Meanderings & mawqifs of poetry, poetics, translations y mas. Travelogue too.

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English PEN’s Writers in Translation Winners:

March 29th, 2015 · Translation

 A European-language Heavy List

Moroccan writer Abdellatif Laâbi, writing in French, was one of 16 winners of a “PEN Translates” award, announced yesterday:

download (1)Although the list does include books originally written in the lesser-translated languages of Chinese, Turkish, and Gallegan (Galician), the majority are from the French (5), Spanish (3), and German (2), with additional titles from the Italian and two from the Portugeuse.

Within those languages, a diversity of nationalities, styles, and genres are represented, including the poetics of Abdellatif Laâbi in Selected Poems, translated by André Naffis-Sahely and set to be published by Carcanet in June 2016. Naffis-Sahely has previously won a Hemingway Grant to support the collection.

In a prepared release, Samantha Schnee, a trustee of English PEN and Chair of the Writers in Translation Committee, said that this most recent round of grants will enrich their “World Bookshelf” “even further, making our World Bookshelf an excellent resource for anyone wishing to explore the world through its finest contemporary literature — a boon to both armchair travellers and world travellers alike.”

Indeed, readers can “travel” from Colombia to China to the Congo, from Syria (in Jonthan Littell’s Syrian Notebooks) to Turkey to Morocco. But there is still a heavy concentration in just a few literary languages, without support for books from the Urdu, Hindi, Malayalam, Indonesian, Bengali, Vietnamese, Tamil, Farsi, and, all right, Arabic. It is a much different thing to engage a different language tradition vs. traveling with a writer to a different country.

Still, it is good to see more Chinese books receiving support in English translation, and there was also a Chinese winner among the “PEN Promotes” titles, A Perfect Crime, by A Yi, translated from the Chinese by Anna Holmwood and set to be published by Oneworld in May 2015.

Winners of a 2014 PEN Translates award:

  • Whispering City by Sara Moliner (pseudonym), translated from Spanish by Mara Lethem. Published by Little Brown. February 2015
  • Morning Sea by Margaret Mazzantini, translated from Italian by Ann Sarah Gagliardi. Published by Oneworld. March 2015
  • Gone to Ground by Marie Jalowicz Simon, translated from German by Anthea Bell. Published by Serpent’s Tail. March 2015
  • All Days Are Night by Peter Stamm, translated from German by Michael Hofmann. Published by Granta. March 2015
  • Bronze and Sunflower by Cao Wenxuan, translated from Chinese by Helen Wang. Published by Walker Books. April 2015.
  • What Became of the White Savage by Francois Garde translated from French by Aneesa Abbas Higgins. Published by Dedalus. May 2015
  • Syrian Notebooks by Jonathan Littell, translated from French by Charlotte Mandell. Published by Verso. April 2015
  • Reckless by Hasan Ali Toptas, translated from Turkish by Maureen Freely and John Angliss. Published by Bloomsbury. March 2015
  • The Lights of Point-Noire by Alain Mabanckou, translated from French by Helen Stevenson Mann. Published by Serpent’s Tail. May 2015
  • The All Saints’ Day Lovers by Juan Gabriel Vásquez, translated from Spanish by Anne McLean. Published by Bloomsbury. May 2015
  • Now and At the Hour of Our Death by Susana Moreira Marques, translated from Portuguese by Julia Sanches. Published by And Other Stories. September 2015
  • The Low Voices by Manuel Rivas, translated from Gallegan by Jonathan Dunne. Published by Harvill Secker. February 2016
  • The End of Eddy Belleguele by Edouard Louis, translated from French by Sam Taylor. Published by Harvill Secker. March 2016
  • Horse Hands by Daniel Galera, translated from Portuguese by Alison Entrekin. Published by Hamish Hamilton. March 2016
  • Sudden Death by Alvaro Enrique, translated from Spanish by Natasha Wimmer. Published by Harvill Secker. April 2016
  • Selected Poems by Abdellatif Laâbi, translated from French by André Naffis-Sahely. Published by Carcanet. June 2016

Winners of a 2014 PEN Promotes award:

  • These are the Names by Tommy Wieringa, translated from the Dutch by Sam Garrett. Published by Scribe UK. February 2015
  • Out in the Open by Carlos Carrasco, translated from the Spanish by Margaret Jull Costa. Published by Harvill Secker. April 2015
  • A Perfect Crime, by A Yi, translated from the Chinese by Anna Holmwood. Published by Oneworld. May 2015

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Uri Avnery’s Vision for the Future of Israel & Palestine

March 28th, 2015 · Gaza Strip, Israel, Palestine, West Bank

avneryUri Avnery

March 28, 2015

The Israeli Salvation Front

THE 2015 election was a giant step towards the self-destruction of Israel.

The decisive majority has voted for an apartheid state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, in which democracy will slowly disappear.

The decision is not yet final. Israeli democracy has lost a battle. It has not yet lost the war.

If it does not draw the lessons, it will lose the war, too.

All the justifications and alibis of the Israeli Left are useless. It’s the bottom line that counts.

The country is in existential danger. Not from the outside, but from the inside.

An Israel Salvation Front is needed now.

We have no other country.

FIRST OF ALL, the full extent of the debacle must be acknowledged and full responsibility must be taken.

The leaders who lost must go. In the struggle for the life of the state, there is no second opportunity.

The struggle between Isaac Herzog and Binyamin Netanyahu was a match between a lightweight boxer and a heavyweight.

The idea of a National Union government must be rejected and roundly condemned. In such a government, the Labor Party would again play the contemptible role of a fig leaf for the policy of occupation and oppression.

Now a new generation of leaders is needed, young, energetic and original.

THE ELECTION pitilessly exposed the deep chasms between the different sectors of Israeli society: Orientals, Ashkenazis, Arabs, “Russian”, orthodox, religious and more.

The Salvation Front must encompass all sectors.

Every sector has its own culture, its own traditions, its own faith(s). All must be respected. Mutual; respect is the foundation of the Israeli partnership.

The foundation of the Salvation Front needs a new authentic leadership that must emerge from all sectors.

The State of Israel belongs to all its citizens. No sector has exclusive ownership of the state.

The huge and growing gap between the very rich and the very poor, which which largely parallels the gap between the ethnic communities, is a disaster for all of us.

The salvation of the state must be based on a return to equality as a basic value. A reality in which hundreds of thousands of children live under the poverty line is intolerable.

The income of the upper 0.01%, which reaches to the heavens, must be brought down to a reasonable level. The income of the lowest 10% must be raised to a humane level.

THE ALMOST total separation between the Jewish and the Arab parts of Israeli society is a disaster for both and for the state.

The Salvation Front must be based on both peoples. The chasm between them must be eliminated, for the good of both.

Empty phrases about equality and fraternity are not enough. They lack credibility.

There must come into being a sincere alliance between the democratic forces on both sides, not only in words but in actual daily cooperation in all areas.

This cooperation must find expression in frameworks of political partnership, joint struggles and regular joint meetings in all areas, based on respect for the uniqueness of each partner.

Only a permanent joint struggle can save Israeli democracy and the state itself.

THE HISTORIC conflict between the Zionist movement and the Palestinian Arab national movement now threatens both peoples.

The country between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River is the homeland of the two peoples. No war, oppression or uprising will change this basic fact.

If this conflict continues without end, it will endanger the existence of both peoples.

The one and only solution was and is their co-existence in two sovereign states: a free and independent State of Palestine side by side with the State of Israel.

The two-state solution is not a recipe for separation and divorce. On the contrary, it is a recipe for close co-existence.

The 1967 borders, with mutual agreed changes, are the basis of peace.

The co-existence of the two states in the joint homeland does necessitate frameworks of partnership at the highest level, as well as open borders for the movement of people and goods. It also needs solid security arrangements for the good of both peoples.

Jerusalem, open and unified, must be the capital of both states.

The painful tragedy of the Palestinian refugees must find its just solution, agreed upon by the two sides. This solution will include return to the Palestinian state, a limited symbolic return to Israel and the payment of generous compensation by international funds to all.

Israel and Palestine shall work together so as to achieve a return of Jewish property left in Arab countries or the payment of generous compensation.

The State of Palestine will keep its affinity with the Arab world. The state of Israel will keep its affinity with the Jewish people in the world. Each of the two states will have sole responsibility for its immigration policy.

The problem of the Jewish settlers in Palestine will find its solution in the framework of agreed border changes between the two states, the inclusion of some settlements in the Palestinian state with the agreement of the Palestinian government and the re-settlement of the rest of the settlers in Israel.

Both states shall cooperate in the creation of a democratic regional partnership, in the spirit of the “Arab Spring”, while resisting anarchy, terrorism and religious and nationalistic fanaticism throughout the region.

The masses of Israelis and Palestinians will not believe in the chances of peace and co-existence if there is no real and open partnership between the peace camps of both peoples.

To establish such a partnership, organizations and individuals of both sides must start right now to conduct joint political action, such as constant consultation and joint planning on all levels and in all areas.

THE JEWISH character of the State of Israel finds its expression in its culture and its affinity with the Jews throughout the world. It must not express itself in its interior regime. All citizens and all sectors must be equal.

The democratic forces within the Jewish and the Arab public must join hands and work together in their daily actions.

International pressure by itself will not save Israel from itself. The salvation forces must come from within.

World-wide pressure on Israel can and must assist the democratic forces in Israel, but cannot take their place.

BASIC VALUES do not change. However, the ways of talking about them with the public must change.

The old slogans are ineffective. The values must be re-defined and re-formulated in up-to-date language, in line with the concepts and language of a new generation.

The two-state vision was defined after the 1948 war by a small group of path-blazers. Since than, huge changes have taken place in the world, in the region and within Israeli society. While the vision itself remains the only practical solution of the historic conflict, it must be poured into new vessels.

There is a need for political unity, a unifying salvation front that brings together all the forces of peace, democracy and social justice.

If the Labor Party is able to re-invent itself from the bottom up, it can constitute the basis of this camp. If not, an entirely new political party must be formed, as the core of the Salvation Front. 

Within this front, diverse ideological forces must find their place and engage in a fruitful internal debate, while conducting a unified political struggle for the salvation of the state.

The regime within Israel must assure complete equality between all Jewish ethnic communities and between the two peoples, while safeguarding the affinity of the Israeli-Jewish public with the Jews in the world and the affinity of the Israeli-Arab public with the Arab world.

The situation in which most of the resources are in the hands of 1% of the population at the cost of the other 99%, must come to an end. A reasonable equality between all citizens, without connection with their ethnic origin, must be restored.

There is no social message without a political message, and there is no political message without a social message.

The Oriental Jewish public must be full partners in the state, side by side with all other sectors. Their dignity, culture, social status and economic situation must be accorded their proper place.

The religious-secular confrontation must be postponed until after peace is achieved. The beliefs and ceremonies of all religions must be respected, as well as the secular worldview.

The separation of state and religion – such as civil marriage, mass transportation on Shabbat – can wait until the struggle for existence is decided.

The protection of the judicial system, and above all the Supreme Court, is an absolute duty.

The various associations for peace, human rights and social justice, each of which conducts its laudable independent struggle in its chosen field, must enter the political arena and play a central role together in the unified Salvation Front.

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Richard Moore, Poet & Film-Maker (1920-2015)

March 27th, 2015 · Film, Obituaries, Poetry

Poet, film-maker, founding member of KPFA, yogi and much more, Richard Moore was associated with the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance. More details here & here for tributes. Below the just posted film with Robert Duncan and John  Wieners.

Published on Mar 25, 2015
From the series USA: Poetry (1965) by Richard O. Moore

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Gulf Stream in Trouble

March 26th, 2015 · Climate Change, Man-made Disaster, Oceans, Uncategorized

Atlantic Conveyor - graph by Rahmstorf from PIK 20150317

Press Release by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research


Atlantic Ocean overturning found to slow down already today

The Atlantic overturning is one of Earth’s most important heat transport systems, pumping warm water northwards and cold water southwards.  Also known as the Gulf Stream system, it is responsible for the mild climate in northwestern Europe. Scientists now found evidence for a slowdown of the overturning – multiple lines of observation suggest that in recent decades, the current system has been weaker than ever before in the last century, or even in the last millennium. The gradual but accelerating melting of the Greenland ice-sheet, caused by man-made global warming, is a possible major contributor to the slowdown. Further weakening could impact marine ecosystems and sea level as well as weather systems in the US and Europe.

“It is conspicuous that one specific area in the North Atlantic has been cooling in the past hundred years while the rest of the world heats up,” says Stefan Rahmstorf of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, lead author of the study to be published in Nature Climate Change. Previous research had already indicated that a slowdown of the so-called Atlantic meridional overturning circulation might be to blame for this. “Now we have detected strong evidence that the global conveyor has indeed been weakening in the past hundred years, particularly since 1970,” says Rahmstorf.

Because long-term direct ocean current measurements are lacking, the scientists mainly used sea-surface and atmospheric temperature data to derive information about the ocean currents, exploiting the fact that ocean currents are the leading cause of temperature variations in the subpolar north Atlantic. From so-called proxy data – gathered from ice-cores, tree-rings, coral, and ocean and lake sediments – temperatures can be reconstructed for more than a millennium back in time. The recent changes found by the team are unprecedented since the year 900 AD, strongly suggesting they are caused by man-made global warming.

“The melting Greenland ice sheet is likely disturbing the circulation”

The Atlantic overturning is driven by differences in the density of the ocean water. From the south, the warm and hence lighter water flows northwards, where the cold and thus heavier water sinks to deeper ocean layers and flows southwards. “Now freshwater coming off the melting Greenland ice sheet is likely disturbing the circulation,” says Jason Box of the Geological Survey of Denmark and Greenland. The freshwater is diluting the ocean water. Less saline water is less dense and has therefore less tendency to sink into the deep. “So the human-caused mass loss of the Greenland ice sheet appears to be slowing down the Atlantic overturning – and this effect might increase if temperatures are allowed to rise further,” explains Box.

The observed cooling in the North Atlantic, just south of Greenland, is stronger than what most computer simulations of the climate have predicted so far. “Common climate models are underestimating the change we’re facing, either because the Atlantic overturning is too stable in the models or because they don’t properly account for Greenland ice sheet melt, or both,” says Michael Mann of Pennsylvania State University in the US. “That is another example where observations suggest that climate model predictions are in some respects still overly conservative when it comes to the pace at which certain aspects of climate change are proceeding.”

No new ice-age – but major negative effects are possible

The cooling above the Northern Atlantic would only slightly reduce the continued warming of the continents. The scientists certainly do not expect a new ice age, thus the imagery of the ten-year-old Hollywood blockbuster ‘The Day After Tomorrow’ is far from reality. However, it is well established that a large, even gradual change in Atlantic ocean circulation could have major negative effects.

“If the slowdown of the Atlantic overturning continues, the impacts might be substantial,” says Rahmstorf. “Disturbing the circulation will likely have a negative effect on the ocean ecosystem, and thereby fisheries and the associated livelihoods of many people in coastal areas. A slowdown also adds to the regional sea-level rise affecting cities like New York and Boston. Finally, temperature changes in that region can also influence weather systems on both sides of the Atlantic, in North America as well as Europe.”

If the circulation weakens too much it can even break down completely – the Atlantic overturning has for long been considered a possible tipping element in the Earth System. This would mean a relatively rapid and hard-to-reverse change. The latest report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates there to be an up to one-in-ten chance that this could happen as early as within this century. However, expert surveys indicate that many researchers assess the risk to be higher. The study now published by the international team of researchers around Rahmstorf provides information on which to base a new and better risk assessment.

Article: Rahmstorf, S., Box, J., Feulner, G., Mann, M., Robinson, A., Rutherford, S., Schaffernicht, E. (2015): Exceptional twentieth-century slowdown in Atlantic Ocean overturning circulation. Nature Climate Change (online) [DOI:10.1038/nclimate2554]

Weblink to the article:

Attached material:

- Figure 1 of the article by Rahmstorf et al (2015), showing linear trends of surface temperature for 1901–2013, based on the temperature data of NASA GISS (white indicates insufficient data)

- Atlantic Conveyor – Graph of the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation by Stefan Rahmstorf from PIK

Further information:

- Weblink to NASA animation “The Great Ocean Conveyor Belt” (downloadable video that shows the current system that now is found to slow down in the North Atlantic): here

- Weblink to a study on possible impacts of a shutdown of the thermohaline circulation: here

- Weblink to the expert assessment of an AMOC tipping: here.  

Map based on NASA GISS data of warming 1901-2013 in Rahmstorf AMOC NCC study 2015

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Happy 90th B-Day, Pierre Boulez!

March 25th, 2015 · Composer, Concert, Music

Olivier Messiaen: “Beneath it all, Pierre Boulez is simply a poet.”

Soprano Marisol Montalvo sings Pierre Boulez’s “Pli selon pli” live with L’Ensemble Intercontemporain conducted by Matthias Pintscher. “Pli selon Pli” is a set of five songs based on poems by Stéphane Mallarmé. It is for me one of the seminal 50s/60s musical compositions & bears returning to again & again. Details on composition & the poems available here; see also the following homage in the Guardian.

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Dawn Clements @ Pierogi: hurry!

March 24th, 2015 · Uncategorized

The latest show of Dawn Clements’ magisterial work is up now at the Pierogi gallery — but only until 29 March. So hurry to 177 North 9th Street in Brooklyn to catch it!


Here’s the Press Release:

Pierogi is pleased to present an exhibition of recent work by Dawn Clements. In addition to continuing to explore the subject of domesticity, Clements takes on sentimentality. This new body of work includes paintings on paper of aging floral and still life arrangements on her kitchen table. Clements’ signature glued, folded and distressed paper, gives the work an almost sculptural quality. This and her use of scale, endow these works with a heft and depth of feeling that is remarkable.

“After some years involving much travel away from home, I took this past year to be home, reflect and work. This work took me back to my living space, particularly the kitchen table. I count my days through my work. The past seven-and-a-half years of my life have involved love, loss, and change. Thoughts of passing days, people, gestures and the often overlooked objects of daily life have driven my work in a sentimental direction, many in the form of watercolor flower works.”   (Clements, 2015)

In addition to a renewed focus on her domestic space, Clements has also made a return to color. This exhibition will include large and medium-scale works on paper: in Gallery one, primarily large watercolor paintings of Clements’ year in her kitchen, such as “Peonies”, “Chrysanthemums,” and “Hyacinth, Camellia, and Sugar Egg.” On view in Gallery two will be several black and white works including a large ballpoint pen drawing of a woman in her bedroom from Raffaello Mattarazzo’s film “L’angelo bianco” (1955) and a drawing of the library at Civitella Ranieri Foundation in Umbertide, Italy.

This will be Dawn Clements’ sixth one-person exhibition at Pierogi. Her work is currently on exhibit at Bates College Museum of Art (“Back and Forth: the collaborative works of Dawn Clements and Marc Leuthold”), and has been included in numerous exhibitions including: “Paper” (Saatchi Gallery, London), “Ghost of Architecture” (Henry Art Gallery, Seattle), “Ballpoint Pen Drawing Since 1950” (Aldrich Contemporary, CT), “Making Room: The Space Between Two and Three Dimensions” (MassMoCA), “11th National Drawing Invitational: New York, Singular Drawings” (Arkansas Arts Center), “Contemporary American Drawing” (Xiang Art Museum, Sheng Zheng, China), and the Whitney Biennial 2010 (Whitney Museum of American Art, NY). Her works are included in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art (NYC), Whitney Museum of American Art (NYC), Brown University, The Tang Museum, the Deutsche Bank Collection, among others. Clements received an MFA from the State University of New York at Albany and a BA from Brown University. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.



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‘Fugitive Literature': Granary Books Has Done the Deed

March 23rd, 2015 · Blogs, Book Launch

Jan Herman’s new memoir & his take on it, from his blog:

Here’s what happened: I was invited to speak about “little magazines and William S. Burroughs” on a panel with Jed Birmingham and Charles Plymell at the 2014 Burroughs Centennial Conference hosted in New York City by the Center for the Humanities. After my talk, Steve Clay came up to me and asked to publish what I’d said. I didn’t know Steve, though I’d met him once years earlier, but I knew of his Granary Books.

Among Granary’s many titles was At a Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing: 1960-1980, based on a 1998 exhibition at the New York Public Library. Co-edited by Clay and Rodney Phillips, who was the curator of the library’s Berg Collection at the time, the book, to quote its description, “documents a period of intense exploration and experimentation in American writing and literary publishing.” It serves as “a monumental catalog, especially considering the ephemerality of the mimeo publications and their histories.”

A little magazine I had done in the late-’60s, The San Francisco Earthquake, was mentioned in it with an illustration, but didn’t get much attention. I don’t think it was a matter of geography. I think it was just an oversight, because there are dozens of major entries for little mags — mimeos and otherwise, as well as small literary presses — that were based in far-flung places like Tulsa, Oklahoma (Ron Padgett’s White Dove Review); Mexico City (Margaret Randall’s El Corno Emplumado); Gloucester, Massachusetts (Gerrit Lansing’s SET); Paris (John Ashbery’s Art and Literature); Banalbufar, Mallorca (Robert Creeley’s Divers Press); Bolinas, California (Bill Berkson’s Big Sky). And of course it included a ton of fugitive New York City poetry rags. Maybe Clay was making up for the oversight.

My Adventures in Fug Lit is subtitled “How I got to San Francisco” (TRUE), clerked at City Lights (TRUE), started a little magazine (TRUE), published William Burroughs (TRUE), and landed in Vermont (TRUE) as editor in chief of Something Else Press.” (AGAIN TRUE). Granary’s description says it “provides a vivid first-person account (SO TRUE!) of Jan Herman’s years in the small press underground of the sixties and seventies” (TRUE), that Earthquake and my Nova Broadcast Press “published Beat, post-beat and Fluxus writers and artists” (TRUE), that I was “editor in chief of Something Else Press” (TRUE), and that the book “is illustrated throughout with color photographs and reproductions.” (BEAUTIFULLY TRUE!) If you’d like to order a copy, go to, but don’t forget to select “wrappers” (the trade paperback). For anyone who wants to buy a deluxe signed/numbered copy, you’re out of luck. Those babies are “sold out.” (TRUE)

One thing to remember: Fug Lit is based on a presentation I tailored to an audience of Burroughs fans, many of them academic specialists and book collectors. So, though “vivid,” my memoir may seem a bit technical for a general audience. There is nothing in it about addiction (except to language), 12-step programs for alcoholics, treatment programs for drug abusers, cures for sexual maladies, or rock stars in recovery. The tale starts like this:

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Summer storm weakening leads to more persistent heat extremes

March 20th, 2015 · Climate Change

pauldouglas_1407855705_heatfloodPress Release by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research

03/13/2015 – Embargo lifted

Storm activity in large parts of the US, Europe and Russia significantly calmed down during summers over the past decades, but this is no good news. The weakening of strong winds associated with the jetstream and weather systems prolongs and hence intensifies heat extremes like the one in Russia in 2010 which caused devastating crop failures and wildfires. This is shown in a study to be published in the renowned journal Science by a team of researchers from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research. They link the findings to changes in the Arctic caused by man-made global warming.

“When the great air streams in the sky above us get disturbed by climate change, this can have severe effects on the ground,” says lead-author Dim Coumou. “While you might expect reduced storm activity to be something good, it turns out that this reduction leads to a greater persistence of weather systems in the Northern hemisphere mid-latitudes. In summer, storms transport moist and cool air from the oceans to the continents bringing relief after periods of oppressive heat. Slack periods, in contrast, make warm weather conditions endure, resulting in the buildup of heat and drought.”

Climate change might further weaken circulation in the warm season

Previous studies by other researchers mostly focused on winter storms, as these are usually the most damaging. While regionally the frequency or intensity of winter storms might change, on average storm activity in the cold season remains largely unchanged. In summer, however, the analysis of observational data coming from weather stations and satellites reveals a clear decrease in the average storm activity. This means a reduction in either frequency or intensity, or of both. The scientists studied a specific type of turbulences known as synoptic eddies, and calculated the total energy of their wind speeds. This energy, which is a measure for the interplay between intensity and frequency of high and low pressure systems in the atmosphere, dropped by roughly one tenth since 1979.

“Unabated climate change will probably further weaken summer circulation patterns which could thus aggravate the risk of heat waves,” says co-author Jascha Lehmann “Remarkably, climate simulations for the next decades, the CMIP5, show the same link that we found in observations. So the warm temperature extremes we’ve experienced in recent years might be just a beginning.”

The Arctic factor: warming twice as fast as most other regions

Rapid warming in the Arctic might be the driver of the observed changes in circulation, according to the study. Greenhouse-gas emissions from burning fossil fuels make temperatures rise globally, but in the high North the warming is faster. Since the Artics’ sea-ice cover is shrinking due to global warming, the polar region takes up more heat. The ice-free dark sea-surface reflects less sunlight back to space than white ice would do. Warmer waters then warm the air, which reduces the temperature difference between the cold polar region and the warmer rest of the Northern hemisphere. Since the temperature difference drives air motion, the reduction of this difference weakens the jet-stream, something the scientists also observed. Furthermore, they link this weakening to the observed reduction in storm activity.

“From whichever angle we look at the heat extremes, the evidence we find points in the same direction,” Coumou says. “The heat extremes do not just increase because we’re warming the planet, but because climate change disturbs airstreams that are important for shaping our weather. The reduced day-to-day variability that we observed makes weather more persistent, resulting in heat extremes on monthly timescales. So the risk of high-impact heat waves is likely to increase.”

Article: Coumou, D., Lehmann, J., Beckmann, J. (2015): The weakening summer circulation in the Northern Hemisphere mid-latitudes. Science (Express) [DOI:10.1126/science.1261768]

Weblink to the article:
Weblink to a previous study on another factor influencing heat extremes, the planetary waves:
Weblink to a previous study on the number of heat extremes:

For further information please contact:
PIK press office
Phone: +49 331 288 25 07
Twitter: @PIK_Climate

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PJ & NP: On The Road Again…

March 16th, 2015 · Book Launch, Book Presentation, Live Reading, New York, Paris, Paul Celan, Performances, Poetry Festival, Poetry readings, Summer Reading


Our next four months are filled with truly exciting performances, readings, screenings, collaborations, book launches, art shows & we sure are looking forward to see you here or there.
Meanwhile, thank you for your support & happy spring — keep in touch!
Nicole & Pierre

Wednesday, March 18  7PM
Breathturn Into Timestead: The Collected Later Poetry of Paul Celan
with poet-translator Pierre Joris; multimedia by NP.
Event cosponsored by The Poetry Center and City Lights Books
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers
261 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, California 94133
Facebook event page

Thursday, March 19  4:30PM
PJ & NP reading/performance
The Poetry Center, San Francisco State University
1600 Holloway Ave, San Francisco, California 94132
HUM 512, SFSU, 4:30 pm, free
Facebook event page

Saturday March 21 2PM
PJ & NP reading/performance
La Commune Cafe and Bookstore
4799 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, California 94609
Facebook event: here

Thursday April 2   9PM
“Inferno” Reading
PJ takes part in reading of Dante’s Inferno.
Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine
1047 Amsterdam Avenue at 112th Street New York, NY 10025

MINNEAPOLIS – AWP conference
Thursday  April 9  12:00 – 13:30PM
PJ on panel: Translating Prosody
Minneapolis Convention Center – Room 211 C&D
Thursday, April 9  5-11PM
Rain Taxi 20th Anniversary Bash at Walker Art Center
5-9 PM: Screenings of Basil King:Mirage —film co-directed by Miles Joris-Peyrafitte & Nicole Peyrafitte — every half hour in the Lecture Room, free
(museum entrance free that evening!).
Facebook page event here
Film trailer here
5:30 PM: Book signing by Basil King in the Bazinet Lobby, Free
8:00 PM: NP & PJ part of the Rain Taxi “Greatest Hits” Poetry Reading, in the Walker Cinema, Tickets $10 ($8 Walker members);
book signing in lobby & party to follow.
Friday, April 10, 2015   9-10:15AM
PJ moderates panel: Celan and Language: Cross-Cultural Greatness
Room M100 H&I, Mezzanine Level
Friday, April 10 7-9PM
NP & PJ at the Lunar Chandelier group reading
James and Mary Booksellars
250 Third Avenue North. Minneapolis

Wednesday  April 15   7PM
Maghrebi Translations Reading
PJ reads North African authors
McNally Jackson Books, 52 Prince Street, New York, NY 10012

Thursday, April 23 4:30 PM
PJ Paul Celan talk  -info here
105 Chancellor Green, Princeton, N.J.
followed by Poetry Reading -Room TBA

Tuesday April 21st
Pierre Joris & Nicole Peyrafitte
Reading for Centenary of the Armenian Genocide
Holy Cross Church of Armenia, 580 West 187th Street,  New York
Facebook event: here

Tuesday April 28th 7PM
Arts for Art’s April Evolving Pop-Up
Nicole Peyrafitte / Yoshiko Chuma, dance / Steve Swell, trombone
Clemente Soto Vélez Cultural & Educational Center
107 Suffolk Street, New York 10002
Facebook event: here


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May 1-3

NP & PJ —full of quid—will interfere at:
Exhibition-Performance-Conference extraordinaire
Curated by Didier Calleja
Facebook event: here

May 7- June 24
OÙ Galerie Paradis
Exhibition with Philippe TURC, Nicole PEYRAFITTE, Anne KIESECOMS
Commissariat Denis Brun
152 rue Paradis, 13006 Marseille
Opening / vernissage:  May 16th

May 29, 30 & 31
NP at Festival Les Eauditives en Provence Verte
Barjols 83670
Several performances & launch of French edition of Bi-Valve: Espace Vulvique /Connaissance Vulvique

Sunday, June 7    7PM
Jardin des 5 Sens & des Formes Premières 
Saint-Marc-Jaumegarde  13100
NP Perfdinatoire! Guest artist: Denis Brun

Tuesday, June 9    7PM
PJ & NP reading/performance for Paris Poets Live Series at Berkeley Books of Paris
8 Rue Casimir-Delavigne, 75006 Paris – France

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Abdelwahab Meddeb: The Malady of Islam (18)

March 12th, 2015 · Arab Culture, Cultural Studies, Islam, Islamic Fundamentalists, Translation


The Malady of Islam

by Abdelwahab Meddeb

translated from the French by
Pierre Joris and Charlotte Mandell

(18th installment)

P a r t  I V

The Western Exclusion of Islam


Now that I’ve come to the end of this book, written in urgency, I would like to enrich the “testimonies against intolerance” collected by Voltaire to form the fifteenth chapter of his Traité sur la tolérance with two verses from the Koran:

No coercion in religion.[1]

Râzî comments on this:  the interpretation (ta’wîl) of this sentence is that God did not construct the question of faith on force (ijbâr) and violence (qasr), but based it on the possibility of persuasion (tamakkun) and free choice (ikhtiyâr).  God made clear and obvious the path that leads to faith.  When all the ways to convince are exhausted in the Book, only coercion remains to lead the hesitant to the truth.  But recourse to constraint is unacceptable:  the use of violence annuls the testing (imtihân) and effort prompted by assiduous application (taklîf) of the rules.  To illustrate the line of argument he borrows from a previous authority (al-Qaffâl), Râzi cites other Koranic verses:  “May he who wants to, believe, and may he wants to, remain unbelieving;” “If your Lord had wanted it, all those who people the Earth would believe.  Is it up to you to force people to believe?”[2]  Râzi recalls that constraint is exercised as soon as the Muslim says to the unbeliever:  “Convert or I kill you.”  This verse sheds light on the right of the people of the Book and of the Manicheans.  If they agree to pay the tax on minorities (jizya), they earn the protection of the law.  Legal advisors (fuqahâ’) differ in their opinions as to whether this verse applies to all the unbelievers, or only the people of the Book.[3]  In any case, the interpretation of this verse authorizes some metaphysicians or theologians of Islam to suspend the notion of jihad

And here is the second verse:

Discuss with people of the Book only in the finest manner — except with those among them who are unrighteous.  Say:  “We believe in what was revealed to us and in what was revealed to you.  Our God as well as yours is unique.  To him we submit.”[4]

Such a verse is explicit enough; it gives Islam an absolute legitimacy to belong to the ethical and metaphysical sphere of monotheism, which should be expressed by the notion of Islamic-Judeo-Christianity.  Allah is not the name of the God of Islam; it is the Arab word that designates God, the same God that is at the basis of monotheism in its formal, cultural, and symbolic ternary variety.  The power of this verse imposed the peaceful way on the fundamentalist Mawdûdi, the way of civility implied by the courtesy of persuasion and recourse to words as opposed to weapons; this peaceful recommendation was of course rejected by his successors.[5]  The expression bi’llatî hiya ahsan, which I have translated as “in the finest manner,” becomes an idiomatic phrase in Arabic, and is amply used in current language to signify respect for courtesy in any dispute or controversy.

It is this aspect of the Qur’an of which the fanatics of Islam, sick with their suicidal fervor full of hatred, should be reminded.  Several times we have evoked Voltaire, who calls for good sense.  The master from Ferney calls on reason, which he conceives as the radical remedy against the mental sickness of fanaticism.  I would like to confirm this recourse to reason to restrain the monotheists’ summons to the sickness of intolerance and war in the name of God.  Renan too invokes reason as remedy for evil:

…If religions divide men, reason brings them closer (…)  There is only one single reason.  The unity of the human spirit is the great, consoling result that comes from the peaceful clash of ideas, when one puts aside the opposing claims of so-called supernatural revelations.  The covenant of the good minds of the whole Earth against fanaticism and superstition is on the surface the act of an imperceptible minority; at bottom, it is the only covenant that lasts…[6]

For the sake of this thought, I pardon his racism, his essentialist vision of languages and symbolic systems, his hierarchy of expression and imagination; I pardon his wanderings of another era, for he also helped me to understand the chimera represented by Pan-Arabism as well as by Pan-Islamism.  His pamphlet Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? [What is a nation?] reminded me that the nation is founded not on linguistic unity, not on the community of faith or on geographical continuity or the sharing of history.  It is based on the single wish to be together.[7]  It is this wish that made me choose the French community, where my foreign name is pronounced with sounds amputated, where I continue to maintain my Islamic genealogy and to cross it with my other, European genealogy.  Thus the inherited and the chosen are combined inside one single being.

And as much as I work to make manifest Islamic allusion in my poetic and literary work as well as in my teaching or my presence in the heart of the city, I am still surprised by those who, invoking their Islam, demand that the Republic change, as the representative of about thirty Islamic associations suggests:

…Just as Islam is asked to change, so should secularity change, for today secularity cannot be content with a definition according to which it restricts the religious to the private sphere.  The return of the religious is general, and it questions the whole social sphere.[8]

To this unreasonable claim, I will answer with a Talmudic precept that should serve as a teaching for the recognition of the Islamic presence in France:  Dina dé-malkhuta dina:  “The law of the State takes precedence over the law of the Torah.”[9]

Finally, I would like to take a definitive stance as coming from the solidarity of the community, as an instinctual reflex, a principle of survival and existing, and would recall the old precept that Eratosthenes taught Alexander:  disapproving of the division of humanity into Greeks and Barbarians, the former as friends and the latter as enemies, he urges changing the criterion so as to distinguish instead between virtue and dishonesty:  “Many Greeks are base people, and many Barbarians have a refined civilization…”[10]  And I am happy to find an Islamic formulation of this precept, the echo of which I grasp from the pen of the divine Ibn ‘Arabi:

How many beloved saints there are in the synagogues and churches!
How many enemies full of hatred in the rows of mosques!

October 19-December 9, 2001.

[1]  Qur’an, 2:256.

[2]  Qur’an, 18:29 and 9:99.

[3]  Fakhr ad-Dîn Râzi, Mafâtîh al-Ghayb, 7:13-14.

[4] Qur’an, 29:46.

[5] Emilio Platti, Islam… étrange?, 282-3.

[6] Ernest Renan, “L’Islamisme et la science,” in Discours et conférences (Paris:  Calmann-Lévy, 1919), 402-3; Appendix (Response to Afghâni), Journal des débats, May 18, 1883.

[7]  Ernest Renan, Qu’est-ce qu’une nation? (Paris: Imprimerie nationale, 1996).

[8] Fouad Alaoui, Libération, October 16, 2001.

[9] Literally:  “The law of the country is the law.”

[10]  Strabo, Geography, translated into French by Germaine Aujac (Paris:  Belles Lettres, 1969), 1:3,9.

[12]  Ibn ‘Arabi, At-Tajalliyât al-Ilâhiya (Tehran:  Osman Yahia, 1988), 458.

[to be continued with Afterword: War Chronicles]

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