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Archive for the ‘Interviews’ Category

Shamar Hill: I’m curious about your background and how you came to writing.

Ploi Pirapokin: I came to writing primarily because I loved reading and wanted to be in conversation with the authors I read. My father had always boasted about having read every book in the library at university and 6-year-old me wanted to do the exact same thing. I grew up speaking Thai and Cantonese but was enrolled in an international school where we were only allowed to speak English. So to catch up with my native English-speaking friends, I went to the public library and picked up a few books every week to build upon my vocabulary. If I came across a word that I didn’t know the definition of, I’d leave it and see how it sounds with the rest of the sentence. I learned English that way – through repeating sounds, phrases, and sentence structures – and eventually through Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey’s music. It was only when I started writing fiction seriously that I began to care about finding the most precise, accurate word and/or phrasing to depict what I was describing, but even then, I would care about how it sounded within the sentence and if the rhythm was off, or the tone wasn’t quite right, I’d rewrite the sentence. (more…)

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Poet, translator, and fiction writer Yuriy Tarnawsky is a founding member of the New York Group and, as the faithful reader will recall, star of the fourth “Xорошо.” His latest work, consisting of The Placebo Effect Trilogy (JEF Books) and Modus Tollens (Jaded Ibis Productions) manages to be at once fluid and oddly specific; familiar yet unsettling. Tarnawsky, as usual, unnerves the reader by leaving her half the work of assembling these subconsciously active worlds. This seventh reincarnation of “The New Xорошо,” is the product of free association, linguistic play, nightmare, and a very permissive gateway between living and dead. ~T.M. De Vos

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nazılakıtchener

Azerbaijani-born chaplain, counselor, and researcher Dr. Nazila Isgandarova is head of the Azerbaijani Women’s Support Centre in Ontario, Canada, and author of numerous publications on war violence against womenrape as a weapon of war, and new models of Islamic spiritual care and counseling. Her recent novel, The Nectar of Passion, a narrative of interfaith love, is set in modern-day Ontario and informed by Azerbaijani and Georgian history, as well as Judaic and Islamic custom. In this sixth edition of “The New Xорошо,” Isgandarova discusses female empowerment in the Qur’an, the common ground between Islam and Judaism, and why Muslim women don’t need to be “emancipated” from their headscarves .~T.M. De Vos

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Memoirist, blogger, and soon-to-be clinical psychologist Rodica Mihailis has undergone many personal evolutions since her defection from communist Romania in 1981. Her recent memoir, The Gypsy Saw Two Lives (Strategic Book Publishing), itself evolved from her popular blog, chronicles the adaptations that have characterized her life on both sides of the Atlantic with humor and perspective—and a surprising amount of empathy even for the least sympathetic characters. In this fifth edition of “The New Xорошо,” Mihailis expounds upon faith, free will, and the funny side of being ousted from an ambulance in February; under separate cover, Colman O Criodain reviews The Gypsy Saw Two Lives.~T.M. De Vos

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Poet, translator, and fiction writer Yuriy Tarnawsky is a founding member of the New York Group, a friend to the surreal, and a fond misanthrope. His newest collection, Short Tails (JEF Books/Civil Coping Mechanisms), from a festival of grotesquerie and the existential struggle, is populated by characters who, variously, absorb Lenin’s verbal and gustatory tics, shed skin and limbs and ligaments until reduced to a single eyeball, or discover that a long-dead father is pulling them into the grave by the jowls. In this fourth and long-overdue installment of “The New Xорошо,” I learn to read less deterministically and Tarnawsky invokes the absurd, leaves us with a phonological riddle, and reminds us that we’re all going to die.~T.M. De Vos

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The 1920’s and 30’s are two very different eras that depict themselves well in your work.  I find myself going from glamorous, inspiring and lively moods to very moody, ,modest, and misunderstood ones.  A purer example of this may be in two of your 2007 acrylic pieces, American Woman and Lonely Heart.  It seems like almost the same picture or woman, but extravagantly different.  How would you describe the relative difference in these two eras and decades in relation to your art? (more…)

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If you must know, Paul Rogov is from Minsk, Belarus, lives in southern California, and will blog for you about war, art, and trauma. But he’s not giving up his biography. Not that it’s important. With narratives populated by men with Saussurean scars, failed fathers, and gawky boy soldiers disfigured by adrenaline, how much could any individual’s biography matter? If, as Kierkegaard describes, we become ourselves through our actions, then Rogov’s characters determine themselves, and their relationships, through their traumas—self-inflicted or otherwise. “Trauma unites people,” explains Rogov, the third author featured in the “The New Xорошо,” as he weighs in on spirituality, femininity, and the impossibility of shooting heroin like a gentleman. ~T.M. De Vos 

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