We Are Taking to China, part two.

Editor in Chief of Transportation Press, Rachel Edwards, visited China to discuss international publishing collaborations, this is the second installment of her account of the visit.

Day one, part two

Borges wrote (in Spanish) of Canton, that it is “where the river of the Water of Life spills into the sea.” Yet when he wrote he always had the English translation in mind, a beautiful and spacious mindset, yet limiting in its own ways. Borges’ Argentine Spanish, perfect in its very own voluptuous manner, English is so much more prosaic and broad. My first love was Argentinian, his lyrical, seductive Spanish had me at the first syllable. And his eyes, his eyes. But I digress.

Much of the APWT gathering in Guangzhou, formerly known as Canton, revolved around an axis of translation. We heard poets read in their own language, then read their English translation. Nha Thuyen, who runs Ajar Press in Hanoi Vietnam, a stand out.  We heard Chinese writers talk about their work, through translators and we heard Linda Jaivin discuss her circuitous and accidental route (though nothing is an accident, the Taoist in her pointed out) to translation. We heard Sholeh Wolpé transcend so much of the chilly everyday, with her translation of the adored Iranian poet Forugh Farrokhzad. She also read some work from Attar, Sufi mystic, teacher of Rumi, and whose The Conference of the Birds, translated by Sholeh is being released next year.  More on Sholeh in the next post, she is amazing, her poetry and translations, sublime. I am excited to be working with her in future.

Then there were the discussions around cultural translations, the ricochet and dancing much more than the mere technical aspects of poetry and language, and how this is where the true creativity of translation comes in, the true understanding of the power of language. Page Richard, Associate Professor in the School of English at the University of Hong Kong discussed this beautifully. She is also a writer and she works with the HKU Black Box Theatre. She discussed the translation of plays, not in language, but in location, in particular a contemporary play from the US that she had put on in HongKong, but it needed to be changed to suit the location. To stage it as written would have appeared trite in Hong Kong, the oversimplified East/West dynamic was skating precariously when it was performed in the States and could have simply been silly if staged as so in Hong Kong. When performed, the play retained its integrity, the story was told, and the effect it had on audience worked similarly though the geographical location of the performative piece was altered.

She spoke alongside Osamah Sami screenwriter, memoirist, stand up comedian and actor, whose award winning book, Good Muslim Boy was published by Hardie Grant in 2015.  This is a memoir that has been, in a rare literary volte-face, been adapted from a screenplay, where it would normally go the other way around.

Osamah was born in Iran to Iraqi parents, who had left Iran before his birth. His early years were spent growing up as the Iran Iraq war burned around him, and his family came to Australia when he was a teenager, but not before he had witnessed devastation and war at close range. He had replied to AWPT organizer Sanaz Foutohi, herself an Iranian Australian, when she asked how he was, “I am a ball,” – glorious response, but something at only works in Persian, and not at all as a literal translation. He explained that this meant he was full and strong, ready to bounce, but that simply does not work in English. The film of his book from his screenplay is being released next year, ‘Ali’s Wedding’. He explained that the first scene is him taking off in a tractor, the police in hot pursuit. It then cuts to a scene of the actor playing his father being tortured. This is a life translated to screen and I look forward to seeing it.

Rachel received a grant from Arts Tasmania’s ArtsBridge program to visit China.

We Are Taking to China, part one.

Editor in Chief of Transportation Press, Rachel Edwards, visited China to discuss international publishing collaborations, this is the first installment of her account of the visit.

At the other end of the table and at a rakish incline, a double bass leans against the wall, outside there are sounds of sweeping, industrial hammering and birds. The wind that arrives each year from icy Siberia arrived yesterday with a sodden, relentless rain and this morning I accidentally ordered intestine noodles for breakfast. I’m in Guangzhou for the 9th Asia Pacific Writers and Translators (APWT) summit/conference/confab. The sun’s coming up on the apartments opposite where I’m staying with young jazz musicians, a cat in a jumper and a big black dog, too playful for the space. The apartment is up the road from Sun Yat-Sen University where I’ve spent the last two days immersed in discussions, debate, challenges and interviews with other literary activists, writers, translators, editors, event producers from the Asia Pacific Region.

Day one, part one.

There is a bookshop in Guangzhou called Libreria Borges, Institute of Contemporary Art that houses a bookshop dedicated to the French writer Alain Robbe-Grillet and other post ’45 thinkers. The second story of the bookshop is home to Chinese video art (more on this arcane space later). Nicholas Jose, editor of the Macquarie PEN Anthology of Australian Literature and author of novels and short stories opened the conference with a short introduction to APWT and their inception in a thatched hut, in a rice paddy in Bali in 2007. He talked about the flexibility and fluidity of the gatherings that have followed, and that is manifest in the difficulty of naming these gatherings – ‘conference’ is wrong, there is a beautifully collapsed structure, a sharing of information between audience and panelists, not a one way flow, ‘summit’ may work and is used on the program, ‘gathering’, too casual for an event that has had months of planning, organisation, and production. Jose talked about Libreria Borges and about MAK Halliday, a linguist who began his work in China in the 1940s and has a building at Sun Yat-Sen named in his honour. A recent essay of Halliday’s, is called ‘That ‘certain cut’; towards a characterology of Mandarin Chinese’. Jose asked just what would be the ‘cut’ of a literary community, what mixing, what verbal play could define a characterology of such a gathering. A ‘cut and a splice’ he concludes, may be an apt description.

He referred to a recent piece on Time Out Beijing, where experts choose the best Chinese fiction books of the last century. Alongside a number of Chinese writers including Nobel Laureate, Mo Yan and his novel, Red Sorghum, sit JG Ballard for Empire of the Sun, The Good Earth, by Pearl Buck (another Nobel Laureate). This a beautifully inclusive interpretation of ‘Chinese’ novel, anyone is able to write one. The only thing that these books have in common, apart from their setting, is that they are readily available in English translation. Which begs the question, what books were left out of this list?

He talks about the increasing recognition of both Asian writers in the West, and their translators, noting Madeline Thien’s shortlisting for the Booker, and the presence of Han Kang’s translator Deborah Smith alongside her when she was awarded the Man Booker International for her grueling novel The Vegetarian and he reminds us that we must engage as advocates. He has set a perfect, international, warm and distinct tone for us to continue conversations, some of which began for me at APWT summit in Bangkok in 2013, including one with Kulpreet Yadav, editor of Open Road Review, of which I now am the non fiction editor.

The confabulation has begun, this is only the beginning. Where to next?

Rachel received a grant from Arts Tasmania’s ArtsBridge program to visit China.


Farhad Babaei reads from ‘Katrin’

The Third Script includes writers from Tasmania, the UK, and Iran. These writers live in many different countries, and each author has a story of their own, not the story in the collection but their stories as authors. Of the Iranian writers we have featured a solitary author living in Tehran. This contact, touches on precisely why this project started. Outside of politics, and the everyday grind, the things that make us the same are vastly more numerous than the difference – these are bridges that people need to build on. All of our authors have a drive, and a vigor, and a determination to tell a human story, to express something and to reach out. Farhad Babaei, from Tehran does exactly this. Here him read from his story ‘Katrin’ here.

In many way his determination is all the more apparent, having been restricted from publication in his own country due to censorship, he has published three novels abroad. Regardless, the world of his stories is laced with sentiment and feeling that feels in no way alien to readers on the other side of the world. The fact remains that most people are pretty much the same, most people are good. So thank you Farhad Babaei, and thank you to all the brilliant Iranian writers that have featured in this collection.


Lucinda Shannon reads The deal, the deal, the deal

Do you like Vivaldi? Apparently everyone likes Vivaldi… at least that’s what you’ll discover in Lucinda Shannon’s short story. Still, things might not be as they appear, not even with Vivaldi, and the more you read Shannon‘s story the more things begin to appear not as they appear.  Personally, I loath Vivaldi with a passion, but after reading this story even that’s changing…
Shannon is a spoken word artist, a writer, and a musician, from Launceston, Tasmania.  She is the founder of Slamduggery, a spoken word slam night in Launceston. You can hear Lucinda read a section from her story ‘THE DEAL THE DEAL THE DEAL’ here:
Following this proceed to the check out at our website, wipe out your CREDIT, DEBIT, AMEX, OR AMERICAN EXPRESS and purchase a copy of  THE THIRD SCRIPT stories from Iran, Tasmania & the UK . And don’t stop at one,  purchase a dozen, knowing that the money goes straight back into the project, into writers in Tasmania, UK, Iran, and a soon to be announced fourth location.
Go one do it – purchase a copy of THE THIRD SCRIPT. You’ll love it, and we’ll love you for supporting us.

Shirindokht Nourmanesh – May I Have a Word?

Our most recent edition wouldn’t have been possible without the terrific work of Transportation’s Iranian editor, the delightful Shirindokht Nourmanesh: writer, scholar, poet, artist. Shirindokht lectures at San Jose State University in California, and is the author of two collection of short stories published in Persian.
We are rapt to include one of Shrindokht’s stories, ‘May I Have A Word?’ in THE THIRD SCRIPT. This is a beautifully written and moving story. It is profoundly sad. You can hear the story in part, in her own words, here.

Fereshteh Molavi reads from ‘Waxina’

Listen to The Third Script writer, Fereshteh Molavi read from her story, Waxina.

You can buy a copy of this wonderful collection, with new short stories from Iran, Tasmania and the UK, here.
Born in Tehran, Fereshteh Molavi was raised and lived there before moving to Toronto in 1998. While in Iran, she published works of fiction, among them The House of Cloud and Wind, and The Sun Fairy and Other Stories. She also translated many literary works and compiled a comprehensive bibliography of short stories in Persian. A former research librarian and the Persian bibliographer at Sterling Library, Yale University, she has published numerous stories and essays internationally. Her dialogue with Karen Connelly, Listen to the Reed, was published by PEN Canada in 2005. Her recently published books in Tehran include three novels, two collections of short stories, and one collection of essays. One of the novels, The Departures of Seasons, was admired by the Mehregan Literary Award (Tehran, 2012). Due to censorship in Iran, her latest collection of short stories, Stoning of Summer, as well as her collection of essays, Those Years, These Essays, were released in Europe.

We’re announcing details of our next international collaboration soon, in the meantime, grab a copy of The Third Script.

Bert Spinks reads from ‘Watching the Cricket on a Windy Day’

Bert Spinks is a exciting writer, storyteller and bushwalking guide from the North of Tasmania. His writing has featured in a number of superb projects notably  ‘The Field Guide to Falling in Love in Tasmania’ . Bert has also embarked on a multifaceted research project about the Danish adventurer Jorgen Jorgensen, based in Iceland and Tasmania.

You can hear Bert read from one of our favourite short stories here.

To read more of Bert’s work you can visit his website.

He’s also just been published on Open Road Review, South Asia’s leading literature and culture magazine.

If you’d like to read the whole story you can purchase a copy of THE THIRD SCRIPT stories from Iran, Tasmania, & the UK by following this link.




Robbie Arnott reads from ‘The Tiger Quoll’

As part of our series of reading from writers, snippets and pages, we are featuring someone we like to refers to as ‘BLOODY ROBBIE!’, because he is so damn good. Robbie Arnott has a way of nailing a story, and just about anything he turns his hand to. Robbie’s stories have been widely published, in 2014 he won the Scribe Non Fiction prize, and was awarded the Tasmanian Young Writer’s Fellowship in 2015. Robbie has very kindly filmed himself eating a pizza, and reading the first page of his short story ‘The Tiger Quoll’ which is a ripper.

We will soon be launching our third collection, and announcing our next location, to add to Tasmania, UK, and Iran. If you like seeing young writers like Robbie in print we’d ask you to buy a copy (if you haven’t already) and if you have buy one for a friend! Seriously, who needs champagne, chocolate boxes, roses… what better gift than this great collection of short stories. And hell, do like Robbie, read it to pizza.


Amber Wilson reads from ‘Leisureland’

Amber Wilson’s short story ‘Leisureland’ has the feel of a Tasmanian urban, cult classic – it tilts into the weird and wonderful. We are stoked to have this story included in our tales from Tasmania, the UK, and Iran. You can read Amber’s full story, and a loads of others in THE THIRD SCRIPT stories from Iran, Tasmania, & the UK. You can purchase your copy HERE.

Listen to Amber read from her story here.

Transportation Press is fully independent, and we are run by a team of volunteers. We are now in the process of working on the concept for our third collection, which will include a new location. The money we raise from the sales of THE THIRD SCRIPT will go to financing this next collection. This money will also go towards paying our writers for their contribution.



Siamak Voussoughi reads from ‘A War’

We will be posting sound and film files from authors reading from stories that appeared in THE THIRD SCRIPT stories from Iran, Tasmania, & the UK‘. This is an exceptional project, born of a rare collaboration of different places, and people, where every bit of support goes back into the project and future international literary collaborations.

We’d invite you to purchase a copy of THE THIRD SCRIPT. The money we receive from the sales will help to bring together, in our next edition, writers and editors from Tasmania, the UK, Iran, and a fourth location that will soon be announced.

So, listen HERE to Siamak Voussoughi, in the first of our posts, as he reads from ‘A War’. Siamak lives in San Francisco, his short stories have appeared in various journals, and his short story collection ‘Better Than War’ received a 2014 Flannery O’Conner Award for Short Fiction.