Saturday, January 31, 2009
Joyelle McSweeney, Assistant Professor at the University of Notre Dame, creative writer, co-founder and editor of the press, Action Books, introduced her press and its focus on translation on January 28th. Both domestic and international students filled the third floor lounge of Wiekamp. They discussed how exciting it is to publish stories, including online quarterlies, blogs, and social communication sites, and share ideas with the world. This event was organized by Professor Kelcey Parker and Anne Magnan-Park, who are building a stronger bridge between the ND and IU South Bend creative writing departments.
McSweeney has a passion for introducing international writers both online and in printed publications with her two editors; Johannes Göransson (a Swedish translator and co-founder of Action Books) and John Dermot Woods (an English professor at Montclair State University in New York). The press has “Action Statements” such as “Action, Yes is the online arm of Action Books; Hybridity, Entropy, Inflammation; We're not so interested in tchotchkes from the style-mart; Knock down all the pipelines and employ border guards as guiders for newcomers” (http://actionyes.org).
In addition, international writers do not have to be born outside of the United States; American writers can be a part of the international movements. She is excited to read American writers with global conflicts and current political issues. She said, “I like to be surprised by the writers’ language, styles, and images. Surprise me with your crazy ideas!” She also explained how a young American solider published his first story through her press because he had an unforgettable experience and wanted to write about it. The young talented writer was founded and introduced into the world by the press.
McSweeney is currently promoting a South Korean contemporary poet, Kim Hyesoon, and her translator, Don Mee Choi, a Mexican author Laura Solórzano and her translator Jen Hofer through Action Books and Global Women Writers Now; the Notre Dame Women Writers Festival 2009. This festival is free and open to the public (see schedule below).
Through her publishing experiences, McSweeney believes that there is no wrong and right processing of writing and translations. Many readers in the world are interested in collaborations with native and domestic languages in poetry and stories. She also produces trilingual readings with Spanish, Korean, and English as a reading event.
Global Women Writers Now,
Notre Dame Women Writers Festival 2009 Event Schedule at ND:
February 8 at 7-9:00pm, Lafortune Ballroom, ND Students open mic.
February 9 at 4 -5:30pm, Auditorium, Hesburgh Center
“Women in International Literary Cultures: Korea and Mexico”
Gender Studies’ Managing Gender at Work lecture series
February 10 at 5:00pm, Auditorium, Hesburgh Center
Trilingual reading (Spanish, Korean, and English)
February 11 at 10:30am, Room C103, Hesburgh Center
Translation: Politics and Practice, a roundtable for translators, students, and faculty.
Friday, January 30, 2009
Thursday, January 29, 2009
Tuesday, January 27, 2009
Monday, January 26, 2009
My death metal guy and I had a huge fight. I do not really remember what the trigger was— he did not wash his hands before dinner or some small, silly cause— and it ended up with pieces of plastic bowls and two holes in the kitchen wall.
He was calm even though I started throwing magazines and plastic cereal bowls for seven days. I grabbed plastic containers, lids, and salad bowls. I was smart that I chose what could throw without damage. If I destroyed hundreds of ceramic plates and cups, those pieces might hurt our eyes and my cat. In addition, the shattered objects were messy. I did not want to clean up later thinking about whether the broken ceramic is recyclable or goodwill-able. So, I threw plastic bowls instead. They are usually strong in any occasion.
Unfortunately, most plastic salad bowls pounded into the kitchen floor. When I tried to calm down by thinking, “Naoko, it is ok because they are recyclable,” a chunky piece hit his shoulder.
He asked me to stop throwing plastic objects. I still felt anger inside me, so I punched a wall. The wall was not damaged. My knuckles hurt. Then he punched a wall. There was a tiny crack. I said, “You have such a fluffy fist, like a paw!” Thank you for proving to me your ability to throw punches. A huge crack ran and a chunk of plaster came off from the wall. Therefore, he left my apartment.
Now, I have to pay a damage fee for the kitchen when I move out. I received a list of how much the damage costs such as pinholes, stains, carpet damages etc. I hung art frames, so pinholes are acceptable, but two big holes with a Mickey Mouse shape on the wall are definitely not acceptable.
Later on, he knocked on the door with ugly purple flowers in a potted plant and cinnamon rolls. The plastic pieces were still on the floor and I picked up one of the magazines. We had tea time together in a peaceful moment again.
When I read a magazine, I found jeans from American Eagle. Those worn-out clothes were expensive. They had holes, faded colors, and threads coming out from everywhere. People are willing to pay for the jeans with the damages; perhaps, a vintage value, even though it costs like a week’s worth of my grocery budget.
If people are willing to pay more for bleached out, holey jeans, then they should be willing to pay more for my carpet stained, holey walled apartment. It has character. The only character one can get with years of treating it in a way that a mother would abhor. Having cinnamon rolls, he said, “Hell, while they are at it, my rusted out 1989 Oldsmobile may just hit pay dirt on e-bay.”
The ugly purple flowers are still blooming after seven months. I wanted to throw it away but since it feeds off of our civility, I will reward it and its stubborn refusal to die a place near the bed. In fact, I have noticed some of its petals fading, with one sporting a hole. Maybe it’s taking a queue from my jeans and trying to up its face value.
Thursday, January 22, 2009
I had stayed in my apartment for four days. I slept seventeen hours each day and night, occasionally ate cinnamon rolls and taco salads; in addition, wrote some poetry for my assignment under blankets, moreover tweezed “unnecessary” body hair while looking at a hand mirror.
I realized that nothing inspired me walking around seven feet of a perfect equilateral triangle between the bed, toilet seat, and refrigerator and looking at a collection of tweezed short body hair. Worse, I found my very first gray hair on my jet-black head. When I saw it, I persuaded myself that it was a cat’s hair even though she also had jet-black fur. Suddenly, I heard my grandmother’s imaginary voice, “Naoko, young age will never come back. Be fashionable; buy new underwear.”
So, I decided to go shopping at University Park Mall with a gift card from Victoria’s Secret. I received it from the mother of my death metal guy this Christmas. I usually do not go shopping unless I have enough budgeted because it is too sad for me that I cannot buy any fabulous materials from each shelf of Banana Republic, Coach; especially, Swarovski, the crystal shop.
I did not know that there is a Swarovski in South Bend until my death metal guy said, “I saw a little kero in the store.” (Kero means a frog in Japanese slang.) So, I stopped by the shop to see the crystal kero.
The crystal company is all branched out now, but when I was a little girl I could see the showcases, which were only available at international airports and gift shops at five stars hotels. I remembered that I viewed crystal flowers, butterflies, and animals until my boarding time came. My father sometimes gave a crystal animal to my mother when we spend time in a foreign country during winter break. Crystal penguins, hedgehogs, and swans were in my display doll house, but I was never allowed to touch them. The hedgehogs sat under a mahogany table where all the dolls were having tea and strawberry shortcakes looking at the swans. The penguins were always next to a tea server. I could spend hours and hours watching them and hearing what they talked about during the teatime.
There was nobody in the shop but me, surrounded by crystalline creatures. The thousands of firefly-like-shine made my life come back. Thirty minutes prior, I pulled all ugly body hair and walked in a triangle but such beautiful things were present after I drove down three streets to the mall. A clerk told me that a man just purchased the last little frog of seven. Then, I really wanted to have it. My death metal guy chose a sun-shiny necklace as a Christmas gift instead of the little sparkling thing, my little kero. It would be perfect on my bonsai tree.
While I was choosing three underwear for $30 at Victoria’s Secret, I only could think about the crystal frog, like where his wife displayed it or if his girlfriend was happy with the gift (she might wanted to have a crystal panda instead), and how it would lose its twinkle covered with dust and break during their nasty fights. Lining up rose, smoky pink, and baby yellow colored laced underwear on a counter under spotlights, I felt sympathy toward the crystal frog.
Leaving the mall, I called my death metal guy to tell that the frogs were sold out and how I was concerned about its life in each new home. He said, “Well, I felt same way with your purchases today because they will face clouds of cinnamon fallout and beyond.”
Thursday, January 15, 2009
Figure-Skating with 2600Lbs
I hate driving on snow days. “Because you are an Asian girl,” said my male friend. He thinks that Asian women do not know how to drive; perhaps, all women cannot drive no matter what weather. If he only talked about my driving, I do not mind his theory, but my favorite writer, Francoise Sagan, owned fabulous sports cars and drove like a racing driver. She sometimes ended up in the emergency room but the accidents were not because of her lack of driving skills. She just loved to play between speed and death in her racing car.
It is jazzy cool that Sagan drove too fast in the beautiful countryside of France and wrote about death, but I drive too slowly on Mishawaka Ave listening to Britney Spears; besides, if I faced death; perhaps, if I hurt other people, it will be never like Sagan-like cool. I would be just a stupid driver who did not know how to drive.
I already had two fishtailing and sliding accidents this year. I drove 30 miles per hour on an icy day, and a red car in front of me suddenly started fishtailing. There was enough distance between the car and mine but I did not expect to stop in the middle street without signals and signs. So, my car also started fishtailing to the left side of the busy street— unconsciously I thought that I did not want to die listening to Womanizer. Turn right, right!— then I ended up hitting a big tree covered by a snowbank.
The red car was close to my left side back seat, so I was glad that I did not hit it. However, the car drove as if nothing happened; without helping me. My front end was buried under the snow and there were hundreds of cars waiting behind me. An old woman behind my car suggested digging out the snow under my front tires, but my car did not move at all.
Those hundreds of cars passed me with the eyes; “Thank you for blocking the street during my busy morning.” I felt sorry for them but I could not do anything except turning off the radio.
A young Latino man suddenly knocked on the back window holding gallons of salt. After he quickly spread it on the ground, he drove my car back and forth. But the tires just spun and my car did not move at all. When I tried to push the car once more, three men showed up. They were like superhero-rangers with warm gloves and jackets and one of them wore a cowboy hat. One guy said, “Miss, you need to dress up warmer.” I wore high heels and a body-length sweater without a coat and scarf because I never thought about it happening to me that morning. He added, “You may put extra gloves and jacket in your car.”
30 minutes later, finally my car came back to the street. I did not know how to thank the four men who saved my car from the snowbank.
Later that day, I discovered that there were many sliding accidents from the news and some drivers were seriously injured. I was lucky because I did not have any damage to my car and the four strangers helped me. But the next snow day keeps coming again and again until spring arrives. Until then, I need to drive patiently, no more figure-skating on the streets.
Thursday, January 8, 2009
By Naoko Fujimoto
Ivy Tech Community College, with its extensive network of local campuses, has risen above Indiana University as the state’s largest higher education institution. An Ivy Tech student, Yoko Lee, answered what makes students leave from Indiana University and become attracted to the community college.
Lee is an international student and chose Ivy Tech instead of IU South Bend because of financial issues. She said, “I pay about $2700 for four classes in a semester at Ivy Tech.” The international student tuition is usually more than double the rate of domestic students. Compared to tuition at IU South Bend, the international student pays an average of $5400 for four classes.
“But problems are that there are no scholarship programs at Ivy Tech and no international office,” said Lee. The administration office and her academic advisor do not support her financial plans, so she needed to spend extra time searching for scholarship programs outside of campus. However, minimizing offices and facilities have effectively lowered tuition. She added, “There is also no gym, café, or school activities. Most students do not look for a fun college life.” The community college is an institution for fully training technicians in a short period of time without the bells and whistles.
However, at IU South Bend, there are various scholarship programs available for both domestic and international students; in addition, any student can receive an annual scholarship brochure at the administration office and many academic advisors recommend paid internships and research projects. There are numerous facilities and programs at IUSB; however, most students are part-time with daytime jobs, so they may not be able to apply for those scholarship programs and sufficiently utilize the facilities anyway.
Lee said, “The most problematic thing is that the library at Ivy Tech usually closes at 8pm.” So, she studies at the IU South Bend Schurz Library until midnight. The students from Ivy Tech use the IUSB library especially during exam weeks. If they have a picture ID from Indiana, they can receive unlimited internet access and use the library research programs at IUSB. (The first card is free, the replacement fee is $5.) As other outside users, Lee uses the community user system to access the internet and research programs for her assignments from Ivy Tech.
For Lee’s academic achievement, the IUSB facilities contributed to her educational success. She said, “Hopefully next year, I will graduate with an Associate’s degree in nursing. I would like to get a job at a nursing home and transfer to Ball State University to complete my Bachelor’s.” If the state university’s mission is that education is for all citizens, it may not be possible to stop continually raising tuitions and dorm’s fee. Outside users do not drop any pennies at IUSB.
*The interviewee’s identity has been changed for reasons of ambiguity.
Monday, January 5, 2009
Happy spring semester 2009! This is the fourth season of Empty Suitcase, which means that I am going to graduate with a Master’s degree in English this May! Before I open bottles of champagne for congratulations, I need to finish my thesis project with three hardcore doctors. My academic shield and sword always melt away by the radiation of their knowledge. With the broken armor, I finally understand that I am not the academic person who is going to apply for a doctoral degree, but at the same time, I am excited to be free from writing assignments this early summer. So, I am ready to be a samurai and cut through all the tough scholarly situations, write book length collection of poetry as a thesis project, and of course edit Analecta, the literary magazine from the English Department.
Actually, I just finished academic leftovers from the past fall semester seven days ago. I studied during Christmas break because I took an extra long Thanksgiving weekend. It was a good holiday— my heavy metal guy visited me across the Pacific Ocean and met my Japanese parents— and it was also a sad moment— my grandfather passed away—so I changed my flight schedule and thanked all professors who understood my situation and gave me extended due dates.
When I arrived at Nagoya, my home city, my grandfather was in a paulownia casket with hundreds of chrysanthemums and orchids. My grandmother was so happy to see me and talked to him— your granddaughter came from America. Can you hear me? — But he was already a corpse. He used to talk too much, but the silence and ignorance of her questions made me realize that he was really dead. On the following day of my arrival, he became ashes. I carried the box to his apartment after my grandmother walked holding her cane and soaking-wet lace handkerchief. She wore a black kimono during the funeral process for three out of 49 days. There was the Fujimoto crest— a falling wisteria— on her kimono and she told me that if my future husband died that I need to wear the kimono with the crest on it. The obi-belt for funerals was as white as her face.
My mother, who took care of my grandfather for a long time at a hospital, kept saying, “His last car was a hearse” and cried. Her mother comforted her saying, “Everyone’s last car is a hearse.” The last time I went back home in summer 2008, my parent’s car was crashed into by some random cars, fortunately nobody was injured, but my father needed to buy a new car during this worsening economic situation. The car incident gave them an extra difficult situation while caring for my grandfather. They needed to carry personal care and nursing equipment to the nursing home by public transportation and spent extra money for a taxi to take him to the hospital. My father and grandfather discussed the new car while he was in the hospital. He wanted to go to his favorite Sushi bar after getting the new car.
Two weeks after the cremation, my heavy metal guy came and I introduced him to everyone. And then when I realized I was myself again, I was in the immigration office at the Detroit International Airport. The officer asked me, “This is the middle of a semester. Were you homesick? Please place your fingerprint, Ms. Fujimoto.”
I still do not know how I should write about someone’s death even though I am a poet. Poetry is about a high quality of crystallizing emotions, so I should have known better about how to express emotions in writing. However, time passed quickly, so the emotions have never digested well, which is like bad food poisoning. It is not just sorrow but also thinking about how my grandmother is going to live alone in an isolated apartment far from close and extended family and who is going to take care of her finances and beyond, and who is going to inherit the Fujimoto name. I am the firstborn daughter who has her own dream coming true in America. Well, I will know my decision at the end of the semester when I walk in the graduation ceremony.
Friday, January 2, 2009
By Naoko Fujimoto
My grandfather received
his name on February 9, 1919. When he died,
he lost his name on the whitest
sheets in a nook of the hospital
before he returned to home; before his body was cremated.
It was November 9, 2008. A monk
gave him a posthumous Buddhist name.
It was written in poor
calligraphy on a memorial tablet. Shigeru,
the old name, slowly
whittled away in incense. It smoldered. The savor,
savor of caskets. Chrysanthemums and orchids shrouded
the corpse. It was laid on an iron
board at a crematorium. When the eighteenth
oven was opened, I felt his limp
cheeks one more time. My grandmother placed
two stones from a Japanese chessboard and his glasses.
At the seventeenth oven, a little boy called, “Papa.”
A woman held him from falling into it. The nineteenth
oven rang as if an elevator
reached the last floor of this life. Fifty seven
minutes later, my grandfather was ash. His skull,
cracked sternum, and a titanium
joint between his femur and shin. His burnt
bowels were green on the iron board. One
stone rested next to his melted glasses. I wanted.
I picked up the remnant. My fingertips were scalded.
The stone tumbled asunder by my feet.
The pieces on the ground like debris
after wars. His friends were killed as war
criminals without trial after seven
Japanese colonels were hanged in 1946 when he was on a ship.
Two bags of saccharin and his torn permit to Japan;
to an ashen field: the atomic bombs. War
orphans gazed at him by the shore in China. Toward the east,
his mother prayed for her son.
Her glasses were broken for a long time. Their left
arm was taped with a rubber band. Morning
glories were always purple under rubble. I closed
the elevator at his apartment. I carried
his ash. It was still warm. The clothes on the box
absorbed sweat on my arms. When the elevator arrived,
it rang. I was home. He stood by the sanzu-river.
A lantern lit on the boat.
Vince Bauters (English Education) “Wellington”
Eric Duenez (English) “Panopticon Pornography”
Naoko Fujimoto (English) “Seventeen Seconds”
Rebecca Gibson (History) “In Flight” "Reflection on a Fall Day”
Ashley Hartsough (Radiology) “Entertainment Chaos” “Lost Hungry”
Rebecca Pelky (English) “Cabin” “Sunset”
Laura Pimienta (English) “Birth Announcement”
Jeff Tatay (English) “Lying”
Erica Wood (Elementary Education) “Family”
Gregory Worell (unknown) “Boat”