If you enjoy reading Electric Literature, join our mailing list! We’ll send you the best of EL each week, and you’ll be the first to know about upcoming submissions periods and virtual events.
1. Motoyuki Shibata, the editor of Monkey Business, & Ashley Martin, the Assistant Editor of A Public Space. Notice Shibata’s supercool sweatshirt, which was a gift from reader Rebecca Brown. 2. Zack Zook of Book Court & Anne McPeak, the Managing Editor of A Public Space.
Five years ago, A Public Space launched their very first issue, which included a special Japan portfolio. Motoyuki Shibata was the co-editor of this portfolio and so the seeds for collaboration were planted, from which Monkey Business in English has naturally evolved. We celebrated at Book Court last night, complete with Monkey Business-brand wine (which is not endorsed by the lit mag).
Shibata explained that translator Ted Gloossen had a part in the coming together of the English version: “I just have bad friends who are good at talking me into doing the things they want,” he said.
1. Sayaka Toyama, a writer, & Izumi Tsuboi, a graphic designer. 2. Katie Assef, the event planner for A Public Space, & her sister Jenny.
Hiromi Kawakami read a section from “People From My Neighborhood” about a dog principal, which talked about giving chicken bones as love tokens. Then Gloossen read his translation.
Steve Erickson read from his novel “The Sea Came in at Midnight,” which included an awesome scene involving wasabi.
Minoru Ozawa read and then explained five haikus, with the help of an interpretor. My favorite? “A fluffy baby owl/buffeted by the wind.”
1. Hiromi Kawakami, doing her thing. 2. Minoru Ozawa, who read his haikus in Japanese, with Ted Goossen, who read the haikus in English.
Rebecca Brown read from “The End of Youth.” Or rather, she read a line in English, and then Motoyuki Shibata read the same line in Japanese. The result was energetic and moving.
Hideo Furukawa read “Monsters” a paragraph at a time in Japanese, followed by Shibata acting as translator. Furukawa’s reading style was dramatic and remarkable, and the reading culminated with the two readers reading the same sections simultaneously. It was difficult to decipher the actual words that were being said, but it didn’t matter because their performance was so engaging.
1. Reader Hideo Furukawa, looking fresh. 2. Marisa Crawford, Matt L. Rohrer, & Steven Karl. Rohrer and Crawford edit Small Desk Press, Crawford’s book, The Haunted House, was just published by Switchback Books, and Karl writes for Coldfront.
One of my professors once told me that good writing will be able to convey the subject matter no matter if the reader speaks the same language as the author. While I can’t say that this theory proved to be exactly true at this reading, it was still very cool to be able to hear the original work by the original author in their original words, regardless of if I understood them. And as McPeak said, it is very unusual indeed for translations to be in real time — that is, published in translation at the same time as their originals. Simultaneous publication helps solve one of the problems that a lot of people have with translations in the first place.
And if Monkey Business still isn’t cool enough for you? $3 of the $12 cover price goes to the Japan Relief fund.
–Julia Jackson is working on her MFA in fiction at Brooklyn College, and is a regular contributor for Electric Dish.