Today I Write...
Suzanne Yanko says in her introduction to the first anthology that the experiences of migration and the memories and results of those individual experiences have brought into focus feelings of 'dislocation and disillusionment with the new country'.
This first volume draws together, for the represented writers both the pain of war, deprivation and the contemporary themes pertaining to their new lives (Yanko) in a cultural experience so totally different to that of being mostly European.
As an Austral-Celt I was deeply moved by much of the content of the writing but with no way of relating to the horrific experience of war, the holocaust or the many changes which occur to migrants in the wrench from one culture to another.
As a traveller I do relate to the migrant experience of political disillusionment and day to day alienation.
As a writer I learned much about the European expression of experience, nuance, form, shape, tone, mythology and the art of story telling.
The title poem, 'Today I Write...' (M. Aidani) puts together accurately the aspects of what writers find to write about, including writers who write about each other, usually reviewers. Aidani's 'My Granny Told Me' evokes images of the undesirables of the world, and those who would wish to make those undesirables invisible, war mongers, racists and elitists.
Janka Abrami's 'My Father's Violin' is a lament about a damaged and forgotten instrument, lilting and tender.
There is more blank verse and short story style than iambic pentameter here, but Austin Jedicks' translation of Hanna Foks' 'Berlin Salute' (1930), portrays the difference between how people say hello - those who mean it and those who don't - in splendid rhyme.
Incidentally, I wonder how these translations hold up for the European writers.
Again in translation, this time by Sonja Delander, is 'Michelangelo's David in Melbourne'. This is a very funny piece about a statue of David at an Italian week at one of the Melbourne's emporia with the prudes out in force!
Clarissa Stein's short story 'In Vitro Fertilisation - Rondo' is poignant; sad and viciously critical of the medical profession and with good reason from the way she tells it, simply, but with pain, hopelessness and finally (I think) acceptance.
Stein's 'Transition', about parting and travelling is rich in colour and movement, while 'Think of Me... as a pebble... in mountain streams... hairdos of queens... in the fires of the holocaust', begins gently and becomes frightening in its truth.
It is difficult to write to as many pieces as fit into this example of multicultural alienation and I feel that I might always miss mentioning the deserving but in this instance, all are deserving.
Helene Brophy