Who Won Smoke One?

First prize –
Dalian Blood Futures by Daniel Young
Runners Up
Zoo by Robbie Arnott
and
What is a Hornet by Patrick Lenton

Highly Commendeds
A Transformation by Peter Timms
A World by Jasmine Searle
Lights That Never Go Out by Akis Papantonis
Green by Miriam McGarry
Wishful Thinking by Susan Lloy
Hope Floats by Madeleine Habib
The Expert by Ben Walter
Every Story is a Detective Story by Bella Li
Chasing A Cairo Coffee by Kali Myers
Connect and Divide by Bel Woods
Letter to Genghis by Konrad Muller
Eyelashes by Tania Marlowe
Choked by Matt G Turpin
Do You Mind If (after OW & SB) by Stuart Barnes
Antlers by Andrew Harper
Touch Me Not by Cam Daeng
Oh My Dear Twilight Sparkle How I Love You by Victor Medrano-Bonilla
A Great Weight by Michael Louis Kennedy

 

Order your print copy here
Order your electronic copy here

On Microfiction, by Geordie Williamson

el-greco-st-jerome-scholar
St Jerome as Scholar, El Greco

There were, at last count, almost four and half billion indexed web pages on the Web. Even my smartphone’s Kindle app holds more texts than a Renaissance princeling could have accumulated over a lifetime. We all sense it, don’t we: words marching across every surface and every screen in serried rows, enclosing our attentional commons. All of which makes microfiction – with its resolute brevity, its pinprick epiphanies – nothing less than antidote to the present. The wonder of good microfiction lies nestled in this paradox: that a few, well-chosen words can weigh more than a phone book. Paul Celan called poetry ‘a kind of homecoming’, and in the best microfiction there is a sense of return, too: to first principles, to a sense that there is a craft, valuable in itself, to arranging the right words in the right order – that such passages can be densely packed with allusion and implication, can carry meaning or feeling or insight far beyond the range of the fragment that holds them, not in spite of such concision but because of it. In Weimar Germany hyperinflation became so rampant that people were obliged to carry their Deutschmarks around in wheelbarrows. The price of a cup of coffee would climb even as the patrons of a café drank them down. The only recourse for an economy trapped in such a spiral is to restore confidence in the currency, stripping the banknotes down, starting again from zero. In an age of textual hyperinflation, microfiction attempts a similar trick – generating literature from the miniscule, from the cursor’s virgin blink.

Geordie Williamson is the Editor-at-Large of Island magazine, an author, Picador Publisher and former Chief Literary Critic for The Australian.

Entries for Smoke, international microfiction competition close on May 16.
Enter here.

 

The Big Smoke – Sean Preston

The Big Smoke is what people who are not from London call London. Tadhg Muller is not from London, yet altogether a Londoner. For now that is true geographically, and forever in another way, whether he likes it nor not. I wonder if he ever called us the Big Smoke?

If he did, he probably wouldn’t have called it the Big Smoke in front smoke londonof me. And I wonder if he’d admit using it before he became a Londoner? Probably not. He’s guarded like that.

That guard, the inclination to withhold, an amount of smoke and mirrors, is why it was with some surprise that a few years ago on a circular table, our hands rubbing at pints like potters, he laid out a fiendish plot. He wanted to launch a literary publication that bridged writers between London an
d his homeland Tasmania. Did we have a common message? He wanted to find it. I was unsure. I asked him if he minded if I went for a smoke.

“How long have you smoked for?” he asked on my return.

“Not long. I don’t know. I guess long. 20ish?”

“Ahah.”

“Do you know that Oscar Wilde putdown?” I asked, leaping widly, as I do, “’I don’t care if you…'”

“I think that was Sarah Bernhardt putting the down on Wilde.”

“Oh right. Oh yes.”

Transportation came to be of course. Two anthologies. And they bridge that gap. Not just between London and Tasmania, but Iran too. I edited the London-based writers, and none of them, not even the Tasmanians, ever called London “the Big Smoke”. Writers, I have to admit, on the page, are pretty good at not saying the wrong thing. That’s the craft, right? And not just avoiding the wrong words, but finding the right words? Not just not calling London the Big Smoke, but finding something better. Not for the sake of it. For the sake of clarity. For the sake of saying what we mean, not what other people mean. But not saying too much of what we mean in too obvious a way. Smoke signals work better than HELP! in the sand.

If there’s one form in which you need to make sure you’re saying exactly precisely what you mean, it’s flash fiction short-short stories drabble microfiction.

Tadhg’s not long for London. He’s off. He’s taking to mainland Europe. He likes his wine. I’ll miss him. Or he works in wine. It’s hard to know; he’s guarded. He has an inclination to withhold. Off he’ll go, a magic trick, in a plume of smoke.

ENTER HERE

smoke smoke smoke by tadhg müller

There is some suggestion that no one is quite sure why SMOKE is called SMOKE.

At least that’s what our chief editor Rachel Edwards suggested in a interview with the Australia Broadcasting Commission. There have been some very clever allusions to all sorts of possibilities but as it goes for an origin, they are frankly a load of shit. Everyone involved with Transportation Press, except me, has forgotten the roots, and the roots are pretty simple.   SMOKE comes from the Chinese literary term smoke-long, a term used in reference to fiction of a set length, fiction that can be read in the time that it takes to smoke a cigarette.

Smoke, and the act of smoking, becomes a unit of measurement and the measure is time. And the optimum time? Well that depends on your universal vice, the grams, the make, is there a filter? is the smoke hand rolled? Are you in a rush?, how deep are your lungs?How strong is your heart, are your sober, tired, spent? Standing there reading and dragging on a coffin nail, dart, cigo, durrie, cancer stick, fag, सिगरेट, سیگار, سيجارة, zigarette, धुवाँ, toitíní, fumar – whatever you call it.

The key is the work is started and finished before you butt your smoke and the ashes turn grey, and our chief editor has put that down to roundabout 320 words. Our judge Adam Ouston has put it squarely at a page.

The roll of cigarettes as a measure of time (as devised by some genius in China) also has a more elaborate meaning, it points to a state of reading, a place, maybe a literary terroir (a back door, the gutter, a bench, a lane… etc.), a territory if we can talk of such thing in relation to writing and stories at their most basic. This is a pretty unique space and time to read something within, it is very much one’s own time, short and passing.

This nature can’t help but make one question the natural style for such a work; dissenting, critical, outside the pale, brief and secretive (that is my vision of such a work) – a kind of outlaw literary nature, read on the hop with a fag dangling from your teeth, By its very nature it instills structural boundaries to the work. The length of the work is tight, and the structure must embody the essential characteristic that makes for a story, and the better ones must squeeze into every inhale and exhale the essential characteristics and qualities that are in good stories, until the story doesn’t so much smoke as burn, and burn fucking bright, as bright as an ember in pitch black darkness, at least that what we’d all fight for, and that’s what we’d hope to see.

Enter here.

Tadhg Muller or Müller is a co-founder of Transportation Press and a writer. His novel, Get Fat is currently with a number of publishers. Someone should just publish it, it’s a wild ride. 

 

Judge Adam Smokes

The first thing Muller asked me was what I thought of the name Smoke? Excellent, I said. It’s not fire. It’s not ashes. It’s gone with the wind. There’s something cunning about it: smoke and mirrors. Legerdemain. Something more than meets the eye, like being alone in a room with the sound of someone breathing. Smoke: it gets in you, your clothes reek of it. It curls from a mouth. Put your lips around it. Suck. Three to five minutes outside the fire exit doors that say Alarmed but never are. Why? There’s something more going on here. Cunning. Trickery. Smoke and mirrors. Yes, excellent, I said. And in one of those coincidences that are only permitted by life and never literature, while I spoke to Muller I was holding in my hand Thomas Bernhard’s The Voice Imitator, a collection of 104 single-page stories, some little more than a sentence in length. A story about a dead woman’s mail that keeps arriving. One about a plague and the doctor charged on Christmas Day for the deaths of thousands. In all, twenty-six murders, four disappearances, thirteen instances of lunacy, two of libel, eight suicides. Etc. And each has a secret story. There’s more going on. Maybe a whole book’s worth. In a single page. On the small table beside me, in another one of those life-coincidences, I had Simon Armitage’s Seeing Stars, which was on top of Cortázar’s Cronopios and Famas, which formed a tiny altar beside Bolaño’s Between Parentheses, which lipped up onto Lydia Davis’s Can’t and Won’t, which had as a bookmark a folded print-out of James Kelman’s smoke-long ‘Acid’, which featured Pascal on the reverse in my scratchy hand: ‘I have made this letter longer than usual because I didn’t have time to write a shorter one.’ I could tell Muller was smoking. Long pauses between sentences. Filthy habit. Practically taboo now. And so I told him I thought it was probably a good idea as the flames got higher.

Adam Ouston is the judge of Transportation Press’ international microfiction competition, Smoke. Generously sponsored by Fullers Bookshop, entries are open until May 16. Enter here.
Image – Nusrat Durrani. Things We Lost in the Fire, Jhilmil Breckenridge 

Smoke is live

What is SMOKE?
It’s many things: carbon and other particles suspended in the air, a cloud or a column in the atmosphere, the vapour formed by heat on moisture… a Persian cat, something that sticks out of your mouth, an erstwhile coffin nail, smoke is everything you see in its formless, fluid, manifestations, that make it recognisable.  
Thanks to the generous support of Fullers Bookshop. it’s also our latest project, in the form of an international micro fiction competition that is open to everyone.
There is prize money up for grabs, $400 AUD for the winner and $200 for two runners up. These stories, along with a selection of stories our judge Adam Ouston considers to be highly commendable, will be published in an electronic collection with a limited print run, later in the year.
Smoke,  promises to kick of another vibrant year for Transportation.
How to enter:
Who: Entry is open to everyone.
What: Microfiction, up to 320 words on one page, double spaced, size 12 on any theme. Do not include your name on this document, judging will be blind.
Include a 50 author bio in the body of the email
How: All entries must be emailed to submit@transportationpress.net
The body of the email must include your name, the title of the piece and mention (Paypal or bank account) of how the entry fee was paid.
When: Entries open March 3, 2017 and close at midnight, Tasmanian time, April 30, 2017
Judge:
IMG_1890Adam Ouston

Adam’s story ‘Sodom Syndrome’closed our first anthology, Islands and Cities. His work has appeared in many literary magazines such as The Lifted Brow, Canary Press, Island, Overland and The Review of Australian Fiction, as well as news and culture publications. He is the recipient of the 2014 Erica Bell Literary Award for his manuscript ‘The Party’, which was also shortlisted in the 2015 Tasmanian Premier’s Literary Awards. He lives in Hobart, Tasmania.

FAQ:

Can I submit more than one entry?
Yes, though each entry must be submitted separately and each entry attracts an entry fee.
(these will be added to, as they become frequent)

Sholeh Wolpe and the contemporary essence of Persian poetry

the-conference-of-birds_cover-678x1024Sholeh Wolpe is a wonderful poet and translator, hailing from Iran, currently residing in LA, via the UK and Trinidad, where she was sent to live with her aunt at age 13. Her work, while contemporary, is part of a centuries’ long Persian love and respect for poetry, and in this interview, recorded in Gaungzhou, China late last year, she will tell you of childhood games that even featured poetry.

She is not able to go back to Iran, partly because it would mean giving up citizenship elsewhere, and partly because she translated the powerful, erotically charged poetry of Forough Farrokzhad, a poet, whose words, says Sholeh, unveiled the words of Iranian women. Her new translation, of the twelfth century Sufi Mystic, and teacher of Rumi, (who is incidentally the biggest selling poet in the USA today) Attar’s Conference of the Birds,  will be released from WW Norton this year.

This interview was recorded at Sun Yat Sen University in Guangzhou, where Rachel Edwards, from Transportation Press was attending the Asia Pacific Writers and Translators Conference, as was gorgeous Sholeh.