Thursday, December 16, 2010

> Language > Place blog carnival

Language > Place blog carnival: a BluePrintReview project and a joined blog cyber journey featuring international perspectives on language and place. 

The second edition of > Language > Place blog carnival features over 20 writers from around the world. It unfolds between directions, detours and codes to arrive at fictive domains that are made real by the yearning for souls adrift. The journey continues, looking into private places and eccentricities, to trace slipping boundaries and the sense of one's ever shifting homes. 

For info on how to join the next carnival, related links and notes on the project, visit the > Language > Place info page



Dorothee Lang lives in Germany. This summer she flew to Vienna for some days. The lingual fun started on a day trip to Bratislava, once a trilingual city and now capital of Slovakia. Through a misunderstanding, she got lost in “Nove Mesto”, the 'new part of town' with a friend. 'The day trip to Bratislava indeed felt like a trip through history, and the Slovak language made it special, and more "abroad".' She blogged about the trip in: ‘Vienna, Bratislava, Istanbul’.

Karyn Eisler from Canada finds herself in foreign places where languages become music. Sometimes they dance in images, as in the Hungarian spa town of Hévíz. Look here.

Steve Wing from Florida grew up in a mono-linguistic place and grew to love other cultures and languages. In ‘road signs’, he muses on the relationships between words, directions and origins: ‘Even where there is one predominant language, though, there are traces of other tongues. So it is with the words on these road signs, which open like doors onto other cultures...'

Exchanges Decoded

Christopher Allen, an American writer and teacher living in Germany, travels the world with his ‘linguistic advantage’. He blogs about his adventures at ‘I MUST BE OFF’ and for this month’s blog carnival, he sent ‘Taksi or Fright’, an entry about his attempts to make himself understood in Southeast Asia in November.

Parmanu is from India and his job with a multinational company has brought him to Germany. For December’s blog carnival he sent ‘Super 8’, an entry about a brief conversation in English he had with a German passenger on the train, the charm and complexities of exchanges spanning cultures and languages.

‘It is with us humans, we fall into our language in times of emotional communication,’ notes Abha Iyengar, a poet and freelance writer from New Delhi, India. During a Writing Residency in Tamil Nadu in Southern India from 2009 to 2010, Abha navigated between the differences in sounds, sights and people in her temporary dwelling and those in her hometown. Follow her discovery in ‘An Ambassador Mercedes in Pondicherry’.

'I love the idea that multiculturalism--or is it duoculturalism? is alive and well and on my back,' Matt Potter notes in his entry 'Dyeing for it’ about his love for the 'trans-global warriors' T-shirts that accompany him across Germany and Australia. Matt loves sex, fashion and words--and he flaunts his stuff with flair (ignore the adult content warning note).

Fictive Domains

Marcus Speh is a native German who mostly writes in English because he thinks in images and a foreign language is a wonderful plaything. He blogs at Nothing to Flawnt, a reference to his long-time nom de plume, Finnegan Flawnt. While on vacation in Texas this October, Marcus wrote whimsical stories on different objects found on a Texan beach. Check them out here.

‘One day, he thought, his postcards to his wife would be found - these drawings would be his last words to her,’ writes Stella Pierides in her short short ‘Postcards’, which looks back on the cruelty of the Greek Civil War from 1946 to 1949. You can also read her notes on the story in ‘Language, Trauma, and Silence’. Originally from Athens, Greece, Stella now divides her time between London and Bavaria.

Linda Simoni-Wastila crunches numbers by day and churns words at night in Baltimore, and much of her writing explores health, in particular the societal and personal facets of medication and medicating. She participates in the blog carnival with her flash fiction ‘Lost in Suomi’, which was inspired by her memories of a distant trip to Finland.

Souls Adrift

Sherry O’Keefe is a poet and she writes beyond the confines of beautiful Montana. She asks the questions whose answers we keep to ourselves: What is common among all languages? What commotions happen in life that no language can adequately express?  in her entry ‘In Case of a Bad Day’ and the poem ‘Mike’. 

Len Kuntz lives on a lake in rural Washington State, and his writing paints vivid pictures of human suffering and loss. ‘Canto Del Sol’ is an account of his family trip to a remote part of Mexico. While there, they came face to face with extreme poverty and a community whose existence is dependent upon the discarded garbage of others. Len finished a novel this year and he blogs at People You Know by Heart.

‘Australian Friend likes to say, “Bloom where you’re planted.” It’s good advice for anybody, but I think it applies double to expats,’ writes Jennifer Saunders, who is originally from the American Midwest and now lives in The Bernese Oberland in Switzerland. She weaves impressions of US-styled Thanksgiving and memories of homes and traditions in her entry ‘Expat Thanksgiving. And Pie.’

Private Places

Julien Tatham is a filmmaker and experimental arts artist based in Paris. Julien lives for love and stories as he seeks truth in his personal space, an empty place that rings with questions: ‘...often you are alone in front of this silent place, outside we hear the rumor, a city, through the window. I’m surrounded by these objects in the apartment, rooms are stanzas of life.’

‘Behind that door could be anything, but at the same time, the possibilities have already been decided,’ Trang Nguyen writes about her private space in Melbourne in ‘(un)fettered territory’. Trang moved to Australia with her Vietnamese parents when she was two months’ old. Now she draws, takes pictures, writes, dances and loves in a surprising vacuum. 

‘At night I take solitary walks. My mind curls up into a warm embrace for myself and the promise I would give, against the wind...I live a different kind of life,’ writes Nicolette Wong in an entry set in a back alley in her neighborhood, ‘Spring’. Nicolette is a Hong Kong-based writer who wavers between solitude and connection, destinations and abandon, solidity and wound in fiction and in life.

Slipping Boundaries

Natalie d’Arbeloff is a multi-lingual artist and writer living in London. From January to February this year Natalie was an artist-in-residence at the Casa 5 Centre in Tavira, Portugal. ‘Tavira Experienced’ is her visual journey around the city with the natives. Check out the complete archive of her entries on her stay in Tavira here.

‘Green and opaque with a hint of turquoise when the sun lights it. I stare at it and it is a surprise when the waves break in a froth of white foam and not in semi-precious stone chips,’ Julia Davies writes about the China sea in ‘Musing on travelling’. Julia is an English writer living in Germany where she juggles different sides of her personality.

‘...I’d come in the house, where Grandma kept a huge jar of old buttons for which I came to visit. I’d dump them onto the carpet and make up my own worlds full of button people, button animals, and button things...That was the Fajal of my imagination.’ Cathy Douglas ponders the history of his Portuguese immigrant family in her post ‘Faial’. 

Foreign Eccentricities 

Rose Hunter from Australia is a witness to strange scenes wherever she goes. In ‘El viento! El viento! Report’, she gives us glimpses into her ‘domestic situation in Mexcio--her sneaky neighbor, her apartment with an open front view and Rose shrieking about her everyday life: ‘It’s like camping!’

‘One day not long ago I drove home wondering how we were going to eat till Friday, payday...We had 300 baht, which, technically speaking, was not no money. It was $8.81,’ writes American writer Court Merrigan in ‘Democracy for $11.74, or, Serendipity’. Court’s household almost played a part in corruption in Thailand, where he lived his American adventure with his wife, two kids and his writing.

Rachael Fulton is a Scottish girl who writes from Jakarta and other corners of the world. She participates in the blog carnival with an entry on her earlier days in Logrono, Spain, which began with her sharing a place with a man who was a member of the Guardia Civil and another who had strange mystical pictures on his walls and said the flat was protected by spirits.

Shifting Homes

‘When one returns home after a gap of two and a half years, how much does one carry the ‘home’ that one left behind and how much does one carry back the ‘foreign’ one has been a sojourner in?’ Mosarrap Hossain Khan recalls his journey to home in India a year ago. Morsarrap is pursuing his doctoral research in English Literature at New York University.
Originally from Nigeria, Mary Shorun now lives, studies and writes in Texas. Mary calls the Nigerian and American cultures her ‘unique culture’ and their shared language of sport has particularly fascinated her. She captured the transition and familiarity between cultures in a blog entry after having watched an American frisbee game on a pleasant Friday evening. 

Latha Vijaybaskar is a writer and educator living in Dubai. Having grown up in a multi-linguistic country like India, picking up new languages should have been a joyride for Latha. Yet modern times have made it too easy for some to grasp the spirit of learning languages, Latha writes in her entry ‘Paradigm Shift’. 

(Photo credits: Dorothee Lang, Christopher Allen, Marcus Speh, Phyllis Ho, Trang Nguyen, Natalie d'Arbeloff, Rose Hunter)

About + How to Join + Links

> Language > Place blog carnival was started by Dorothee Lang, editor of BluePrintReview, in November 2010. Visit the > Language > Place info page for Dorothee's notes on how the carnival came together and related links.

The December 2010 edition is hosted by Nicolette Wong, fiction writer and art writer from Hong Kong. She is in the editorial teams of Negative Suck and Dark Chaos

The third edition of the carnival will be edited and hosted by MiCrow editor Michael J. Solender at not from here, are you

Submissions are open on December 20 and the edition is planned to go online at the end of January. Check out the guidelines here. Note: please address all submissions to Michael, as the carnival switches editors and hosts with every edition.

Update on 1/1/2011

Check out the carnival contributors' blogroll here.

Language > Place blog carnival is reviewed as a BluePrintReview project on Folded Word blog. Read the interview with Dorothee and Nicolette here