1. Release: Miruna, a Tale

    Bogdan Suceavă’s novella Miruna, a Tale will be in the UK next week, and later in the year it will be released in the US.

    The cover, shown here, is by Dan Mayer and is stamped (the monstrance resemblance entirely by chance, albeit apropos). The explosion of time is a common theme throughout Central Europe (viz. Jachým Topol’s Sister), but the novella is less about time exploding than time transforming, even by inertia or entropy, via the act of storytelling.

    Some links:



    Taxing fortunetellers and witches (for background, absurd certainly but explains much): “If witches are forced to pay income taxes, Buzea said, they will cast a curse on lawmakers.”

    Miruna, a Tale has a lot to say about the power of curses.

  2. Soon : Miruna, a Tale


    [The lower Carpathians]

    We are finally getting Bogdan Suceavă’s magical novella Miruna, a Tale to the printers this week. On the surface it is about the art of storytelling, and the telling of the history of a family and their ancestral village in the Carpathian Mountains of Romania. But what becomes clear as the telling progresses is that when one speaks of history there is no way to disentangle myth from reality, no matter what the source (newspapers are hardly more believable than hearsay), so that “truth” remains forever elusive, nothing more than an amalgam of the actual and pure invention.

    We have posted an excerpt here and the author’s afterword here.

    The official “release” is mid-January in the UK, and sometime next autumn in the US, but we’ll have copies first week of December. For more info go here.

  3. Walter Serner’s Cuff Poems

    Hans Arp makes the claim that automatic writing came into being when he, Tristan Tzara, and Walter Serner wrote a series of poems at Café de la Terrasse in Zürich. Serner states that they wrote about 15 or 16 together, of which nine have survived and are found in Tzara’s collected typescripts.

    Serner also wrote automatic poems by himself, giving the cycle the title “Manschette” (“Cuff”), with each poem having a number and a subtitle. Three of the seven presented here in translation were published in 1919 in the Dada magazine Der Zeltweg. Supposedly there were an additional ten automatic poems that Serner sent to Richard Huelsenbeck in September 1919 — but he could not remember later what happened to them or even if he had ever received them. Another Serner mystery.

    cuff 5
    (epitaph postal)

    You never loved the damp rags
    On your table every breadroll was a reason
    On your upper lip vibrated the last edge
    You whistled vowels as if intended just for me
    On your wrist hung everything quite severely
    You were reason
    You gave me up

    cuff 6
    (placide of the teashaker)

    wild and tiredly the bright hoes
    everything is a beatdown
    it lets the slag pile
    if it´s like on the last day
    the mild mouth will swell and beg
    do you not see the eleventh case
    how he does still love the silent cheesemaker

    cuff 7

    It is not difficult to be blonde

    Since in some nights
    Red rings blast apart
    Every hope is in the sense of the moment

    Look into my eyes
    Softshelled almond at half-mast
    Cointreau triple sec with double-tax
    Every throatcloud a mistake
    Every bellyfold a fullbath
    Every main word a round-trip-ticket
    Je te crache sur la tete
    Look into my eyes

    Is it so difficult to be blonde

    cuff 9

    speak more clearly

    a yellow walking stick slides diagonally through my head
    in all basements
    is it brighter than in my guts

    speak more clearly

    I like hearing the whack on naked babies´ bottoms
    Since it so enchanted you
    When I simply whirled away
    O why not slowly stroke oneself
    Rapturously greeting bootjacks silent
    Beyond every bourgeois kitchen

    O speak more clearly

    Make your corpulent mounds of filth collapse
    Above your belly
    With a powerful metaphysical belch

    cuff 22
    (eastern cathedrals)

    can the fist sloshed-round more gently chirp
    poking every breastsnout may
    jasmines the bloomingchild from the dams
    of hourly hotels and aerobanalers
    the mousebase whisks a summerflatcakes long
    this completely mute
    fog-absorber does flex
    much much too long
    and full of consideration too
    not without gout
    have you already seen bill´s terror

    cuff 202

    drawn from the loose red of the bandages
    metropoles the docks the heels the vaus the calves
    ha how tüllich ha how evening edition
    what is finland to me
    of the haagforehead geyser and from downy light
    a very somber confounded to the vests of the rollreduction tanks
    from the adjacent stool ha
    as it ticks in the gills of the majorities ha like it
    fops on the glaze of the drains
    ha how it sucks on the latrines of offenses
    and schnüff pamf wumpf tremsch
    well pulsed trilled in the silky hemp om prolonged sesame of
    oj oj oj
    dont j’étais vraiment amoureux
    give me the teemingapple
    the reststamme
    (o leckerté)
    the sunny caravan
    the modetext
    the lungscentedbillowed
    the hot can only dwell in the foam of the ginning
    chottochott the lovely hungerpoles of the throats
    the soaked settletwitch warped hinge
    o the unlernt fingeryminderd yummy yummy
    and emptied from the spittletrap
    c´est exquis

    cuff 797

    idiot poire imbécile cochon
    well yeah and kisses away the taut scent
    onto which the slobberstreams refresh themselves and overly buoyant
    fusillades dredge and are dewy and heated
    in stubbyarches of wet nuts of greenland
    strawyfavorites candlestockings sigh too
    pressed garbagesufferances from the palestorms
    grim dumplings and rubbery results henceforth
    the sweetly fried horizonplowers albeit
    burst like an adult with highsoundflatulence
    in front of the muffled minister of debris for columngreenspan
    simmering still the glrery stand-up collars why
    hummed in the finesse of autoskeweredravens someday
    lubberlyer eavesdroppers consume prepositions
    disturbingpeacefuls raise their steelraillegs
    unto us stukkoturish omnibuses sober up purposefully
    before sloping trainstation edgeysides of the quite syphilitic
    jupiterstallions on the second day of easter unto which the sky
    more or less blue and wandered around behind the
    barracks and he got bored and quite mechanically almost all of them
    were drunk
    and the smutty songs and already two holidays a quarter of an hour ago
    since felix marries at a moment of his life
    had cochon imbécile poire idiot so that one simply
    was no longer balanced and just for fun disembodied those gentlemen

    translated from the German and introduced by Mark Kanak

    All rights reserved.

    For more on Serner and other work by him go here.

  4. Mark Kanak projects

    Mark Kanak, the translator of Peter Pessl’s Aquamarine and Walter Serner’s Last Loosening: A Handbook for Con Men and Those Who Wish to Be One, has a few things going on involving his own work in German:

    An ongoing online project here that will be published as a book in 2015 or so.

    A just published collection of “torture” poems (Folterlyrik) here.

    A piece in Idiome, a magazine for new prose out of Berlin & Vienna.

  5. Phil Shoenfelt U.S concerts in May

    Phil Shoenfelt, author of Junkie Love, will be performing at a number of venues with Pavel Cingl in the U.S. in May.

    May 21
    Interview with Phil on the ReW & WhO Internet TV show, NYC

    May 23
    7 p.m. : Barbes, Brooklyn, NY

    May 24
    Pete’s Candy Store, Brooklyn, NY
    with Lorraine Leckie

    May 25
    Salt Creek Grille, Princton, NJ
    with William Hart Strecker

    May 26
    7 p.m. : Zirzamin, NYC
    with Lorraine Leckie
    11 p.m. : Otto’s Shrunken Head

    May 27
    Bohemian Hall & Beer Garden, NYC

    May 29
    Cedars, Youngstown, Ohio

    May 31
    Alpine Banquet House, Chicago

  6. Keys by Bruno Jasieński


    (“Potestas Clavium”)
    by Bruno Jasieński

    “And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
    And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”
    – Matthew 16

    “… For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you …”
    – Matthew 6

    The crucifix was old and weather-beaten. Perhaps six hundred years old, it was said.
    It hung in an alcove by the vestibule entrance.
    Its wood had hardened and petrified with age, so that its origins could no longer be determined; it stood slightly taller than a person.
    It depicted a blackened and withered Christ, fastened to the cross with three massive hobnails.
    But the most fascinating thing was Christ’s face – it in no way resembled those pious faces the Renaissance painters gave Him on their canvases. It was the face of a thug, horridly ugly, with black, sunken eye sockets, a terrible, loathsome expression etched onto his ample, bestial jaws, a face that smacked more of blasphemy than sainthood.
    The monk who sculpted it must have been possessed, or a dreadful sinner; he had carved the base evil of his spidery soul.
    The legs, half worn to nothing from the kisses of pious lips, were stiff and bony, like the legs of a corpse.

    The priest felt a strange antipathy toward the crucifix.
    Ever since he had first set foot in the parish, at only thirty years of age, he had nursed an incomprehensible, superstitious dread, a hatred for it, which had only grown as the years went by.
    Whenever he had to pass by the alcove to conduct Mass, he always crossed himself rapidly and hurried on.
    He had been here for twenty years, living off the church and the village. When offered a promotion to a better parish he declined. Only his relationship to the crucifix in the vestibule had remained constant since the day of his arrival.
    He was not liked by his parishioners.
    They knew about his various dealings, and whispered about them in private.
    Everyone knew he had had two children, a boy and a girl, with his housekeeper, who had died the previous fall. The children were being educated in the city.
    He was stern and dogmatic with the villagers.
    Miserly and penny-pinching, he begrudged everyone, whether rich or vagrant.
    He knew perfectly well the parishioners detested him, and this made him even more ruthless.
    A wiry consumptive with broad shoulders and a sunken rib cage, he was still trim despite his fifty years of age. Silent and glum, his face gaunt and ashen, his eyes blazing but deeply sunken, he gave the impression of a man wracked by illness.
    And curiously – though no one seemed to notice it – that bony, angular face with its phosphorescent eyes resembled that of the Christ in the vestibule.
    Had the priest seen this resemblance? Was this why he resented the crucifix?
    Apparently not.
    He had been overexerting himself the past few years. That autumn was more difficult and more miserable than the ones before.
    Rain fell incessantly, the air was foggy and damp.
    He never tended to his illness. He had lived with it for so many years that it had become a part of him.
    And one day it happened that, while celebrating Mass, his singing gave way to a terrible fit, coughing up blood.
    He toppled from the pedestal, dropping his chalice.
    He was carried to the presbytery.
    The fit persisted.
    By the time the doctor from a nearby town had managed to stanch the hemorrhage, the priest was utterly spent.
    He lay supine, yellow as a chasuble, gasping for breath.
    The doctor prescribed some powders for him, told him to remain in bed, not to go outside for the love of God, and when the rain let up – to travel.
    Gries – Davos – Zakopane …
    He took his pay and left.
    The priest spent two days bedridden.
    On the third day he rose and went to conduct Mass, in the morning, as usual.
    He was looking much the worse for wear.
    He was hobbling with a cane and coughing loudly.
    His face was even more sunken and sallow.
    He looked like a ghoul.
    Thus passed several weeks …

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  7. Jindřich Štyrský on encountering Marquis de Sade’s La Coste

    The Landscape of Marquis de Sade
    text and photographs by Jindřich Štyrský

    History is nothing if not the remarkable dissipation of truth in time. This is why the names of poets are always connected to ruins and shadows. Everything the poet forsakes turns to gray and ash. Poets delight in observing how oblivion corrupts the forms of what was once beauty, how emptiness expands in hearts once vital, how everything around them ripens toward death, how everything rushes toward expiration, while their hearts are denied the benevolence of aging. Todays and tomorrows are not a poet’s concern, time is.

    The Marquis de Sade, one of the greatest minds and the literary epitome of the 18th century, escaped, fortunately, the notice of his contemporaries. — His vast oeuvre has only received its proper due today, and his proscribed name, shrouded for the whole 19th century by heinous legend, only now has been completely rehabilitated.


    The sky, azure as the distance, arches over his landscape. I passed through in summer so that I could brush its horizons, read the collapsed walls of La Coste, and later manage to reliably isolate from the bare brown earth of its vineyards on the Saumane slopes that tint of blood lying more than a hundred years to his memory.

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  8. Surrealist NYC: This Woman is My Coffin: Jindřich Štyrský →



    Later I placed an aquarium in the window. In it I cultivated a golden-haired vulva and a magnificent specimen of a penis with a blue eye and delicate veins on its temples. In time, however, I threw in everything I had ever loved: shards of broken teacups, hairpins, Barbara’s slipper,…

  9. "The Mácha Cult" by Bohuslav Brouk


    photo: from the left: Bohuslav Brouk, Toyen, Jaroslav Seifert

    The Mácha Cult
    by Bohuslav Brouk

    Common folk, made abject by an inferiority complex, need idols to worship. In the Middle Ages, these idols were provided by religion. Today they are supplied by history, science, and art. The Christian saints have been supplanted by statesmen, generals, inventors, explorers, scientists, philosophers, poets, painters, sculptors, and composers. In Bohemia, the poet Karel Hynek Mácha has become one such idol, and his work surely offers no reason why he shouldn’t be. On the contrary, Mácha is such a leading light of Czech letters that no manner of homage paid him will ever suffice. We should not forget, however, that not all the homages heaped on the giants of spirit are enviable.

    Every person who becomes the object of public adoration must undergo a process of artificial adaptation to this condition. As with saints, a legend must first be created around the deserving individual, and for the most part this acutely contradicts the reality. Every luminary in human history and culture must undergo idealization in such way that those who have set him on a pedestal will not see in his character their own weaknesses, obtuseness, and shallowness. In Western culture, a cult of genius has arisen, a veneration for eminent souls that has made famous philosophers, artists, and others into odd, mysterious creatures in the throes of crazed passions or saint-like zeal. A fruit of the Romantic spirit, the cult of genius has had little traction among us Czechs. We have viewed prominent individuals “realistically” rather than romantically, and they have been idealized as sober-minded, upstanding humans full of patriotic and altruistic sentiments. This is why we Czechs do not consider Mácha a genius who made an important contribution to poetry, but a national poet who made an important contribution to the elevation of the Czech language. Czechs have replaced the Romantic cult of genius with the Enlightenment cult of national revivalists, who are considered the models for the ideal citizen rather than the ideal type of scientist or artist. While elsewhere the cult of genius stirs in people a sense of beauty and profundity, our Revivalist cult imbues national pride and other ethical sentiments in the souls of our citizens.

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  10. K.J. Erben’s “A Bouquet” out soon

    Karel J. Erben’s A Bouquet with Alén Diviš’s artwork will be out in a month or so. We’ve put up an excerpt here.