Listen: Bert Spinks

Bert Spinks

Bert Spinks is a writer, poet, storyteller and bushwalking guide from Tasmania. His work spans a variety of genres, looking at history, geography, travel, politics, culture, beer, and Aussie Rules football.
To find out more about Bert, and to follow him you can go to Bert’s website where there is a stack load of information, and a load of links to thinks he has done is doing and has been a part of.
One thing Bert has something of a reputation for is his prowess at the art of performing and reading a story.
Bert features in our second collection, and we’ve asked him to fire us something over that we can put on our website before we start working to get the funds together to get our third collection out… which is imminent! Details of editors invited writers, and selected writers to follow… then the big job, Crowdfunding!

Here’s what he fired us – have a listen

Thank you Bert… stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

Are you our new Web Editor?

Transportation Press Web Editor

Transportation Press is an independent press based in Tasmania, publishing work from around the world. We endeavour to have an active online presence between publishing our books and running competitions like Smoke, an annual international microfiction competition. We are looking for a Web Editor to oversee and maintain our website and some of our social media content. Our website should be dynamic and thought provoking.

The Web Editor is responsible for maintaining fresh and relevant content on the Transportation Press website and will be focused on publishing either dedicated projects or individual pieces. This will involve commissioning writers, reading pitches and submissions and responding to them, editing, readying pieces for publication and uploading them. They will work alongside the editors, and other Transportation Press writers and crew as required.

We are interested in making the role work for you and we are seeking someone who:

  • will ensure that the Transportation Press website has fresh and interesting content which works harmoniously with the broader publishing program
  • is able to seek and commission online content and select complementary imagery and material, to pair with published online material. (Creative commons and acknowledged).
  • is based anywhere in the world, any age, any identification
  • will commission, read and select submissions of fiction, poetry, non-fiction, and to post on the website.
  • has some proficiency in WordPress as well as an active engagement in social media (desirable)
  • will generate a dynamic online presence that compliments the publications, and maintain fresh and relevant content
  • Is available to work a minimum of three hours a week and ideally able to provide some day to day attention to web and social media
  • will liaise with the Editor and Creative Strategist around content themes, and topics, to complement existing and new activities
  • is deeply engaged and interested in contemporary international literature, and social and cultural issues
  • Is self-motivating and very organised
  • Is comfortable with turbulence

We won’t write ‘other activities as required’ because we hate that clause, but this list is not exhaustive and this new role will require, and benefit from the web editor’s own input, creativity, vision, and energy.

Please note: this is a volunteer/unpaid position. All people who work at Transportation Press are volunteers though we are actively seeking funding and this role will eventually be paid. Our published writers are paid, though we are not yet able to pay for online content.

To apply, please attach a one-page cover letter and a one-page CV and send to Rachel Edwards, Editor in Chief and Tadhg Muller, Creative Strategist (emails below). Your letter should directly respond to the above-mentioned posints. Applications close midnight December 4 (pick your own time zone).

Any questions? Please email both of us, Rachel and Tadhg at transportationalmanac@gmail.com and tadhgmuller@yahoo.co.uk
We look forward to receiving your applications.

Where there is Smoke

We recently launched our first collection of microfiction, Smoke One. It contains the best entries from our inaugural international competition. Susan Lloy is a writer who lives in Montreal, Canada. Her story ‘Wishful Thinking’ is included in the collection, which is available for puchase here.

You can hear her reading from another of her recently published short stories, ‘But When We Look Closer’ here.

This story contained in a collection of her short stories by the same name which was published by Now or Never Publishing earlier this year.
Susan is a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Art & Design University, and has been published in the United States, Canada, Europe, Australia and the United Kingdom.

 

Dalian what futures? The origin story.

danielyoungDaniel Young is the winner of our first Smoke international microfiction competion. Here he tells the origin story of Dalian Blood Futures, the piece which took the prize.

Dalian what futures? The origin story.
by Daniel Young

I used to work for an investment bank (don’t hate me, my self-loathing is quite sufficient to cover it). In another notch in my long belt of doing things at the worst possible time, I left Brisbane shortly after the GFC to go and write software for an investment bank in Sydney. Actually it wasn’t quite the worst possible time, as the thousands of contractors who’d been fired in the preceding year would be quick to point out; I was part of a small wave of rehiring once those in charge realised the world wasn’t quite ending and that they still needed some people to do actual work.

I worked in the derivatives trading area, writing software to handle back-end functions such as valuations, settlement, accounting, risk management, plus reconciliations and control to make sure nobody was going rogue. I don’t have any background in finance, but if I learnt anything from this experience it’s that it’s not just possible but in fact commonplace—perhaps even desirable?—for software developers to write code without having even the most basic understanding of how it will be used or how the business around them actually functions. Sure, the bank made some efforts: a few years into the job they sent me on an introductory course focusing on financial derivates: options, futures, and the like, but none of it really stuck or influenced my daily work in any way.

In those years, we worked in what management-speak refers to as ‘business-aligned account teams’, which means that we sat on the dealing room floor along with the traders, despite hardly ever speaking to them and, as I’ve outlined, having very little idea of what they actually did. I hear that things have changed now, with IT staff moved into central teams, hidden away out of sight where they belong, but back then we had prime position. Dotted around the floor were traders with twelve or more monitors arced around their cubicle, but what really caught the eye was the large black ticker screen covering the entirety of one of the interior walls. I’d glance up at that screen throughout the day watching information tick over in traffic-light-coloured LEDs: green, orange and red. I’d pretend I knew what it was all about while secretly revelling in my complete ignorance. I paid particular attention to the price of soybean futures, finding something vaguely amusing in the very idea of them, and making little bets with myself at how the price might move from day to day.

Colleagues would sometimes tell stories—you probably don’t know the ones, though the narrator of Dalian Blood Futures runs in different circles to us and seems to think you will—stories about futures traders having to take shipment because they hadn’t ‘closed their positions’. In other words, they’d let their futures contracts expire without selling them, leaving them contractually obliged to take delivery. The internet, of course gives differing accounts of this phenomenon:

“When you’re dealing with so many contracts, it’s not hard to lose track of one and accidentally hold it to the settlement date. You really do get a call from someone asking you where you want your silver or corn or whatever. When you’re a member of a futures exchange, you’re expected to be able to take delivery of whatever physically settled contracts you take to expiration. Obviously, most trading firms don’t have facilities to store 500,000 gallons of rapeseed oil, so you have to dump it at a loss to someone who does. They know they have you by the short and curlies, so you’re going to pay out the nose for it.”
—some rando on Reddit

“There’s some apocryphal story about some analyst at like GS who messed up and had to accept delivery for cattle, and had to arrange warehouse space and food for them. But it’s probably bs.”
— some other rando on Reddit

“You may wonder what happens if a trader forgets to close out a long position. If he bought live hog futures, will someone deliver 40,000 pounds worth of squealing porkers to his back door the morning after his contract expires? Sorry, but no.”
— some random website

We should never let the facts stand in the way of a good yarn.

It was only years later, sitting at my desk in Brisbane reading some finance news (don’t hate me) that it all came together. I’d grown accustomed to seeing prices quoted from the Dalian Commodities Exchange in China, usually iron ore or other common commodities, but this story was about the launch of official quotation in Dalian egg futures. It might seem like a big leap from eggs to blood, but if you’ve read Yu Hua’s book Chronicles of a Blood Merchant, or recent stories about the determination of some Silicon Valley executives to live forever, or know anything about professional cycling, perhaps it’s not such a leap at all.

When the call-out for the Smoke microfiction competition came out, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to cram all of these obsessions into a 300-word story and, as often happens with flash fiction, it all came tumbling out quite fast, so much so that it seemed wrong to even add the appropriate punctuation (don’t hate me). In the weeks after submitting it, I toyed with the idea of expanding it into a longer story, and the idea is still tempting, but sometimes it’s best to leave well enough alone. And as this extended origin story shows, by being longer than the microfiction itself, sometimes it’s better to cap things at 300 words. Sorry. Don’t hate me! And thanks for reading.

You can buy a copy of the Smoke One collection and read Dalian Blood Futures yourselves, here.

 

 

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.