Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Absinthe #8

Absinthe #8 is done and out in the world. It features some great writers and if you haven't seen this issue it's not too late to subscribe and have it delivered right to your door. Below is the introduction I wrote for issue 8:

From the Managing Editor

A response I sometimes get from people when they learn we’re publishing another issue of Absinthe is one of surprise and/or shock. Really? I never thought you’d publish a second (or third … fourth … fifth) issue. I’m unable to muster up any genuine offense because I’ve also had the same thoughts, but here we are with issue 8 and the odds are good we’ll be back with another in six months. In addition to great poetry and fiction (by Moikom Zeqo, Julia Franck, Manuel Rivas, and Bogdan Suceava, among others), Absinthe 8 features art by Kristen Pieroth, Clemens von Wedemeyer, and Markus Schinwald, thanks to our new arts editors Sanaz and Stefan Keisbye. The issue also includes work by two Welsh writers (Grahame Davies and Gwyn Thomas) made possible by the generous assistance of Peter Finch, Elin Williams, and Bronwen Price at The Welsh Academy.

In the last issue I mentioned my appreciation of Ingmar Bergman and while we were completing Absinthe 8 the great Swedish filmmaker passed away (on the same day, incidentally, as Michelangelo Antonioni). So it seems appropriate to add to my previous comments. My first experience with the films of Ingmar Bergman took place while in graduate school at the University of Michigan. Every week for a semester I went over to the Michigan Theatre to see these odd films: The Seventh Seal, Persona, Wild Strawberries, Fanny and Alexander, and many others. Until then, my idea of a good film was typical Hollywood fare like Star Wars or an Indiana Jones film. Though I wasn’t taking the Bergman course (and therefore, wasn’t required to attend these films) I was drawn back week after week by Bergman’s struggle to believe in a silent God, his explorations of familial relationships and his realistic depictions of the joys and sorrows experienced by lovers (and also, to be honest, by the beautiful Swedish actresses). Eventually I had rented every Bergman film available, read his autobiography and other books, and traveled to New York to see a half-dozen Bergman-directed plays performed at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Bergman led to Fellini and Tarkovsky and Kieslowski and Truffaut and Wenders and he also inspired my reading of Ibsen and Strindberg and Chekhov and Kundera and as the old shampoo commercial says, and so on and so on … Therefore, my interest in foreign film and the world of literary translation originates with Bergman and, consequently, it is no exaggeration to suggest that Absinthe would not exist without his films. So we dedicate this issue to the memory of Ingmar Bergman.

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