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Interlitq opens the door to the Spanish-speaking world

One of the things that keeps me too busy to blog often here is my work with The International Literary Quarterly, also known as Interlitq. One of the exciting developments with the literary journal over the past year is the inclusion of more works by authors writing in Spanish, such as Argentine writers María Teresa Andruetto, Marcelo Cohen, Eugenio Conchez, Patricia Delmar, María Negroni and Ana María Shua; Chilean writers Carla Guelfenbein, Lina Meruane, Hernán Neira, Nicolás Poblete, Cynthia Rimsky, and Mauricio Wacquez; as well as works in Spanish by Luis
, Rubén Dario and Rosalia de Castro.

The interest in Spanish-language literature stems from the fact that several members of Interlitq’s editorial board have ties to Latin America. Founding Editor & President Peter Robertson has been resident in Spain and Argentina for the last fifteen years and is also starting to spend more time in Monterrey, Mexico; Beatriz Hausner (the General Editor) is originally from Chile; consulting editor María Teresa Andruetto as well as assistant editors Eugenio Conchez and Patricia Delmar are all Argentines. And, of course, I am an American based in Argentine and serve Interlitq in the capacity of Deputy General Editor.

A visit over to Interlitq’s Palermo offices, just around the corner from Parque Las Heras, finds Peter Robertson availing himself of a lull in frenetic activity to sip a glass of Malbec as he describes the shift in direction for Interlitq, “While as many as 84% of our readers come from the U.S., Interlitq now has one eye firmly trained on literature being written in Spanish. Publishing extensively in Spanish was just a matter of time for us. While we will continue to publish literature in many different languages, Interlitq now perceives itself as being essentially a bilingual publication, in English and in Spanish. And let me be clear that Interlitq is interested not only in publishing established authors writing in Spanish but also new, unheralded voices. To this end, a few weeks ago we initiated an open submissions policy at Interlitq, so that everyone, whether writing in Spanish or in English, is welcome to send us their work for appraisal”.

In June 2011 Interliq will publish a major feature on Panamanian literature. Robertson explains, “This venture is very exciting for us as it will be our first major feature in Spanish. And so far I am delighted to confirm that the prose writers: Lissete Lanuza Sáenz, Gloria Melania Rodríguez, Lili Mendoza, Annabel Miguelena V., Klenya Morales, Roberto Pérez Franco, Melanie Taylor and Carlos Wynter Melo; and the poets Javier Alvarado, Magdalena Carmargo Lemieszek, Edilberto González Trejos, Eyra Harbar, Gorka Lasa Tribaldos, Salvador Medina Barahona and Javier Romero Hernández have all committed to this project”.

Preparing to return to the task of evaluating texts for possible inclusion in Interlitq, Robertson winds up by saying, “With all of these writers on board, this Panamanian feature will set the stage for further features to be published by us in Spanish. Furthermore, we at Interlitq are fascinated by the idea of cultural intersections and linguistic confluences; for example, showcasing the writing, in both English and Spanish, coming out of New York would certainly make for a fascinating project. And, while we did already publish a feature on Miami in Issue 13 of Interlitq (“15 Miami Poets”) we would be interested in the possibility of returning to that city later in 2011, so as to provide Miami with a more extensive platform for its anglophone and hispanophone voices, and its ethnically diverse artwork”.

Interlitq always has aimed at publishing works in more than English. The most notable example is the Volta project featuring one poem along with its translation into more than 90 languages.

The International Literary Quarterly is a not-for-profit corporation (New York) and was founded in 2007. For details about submissions, whether in Spanish or in English, please see the guidelines.

A Buenos Aires – Glasgow literary connection

Having returned earlier this month to Glasgow, the city of his birth, to attend the launch event for 40 Glasgow Voices, published recently in Issue 10 of The International Literary Quarterly or, as it is otherwise known, Interlitq (, Peter Robertson, the Argentine-based publisher and founding editor of the review, acknowledges that this feature, showcasing Glasgow’s contemporary literary talent, and complemented by images from the Cranhill Arts Centre’s Glaswegians Photo Archive, is a literary venture close to his heart.

The “40 Glasgow Voices” launch event on April 8th, 2010 with writers (from left to right) Sue Reid Sexton, Jane Goldman, Laura Muetzelfeldt, Peter Robertson, Ewan Morrison, Gerrie Fellows, Donal McLaughlin, and Claire Quigley

“My goal is to ensure that Glasgow’s eclectic, and often edgy, literature receives the international exposure that it deserves and, considering Interlitq’s scope and burgeoning readership, I am confident that the review is a perfect vehicle for achieving such an objective.”

Transcending the unquestionable talent of the city’s multitudinous literary voices, as evidenced by contributions from the feature’s masterful exponents of prose, poetry, literary criticism and translation, there is another, more personal, reason why Peter Robertson has selected Glasgow as the focus for the first of several major features that Interlitq will be publishing this year, with the spotlight shifting to Miami and New Zealand later in 2010.

“Glasgow is where I will always have my roots. Even though I left the city when I was eleven, and have lived in many different countries, and indeed continents, having been based now in Argentina for more than ten years, I do identify with what I regard as a recurring attribute of the Glaswegian personality, that fusion of bonhomie and doughtiness”“there can be a real warmth underlying an indomitable fighting spirit.”

And yet, perhaps this combative quality that Peter Robertson refers to is not so much his ancestral inheritance, but rather a trait that the circumstances of his early life forced him to acquire.

“My father, who had overcome poverty, founded companies and was successful in business for a number of years that coincided with my childhood. My early life in Glasgow was, in a sense, idyllic. We lived in a big house in Bearsden and belonged to a close-knit local community that was a social enclave, and very much its own world. And then came the collapse of everything, suddenly I didn’t have a father, and we had to move to the less salubrious south of the city. Initially an outsider in a hostile environment, I was conscious, at a relatively young age, of a collision of cultures. But there was much that was to prove humanizing about this other environment, and I came to see that, had my cocooned and privileged life continued, it might well have been too narrow. I do believe that there is considerable strength in diversity, in the rejection of narrow allegiances, and I like to think that this cherished value of mine permeates Interlitq.”

Returning to Glasgow this early spring, and retracing the streets of his childhood, Peter Robertson is buoyed up by the fact that, having successfully profiled the work of 40 Glasgow Voices in The International Literary Quarterly, he has not only found an effective way to reconnect with the city through its literary voices, but he has also been in a position to give something back to the city that shaped him. “I have been able to provide Glasgow with this platform from which to project itself internationally, and this feels to me like one way of paying what I consider to be a long-standing debt of gratitude.”

As he leaves Glasgow behind him once again, to return to London, and then to Argentina, Peter Robertson is well aware that the “Glasgow Voices” have long formed a continuum that he will never be able to silence. Indeed, all these years he has been engaged in an internal dialogue, by turns reassuring and unnerving, with such a chorus. And so it is not so surprising that many years later, and from a vastly different continent, he has returned to the city of his birth to validate those voices that, far from home, will always linger.

It’s another Borges birthday

Time to pause and read a bit of Borges on the 110th anniversary of his birth in Buenos Aires: August 24, 1899.

If you’re not sure where to start, here’s my top 10 stories by Borges, part of a series of posts I wrote back in 2006: 30 Days with Borges.

The “lovecraft” of reading in Argentina

I ventured inside a bookstore on Av Las Heras and was surprised to see on the front table an unexpected set of fiction works: a 3 volume collection of stories by H.P. Lovecraft (here in Spanish translation, of course).

The front tables in bookstores are usually reserved for the books that are highly promoted. Actually, in the U.S. publishers often pay booksellers for that space, especially at the big chain stores. That might very well be true at the chains here, such as El Ateneo & Cúspide. But I felt a bit of joy that a bookstore in Buenos Aires (or anyplace) featured Lovecraft so prominently.

Sidenote: Yesterday, August 20 was the 119th anniversary of Lovecraft’s birth.

Literature, traveling, & the artwork of Kenneth Draper & Jean Macalpine

Casual conversations often lead to unexpected discoveries. The other day I walked over to Palermo to have coffee with Peter Robertson and talk about future plans for The International Literary Quarterly (interlitq). We had just finished releasing issue 7. Even though Peter and I both live in Buenos Aires, we edit and prepare each issue virtually via e-mail and transferring files around the net. So getting together to talk in person is a rare treat.

Among the news Peter had for me was that Alain de Botton was joining the board of consulting editors for interlitq. And since this is more or less a travel blog, I must mention that Alain de Botton’s excellent book The Art of Travel should be read by all travelers.

Artists on Menorca

Speaking of traveling, Peter told me about a recent trip to the island of Menorca. When I lived in Miami Beach, I had a roommate from Menorca. (A shout out to Carmen wherever she may be today.) Anyway, Peter was on Menorca to to meet Kenneth Draper & Jean Macalpine, who will be guest artists for upcoming issues of interlitq. I had to admit that I wasn’t familiar with their artwork but after viewing the websites of Kenneth Draper and Jean Macalpine I’m delighted to become acquainted with this “new” discovery.

Draper’s work is a wonderfully colorful collection of mixed media art and Macalpine creates fantastic hand toned photographs. You have to visit their websites: Kenneth Draper and Jean Macalpine.

Peter sent along this photo of him with Draper in Menorca.

Kenneth Draper & Peter Robertson in Menorca

Draper is a very recognized artist. He is a Royal Academician, which is something quite important and evidently Brits know what the letters RA signify after a person’s name, but most of us Americans are clueless about those initials. RA signifies that one is a member of the Royal Academy of Arts, and Ken Draper has his own page on the Royal Academy site.

While Draper & Macalpine have exhibited in London, they regularly sell their work to international private clients, and are now keen to give exhibitions on the Iberian peninsula and thereby, through their art, transmit the unique and ravishing beauty of Menorca to those living on the Spanish mainland.

Keep your eyes on the interlitq blog for announcements about the upcoming issues of interlitq featuring the artwork of Kenneth Draper & Jean Macalpine.

Now, Ceci & I just need to figure out how to work out a visit to Menorca into our travel plans.

Writing matters

Just an update on some writing things involving some expats that have a home in Buenos Aires….

Peter Robertson & I have released the latest issue of The International Literary Quarterly. Lots of good poetry, stories, & essays in this issue.

Maya Frost is on a tour of the U.S. to promote her book “The New Global Student: Skip the SAT, Save Thousands on Tuition, and Get a Truly International Education“. Follow Maya’s blog for updates from the road. I’m enjoying her video interviews with her editor, agent, & others.

A huge congrats out to Ellen Bryson for signing with the highly respected Henry Holt & Co to publish her debut novel Hungry next year. We’re very excited about that.

I’m sure there are a lot of others out there writing and publishing, but those are just a few I know personally. If anyone knows other expats in Argentina that are publishing, please leave comments and links.

Ghosts may be easier to find in the U.S. than in Buenos Aires

Ever since hearing that New Directions Publishing was releasing an English translation of César Aira’s Los Fantasmas (Ghosts) in 2009, I’ve been searching Buenos Aires bookstores for a version of the Spanish edition.

As with some of my previous attempts in searching for a specific book in Spanish by a well-known author in Buenos Aires, I have been without luck. No Los Fantasmas by Aira to be found anywhere that I’ve seen. Well, fortunately, there’s plenty more Aira to keep me busy.

At least those of you in the U.S. are in luck and can look forward to encountering Ghosts soon. Here’s a review by the folks at Complete Review.

(via Conversational Reading)

Argentine writers to read in Spanish (& maybe in English someday)

Wandering the bookstores in Buenos Aires, looking for good fiction by an Argentine writer but you’re already read enough of Borges, Bioy, & Cortazar? A local foundation has compiled a catalog of 30 writers. And thanks to a blog in the U.S. devoted to literary translations, you can download the excellent catalog prepared by Fundación TyPA: 30 Great Authors from Argentina.

The PDF is in English and is being used to promote Argentine writers to an international audience and, hopefully, some more Argentine writers will end up with their works translated.

Fundación TyPA does have a page on their web site about the recent presentation of this catalog, but oddly no link from their site to the actual catalog. If you don’t want to download the PDF, they do provide this list.

Happy reading!

If only the anti-Chavez forces don’t kill me,

I was wakened from a dream the other morning….Ceci and I were visiting a small gathering spot, some type of bar or cafe that our friend Nestor had recommended…..leave it to him to find such a place… Everything was cool…at one point, we learned that it was a popular hangout for Hugo Chavez….were we back in Venezuela?…I went outside for a moment and then saw a tank and another car pull up. I thought, “Surely they wouldn’t attack a place with so many civilians.” The driver of the car put down his peanut butter sandwich (in Venezuela?) and picked up the mic of a radio. I dashed through the doorway as shots were fired into the back of the building. Everyone inside scattered for cover. I saw Ceci run from the couch and hide in a trash can. I ran to her, but didn’t fit inside the can. My hiding spot was a silver metal cabinet sitting nearby. I squeezed inside, fearing for my life. Everything became quiet except for a song, Nick Cave singing, “I don’t need no crappy, long, complex novel about London.

I thought to myself, in that defining moment of dream life “If only I make it through this, I can finish my novel and it doesn’t need to be crappy, long, or complex.”

Ceci then woke me up.

a story

My short story, “Forever Unaware”, was recently published in Paradigm.

Update (2014): the links are no longer active.

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