Thursday, May 5, 2011

Welcome! Ugly Duckling Presse

Pages from Erica Baum's Dog Ear

As our Facebook fans already know, Green Apple recently partnered with Ugly Duckling Presse to bring some of the finest contemporary poetry and artists' books to the Inner Richmond. Although we've long stocked Ugly Duckling's books, many titles are not made available for wide distribution. With this new partnership, however, we'll be carrying at least two copies of each new publication as they become available, as well as select backlist titles, and 6 x 6, a poetry magazine.

To celebrate the inaugural shipment from the Presse's home in Brooklyn's Old American Can Factory, I'd like to highlight some of the compelling books you'll now find on our shelves.

I recommended Christian Hawkey's Ventrakl in our January newsletter and, for the sake of convenience, will repeat myself here. I do not apologize, even if it seems I am belaboring the point:
How does one translate from a language one does not know? In this daring act of literary ventriloquism, Christian Hawkey attempts to answer that question by translating the poems of Georg Trakl, a German poet of some stature who lived in the early part of the 20th century. Through a series of outlandish experiments (including one with w 12-gauge shotgun), Hawkey creates a monstrous, lyrical hybrid of a book: homage, translation, mad genius' memoirs. A remarkably invigorating work.
One of the most exciting and beautiful--and honestly, a book I was desperate to get my hands on--works published this spring by Ugly Duckling is Erica Baum's Dog Ear, a collection of poems created by turning down the pages of old paperbacks. The photograph above (and below, I can't resist) provides a good example of the book and if you're curious, you can see more samples, as well as some of Baum's other projects, here. The brilliance of this collection lies in its utter simplicity and the fruitful, serendipitous juxtaposition of the happy accident.

While I could go on and on, I'll limit myself to one more recent arrival, Uljana Wolf's False Friends, being a German-English dictionary of false friends, true cognates and other cousins, translated from the German by Susan Bernofsky (translator and champion of Green Apple favorite Robert Walser, among others). On Translationista, her blog detailing the art and craft of translation, Ms. Bernofsky describes False Friends as an abecedarian, a poem or series of poems structured around the letters of the alphabet:
Each of the alphabetically inspired prose poems in Wolf's collection is based on words that exist in some form (homonymic, homophonic and/or homographic) in both German and English. Take for example the German word Mist, which translates as "manure." Or Igel, which is pronounced "eagle" and means "hedgehog." In her poems, the words flip back and forth between their English and German meanings, always on the cusp of signifying both at once. This approach results in a wonderfully playful book that also tells a hidden tale: there's a love story secreted between the lines of these poems, which - although written in prose - often slip into an iambic cadence. I liked the book so much that I translated it, even though much of the book's original bilinguality becomes invisible in English, replaced by wordplay of other sorts.

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