In mid-December molossus put out a call for less restrictive lists of books that have inspired its contributors during 2013. Here are the first two, by translators Piotr Florczyk and Anthony Seidman.
Piotr Florczyk, poet, critic, and translator from the Polish:
This was a good year for reading and for writing, meaning, it was no better or worse than any other year. Full disclosure: I read way too many books, too many, in fact, to remember them all, but here is a handful that have stuck with me for one reason or another:
1) Robin Davidson. Luminous Other: Poems (Ashland Poetry Press, 2013)
2) Paul Vangelisti. Wholly Falsetto With People Dancing (Otis/Seismicity, 2013)
3) Grzegorz Wróblewski. Kopenhaga. (trans. Piotr Gwiazda. Zephyr Press, 2013)
4) David Shook. Our Obsidian Tongues: Poems (Eyewear, 2013)
5) Reiner Kunze. Rich Catch in the Empty Creel (trans. Richard Dove. Green Integer, 2013)
6) Mark Irwin. Large White House Speaking (New Issues, 2013)
7) Hilton Als. White Girls (McSweeney’s, 2013)
8) Sidney Wade. Straits & Narrows: Poems (Persea 2013)
9) Averill Curdy. Song & Error: Poems (FSG, 2013)
10) Louise Steinman. The Crooked Mirror: A Memoir of Polish-Jewish Reconciliation (Beacon, 2013)
11) Katherine Lebow. Unfinished Utopia: Nowa Huta, Stalinism, and Polish Society, 1949-1956 (Cornell Univ. Press, 2013)
12) Miron Białoszewski. Sprawdzone sobą: Wybór wierszy (PWN, 2013)
Anthony Seidman, poet and translator from the Spanish and French:
Around 10 books I have read on both sides of the U.S: – Mexico border, often while inching up to the wastelands of Calexico, or the Jack In The Box in San Ysidro….they are arranged more or less in the order that I purchased and read them….
1) El libro vacio, by Josefina Vicens. Excellent… my second time reading the novel…. still a wonder to read….
2) The Man Who Was Thursday, by G.K. Chesterton. It was no surprise to me when I learned that Alfonso Reyes translated it into Spanish. The odd, dreamy and exact prose of his short story “La Cena” seems to have taken a lot from the Chesterton novel.
3) A mid-century translation into English of Atala And Rene by Chateaubriand…. the translation was executed by Walter J. Cobb. The flora and fauna rustled well in English.
4) The City of Dreadful Night, by James Thomson, the Canongate Classics Edition, published in 1993. Thomson knew of Baudelaire and the urban spleen and ennui long before Eliot. Some of the passages reminded me of the unreal city and yellow fog that would create such a fad a couple generations after the death of Thomson.
5) Benzulul, by Eraclio Zepeda…. this book, like half a dozen other Fondo de Cultura books, was in the bargain bin at the La Ley supermarket during a blazing day in Mexicali…. I even found a hardcover edition of Libertad bajo palabra.
6) A true discovery…. Plagios, by Ulalume Gonzalez de Leon…. the poems playfully lifted from Life magazine were a delight.
7) Volumes 1 and 2 of The Jews of Moslem Spain, by the great Eliyahu Ashtor. Hasdai Ibn Shaprut rediscovered the secret ingredients for making theriaca.
8) I found a lively translation of The Lusiads into English, by Landeg White.
9) The Conquest of America – The Question of the Other, by Tzvetan Todorov. Está cabrón.
10) Everything by Roberto Castillo Udiarte that I could find. I am translating him. He is the algebra and the fire.
11) The most recent issues of Ambit, The Black Herald, Skidrow Penthouse and The Bitter Oleander. Deeply enjoying the translations of Shook and Dralyuk, poems by Rob Cook, Martín Camps, Gaspar Orozco, Heller Levinson, among others.