Parallel translations always bring a certain kind of joy. I have fond memories of reading Pablo Neruda for the first time, original text on the left, English translation on the right. Feeling out the Spanish sounds out loud with no understanding, then checking the following page and finding that sweet intersection, where sound precedes meaning and then adds to it. The musicality of poetry is obvious when you have the two parts of a poem – sound and meaning – separated onto two sides of a page.
Enter Mither Tongue, a collection of translations of the Chinese poet Jidi Majia, and one that I would struggle to call parallel. Perhaps it’s better named triangular translation, three versions of the same poem dancing across the page. Jidi’s original at the back, English on the left by Denis Mair, and a dialect of Scots on the right.
Ryan Dennis is a former Fulbright Scholar in Creative writing, and has taught at several universities. He recently completed a PhD at the National University of Ireland, Galway. His work has been published in a number of journals, including the Cimarron Review, The Threepenny Review, and Fusion. He is also a syndicated columnist in various agricultural journals around the world. His first novel, The Beasts They Turned Away, was published by Époque Press in March 2021, and follows an aging farmer facing adversity as he tries to hold onto both his farm and the young boy he takes care of.
The old man and the young boy, struggling to make their way through an unforgiving environment. It’s a story you’ve heard before, likely read and enjoyed before, but in Ryan Dennis’s debut, The Beasts They Turned Away, everything familiar is made eerily different.
There’s something unnerving about historical fiction that feels like it could have played out just the same today. Though set in a tumultuous Nigeria in the 1980s, Ogadinma’s themes are sadly, infuriatingly, entirely too relevant today. After a rape turns into an unwanted pregnancy, which in turn is resolved with a dangerous and illegal abortion, seventeen-year-old Ogadinma is forced to leave her home in Kano to live with her aunt and uncle in Lagos. This is the preferable outcome, as opposed to some hurried marriage to bury the shame of the situation – because, of course, it is Ogadinma’s shame to carry, not that of her rapist. Lagos in turn represents new ground and opportunities, and a chance to fall in love; but this veneer is rapidly shattered as the many ways men can control women in this society are put on display.
Zoë Wells was the Head Editor of Kamena Magazine from 2018-2019, during which time it was shortlisted for a STACK Student Magazine of the Year Award. The following are archived versions of the editions she compiled, designed and typeset:
Writers are creatures of comfort, rituals and rhythms that we are loathe to break. There’s a fair logic behind many of these: getting stuck with writers’ block is a nightmarish hell, akin to having all your sinuses block up simultaneously while also being creatively constipated. These little tricks are our last defence against the dark. Continue reading →
With the polar vortex in full swing stateside and temperatures in the UK looking not dissimilar to my current bank balance, the release of Caroline Lea’s Icelandic ghost story/murder mystery, The Glass Woman, could not have come at a better time.
The division between STEM and Art is often explained by something inherent, something natural, not nurtured. That some people have logical brains that can compute large amounts of data, and some people have artistic brains that output illogical, beautiful creations into the world. Some people are right-handed, some left; some people are scientists, some are artists. That it has nothing to do with want and everything to do with natural talent.
This idea is poisonous, not least in the fact that it grossly oversimplifies the human experience, but also in that it’s so wrong it stops us thriving in our chosen careers. Continue reading →