Barings // Bearings: An Anthology of Women’s Writing in Catalan

Megan Berkobien & Maria Cristina Hall

FROM THE EDITORS:

Over forty years ago, in the midst of the democratic transition following the death of dictator Francisco Franco, author and activist Montserrat Roig contemplated her duties as an “ésser civic” in a moment of intense cultural and political change:

Escriure en català és una afirmació de supervivència, i no solament literària. Ganes “d’existir” privadament i col·lectivament […] Si tot va bé, escriure en català ja no serà un acte de “salvació” sinó un acte natural, un acte intern i privat que dóna coherència als sentiments i a les frustracions personals.

[To write in Catalan is an affirmation of survival—and not just in literature. A will “to exist” privately and collectively [ . . . ] If everything works out, writing in Catalan will no longer constitute an act of “salvation,” but a natural endeavor, an internal and private act that makes sense of our feelings and personal frustrations.]

For years, communicating in Catalan was an act of witnessing—of lending testimony to an ever-precarious past and present. While this understanding of Catalan as resistance is necessary, Roig contends that mere survival has never—will never—be enough. Instead, a language of the living should reflect the feeling of its people. And perhaps it’s no surprise that this kind of writing is typically coded as feminine.

Read the full text here.

“Letters”

Joan Todó; Meg Berkobien

You’ll follow her into the unkempt garden with its overgrown grass and weeds, the weeping willow twisted into one big tangle, the palm trees drooping, the empty pool filled with brackish tree buds, and you’ll enter the house, the grand entrance hall, moving through hallways while the old woman mutters, like always, that this’ll be the last time, she doesn’t intend to participate in such sinful things, that this never happened when the senyor was a boy and his parents were still around.

Read the full story over at Anomaly.

“Home”

Blanca Llum Vidal; Meg Berkobien

Home

A staircase with steps and a building staircased and a staircase in the building and some steps where one sits, it’s a house of breaking down to suffer, a suffering that longs to low, to row at love, to row the sea of swollen sea and love tomorrow, a space knotted to time, making space of time in knots, and the cutting knot where one fights who fights with every fight, an abyss that bottoms out in an abyss that’s shoring up the next abyss and a post where one . . .

Read the entire special feature here.

 

From “Natural History”

Alba Cid; Meg Berkobien ::

4.
be careful how you plant them, with their roots face-down, you say

that’s how it went: the Dutch ate the bulbs brought from Turkey, convinced they were onions. they cut them, stewed them, imagine entire families chewing tiny
codices
of future colors
around large tables made of alder wood.

after dinner, they’d have nightmares.

Read the full poems in The Offing.

 

“Death by Dying”

Jenn Díaz; Meg Berkobien ::

War happens to children, too, even though they don’t go off to fight. That’s what my brother knew because he’s older, but that’s not all, he’s also smarter, and I know that because it’s what my mother always says, and it seems like she hardly loves me at all, because my mother says things to annoy me, she says I’m always doing bad things, and maybe she’s right, but if I don’t do them I get bored. My mother says there’s no time to be bored in times of war, but I get bored a lot, and the other day my brother, who’s older and smarter, said, You bored?, and I nodded, and he grabbed my hand and said, Come on, and I went with him, and he said, Over there, and we went to a field where the school used to be, well, the school’s still there, but there aren’t any students, and an empty space stays the same no matter what you call it, a school or whatever you call it, if it’s stayed empty, it’s nothing at all.

Read the full story in the Spring 2017 issue of A Public Space

“The Game”

Patricia Esteban Erlés; Megan Berkobien ::

They’ll cut all my hair off in that creepy school for bad little girls, they’ll make me wear a sack, they’ll shut me up in a room filled with rats and cockroaches and all I’ll have to drink is the rainwater I can catch in my hands through the barred-up window.

Read the full story here in Palabras Errantes.

from “Arqueóloga de poca monta”

Small-time Archaeologist,” Megan Berkobien ::

artefacto ii.

Se escurren los sentimientos. Esto sí es un intento de tenerme sentido. Qué raro el manantial en que fluimos: las cosas que te pasan con las piernas en paréntesis. Red de pesca. Huelo a ti y aún me queda un pelín de lengua. Lo hago para los dos.

They’re feelings that drain. This is me trying to make sense of it all. [better you not hear this sentimentalism.] I do it for us both.

artefacto x.

Tengo propuestas: ¿Fogón? ¿El corrector en el ojo? ¿Te quito las manos?

A few propositions: Stove-top blaze? White-out vision? I make off with those hands that touched her once-upon-a-time? It’s a stupid story.

artefacto xi.

Imposible la transición. Figure it out anyway.

Read the micros in the offing here.

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