, chroniclers, translators, synthesizers, resistors—during uncertain times, Writing the Virus will energize, enrage, and give you reasons to be hopeful. The anthology’s epic scope reveals why 2020 is an inflection point, the year of plagues and miracles.
—Margot Douaihy, Editor, Northern New England Review

Covid-19 is the new normal, an unprecedented cultural shift that pressurizes our communities and estrangements, requiring us to reinvent the discourse we use to describe the “everyday.” This anthology provides us with vital and thoughtful dispatches from inside the virus’s transformative, insidious tedium. Vulnerable, bold, tentative, utopic, Writing the Virus gave me un-Zoomy succor from some of the best essayists writing today. 
Carmen Giménez Smith, author of Be Recorder and Cruel Futures

This mighty chorus of voices, carefully mixed and layered, pierces the muddled noise of our pandemic moment. How thrilling and comforting to witness some of our most powerful writers wielding their best weapons against “the invisible enemy”—shimmering artistry, ruthless candor, and a fearless gaze.
—Debra Jo Immergut, author of You Again and The Captives

How to take the temperature of this crisis, this opportunity, this nightmare, this wake-up call? Writing the Virus rounds up a wonderfully diverse array of voices, each addressing—in its own singular, memorable way—all that the pandemic has laid bare. This collection gives us what we need now: talented writers of all stripes, weighing in with honesty, vigor, anguish, and hope. Read this book: it’ll help. 
—Martha Cooley, author of The Archivist and Thirty-three Swoons

StatORec, which stands for “Statement of Record,” is an online literary magazine founded by writer and filmmaker John Reed. 

Outpost 19 Books is an award-winning publisher of fine fiction and nonfiction books based in San Francisco. Their titles have been featured in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, Library Journal, and dozens of other major and indie media outlets.

It’s our belief that these pieces of writing, composed in unusual times and under considerable pressure, will endure as documents of a particular period of history, testimonies to states of mind we will quite possibly have forgotten as we turn our attention to the new challenges facing us.

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Several drawings from my Loopy Loonies series will be shown in an exhibition opening October 23, 2020 in Berlin at the Haus der Statistik titled “The New Normal?”:

Loopy Loonies, 35 x 35 cm, graphite on rag paper.

Loopy Loonies, 35 x 35 cm, graphite on rag paper.

Loopy Loonies, 35 x 35 cm, graphite on rag paper.

To see more drawings, click here.

The series Loopy Loonies explores the violence imbedded in the comic and cartoon imagery endemic to American visual culture. In the context of the present-day political disaster in the US, the formal language—which includes splats, speech bubbles, and animated letters of the alphabet—inquires into the ways in which a culture weaned on entertainment, superheroes, and happy ends loses its ability to distinguish between fact and fiction.

Wann ist es Zeit, die Toten hinter sich zu lassen? Auf einer Fotografie, abgedruckt in der New York Times während der Jugoslawienkriege, konnte man Bosnische Serben sehen, welche auf ihrer Flucht die mit dicken Seilen aus den geöffneten Gräbern gehobenen Särge ihrer Angehörigen auf den Dächern ihrer Autos befestigten; sie kannten ihre Feinde – trotz ihres enthemmten nationalistischen Wahns waren diese kaum anders als sie selbst – und wussten, dass diese die Gräber ihrer Ahnen schänden würden.

Scrima Viral Brecht-Haus

Immer wieder werden Flüchtlinge, die bei ihrem Versuch, den afrikanischen Kontinent zu verlassen, im Mittelmeer umgekommen sind, an den Stränden Libyens, Tunesiens und Italiens angeschwemmt, wo es selten Vorkehrungen gibt für Grabsteine, DNA-Datenbanken oder nummerierte Grabstätten. Angetrieben von Barmherzigkeit versuchen einige Personen vor Ort die Opfer zu identifizieren, Angehörige zu kontaktieren und den Leichen eine würdige Bestattung zukommen zu lassen. Doch wenn das Meer selbst zum Friedhof geworden ist, welche Bedeutung hat es dann, in fremder Erde begraben zu werden?

Lesung für das Brecht-Haus Berlin im Rahmen des Literaturfestivals VIRAL. 

The term “strange attractor” derives from a scientific theory describing an inevitable occurrence that arises out of chaos. Edie Meidav’s introduction and the thirty-five pieces collected in this new anthology offer imaginative, arresting, and memorable replies to this query, including guidance from a yellow fish, a typewriter repairman, a cat, a moose, a bicycle, and a stranger on a train. Absorbing and provocative, this is nonfiction to be read in batches and bursts and returned to again and again.

Berliners! Come this Friday to the Hopscotch Reading Room at 7:30 pm:  Kurfürstenstrasse 14, 10785 Berlin

Strange Attractors Berlin

Authors Andrea Scrima and Heather Sheehan will meet with Edie Meidav, co-editor of “Strange Attractors: Lives Changed by Chance” (University of Massachusetts Press), and moderator Madeleine LaRue for a reading and discussion at the Hopscotch Reading Room.  Followed by: musical guest Ben Richter on accordion.

“Each essay reckons with contradictions, consequences, and risks. The moving, muscular collection holds an unexpected sort of magic, a sparkling nudge to stay open to change.” —Nina MacLaughlin, The Boston Globe

 

About the readers:

Edie Meidav, co-editoris the author of Kingdom of the Young (Sarabande), short fiction with a nonfiction coda, and three award-winning novels, Lola, California (FSG), and Crawl Space (FSG) the most recent. She is on the permanent faculty of the MFA for Poets and Writers at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Andrea Scrima is the author of the novel A Lesser Day (Spuyten Duyvil), which has also been published in German (Wie viele Tage, Literaturverlag Droschl) to great acclaim. She received a writer’s fellowship from the Berlin Senate for Cultural Affairs and is currently completing a second novel. Scrima writes literary criticism for the Brooklyn Rail, Music & Literature, Schreibheft, Manuskripte, Quarterly Conversation, and other publications; she is contributing editor to the online literary magazine Statorec and writes a monthly column for 3QuarksDaily. The work in the anthology is excerpted from a piece that appeared on her blog Stories I tell myself when I can’t get to sleep at night.

Heather Sheehan, a MacDowell Colony Fellow, thrives on a visual arts practice that informs her written works. Together with sculpture, performance, and photography, Sheehan reaches audiences within and beyond the boundaries of her adopted homeland in Germany, where her works are to be seen in contemporary art museums. When not in her atelier manifesting experience into form, Heather Sheehan inspires others with her boundless curiosity and belief in the healing powers of human nature. Visit her at www.heathersheehan.com.

Moderator: Madeleine LaRue is a writer and translator, and senior editor and director of publicity for Music & Literature. She lives in Berlin.

A great evening was had by all! 

Thanks to Joy Garnett, Margo Taft Stever, Chris Campanioni, Uche Nduka, Erik Rasmussen, Andrea Scrima, David Dephy, David Winner, and Tyler Gore for reading at the Starr Bar in Bushwick, Brooklyn in celebration of the new issue of STATOREC magazine. 

May 24, 2019 at 7 pm. 214 Starr Street / Brooklyn, New York / 11237

Slam readers 2

 

“I know of no love that exists with moderation, at least on my side. The older I get, the busier I am, and the more engrossing my social life becomes, the warier I grow of submitting to the powerlessness of being in a love affair in which the heart is truly engaged. There’s a Kenneth Koch poem posted on the wall behind my computer that explains why. It says, ‘You want a social life, with friends/ A passionate love life and as well/ To work hard every day. What’s true/ Is of these three you may have two.’ When love comes in the door, my work and social life seem to fly out the window. Yet every now and then… even though I know how disruptive it is, I succumb, and all balance is lost.”

I talked to Liesl Schillinger to celebrate the publication of the Strange Attractors anthology with UMass Press—you can read the full conversation here

Strange Attractors cover

And come to the reading at McNally Jackson in Williamsburg, Brooklyn: 

Screenshot 2019-05-07 at 09.45.38

On a panel at the Literarisches Colloquium Berlin. Berlin Polylingual—Parataxe Symposium IV. 

me LCB

Photo: Graham Hains.

Ich möchte gerne mit einer Behauptung anfangen: Eine deutsche Nationalliteratur muss nicht unbedingt auf Deutsch geschrieben sein.

Zahlreiche nichtdeutschsprachige Autoren, von denen viele seit Jahrzehnten in Deutschland leben, haben ihre Verlage, ihre gesamte Infrastruktur, ihre Leser hier. Nicht wenige werden primär im deutschsprachigen Raum wahrgenommen; die meisten bewegen sich zwischen Kulturen und sind als Essayisten, Kritiker, Moderatoren, usw. aktiv im Austausch zwischen den Sprachen. Dies alles übt einen enormen Einfluss auf die deutschsprachige Literatur aus und beleuchtet auch Themen in der Gesellschaft und der Politik, die vielleicht nur von „vertrauten Fremden“ beleuchten werden können.

Und doch: angesichts der immer fremdenfeindlicher werdenden Atmosphäre, angesichts der Tatsache, dass die AfD die Kultur als Kampffeld für sich entdeckt hat und nun u.a. die Strategie der parlamentarischen Anfragen verfolgt, um sozialkritische Arbeiten zu diffamieren und die Kulturförderung an sich immer wieder in Frage zu stellen, ist eine derartige Behauptung höchst politisch.

— full text to be published soon.

 

With Martin Jankowski, Eugen Ruge, Anne Fleig, and Mitja Vachedin. 

LBC panel 2

LCB panel

Photos: Graham Hains.

I’ll be taking part in a panel today on language diversity in the literatures of Berlin.

Come to the Literarisches Colloquium in Wannsee! 

4:30 – 6 p.m.
PANEL III
: Berliner Futur – entropische Literaturen?
Keynote: Anne Fleig
Participants: Andrea ScrimaEugen RugeMitja VachedinAnne Fleig
Moderation: Martin Jankowski
Featured Poet: Amora Bosco

Read the full program here. Parataxe