Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Hanging Loose Press and Robert Hershon.

I got to know of and know Robert Hershon because I had fallen for a poetry book by Sherman Alexie published by Robert Hershon’s Hanging Loose Press and doing what I do I had started translating some of the poems of  ‘First Indian On the Moon’ while in Chloride, Arizona. A coincidence was that I visited two friends living on Staten Island on my way from Chloride, Arizona back to Antwerp Belgium. They gave me a tour of New York. So I had made an appointment to go to Varickstreet, Manhattan to meet with the publisher of the book. I showed up and we went out for a cup of coffee. The conversation flowed easily, I saw a sharp and funny, intelligent and kind man, taking care of Hanging Loose Press, and a great poet in his own right. They published not only now famous poets like Sherman Alexie, Harvey Shapiro, Paul Violi and more… (It is not always easy to follow the contemporary poetry scene from Europe.) Hanging Loose also produced a magazine with the same title. Robert Hershon, doesn’t do this all by himself, originally there were four editors, none taking a salary for their work. I have six issues of the magazine in Europe. The first thing is the visual impact through the care given to the cover, happy, colorful, strikingly beautiful artwork: some names dropping starting with issue 93: George Green, Dick Lourie, Robert Hershon, Hal Sirowitz (former poet laureate of Queens, N.Y.) Marc Staman, Joan Larkin, Stephen Lewandowski, Anne Waldman, Breyten Breytenbach, Sherman Alexie, Donna Brook, Kimiko Hahn and in each issue also a section with ‘writers of high school age’ a really interesting feature encouraging young authors.

Robert Hershon, with 13 poetry books out now, was kind enough to mail me his two latest books of his own:
The German Lunatic (2000) and
Calls from the outside world (2006)

Both books contain wonderful, often funny musings stemming from a wry profoundness. A few e-mails and once in a while a telephone call have let me stay in touch. So I learned from “The German Lunatic” (2000) of his love for baseball, a love shared by Sherman Alexie. Luckily I have two baseball fanatic friends who come and stay the winters in Chloride. Coop and Irene have done their utmost best to initiate into the rules of baseball. I now understand the terminology and begin to appreciate the belly cramps at the ninth inning. I took it upon me to translate this section from ‘The German Lunatic”…

The presentation date for the Sherman Alexie translation “On the Backs of Salmon’ is October 2nd,, , 2015 in the beautiful “Black Panter Gallery”, in Antwerp. This book isn’t the only one being presented: also a translation by Lucienne Stassaert of a book of poetry by Libanese Andrée Chédid. We will introduce each other. No learned professors, just the work we did. Her book is called (in Dutch) Existing is a blessing for me. Of course there will be a party afterwards.

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