Perhaps the thing that draws the contributors of Two Lines 26 and its Online Exclusives together most is a sense that writing is not “illustrious,” honorable, praiseworthy, or anything other than a chance to disrupt, disturb, and question.
Through the stories and poems in our print journal you’ll find work intent on disruption. Nicole Brossard, in Cynthia Hogue and Sylvain Gallais’s translation, imagines cities that have “fools for God.” In this invented reality the speaker counts:
…the hands, the feet,
the tongues, the tunics, the pebbles
the heads, the beards
the skullcaps, the veils, the scarves…
The Ukrainian writer and activist Serhiy Zhadan, in a piece translated by Reilly Costigan-Humes and Isaac Wheeler, resists telling an uplifting or predictable story and instead gives us Skinny, a young man who wants to help, wants to get out of Ukraine, wants more than he will be accorded.
And in “Days with a Swedish Friend,” translated by Dong Li, Chinese poet Zhu Zhu acknowledges the complicated idea of exile:
i put my hand
on your statue-like body that is melting now,
you are not the exile
but have chosen another way of life,
and you say: “there are many kinds of exile…”
Being clandestine in one’s writing might in fact lead to exile, as it has for so many international writers, but it always opens the back door to insight as well. It can shape the way we question our assumptions, much like the young speaker in Gustavo Barrera Calderón’s Punctured Body Is a Home (excerpt translated by Kathleen Heil). We might understand part of a situation, but it takes a mother—and great literature—to help us see the larger picture.
My real mother filled a bucket with water
We went to the front of the house with two sponges
I had recently learned shapes and the alphabet
and recognized the “R” with a circle around it
We had to wash it off before anyone saw
it was a really dangerous thing
it meant “Resistance”
she whispered as night fell
Our Online Exclusives continue and expand this project of disruption. Whether it’s in the domestic peculiarity of Han Yujoo’s The Impossible Fairy Tale, translated by Janet Hong and just released by Graywolf Press, or the brutal reality of comrades dying in Red, Yellow, and Green by Alejandro Saravia, translated by María José Giménez.
We hope you read through and enjoy the Online Exclusives for Issue 26 and take the opportunity to browse our extensive archive of online contributions.
While we make outstanding literature available online, the best way for you to ensure continued access to this material and support the work we do is to subscribe to Two Lines. A year’s subscription is only $15.00 and brings together work from nearly fifteen languages, written and translated by men and women around the world who continue the honorable, praiseworthy, clandestine, and yes, disruptive work we all rely on.