Wednesday, August 29, 2007

From the Newsstands: Poetry and Fiction from Versal no. 5

Begun "in the winter months of 2002, the cafes of Amsterdam," Versal is the only English language literary magazine in the northern European country, and one of the few in Europe. The magazine publishes an intriguing and highly literary blend of fiction and poetry, along with a good serving of modern art. According to its editors, Versal's name "comes from Shakespeare's cropping of 'universal' in a line from Romeo and Juliet. At first signifying the universal, 'versal' later took on a connotation of the rare and unique." The following are excerpts of poetry and fiction from Versal's fifth issue, which can be purchased at bookstores or directly through the magazine's website: (You can read an earlier Luna Park review of Versal 5 by Gregory Napp here.)

"Upon the death of his friend Halszka in 1986, Roman Opalka went back to Warsaw to find his work. After unbelievable complications with customs, the Polish administration only let him take out thirty paintings, thirty drawings, thirty books, thirty etc. His choice made, Roman Opalka destroyed whatever was left in a devilish and sensual rage.

In 1979, Alain Villar threw a small stone sculpture from his balcony. Then he finished it off with a hammer.

Raoul Hebreard carefully sawed up one of his sculptures in 1997. He then made shelves out of it.

In his garden, Simon Hantai buried the gigantic paintings he had made for his exhibition at the CAPC in 1981. Fifteen years later, he dug them up and reused certain bits and pieces which he called The Leftovers."

-from a piece titled "An Inventory of Destruction" by Eric Watier, translated by Simone Manceau


"Every train goes to the whisper plain.
On the plain, the bells ring with ten fingers.
Their flutey whispers can be heard in the queues.
The ringing of their wheels is the delicacy
that stitches the wind..."

-excerpt from the poem "Carnival" by Theodore Worozbyt


On our march to the sea we carried bottles of the rarest green glass, each one filled with dreams, the kind of dreams only happy dogs have, with muffled barking under breath and fragile paws running. The streets were full of the ghosts of all our dog dreams. We stuffed them into bottles and marched to the sea to toss them into the waves.


Once, three children sat in a circle, somewhere in the sand, dropping dreams into tin cans full of rusty rain. Speaking backwards to one another so no one else could understand, they took turns telling a story.

III. The Backwards Children's Story of Glass and Dreams, and of Armies
Once, on an island, was another, a smaller island. The first island was Glass, and held the second, the Island of Dreams, within. The Island of Glass was walls and shining, glittering tubes and pipes sneaking their way between buildings holding giant slick machines. The people who lived on the Island of Glass and worked the machines were all eyes to the ground, and spoke only in mumbles and murmuring gasps, as their bodies desperately tried to remember air. And when they slept, which wasn't often, their dreams were caught by a tube which was built into their brains, just behind the eyes, so that no dreamer on the Island of Glass ever saw their dreams before they were whisked out of the dreamer's head, and away from their homes, and over the city, where each person's tube met a larger crystal pipe which sneaked and snaked up and through the walls and onto the Island of Dreams...."

-excerpt from the story "The Backwards Children, and Their Dreams" by Charles Geoghegan-Clements

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