Publication Forecast: Spring 2015

It’s been a while since my last post, even though I told myself I’d post at least once a month–otherwise, why have an online presence at all? While I have a moment free from grading and proofing, however, I want to take the chance to announce some upcoming publications and recognize some of the journals that have accepted my work since my last update:

1. Structo: Over the winter months, I had the opportunity to work with Euan Monaghan, Matthew Landrum, and the staff of Structo, a literary journal based out of the United Kingdom. Structo is the first journal to accept a poem out of my masters thesis, a translation of the Thai poet Sunthorn Phu. These editors floored me with how much attention they paid to making sure the accompanying original Thai text and English transliteration were perfect, even doing their own research into Thai prosody before getting their approval from me.

The issue launched two weeks ago in Oxford and is available for purchase here. It will be available to read digitally free of cost in three months, but don’t wait to see “Part & Cross” and the other works featured inside! Structo ships internationally for only seven pounds, including S&H, which I think is a steal.

2. RHINO: RHINO is a venerable, long-running journal based out of Evanston, Illinois, immediately north of my own Chicago. They are the second journal to except a poem from my translation of Sunthorn Phu’s Poems from the Buddha’s Footprint. The next issue should be released shortly, with an audio clip of me reading the poem on the RHINO website within the next few months.

3. Pilgrimage: I met Juan and the staff of Pilgrimage towards the end of last year’s AWP conference in Seattle, where I won their impromptu haiku contest. I’m ecstatic to have my first prose piece (though it began as an attempt at a prose poem) in their upcoming “Sleep and Dream”-themed issue, which they are expecting in time for this year’s AWP! It’s an amazing way for things to come full circle for me.

4. Words Without Borders: Finally, I want to thank Rachel Morgenstern-Clarren, editor at Words Without Borders, for giving me the opportunity to talk about my personal history with Sunthorn Phu, Thailand’s national poet, in this article, and to showcase some pictures I took in Bang Saen, the seaside town where my Thai relatives live, and where Phu once nearly drowned when he was a young man.

As a writer, I’m always grateful for opportunities to be read in print, and want to do my part in promoting these publications–not only to showcase my own work, but the work of all the other artists who appear alongside me, as well as the dedication of each publication’s production staff. Every step of the publication process is a group endeavor, and we all need each other. And you, too, dear reader.

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Having Two Hearts: A Reality in the Age of Internet Dating?

What some ancient literature can teach us in the age of internet dating

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Wantong with Khun Chang.

One of the benefits of reading widely in world literature is that it offers different perspectives on life’s archetypal problems. When it comes to the matter of love, the paradigm suggested by many European folk- and fairy tales, especially in their pop culture, Disneyfied renditions–that of a single person whom everyone is destined to be with–leaves me feeling cold. Perhaps I’m a cynic, but especially in this age of online dating–in which an individual’s dating pool spans not just a city or state, it seems, but the whole world–I’d like to present the character of Wantong from the Thai folk-epic Khun Chang Khun Phaen as a model for love and relationships.

Based on an oral tradition dating back to at least the sixteenth century and then transformed into its current, written form in the court of King Rama II in the early eighteenth, the main conflict in KCKP revolves around the rivalry of its two titular characters over a woman, the lovely but “two-hearted” Wantong. Although she initially chooses the dashing Khun Phaen as her husband and spurns the advances of his crude and homely rival, over the course of the tale and due to various circumstances–Khun Chang’s connivance once, Khun Phaen’s infidelity another time–she switches back and forth between the two men. Finally, in a climax that has been called “ambiguous” and is rather shocking, Wantong is executed by the king of the area when the matter is brought before him and, asking Wantong to choose between the men, it is revealed that she cannot.

Dramatic? Perhaps, but Wantong’s predicament strikes a chord with me in this age of Grindr, Tinder, OkayCupid, Jack’d, Woof, VGL–all and sundry dating applications. After years of using such programs myself, I’ve grown to know a handful of men around the country, even around the world, and each one of them seems suitable for me in his own right; each one has dating potential of his own. So what distinguishes one man from another? I hate to admit it, but could the deciding factor be as simple as this: which one I find myself in closest proximity to first? Or as in Wantong’s case: Which one is most appropriate and practical for me at a certain point in my life?

Given the choice, how could anyone choose? The king’s decree in the story feels so stern to me largely because it presupposes–and imposes–a binary: you either want this man or this one. But is desire itself so clean-cut?

Shakespeare poses a similar question in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The principal characters in this play, the four lovers Hermia, Helena, Demetrius, and Lysander, are almost interchangeable with each other; none of their characters stands out very much from the rest. So what is it about Hermia that makes both Lysander and Demetrius appeal for her hand in marriage at the beginning of the play and not Helena’s? Why is it Hermia wants Lysander and not Demetrius? It takes the intervention of the Fairy King, Oberon, his trickster-servant Puck, and the juice of a magical love plant to sort out this web of longing.

And perhaps that’s the element I’m missing: that mysterious and unknowable, supremely irrational, force of attraction that does, in fact, make a single person seem obvious beyond all others. Perhaps I’m too cerebral, too cynical, to coldly methodical in my assessment of romance to feel it right now. Perhaps because I haven’t met the right person, I only believe in right person. (Which is much more to the point, since even at its busiest my love life is mostly tepid.) But right now, love to me seems more practical than not, a calculated act of deciding and negotiating who’s best at any one point in time: that there could be any number of “right” guys for one person. Does this make me insincere in my feelings–if I can talk to multiple men in different parts of the country at the same time, knowing that any one could be a great boyfriend, and that I just need opportunity to decide? Am I “two-hearted” as the epic calls the poor, vilified Wantong? Perhaps her shame is mine, too.

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NEWS: Lunch Ticket Announces Inaugural Gabo Prize Winner and Finalists

Lunch Ticket, Antioch University’s online review of “writing, art, and social justice,” launched its Winter/Spring 2015 issue today, and announced Noh Anothai as the winner of its inaugural Gabo Prize for Translation and Multilingual Texts.

“Thailand is no stranger to violent conflict, and Noh Anothai’s translations of poems by Naowarat Phongphaiboon, Phaiboon Wongdesh, and Chindana Pinchleo from the mid-1970s speak to current struggles as much as they do to the nation’s past,” said Jennifer McCharen, Lunch Ticket’s translation editor. “[Anothai] brings these three poems from Thai into English with skill and grace.”

Finalists for the Gabo prize were Derek Mong and Anne O. Fisher, who translated five poems from the Russian by Maxim Amelin, and Samantha Pious translating from the Occitan of Bieiris de Romans.

The work of all four translators and their authors’ originals can be read free-of-charge here.

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Coming Soon: Lunch Ticket #6

Winter/Spring 2015 issue to further journal’s mission of publishing under-privileged voices; features inaugural translation prize winners

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Eghosa Raymond Akenbor, cultural, 2014 (detail)

The latest issue of Lunch Ticket, Antioch University’s online review of “writing, art, and social justice,” officially launches tomorrow, Friday, December 12th. Its release seems particularly timely in light of the recent social foment gripping the nation; in his forward to the issue, editor-in-chief David Bumpus reaffirms the journal’s mission “to publish work by under-privileged voices” and reminds us that “being an ally is not sitting idly by for whatever.”

Much of the work featured in this new issue seems to speak directly to the civil unrest of the past few months. I wonder how much of this is intentional and how much the topic, so current to our immediate historical moment, assumes a heightened relevance when it appears in art and literature–even when it comes from different political and historical contexts. That’s the case with the three Thai poems I translated for the issue: they were written in response to the events of October 14th, 1976, in Bangkok, when student protestors demanding government reform clashed with military and police forces, but reviewing them in wake of the actions taking place in Ferguson, which is only 25 minutes from me, and around the country, the poems seem to transcend the particularities of their origins and speak instead to the universal struggle for social equity–as the Thai poet Naowarat Phongphaiboon does in “Merely a Movement” when he declares:

“When the chains that hold gates shut are thrashed,/mighty is the clamor of suffering.”

The latest issue of Lunch Ticket also features the winners of the Diana Woods Memorial Award in Creative Nonfiction as well as those for the first-ever Gabo Prize for Translation and Multilingual Texts.

A huge “thank you” to the editors and staff of Lunch Ticket for producing the journal and especially to assistant editor Allie Batts for introducing it to me! As I mentioned, the latest issue will not officially launch until tomorrow, but in the meantime you can check out the summer/fall 2014 edition. Highlights from that issue for me were T.A. Noonan‘s strikingly original, and unabashedly not-your-grandfather’s, translation of Horace, and three poems translated from the Korean of Kim Ayung Won by EJ Koh.

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Twenty-five, poem by Noh Anothai (Mythic Poetry Series)

Twenty-five, poem by Noh Anothai (Mythic Poetry Series).

I woke up this morning to my first digital publication: “Twenty-five” went live as part of Silver Birch Press’s Mythic Poetry Series, which I’ve followed since it began in October, with art by Jasper Johns.

In this eclectic series, poets were asked: “What myth tells your story? What fairy tale continues to inspire you? What fable resonates with you?” The best part is that, besides the poem itself, SBP allowed me to attach a rather extended author’s note, which I believe enhances the reading. Follow the link above to find both poem and note, and please share and comment if you enjoy.

In addition, I also enjoyed these poems from the series: this one on Semele and this one on the Norse goddess Sif.

Thank you to Silver Birch Press for the opportunity!

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Coming Soon: A Triptych in The Raintown Review

I tend to identify with female characters in myth and literature, and to scenes that portray them in various attitudes of love–whether pining or uncertain, fearful or dismissive. One figure to whom I keep returning over and over again is Shakuntala, heroine of the famous Sanskrit drama of the same name. Cursed to be forgotten by her husband, Shakuntala loses the ring that can restore his memory while washing in the river…

I was imagining this scene one night during my last year as an undergraduate–the dense jungle, the sluggish river, the tremendous heat of an Indian summer–when these words came to me: “The day is hot, almost unbearably so…” Now, years later, a descendant of the resulting poem–along with two others–is being published as a triptych by The Raintown Review in issue 12.2, which will be available soon.

Edited by the estimable Anna Evans and Quincy R. Lehr, the Review was established in 1997, making it one of the longest-running print journals with “a preference for formal/metrical poetry.” As a poet who tends towards the traditional, I’ve long eyed this journal, and felt something comforting about its presence in an aesthetic environment that, in some circles, seems lukewarm towards my sensibilities.

“Love Scenes from Thai Literature” won’t be available for another few weeks, but in the meantime, take a look at The Raintown Review’s back issues, or its editors’ latest books, both released within the past year: Anna’s collection of sonnets Sisters & Courtesans (White Violet Press)–I have it on Kindle–and Quincy’s Heimat (CreateSpace).

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SAFTACast Episode 18 Goes Live

As promised in my last post, my chat with Scott Fynboe for the Sundress Academy for the Arts’ regular podcast series was uploaded on Wednesday. You can download or stream the interview by following this link: Episode 18 – Noh Anothai!

A huge “thank you” to Scott and SAFTA for the opportunity!

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