Advaitam Speaks Literary – Vol. 3 Issue 1

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Advaitam Speaks Literary Volume 3. Issue 1 is now available online for our readers and well wishers. We are really honoured to present this grand issue with some really talented poets and artists.

ASL Vol.3 Issue 1

Advaitam Speaks Literary has carved a niche in world literature in a short span of time with its high literary value, illustrious contributors, uncompromising quality and visually aesthetic appeal . With deep roots in the Indian subcontinent’s core aesthetic values, the journal welcomes the world to India. Please read this wonderful come-back issue of ASL Journal to explore how India reads the world.

ASL Vol.3 Issue 1 Content List
Hope you have a great time reading this issue of ASL journal !
Thank You,
Editor-in-chief.

“… the entire Divine Comedy is a poem about each one of us, and Inferno is just our darkest part.” ~ Boris Acosta

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HOLLYWOOD PRODUCER & FILM DIRECTOR BORIS ACOSTA'S FULL INTERVIEW ANTARIPA DEV PARASHAR

 

At the age of 8, Boris Acosta produced and directed his first film, based on a comic book. Over the years, he has earned a high reputation from Dantists around the world for making films that are truly Dante‘s way, something that nobody has been able to do since 1911. He is well respected in Hollywood for his convictions, passion and a man of one word. He is internationally known as a producer and director of the second best Christian story ever told, The Divine Comedy – Dante’s Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise.  His ‘Inferno by Dante’ recieved a spectacular response in its World Premiere at Cannes Film Festival in 2018.

Graduated from the University of California with a Degree in Applied Mathematics (Scientific Programming), Boris taught Mathematics for several years and wrote a book on solving Calculus problems as well as another one on Server Side Includes, a technology to manage large websites in a timely manner. Boris Acosta studied The Divine Comedy and all minor works written by Dante Alighieri in primitive Italian (Volgare Italiano). He also studied other major Italian works and obtained a degree in Italian Literature at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

In 2008, Boris Acosta petitioned to Italian Florence Mayor Matteo Renzi, at the time, to put a motion to pardon Dante Alighieri from his 700 years of exile. The motion passed 8 to 2 and Dante Alighieri was pardoned. This was an accomplishment that filled his heart like few things have in his life.

Interestingly, Boris was an encouraging influence in Pearl Jam’Eddie Vedder‘s success as a singer. He told Eddie, on two different occasions, that he would “make it”, when they used to hang around in San Diego, at a time when Eddie was completely unknown in the music industry at large.

As a philanthropist, Boris Acosta donates a big percentage of the revenues from the sales of Dante’s Inferno 72-piece art collection to several charity organizations that fight cancer, AIDS and help humankind in many possible forms.

For Boris Acosta’s IMDB Profile please click on https://www.imdb.com/name/nm2342225/

Please read below Boris Acosta’s exclusive interview with our Managing Editor Antaripa Dev Parashar for Advaitam Speaks Literary to know more about his journey into Inferno…

 

  1. What, in your opinion is the most important quality in a film director ?

To give freedom to actors to express themselves before the director gives any directions at all.

 

  1. What was your drive behind making films ? What roadblock did you face when you were starting out ?

Fate, I never thought about making films, it all happened naturally, even at 8 years old when I produced my first film. At the beginning, as an adult, it was money since financing is the greatest obstacle for any filmmaker.

 

  1. Which film has inspired you the most ? Which filmmaker has inspired you the most ?

There isn’t one film, but two that inspired me. “L’Inferno” (1911), which was the first Italian feature film and the first one based in Dante’s Divine Comedy. In fact, I restored it and used several clips in two of my documentaries. The other film that inspired me was “The Wall”, based on Pink Floyd’s opera. It is the story of everyone of us, same as The Divine Comedy. The filmmaker that inspired me the most was Stanley Kubrick, I loved his audacity to do things different.

 

  1. What is the most significant role of a film director as an artist for you? A devil’s advocate or a prophet of moral values ?

Both! It is a thin line for me.

  1. We hardly come across a film director across the world who has worked on Dante in films so extensively as you. What are the reasons behind such an endeavour which is more aesthetic and serious than commercial?

I studied all Dante’s literary works at UCLA in depth and it would be quite a lack of respect not to do things his way instead of mine or anybody else’s. As a student I had a hard time visualising passages in The Divine Comedy since they escape the real world, so it is crucial for me to make the best I can to help others understand Dante’s poem the best possible way. Being commercial for me is secondary, making a difference in life is far more important to me.

 

  1. Dino Di Durante’s visual illustration of Dante has been a constant and major source of intellectual capital behind your films. Why Durante , not Dali nor Dore ?

I used Dore’s lithographs as a visual guide when I was a student, but I realised that he made too many mistakes, which confused me back then. Even though, I selectively used some of Dore’s lithographs in both of my documentaries based on Inferno. I’m a big fan of Dali’s paintings and sculptures and he did an incredible work of 100 paintings based on The Divine Comedy, however, his style was abstract, which is not possible to use in film. Dino’s paintings were directed by me, it was a work for hire, which were based on Sandro Boticelli’s accurate interpretation of The Divine Comedy. I didn’t want to use Botticelli’s work either, because they are mainly drawings and not good to use in film either. So, I decided to start from scratch and do something intended to use in film in the first place. At the beginning we made lots of mistakes while trying to rush, but then thanks to the truthfulness of a friend, Riccardo Pratesi, who opened my eyes, we took a few steps back. Riccardo is a Florentine expert in The Divine Comedy, who can even recite it by heart, but mainly he stops at every single detail to interpret it correctly. So, I paid close attention to his candid advice and Dino re-painted everything we had done up until that time.

Later on, I decided to write a thesis, which I titled “Dante’s Inferno Decoded”, where I explained my discovery that Dante had actually wrote about the possible real existence of Inferno. After many years of being submerged in The Divine Comedy, thinking about some things that on the surface sounded childish, I realised that Dante had written a lot using allegories or metaphors. In some passages, it is obvious and is explained in school or at the bottom of books of The Divine Comedy, but others are left as poetic writing or style. For instance, when Dante says in Inferno that he saw in the distance towers with burning fire on top, I thought “who feeds the fire?”.   Same as when he mentioned tombs in the 6th circle, I thought “who made them and where does the fire in them come from?”.   Another example, in the 7th circle Dante wrote about the Phlegethon as a river of boiling blood, so “who’s blood and what boils it constantly”?. And on and on. So, this and other things made me investigate deeply and talk to my friend/professor Massimo Ciavolella (UCLA), who inspired me to say what nobody had until now: “Inferno is a volcanic development”. I also think that having watched “Journey to the Center of the Earth” film when I was a kid, based on Jules Verne novel, was a big influence in my thinking.

So, after all this, Dino re-painted once again around 45 paintings out of the 72 collection and added 3 more to reflect my thesis. So, now we are planning on publishing a 2nd edition of Dino’s book of paintings with some shocking surprises not outlined here. All in all, I had the freedom in Dino’s paintings to express my own interpretation of Inferno, without stepping on Dante’s toes.

Inferno: The Art Collection on Amazon : 

https://www.amazon.in/s?k=dino+di+durante&fbclid=IwAR31YsWBw5teZpSaGSk0afVjWHE7ZzXjkpqMCRb1R0wa7n9nIs207M63gB0

 

  1. If you got the opportunity to go back in time and change something in Dante Alighieri’s masterpiece, ‘The Divine Comedy’, then what changes will you opt for ?

There is nothing one can change in a “masterpiece”, particularly The Divine Comedy, which to me was written by God’s whispering in Dante’s ears.

 

  1. You were born to an Italian-Portuguese family. You have lived most of your life as a citizen of the United States of America. In what ways have your experiences as a migrant influenced your treatment of Dante in films ?

None whatsoever. I could have done the same work living in India. Also, I came to the US as a transfer student from a university in Argentina, so migration for me was not the reason to come to the US, it was higher education. Although later on, I became a US citizen.

 

  1. Is the idea of Hell a poetic co-incidence or a critical subject in your films ? Tell us briefly.

Hell or Inferno to me is simply the first part of The Divine Comedy. I have already filmed most of the two sequels, Purgatory and Paradise. There are no coincidences in life to me. Nevertheless, the entire Divine Comedy is a poem about each one of us, and Inferno is just our darkest part.

 

  1. Please share your views on the interconnections among Art, Hell and Philanthropy.

I don’t see any interconnections. Art is an expression of one’s feelings regardless of theme. Hell, is just the first and worst part of The Divine Comedy. Philanthropy is a form of helping others in many possible ways.

 

  1. What is the greatest moment in your film career according to you ?

It is difficult to say. I remember that I was extremely happy when I got written permission from RAI Teche to use Vittorio Gassman’s archive audio recordings of his recitation of The Divine Comedy in my Italian animation. Also, when I screened my first documentary in Cannes, there were a lot of people lining up outside the theater door without tickets hoping they could get in. I was happy to be able to accommodate everybody and later had a great party at a superb mansion nearby. Another one is when Eric Roberts came on board and thanked me hugged me five times for giving life to Dante’s voice in English through him.

 

  1. Have you ever visited India? What is your perception of India? Do you have plans of making your films available in major Indian languages?

No, I haven’t visited India, but I would love to. It was a company in India that helped me at the beginning with the animation clips. India to me is a very spiritual place on Earth, which one day I expect to visit, particularly Auroville, where they have a theater called Paradiso and already want my films. It’ll be great to have any and all of my films available in many of the Indian languages, same as Dino Di Durante’s art books, which are already available in at least 3 Indian languages. I love languages and I speak four fluently, however, India is the richest country in this respect.

Inferno: The Art Collection (Hindi Edition) on Amazon  :

https://www.amazon.com/Inferno-Collection-Hindi-Dino-Durante/dp/1628790326/ref=sr_1_49?keywords=dino+di+durante&qid=1567491705&s=gateway&sr=8-49

 

  1. Please tell us briefly about your upcoming projects.

There is one small, yet incredibly important to me. It is a short documentary titled “Dante’s Glorious Return”, which is about moving Dante’s remains from the city of Ravenna to Florence, a fact that has been waiting for almost 700 years. It was also Dante’s own last wishes, which he expressed literally in Paradiso XXV. ( “Dante’s Glorious Return”:  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10848200 )

The other one is a TV series consisting of 100 episodes divided in 3 seasons, Inferno, Purgatory and Paradise. They are recited in primitive Italian and Dante’s own poetic words with both, English and modern Italian explanations. ( TV series consisting of 100 episodes:  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt10521010/ )

Finish production of the documentary sequels Purgatory by Dante and Paradise by Dante, which are almost fully filmed.

These projects are on the horizon, but there are others much bigger as well.

 

  1. Do you have any advice for young film makers out there ?

Yes, think big, follow your dream and don’t listen to the ones that say “it is not possible”. Put your heart into what you believe in, and do not look back. God will do the rest for you!

Links to Boris Acosta Films on Amazon :

https://www.amazon.com/s?k=Boris+Acosta

 

 

About The Interviewer :

The questionnaire is prepared by Antaripa Dev Parashar for Advaitam Speaks Literary. Antaripa is a mass communication & journalism postgraduate, art & culture enthusiast as well as fashion & food connoisseur based in New Delhi. She has worked as a Sub-editor for prestigious Assamese newspapers /publications like Amar Asom, Maya & Dapun. She has worked as a PR Executive for the popular Hindi daily of North-east India Pratah Khabar and has done projects with All India Radio & News Time Assam. She has participated in various literary & cultural events like Miss Maya North-east 2017-18, Poorvottar Natya Samaroh 2014, Maya Media Awards 2017, Art Exhibitions of Jorhat Fine Arts Society as well as numerous Book Launch events. She has been an active member of Sattriya Kala Bharati Dance School, Jorhat, Assam. She is currently pursuing a Management Course from Gauhati University. She is the Managing Editor of Advaitam Speaks Literary.

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“…for me poetry is not a way of telling everything that happens to me, like my personal diary. I think I like to write things more separate from myself, as an observer or witness.”- Mariela Cordero

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Mariela Cordero is from Venezuela. She is a Lawyer, Poet, Writer and visual artist. She has received many awards and accolades like Third Prize of Poetry Alejandra Pizarnik Argentina (2014), First Prize at the Second Ibero-American Poetry Contest Euler Granda, Ecuador (2015), Second Prize of Poetry Concorso Letterario Internazionale Bilingüe Tracceperlameta Edizioni, Italy (2015), Micro-poemas Prize in Spanish of the III contest TRANSPalabr @RTE 2015, Spain as well as the First Place in International Poetry Contest Hispanic Poets mention of literary quality, Spain 2016. Please read her interview with Debasish Parashar for Advaitam Speaks Literary to know more about her poetry and art :

  1. Hello Mariela, a warm welcome to you! Were you always aware of the writer in you ? If not, what was the turning point of your life when you realised that you can be a writer?

In my childhood when I learned to read, it was a great moment for me … Discover all that magical world of books, I think my imagination opened like a flower. After becoming a precocious reader, I began to imagine sentences and small narrations in my mind and later I began to write loose thoughts (secretly). I did not share this with anyone, only with myself. At age 15, these phrases or loose fragments became recurrent and I felt that what was bubbling inside could be transformed into something similar to poetry.

At that time I just wanted to write for myself. I never dreamed a “career” as a poet. I just wanted to enjoy the act of writing. Poetry for me is something introspective and intimate.

  1. As a writer, what are the other means for you to connect to the ideas you explore in your poetry and your books?

 

I connect with poetry through my own peculiar vision of life. I observe everything around me with new eyes and and I try to observe each situation from a different approach, different from what “reality” shows. It also helps me connect with poetry, reading writers that I admire, art in general and also music. I am passionate about art, good movies or independent films, and also photography. When I see what other people can create in the artistic field, this stimulates my own creative capacity.

 

  1. Your writings tell us about a multitude of experiences. How have those experiences influence your writing?

 

My personal experiences in poetry are important, but I think I do not write a confessional poetry, for me poetry is not a way of telling everything that happens to me, like my personal diary. I think I like to write things more separate from myself, as an observer or witness. Poetry gives us great freedom, we can create if we want other characters who speak through our poems, or we can write a poem about a more abstract situation. I think that in poetry there must be a bit of mystery.

 

  1. Being a literature Professor, I also feel that literature allows us to experience multiple lives in our lifetime, helps us to acknowledge ourselves and point of view of the other better. Would you say that the kind of life you have lived so far has made you extraordinary from the literati in general?

 

I do not think that my life is extraordinary, but I think that the decisive thing for me has been the vision I have had of my own life and of life in general. My way of perceiving the world and my way of translating everything I see or feel through poetic art. If there is something out of the ordinary, I think it is precisely my way of seeing things.

 

  1. Amongst all your poems which one do you think has come out as the best of you; which one is closest to your heart? Why?

 

No poem of mine is the best. I am tremendously critical of my own poetry. I always feel that I am missing something or that there is something excessive. It is important to find the ideal balance. For me, my best poem is the one that is not yet written. A poem that has been brewing for a long time in me. This is a motivation for me, which encourages me to continue polishing my style and evolving as a poet.

 

  1. Do you re-read your poems and ever regret for writing something, which you should not have written?

 

Yes, as I mentioned before, I rigorously criticize my poems. Like Gustave Flaubert I would like to find “le mot juste” the precise word, the exact word in each line or verse of the poem … I try to get a satisfactory result. Despite this tension of finding the right words I greatly enjoy the act of writing poetry. Writing a poem is like polishing a diamond.

  1. What are the major themes you would like to include in your upcoming writings?

There are many themes, I believe that poets revolve around the same themes: life-death, love-lack of love, pleasure-pain …

I think that beyond the topic, the essential is the way of expressing it. This form must be authentic and original. The poems must communicate to the readers something unforgettable, like a good perfume.

 

  1. Have you ever been rejected by publishers? What advice you would like to give to the aspiring poets/writers about dealing with success as well as rejections?

Yes, I have experienced many literary rejections. At first this may discourage you but in the end you discover that rejections are good. A writer can learn a lot from rejections. Rejections can be a source of inspiration to improve our writing and polish our style. It is important to admit our own mistakes as writers. If you really want to be a writer you must have a lot of patience and you must be prepared for failure. But you must keep moving forward. You have to have confidence and continue on the literary path. A poem knows how to find his own house. Maybe your poetry is considered bad poetry by an editor, but for another editor perhaps your poetry is very good. This is relative and the evaluation criteria are usually subjective. It is also important not to be dazzled or blinded by the brightness of success, recognitions or distinctions should be assumed with great humility. You should continue working every day in your writing as if you were a beginner…

 

  1. There are many aspiring writers, poets and novelists who look up to you, who adore you and aspire to become like you one day. When you started your career as a writer, whom did you look up to as your role model?

 

I admire many poets. I enjoy reading poetry very much. The list is long: Celan, Char, Bonnefoy, Pizarnik, Kavafis, Dickinson, Holan, Rilke, Cummings, Valery, Trakl, Benn, Seferis, Heaney, Eluard, Brecht, Ungaretti, Elytis, Novalis, Heine, Ajmátova,Holderlin…

From my country (Venezuela) I admire the poetry of Juan Sánchez Peláez.

I have a blog especially dedicated to share the poems that I like the most:

https://elcuerpodeladuda.blogspot.com

 

  1. Mariela, apart from being a poet, you are a visual artists too. Please tell us in brief about your style of visual arts and your themes.

As I said before, I love art and in 2013 I had the opportunity to do a course called Design 1o1 with incredible teachers who are based in Milan. Through this study I began to know certain techniques about digital art and I have been experimenting in this area. What I like to create most are digital collages, and an artistic trend that I like a lot is surrealism. I greatly admire the work of René Magritte. Likewise, art, like poetry, gives us a lot of creative freedom.

 

  1. Lastly, as a matter of formality, we are proud to share with our readers that you were one of the first poets featured in the inaugural issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary Journal. Please share a few words with our readers on Advaitam Speaks Literary journal.

I feel very happy, honored and grateful to have been part of the first issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary Journal with great poets from around the world. It is an enriching experience not only as a poet but also as poetry reader This magazine brings together many writers from different parts of the world. For me it is a fascinating experience. This magazine represents an open, multicultural and creative space. For me, poetry has no borders.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Submission Call for a Special 2019 Issue of ASL for Budding Poets & Artists from India & Singapore

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A SPECIAL CALL FOR SUBMISSION..
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YOUNG AND EMERGING POETS AND VISUAL ARTISTS FROM INDIA & SINGAPORE ( 15-35 YEARS AGE GROUP…)
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THE ISSUE WILL BE CO-EDITED BY Debasish Parashar & Anitha Devi Pillai.

FOR GENERAL GUIDELINES VISIT OUR BLOG :

https://advaitamspeaksliterary.wordpress.com/submission/

 

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“There’s inspiration everywhere. Even on Twitter and Facebook. I find social media always pointing me at some thought or image or idea or word that moves me.” : John Guzlowski.

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John Guzlowski‘s writing appears on Garrison Keillor’s Writers Almanac and in RattleAtticus Review, Joyce Carol Oates’ Ontario ReviewNorth American Review, and many other journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his Polish parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees making a life for themselves in Chicago appear in his memoir Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press).  Echoes of Tattered Tongues received the 2017 Benjamin Franklin Poetry Award and the Eric Hoffer Foundation’s Montaigne Award.  Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz – in a review of one of Guzlowski’s poetry books – wrote that Guzlowski’s writing astonished him. In this interview with Koel Sheth  for Advaitam Speaks Literary, he talks about his poetry, creativity, his source of inspiration, his poetic journey so far and much more. Please read below the whole interview.

 

 

Koel : Hello John, a warm welcome to you! Were you always aware of the writer in you ? If not, what was the turning point of your life when you realised that you can be a writer?

John : I loved words from the first time I became aware of them. My parents were not educated people. My father was illiterate, and my mom could only read a little. We had no books, or magazines, or newspapers in our house. I remember the first time I saw a book. It was a horror comic book, and on the cover was a zombie coming out of a grave. I was 4 years old, and the comic was on a stack of comic books on a floor in the bathroom of a friend I was visiting. For an hour, I sat in that bathroom looking at this comic book, the zombies, and the words splashed all over the book. I didn’t know what these words meant, but I knew they were part of the magic of this book. Finally, I heard my friend calling me and calling me, and I left that bathroom, but never left behind my love for words.

After that I was always reading. I got my first library card when I was 6, and my favourite thing to do on Saturday mornings was to walk to the library and look for the books I would read during the coming week.

For me, reading and writing were part of the same experience. I was always doing both, recreating and mimicking and extending the stories I was finding in the books I loved.

It’s still that way. I love to read, and I love to write. The perfect day for me starts with writing and ends with reading.

 

Koel :As a writer, what are the other means for you to connect to the ideas you explore in your poetry and your books?

John : I find inspiration everywhere. Right now, I tend to read a lot of non-fiction and memoir. I love to see other writers telling me what they have seen and felt. It almost feels like I’m sitting in a coffee shop somewhere and having a conversation with someone who feels he or she has a story that I must hear.

But it’s not just books. I love watching documentaries and movies and listening to music (especially traditional folk songs and blues, the everyday music of real people) and walking through a forest following a stream and going to an art museum and looking at paintings.

There’s inspiration everywhere. Even on Twitter and Facebook. I find social media always pointing me at some thought or image or idea or word that moves me.

I keep a notepad with me all the time, and I’m always writing down something that touched me.

 

Koel : Your writings tell us that your parents’ sufferings created long lasting impact on your mind, but you started writing about them at the age of 31. Was your experience with their struggle so deep that you remember everything? How have those experiences influence your writing?

John : I wish I could remember everything my parents told me about their experiences. I think what I remember most are the worst things, the things that shook me as a child when I first heard them. My father started telling me stories about his time in the war and in the concentration camps when I was just a kid. He had no control over himself when he started talking, and he would tell me things that he shouldn’t have told me. One of the first things I remember him telling me is about a German soldier cutting off a woman’s breasts with his bayonet. I must have been around 6 when I heard this. That image is locked into my memory. I will never forget it. In fact, in the first poem I wrote about my parents I talk about that memory. I was 31 years old, and the memory was there.

 

Dreams of Unhurried Memories

 

Too many fears

for a summer day

I regulate my thoughts

and my breathing

regard the humidity

and dream

 

Somewhere my parents

are still survivors

living unhurried lives

of unhurried memories:

the unclean sweep of a bayonet

through a young girl’s breast,

a body drooping over a rail fence,

the charred lips of the captain of lancers

whispering and steaming

“Where are the horses

where are the horses?”

 

Death in Poland

like death nowhere else—

cool, gray, breathless

 

I listened to my father and my mother tell me about what they had experienced, and I wrote about that. What’s interesting to me is that I was completely uninterested in writing about them for a long time. When I was first in college, my dream was to write science fiction novels. I wanted to be the next Robert Heinlein or Isaac Asimov. I wanted to write about silver space ships moving through the endless darkness of space toward a jewelled planet of creatures not even I could imagine. And then in grad school I became obsessed with writing about literature and all the great writers of the American past. I never wanted to write about my parents and their tortured lives and memories. It was the last thing I wanted to write about in fact. But writing doesn’t always ask you what you want to write. In my experience, it tells you to write and you must write what it wants you to write.

So now I write about my parents and their world, and even when I’m not writing about them the other things I write about are somehow related to their experiences. For example, my forthcoming novel Road of Bones (Kasva Press), about 2 German lovers separated by WWII, is connected to my mother’s story of the war. In an indirect sort of way. The novel began as my attempt to imagine what happened the day the Germans came to her house in the woods west of Lwow and killed her mother and my mom’s sister and the sister’s baby. It began with that intent, and then it became something else, a novel about one of the soldier’s who did those terrible things and his attempt to work through his guilt.

 

Koel : Being a literature student, I also feel that literature allows us to experience multiple lives in our lifetime, helps us to acknowledge ourselves and point of view of the other better. You were a student of literature, then you became Professor of literature and now you write yourself and your writings inspire us. Would you say that the tough life you have experienced made you extraordinary from the literati in general?

John : I think that all the writers I truly love have lived extraordinary lives: Whitman, Emerson, Emily Dickinson, Hemingway, and Isaac Bashevis Singer. They have experienced those extraordinary lives and they have come back to tell us what they felt and thought.

I think I have had a life that is not like the lives of most people, most writers specifically. I think this is one of the things that keeps me writing. I remember one time toward the end of my mom’s life when she was telling me a story that she wanted me to turn into a poem. I was writing it down as she spoke and when she finished she looked at me and said, “Tell them this happened, not only to us, but to many many people. Tell them.”

I feel that obligation all the time.

 

Koel :Amongst all your poems which one do you think has come out as the best of you; which one is closest to your heart? Why?

John : I do many many poetry readings, and there are two poems I love to read: “What the War Taught Her” and “What My Father Believed.” I love these poems because for me they encapsulate so much of who my parents were and how their experiences shaped them, and finally shaped me. The first is a poem about my mother’s loss of faith in God and man. The second is about my father’s faith and how he believed we should help people even though we know that helping won’t save them. When I read these two poems, I am with my parents again, listening to their sorrows and their pain and their struggle to survive.

Here’s “What the War Taught Her”:

 

What the War Taught Her

 

My mother learned that sex is bad,

Men are worthless, it is always cold

And there is never enough to eat.

 

She learned that if you are stupid

With your hands you will not survive

The winter even if you survive the fall.

 

She learned that only the young survive

The camps. The old are left in piles

Like worthless paper, and babies

Are scarce like chickens and bread.

 

 

She learned that the world is a broken place

Where no birds sing, and even angels

Cannot bear the sorrows God gives them.

 

She learned that you don’t pray

Your enemies will not torment you.

You only pray that they will not kill you.

 

Koel :Do you re-read your poems and ever regret for writing something, which you should not have written?

John : No. The only thing I regret is that one time my mother was going to tell me something that was going to be the story of the worst experience she had during the war, and I told her that I couldn’t listen to this story, that I knew the story would break me and I wanted her to stop. And she said, “Don’t be such a baby. I’m going to tell you the story,” and I said that if she told me the story I would leave and not come back. And she looked at me like I was the most worthless person on earth, and she said, “Ok, I won’t tell you.”

I regret now not letting her tell me the story.

 

Koel : What are the other themes apart from the traumatic experience of way you would like to include in your upcoming writings?

John : I’m going to be 70 years old in a few weeks. In all the almost 40 years I’ve been writing about my parents I have never read at a poem at a poetry reading that was not about them. Recently, I have been writing poems of course that aren’t about my parents, and I think I would like to read one or two of these the next time I do a reading.

They are old man poems, poems about death, dying, aging, coming to the end of things. I would like to read one of these poems at my next reading. Here’s one:

Death and Poetry

Somewhere there are shadows,

My mother in a doorway, my father

Standing by a fence. You must have

Your own shadows. The dead in one

Another’s arms. The black hearse.

Someone you love behind the curtains.

 

I remember Abbott and Costello,

Two dead comedians, joking about curtains:

“It’s curtains for me, curtains for you,”

Then the curtains part and the killer

Appears and says, “Slowly I turn,”

But it’s never slowly enough,

 

And suddenly you’re there

With your own dead and your own

Dying, and nothing feels closer to you

Than the wow moment when you won’t

Be you but some scattered, tattered

Discombobulation of purposeless ions,

 

The dust that suddenly is last week’s lunch

And this week’s memories of everything

That will not last, and you’re not laughing

Although you once did at Abbott and Costello

Or maybe it was the Three Stooges grinding

On about how slowly death comes.

 

Less carriage ride than bullet, it’s here now

And all of these words are so purposeless

That it’s a good thing I’m writing all of this

Down now because if I were to wait

Until the moment of my own death

I would just wave these words away.

 

Koel : Have you ever been rejected by publishers? What advice you would like to give to the aspiring poets/writers about dealing with success as well as rejections?

John : Rejections! Oh yes! They are a constant factor in writing. I got my first rejection in 1978. I got my most recent rejection this morning, forty years later. I expect to get rejections next week, next month, next year, next decade if I’m still writing.

Rejections are a part of writing, just as inspiration is a part of this writing. If inspiration is the muse calling to you, then rejection is her evil twin sister responding to that call.

My advice to an aspiring writer regarding rejection? Keep writing. Don’t stop writing. Don’t stop sending things out. Just keep writing. There will be months and years when you think no one wants to read your words, but you still need to keep writing.

 

Koel : There are many aspiring writers, poets and novelists who look up to you, who adore you and aspire to become like you one day. When you started your career as a writer, whom did you look up to as your role model?

John : I loved a lot of writers. But I think the two that most shaped me were Jack Kerouac and Walt Whitman. For years, I carried a book by either one of these writers with me at all times. When I was riding my bike, or taking a bus to work, or hitchhiking across America, I had a copy of Whitman’s Song of Myself or Kerouac’s On the Road or one of their other books in my pocket. What moved me in their writing was that they both had a real sense of how chaotic and unforgiving life could be, but still they both had a dream that there was beauty and love and forgiveness in the world. That message of Whitman and Kerouac still inspires me.

 

Koel : Lastly, as a matter of formality, we are proud to share with our readers that you were the first poet featured in the inaugural issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary Journal. Please share a few words with our readers on Advaitam Speaks Literary journal.

John : What I admire about Advaitam Speaks Literary is that it brings together writers from all over the world to share their joys and sorrows and to remind us that all writers are brothers and sisters.

 

 

 

Bio of the Interviewer:

Koel

Koyel Sheth is a graduate in English literature from Motilal Nehru College (Evening), DU. She is currently pursuing her masters from the prestigious Lady Shri Ram College, University of Delhi. You can always find her reading in the night and writing in the day. Along with reading and writing, music is another passion she strongly pursues.

 

“I believe in true art and true verses, and not in mannerism and falsehood.” : Danijela Trajkovic

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Danijela Trajkovic is a Serbian writer, literary critic and translator. Her literary works are published widely in Serbia and abroad. Her book of poetry in translation ’22Wagons’ was published this year by Istok Academia, Knjaževac, Serbia. She holds MA in English language and literature from the University of Priština, Kosovska Mitrovica. In this interview with Debasish Parashar, she talks about translation, creativity, 22 wagons, Serbian poetry and much more. Please read below the whole interview. 

 

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  1. How did you get into translation?

DT : My brother, Nenad Trajković, is a poet. I never meant to deal with translation, but all started because of my brother, who asked me to translate some of his poems into English. I did so. Also translated some poems by Obren Ristić, a great poet, and both of them were published in Poem (Taylor & Francis, UK 2015). Now I am so grateful to my brother for that, to Obren Ristić and to wonderful Fiona Sampson, who found my translations good and gave me the opportunity to appear in such an amazing journal like Poem.

 

  1. How do you decide which poems or poets to translate? Do you have favorite poets that you like to translate?

DT : We live in an era of post-truth, where lies often prevail over truth. And in the field of poetry, there are many who write, whose poetry will not survive the test of time. I believe in true art and true verses, and not in mannerism and falsehood. I choose poets based on their real merit and that incredible enthusiasm they have as they create. Consequently, my great wish, and this is my next future project that I am working on, is to put together a real anthology of contemporary Serbian poetry, which I will translate into English, so some of my favourite poets will be represented here. As for the poets from around the world, I have already done one small anthology ’22 Wagons’ on the basis of which the poets I appreciate can be recognized.

 

  1. Is it easier to translate poet friends than to translate poet strangers ? What kind of bonds develop between the translator and the translated work?

DT : When you translate your poet friends, maybe you do not have to go so deep into the poems, cause your friends can tell you the meaning of their metaphors, and when you translate poet strangers you are left with your skills and you actually show how much you really are meant for that job. The bond is strong between the translator and the translated work, only if it a case of appreciating what one does and that is my case.

 

  1. To what extent is creativity important in translation ?

DT : Translation is complex, especially when we have poets who write hermetic poetry. Therefore a translator must have a great ability to analyze and interpret a poem, and creativity is reflected in the fact that the translation of poetry is always an adaptation which must correspond to the authenticity of the poem and so, because of the complexity, the translator becomes a poet engaged in the creative process. Creativity is required everywhere. A serious translator has to know his mother tongue excellent, the foreign languages he translates into and from, has to be imaginative, has to have the sense of beauty, and has to be an adventurer, willing and always ready for exploring new things and sharing with the people who appreciate that.

 

  1. Do you try to stay true to the poem, in terms of denotations, connotations, tone, imagery, lines, rhythms? What are the challenges a translator faces?

DT : Yes. For me, the most important aspect is to keep the soul, the essence of the original. There were/are some translators who tried/try to make better poems in translation than the original ones. They change the original works a lot in the name of beautification, which is totally unacceptable in my opinion. There are not some great challenges a translator faces now a days. Most of the poets today do not use rhyme, which used to be a great challenge for the past generation of translators.

 

  1. Why is translation important, and how can we help to promote it?

DT : Translation is important for connecting people, bringing them together. But as there are many self-proclaimed poets today, there are also fake translators who translate from a translation, not from the original. In order to promote translation, the translator should be stimulated, or rewarded for his work. Unfortunately, we live in material times when everything is expressed through money. We are witnessing that if we are paid, we will honor and appreciate it, but if we get something for free, we have a tendency of taking it lightly.

 

  1. What is lost in translation? What is gained?

DT : If translation keeps its soul, nothing is lost, in fact gained, because it gives an opportunity to the speakers of another language to get acquainted with the original dressed in familiar clothes. There is nothing better than reading an original text, but since that is not always possible, a good translation offers a suitable replacement that can accommodate the essence of the original.

 

  1. What is your view of the Serbian poetry and its place in the world?

DT : Holding MA in English Literature, I’ve started the mission of translating as many as I can, excellent, contemporary Anglophone poets into Serbian (never mind if they are already famous or not, since I am able enough to recognize the true values a poem has or doesn’t have) and vice versa. I translate poems by contemporary Serbian poets into English. The idea of translating Serbian poets came from the fact that although Serbian literature has existed for eight centuries, many of the great Serbian poets and writers remain unknown to the Anglophone world. Rarely that Serbian poets appear somewhere in the world. Serbian poetry has its place in the top of world’s poetry and certainly deserves to be paid attention more by the world. We also need to boost cultural exchange and explore cross-cultural linkages. Perhaps it sounds strange, since India and Serbia are almost 6000 km far away each other, but when it comes to the art of poetry of these two countries, we can find similarities. In the poems of Indian and Serbian poets there are often philosophical thoughts, rather than simple features of life. There is a profound quest through which many important answers a human being can find out.

 

  1. Please tell us about your recent translation project ‘22 Wagons’.

 

22 wagons

DT : “22 Wagons“ was born out of the idea to make an anthology of Anglophone contemporary poetry which has been felt like an innovative and necessary step for the Serbian speaking people. This book is intended for English language and literature students studying in Serbia, cause those students are stuck with Romantic poets and given no chance for studying about contemporary poets, so I wanted to contribute in this way with my book. Also, the book is intended for all the lovers and connoisseurs of true poetry. So far the reviews on the book have been excellent. This time I use the opportunity to say thanks to some great Serbian poets and writers who supported me in this project like Ranko Pavlović and Obren Ristić. I am very happy when some friends and other people call me up after reading the book to tell me who are their favourite poets from the book. There are always poets whose poetry comes with a sense of freshness, which shows I could satisfy the taste of many people, but there are also some poets who cater to many people’s tastes with a sense of familiarity, which again shows the magnitude of the poetry which has been selected for ’22 Wagons’.

 

  1. Please share a few words with our readers on Advaitam Speaks Literary journal.

DT : Advaitam Speaks Literary is an International Journal of Poetry, Poetics and Visual Arts which offers people a really good selection of contemporary poetry from around the world. Advaitam Speaks Literary is a remarkable and high quality journal. I am pleased that we celebrate 2018 as a year of Serbo-Indian friendship at the level of culture and art in cooperation with this journal. The media in Serbia and the Republic of Srpska have widely covered this celebration of friendship. I hope that the Indian media will recognize the value of all this and do the same, cause I know that it is a wonderful thing for both the countries. As the translator, I have the honor to present twelve Serbian modern poets in the issues of Advaitam this year. India and Serbia have been two friendly countries and India’s incredible beauty, culture and poetry has always fascinated Serbia. I have already sent my book ’22 Wagons’ to the Embassy of India in Belgrade, with the special dedication to Mrs. Narinder Chauhan, the honourable Indian Ambassador, so that they can have ’22 Wagons’ in their library which features Debasish Parashar, a young but great Indian poet that India should be proud of as its deserving and worthy son.

 

Advaitam Speaks Literary – Volume 2. Issue 1 :

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Advaitam Speaks Literary Volume 2. Issue 1 is now available online for our readers and well wishers. We are really honoured to present this grand issue with some really talented poets and artists.
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We are happy to inform that we are celebrating 2018 as the year of India-Serbia friendship towards cultural exchange and creativity. We are publishing minimum 3 poets from Serbia and the Balkan region in general.
 
The Issue features :
Darren C. Demaree, Nadija Rebronja, Mark Hudson, Claudine Nash, Nyamu KJ, Chani Zwibel Butler, Huguette Bertrand, L Noelle McLaughlin, Lidia Chiarelli, Michael Lee Johnson , Peter Magliocco, Vladimir Konieczny, Rajnishmishravns Varanasi, Linda Imbler, Matthew kausch, Joan McNerney, Deepa Onkar, Ndifreke George, Mendes Biondo, Wafula P’Khisa, Anitha Devi Pillaii in General Poetry.
 
Besides, Poetry in Translation by Danijela Trajković, Ranco Pavlovic, Nenad Trajković and Dorde Sibinovic.
 
Visual arts by Gianpiero Actis.
Thank You,
Editor-in-chief.

Advaitam Speaks Literary- Vol.1 Issue 3-October 2017

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We are really happy to inform you that Advaitam Speaks Literary October 2017 issue is finally live !!
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We are little late this time and we are really apologetic about it.
But, we are really happy with the output and we believe, you will not be disappointed by our efforts.
This issue has tried a few things new in terms of cover design and overall aesthetics. Thanks to our young member Moni Kundal Bora for the beautiful Cover Design and Page Layout !
The October Issue features :
John Guzlowski, David Ades & Leslie Ades, Sukrita Paul Kumar, Z.M.Wise of Transcendent Zero Press, Indunil Madhusankha, Biswamit Dwibedy, Daginne Aignende, Rony Nair, Christine Tabaka, Ajmal Khan, Ryan Quinn Flanagan, Nyamu KJ, Nalini Priyadarshni, Nivee Narsapur, Mariela Cordero, Elizabeth Mariani, Adhikari Sudeep, Jyotirmaya Thakur, Joan McNerney, Carl Scharwath, Cheshta Rajora, Rajnishmishravns Varanasi, Ilhem Issaoui, The Espresso Effect by Iris Orpi and Sunshine Plata and Kabir Deb and Kyle Hemmings.
Happy Reading !!

 

Advaitam Speaks Literary : Vol. 1-Issue 2-August 2017-Emerging Voices Special Edition

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‘Emerging Voices’ Special Edition of Advaitam Speaks Literary : Vol. 1-Issue 2-August 2017:

Hello World,

We are really glad to announce that the Special Inaugural Issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary journal for Emerging Voices is now available for our readers on issuu. It feels amazing to bring out this special issue with so many fresh voices from around the world. We are thankful to our contributors, mentors, readers and well-wishers for making this journey memorable.

Thank you for your patience and love

.#advaitamspeaks #advaitamspeaksliterary #advaitamspeakslit #litespeaks

Diana McWilliams, Dennis Andrew Aguinaldo, Benard Mujuni, Payal PhukanAnkit Mishra, Eanna Roberts, Dusk VersesAngel EdwardsAngel EdwardsDr. Brajesh Kumar Gupta “Mewadev”Anthony WatkinsSatarupa Mishra, Dirk Sandarupa, Kavya NeogDurgesh VermaSithuraj Ponraj, Ruth Elwood, Subroto Sinha, Sutanuka GhoshSourav Biswas, Ava Goodman, Samyabrata Mukherjee.

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Call For Submissions (Deadline 31 st August 2017)

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Hello World,

Greetings from New Delhi !

Right now, I am overwhelmed with the kind of enthusiastic response I am getting from across the world to the Inaugural Issue of Advaitam Speaks Literary, An international journal of Poetry, Poetics and Visual Arts. Thank you all for the same.

You can have a look at the Inaugural Issue here :

https://issuu.com/advaitamspeaksliterary/docs/advaitam_speaks_literary_vol._1_iss

We are accepting submissions for the October Issue of ASL journal. Before submitting please go through the detailed guidelines here:

https://advaitamspeaksliterary.wordpress.com/submission/

For those, who would like to know more about our Journal, please visit the links below. Besides, we do not mind if you find some minutes out of your busy schedule to visit the FB page,Google +, Instagram as well as LinkedIn Profiles of ASL journal. Here they are :

https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1797025530584284

https://plus.google.com/107989549630393542416

https://www.instagram.com/advaitamspeakslit/

https://www.linkedin.com/in/advaitam-speaks-literary-b14059143

 

Thank you again for your love and support !

Regards,
Debasish Parashar,
Founder/Publisher/Editor-in-Chief