At a total of 165 copies for the first print run, Abraham T. Zere’s “Anecdotes of Indefinite Anarchy: Dispatches from Eritrea” is almost complete. Mail-outs and distribution coming soon. Each one of these little chapbooks has been printed on the Lada of printers, folded and numbered by hand. There are variations of the cover and the interiour graphics, so the copies are unique.
Forthcoming this month through the Green Violin is Anecdotes of Indefinite Anarchy by Abraham T. Zere. In the texts compiled in Anecdotes of Indefinite Anarchy, Abraham T. Zere writes about Eritrea, one of the most silent countries in the world. When Zere wrote between 2016 and 2017, Eritrea was listed at the bottom of the list for worst country in the world for freedom of press by Reporters Without Borders. Today, little has changed, as it continues to sit at 179 out of 180, just above North Korea in the 2017 review. Since President Isaias Afwerki came to power in 1993, the Eritrean regime under the rule of the People’s Front for Democracy and Justice maintains a strict control over political criticism, artistic output and freedom of expression.
Also, Nathan Medema’s a ticking does not absolve the bomb is now available online as a PDF, on its publication page. A few copies have been made available at H. de Heutz shows in Montréal and Ottawa, with forthcoming shows in Québec City and Montréal.
The last few months of 2017 brought out the first publications of The Green Violin, a small, independent publishing project for the free distribution of poetry, essays and prose. The website for The Green Violin went live before winter set in, and the press is expecting a few new releases in early 2018. A large part of the work on this press is done in the face of systemic silence from mainstream and independent, even “radical” presses, their editors and publishers. None of the work through this press is done for profit, no manifestos are written to sell anything; no grants, no fancy equipment or materials, no BS.
The first works made available through The Green Violin are:
A Ticking Does Not Absolve the Bomb, by Nathan Medema (117 copies, first printing Dec. 2017)
We are culpable in choosing speech, in choosing the form of collective memory. In a world that operates more through the violence of speed, discarding the concentration of intent, instinct demands that we speak with urgent brevity, through visible codes. The luxury of choosing what to speak of aligns us with stories we can profit from. We acquire social capital, pursue careerist motivations, by adapting the ’cause of the day’. Whose traumas do we adapt, in the accumulation of someone else’s memories? Who is left behind after rapid attention has dried?
The taste of language as it speaks truth is a bitter stone on a tongue that desires, needs water. Resistance is to insist on memory, in spite of the dominance of convenient narratives. It is to resist the traceless silence that is selective in its rupture. To give life again to worlds that we have left behind, that have departed from us, to give life again to words that have been at rest, exchanged for another form, another taste.
The To Justify Land essay series begins with a hydro-electric dam expansion and condominium development currently under construction on a few islands on the Ottawa River, between the cities of Ottawa and Gatineau. These islands have long been sacred to the Algonquin people who lived here before the establishment of the Canadian nation. The series examines the rhetoric and capitalist logic that justifies the continued development of such infrastructure, and the region’s history of economic and physical displacement of working classes.
The third section compares the hydro-electric development of Québec in the early 20th century, and continuing today, with that across northeastern and southern Siberia. The legacies of displacement of Indigenous peoples in the northern boréale as in the Central Asian steppes are the same, with similar structures and manipulation of ‘reserves’ and ‘savkhozi’. Many of the companies involved in resource extraction industries that benefit from dam development in Russia are familiar to the same struggles in North America. The later sections examine resource extraction and hydro-electric development in the province of British Columbia, Honduras and Bolivia; the language of ecological resistance in Peru through the work of Marisol de la Cadena; and a thorough look at the resource extraction and war industry money that is fueling the Board of Directors at Ontario Hydro and corporate interests in Asinabka.
A Draft for Asinabka, by Lital Khaikin (150 copies, first printing)
A narrative mirror of appropriation and erasure reveals the rhetoric of legal and public discourse around Windmill’s corporate ZIBI development on unceded Algonquin land. A vision of a nation sold – rivers dammed, water privatised, the sacred disremembered, the rich honoured. A project of documentary and archival reconstruction, A Draft for Asinabka references experimental poetics, where fragmentation tells a history on the precipice of past and present.
The earliest forthcoming works through The Green Violin will be published and distributed between January and March 2018:
Anecdotes of Indefinite Anarchy, by Abraham T. Zere
Abraham Tesfalul Zere is an exiled Eritrean writer and journalist who was one of the founding members of PEN Eritrea where he currently serves as Executive Director. Zere left Eritrea in 2012 and is now based in Ohio, USA.
Four Poems, by ko ko thett
ko ko thett is a poet by choice and Burmese by chance. In between he is a poetry editor, literary translator, and anthologist of contemporary Burmese poetry. Selections from his book, the burden of being burmese, have been translated into Chinese, Arabic, Portuguese, Russian and Finnish. thett’s poems are anthologised in Best American Experimental Writing 2016 [BAX 2016], CAPITALS: A Poetry Anthology (2017) and The Borderlands of Asia: Culture, Place, Poetry (2017) among others. After a whirlwind tour of Asia, Europe and North America for two decades, thett happily resettled in Sagaing in his native Burma-Myanmar in 2017. thett writes in both Burmese and English.
Not Meant as Poems, by Fiona Sze-Lorrain
Fiona Sze-Lorrain is the author of three books of poetry, Water the Moon (2010), My Funeral Gondola (2013), and most recently The Ruined Elegance (Princeton, 2016), a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize. She is also a zheng harpist and a widely published translator of contemporary Chinese, French, and American poets. One of her latest translations, Yi Lu’s Sea Summit (Milkweed, 2016), was shortlisted for the 2016 Best Translated Book Award. She lives in Paris.
More forthcoming titles will be announced soon. Also forthcoming are PDFs of the publications, and a list of some distribution locations. As something to look forward to after the winter months leave us, The Green Violin will be found in a mobile form outside (locations to be revealed at a later time), with first, second, or even third printings made available from all of these releases (and other goodies). That’s it for now.
Indonesian genocide in West Papua is non-genocide because it does not qualify as: ‘intentional efforts to wipe out all or part of indigenous West Papuans as a distinct racial and ethnic group’ (c/o UN human rights office of the high commissioner).
The following acts shall be punishable:
(b) Conspiracy to commit genocide;
(c) Direct and public incitement to commit genocide;
(d) Attempt to commit genocide;
(e) Complicity in genocide.
“The UN’s decolonisation committee will not accept a petition signed by 1.8 million West Papuans calling for independence, saying West Papua’s cause is outside the committee’s mandate.” (The Guardian, Sep. 30, 2017)
Meanwhile, Canadian economy grows, adds new jobs, bloats prosperity, raises a glass to new booming profits:
Tuesday, September 23, 2014: Indonesia presents ‘big opportunities’ for Canadian business, specifically, Hatfield Consultants Limited, Vancouver BC. “In addition to Canada, Hatfield has established offices in Indonesia, Laos, and Botswana and business partners in Chile and Thailand” and “We specialize in undertaking complex, multi-disciplinary environmental projects, often in collaboration with networks of local experts and specialists in particular fields.” Sales: $9.0 million – Exports: $2.5 million. “Big players such as Manulife Financial Corp., Sun Life Financial Inc., Vale Ltd. (formerly Inco Ltd.), Bombardier Inc. and BlackBerry Ltd. are firmly established in Indonesia. Now it is time for smaller companies to explore this rich terrain, experts say.” such an exciting place – Export Development Canada. “Indonesia’s new president, Joko Widodo, is a young, self-made businessman who seems open to foreign investment.”
After moving to Montreal at the beginning of April, I commenced work on a small, independent publishing project that would aim for free distribution of poetry, essays, and experimental prose. The project is called The Green Violin | La Violon Vert. The Green Violin is inspired by a 1969 collaboration between Fluxus artists Joseph Beuys and Henning Christiansen. The artists staged a ‘concert’ uniting two distinct moments in time, and with that entanglement, ritualizing the bond with one another. Henning played a violin that was painted green in two separate performances, after which the instrument has never been played since and now remains confined to the sarcophagi of art galleries.
This concert laces together the significance of two otherwise disparate moments, in a way where one can no longer be grasped without the other. To echo this way of connection, The Green Violin is intended to reflect facets of language as it embodies the struggle against capitalism (as against all violence derived from ideology) which is shared despite geopolitical and linguistic boundaries. The realization of language in this form can be traced across the historical narratives of documentary poetry, through formal experimentation that places challenging demands on time and the act of reading, in the decolonial practices of interchanging language and recovering the mother-tongue, and in the reclamation of silence and erasure.
But with this broad scope, The Green Violin remains humble in materials. It is self-funded, it operates with unglamorous materials for small booklets, tabloid-sized sheets of newsprint, and the occasional simple broadside. An untrained ‘publication povera’, unfunded by government-sanctioned arts grants or universities. This form is meant for the caprice of flight, which is less ornamented, and more concerned with its corpus and destination.
Publications are printed indefinitely, but general numbers for a first printing are around 120-150. Subsequent editions are reprinted as materials permit, with the intention for the work published by the press to continue as living works (also enabling authors to interpret the process of revisions or adjustments, directly or through an annotated version of their original work). The first few ‘test’ publications have already found their way into public distribution in Montreal and Ottawa, with broader distribution slated for future publications. The press is welcoming its first authors this winter (2017).
The Green Violin is a free-distribution project, motivated by anti-capitalist principles, meaning the works are not for sale. There is no copyright taken by the press. The Green Violin intends to target a readership that is outside of academic and institutional spaces where such literature is normally distributed. These spaces are places of community and discussion that are often subsumed under capitalist relationships of exchange: they are cafes and bars, community centres, bookstores, grocery stores, newsstands, and corporate-funded ‘public’ events. The free distribution model is intended to make accessible the writing and thought that is often isolated within academic spheres, but with the call to live up to the principles of sharing knowledge and disrupting silos of expertise.
The Green Violin in part responds to the prevalence of anarchism, and the revolutionary image, as good business for commercial publishers. The accessibility of ‘radical’ literature remains in the realm of commodity, as a collector’s item, as part of a buy-in culture. It has never been more profitable for academies and publishing institutions, including those who self-present as radical or anarchist presses, to publish ‘incendiary’ literature, often replicating the exclusive cult of personality that draws sales. There are unprecedented profits for contemporary publishing of guides, how-to’s, and manuals for convenient revolutions. Molotovs are fashion statements! If the academy has also joined the necropolis of cultural detritus, then let the inquisition carry on outside of its state-funded muzzle!