S. E. Hermanoczki: Down la Avenida Pueyrredón

S.E. Hermanoczki reading ‘Down la Avenida Pueyrredón’

(para mi hermana y Ken)

In every tienda on la avenida or so it seems, the music is on one continuous latin dance party loop, Ricky, Fonsi, Jesse y Joy, Enrique, Shakira, repeat the up-beat. One-two-three, uno-dos-tres, one-two-three, uno-dos-tres. The bright over-lit strip lighting of the shops’ interiores seem to disguise el exterior, la realidad of the hot ciudad out there with its dirt and noise, of coches y colectivos, of legit blue radio taxis and the black unnamed ones that hike up their precios and take you far from where you want to go. Step outside el apartamento, avoid the dog shit as you cross the street to the chino shop, and the woman who shouts and swears en Putonghua, who takes your guita while not looking at you in the face, past the local vendedor de fruta who everyday wants to know more than where you’re from, and turn left at la esquina avoiding more mierda to where the cop cars line the streets and where the barricadas are left waiting, ready for another lock down. Down town is where you are and will return many horas later after walking back down from visiting Eva Perón’s grave en el cementerio de la Recoleta. You’ll notice the smooth sidewalks slowly cracking on the way back to the bad lands, to the bad part of town, to the Jewish quarter where once una bomba went off, back to el barrio immigrante de Once where un grupo de manteros rioted only the week before. You are staying down there? Strangers ask. ¿Allí? Walking back down la avenida Pueyrredón balancing on broken bits of vereda, stepping on cracks and almost breaking your back tripping on pot holes. Walking back, you pass a homeless man just lying down on el pavimento. It’s not yet night, yet his day is clearly over. ¡Basta! He cries. I’ve had enough. Enough of this city and its Buenos Aires. ¡Ay Dios! ¡Por favor! ¡Basta!



Pronunciation Guide, Glossary, and Notes

tienda \ tēˈendə \ shop,

avenida\  a β̞ e n i ð̞ a\ avenue

uno \ ũ n o\one, dos \ d o s\ two, tres\ t ɾ e s\ three

interiores\ i n̪ t e ɾ j o ɾ e s̮\ inside

el exterior \ e l e k s t e ɾ j o ɾ\ the outside

la realidad\ l a r e a l ið̞ a ð̞\ the reality

cuidad\ k w i ð̞ a ð̞\ city

coches\ k o ͡ʧ e s\ cars

colectivos\k o l e g t i β̞ o s̮\ buses

precios \ p ɾ e θ j o s\ prices

apartamento\a p a ɾ t a m ẽ n̪ t o\apartment

chino ͡\ʧ i n o\ Chinese

Putonghua\ ˌpo͞oˌtôNGˈhwä\ Mandarin

guita\ gɪˈtɑ\ money

vendedor de fruta\ β̞ e n̪ de ð̞ oɾ ð̞ e f ɾ ut a\ fruit seller or greengrocer

la esquina\ l a e s k i n a \corner

mierda \ m j e ɾ ð̞ a\ (dog) shit

barricadas\b a r i k a ð̞ a s\ barricades

horas\ o ɾ a s\ hours

el cementerio de la Recoleta\ e l̪̟  θ e m ẽ n̪ t e ɾ j o ð̞ e l a r e k o l e t a\ the cemetery in Recoleta

una bomba\ ũ n a β̞ o m b a \ a bomb

el barrio immigrante\ el  β̞ a r j o  i mː i ɣ̞ ɾ a n̪ t e  ð̞ e o n̪̟ θ e \ suburb

un grupo de manteros\ ũ nˠ g ɾ u p o ð̞ e m ã n̪ t e ɾ o s \ a group of market sellers

¿Allí?\ a ʝ i \ (over) there?

la avenida Pueyrredón\ l a β̞ e n i ð̞ a p w e i̯ r e ð̞ o n\ Pueyrredon Avenue

vereda\ b e ɾ e ð̞ a\the gutter

el pavimento\ e l  pa β̞i m ẽ n̪ t o \the pavement or footpath or sidewalk

¡Basta! \b a s t a\ (I’ve had) enough

Buenos Aires\ b w e n o s̮  a i̯ ɾ e s\

¡Ay Dios! \a i̯ ð̞ j o s\ Dear God

¡Por favor! \ p o ɾ f a β̞ o ɾ\  Please

About the poem: In ‘Down la Avenida Pueyrredón’, I wanted to capture the difficulties and hardness of Buenos Aires and to reflect how I code-switch from English into Spanish—which is how I tend to speak and think. Though (Argentinean) Spanish was originally my mother tongue, over the years, English has slowly replaced it as the language I predominantly use and write in, so now, when I speak it, I sound like a gringa (I find it hard to roll my ‘r’s). The poem was inspired by a recent trip back to Argentina. My first time there, I was just a child and only have fragmented memories of the people and place. On this trip, however, I was greeted at the airport by a friend who said, ‘Welcome to my country’; this set the tone and an immediate distancing and the perspective to a place I had always considered my mother’s and my ‘home’.


S. E. Hermanoczki is a writer and teacher of creative writing. Her writing on death and photography, trauma and the immigrant journey, memory and postmemories, code-switching and bi-cultural identity, have been published in local and international publications. She has a PhD in Creative Writing from the University of Melbourne, where she teaches.

Kathryn Pentecost: Baby Elephants (Babyolifanten)

Kathryn Pentecost reading ‘Baby Elephants’

Je bent dikker
Said my aunty
Je bent dikker
Like your mum
Je bent dikker
Since I saw you
Outside of Rotterdam
Je bent dikker
She’s an elephant
A little bit like you
Je bent dikker
It’s Australia
That’s made you fat, you two!
Je bent dikker
Than expected
What do you think of that?
Je bent dikker
For a woman
Who wasn’t usually fat
Je bent dikker
I’ve stayed slim
By smoking cigarettes
Je bent dikker
Than in the Indies
If we all still lived there yet
Je bent dikker
It’s the food here –
Hot chips and all those pies
Je bent dikker
In these mountains
I’d never thought of flies
Je bent dikker
You are pasty
The sun is much too weak
Je bent dikker
Not like Java
Forgive me, alsjeblieft
Je bent dikker
In the country
Than if you lived in town
Je bent dikker
Did I tell you?
Does it ever get you down?
Je bent dikker
Said my aunty
Dikker, dikker – much too fat!
Je bent dikker
You and Myrlie
Eating much too much of that!
Je bent dikker
Did I say?
Nothing lekker is for you!
Je bent dikker
It’s my custom
To tell you what is true
Je bent dikker
Like the others
The van der Poels at home
Je bent dikker
It’s so grappig
That this is a fat poem!


Glossary

Je bent dicker – You’re fatter
alsjeblieft – sorry
lekker – nice, tasty or yummy
grappig – funny or humorous


Kathryn Pentecost is a graduate of Charles Sturt University (NSW) and the University of South Australia. In 2014, she was awarded a doctorate for her PhD thesis which explored family history in colonial and postcolonial Indonesia (formerly the Dutch East Indies). Her large and complex ‘van der Poel’ clan from the Indies spoke many different languages, and her poem explores the connection and disjuncture (in a humorous way) between family members who were separated geographically after World War II and the Indonesian independence. Kathryn currently writes for The Indo Project – whose community identify as ‘Indo’ (including various combinations of European and Indonesian languages and cultures).

Emily Westmoreland: Awkward

Emily Westmoreland reading ‘Awkward’

There is no word for awkward in Spanish.
No me siento incomoda.
Tampoco me siento rara.

Me siento como mis piernas y mis abrazos están sticking out at strange angles,
Como los curly blonde hairs on my legs que
Las abuelas en el metro miran fijamente.

Me siento como I’d like to stay in, pero voy a salir,
O salgo a las diez, y llego too early para la previa.

Me siento como I had to tell your abuela that vegeterianas don’t eat jamón.
Ni pescado.

Me siento como un handshake,
En vez de dos besos.

No me siento incomoda ni rara,
Pero tampoco me siento como en casa.
Me siento awkward.


Note

This poem is in Spanglish, the affectionate/informal term for mixing Spanish and English. I have been learning Spanish since I started university and have lived in Madrid for two years. As my entire life operated in a Spanish/English bilingualism, I often joke that, ‘Spanglish is now my propio idioma.’

Click here for a translation.


Emily Westmoreland (@limeywesty) is an Australian bookseller living in London (previously Madrid). Recently she has been working with Desperate Literature to launch a literary prize for short fiction. The inaugural shortlist was published as Eleven Stories, and the anthology was launched at Desperate Literature in Madrid and Shakespeare & co. in Paris. Other work by Emily has appeared in Global Hobo. 

Emily Westmoreland: ‘Awkward’ With Translation

There is no word for awkward in Spanish.
No me siento incomoda.
Tampoco me siento rara.

//translation
I don’t feel uncomfortable,
Nor do I feel strange

Me siento como mis piernas y mis abrazos están sticking out at strange angles,
Como los curly blonde hairs on my legs que
Las abuelas en el metro miran fijamente.

//translation
I feel like my legs and my arms are sticking out at strange angles,
Like the curly blonde hairs on my legs that
The grandmothers on the metro stare at.

Me siento como I’d like to stay in, pero voy a salir,
O salgo a las diez, y llego too early para la previa.

//translation
I feel like I’d like to stay in, but I’m going to go out,
Or I go out at ten, and arrive too early for the pre-drinks.

Me siento como I had to tell your abuela that vegeterianas don’t eat jamón.
Ni pescado.

//translation
I feel like I had to tell your grandmother that vegetarians don’t eat ham
Or fish

Me siento como un handshake,
En vez de dos besos.

//translation
I feel like a handshake,
Instead of two kisses.

No me siento incomoda ni rara,
Pero tampoco me siento como en casa.
Me siento awkward.

//translation
I don’t feel uncomfortable or strange,
But nor do I feel at home.
I feel awkward.

Rachel Toh: An Auntie’s Warning

Rachel Toh reading ‘An Auntie’s Warning’

An Auntie’s warning
to the Singaporean Chinese girl who can’t speak her mother tongue:

你吃马铃薯长大的啊? /you jiak kantang growing up ah?
You don’t know this saying? You jialat la.
Because only Angmohs eat potatoes, Asians eat rice.

ஐயோ/ 哎哟/ aiyo,  cannot tahan you leh, you always ponteng class isit?
Or you think English more atas? Next time go work, you confirm kena.
I think you better just popi to God that you marry a sibei rich guy and be a taitai.


Glossary and Notes

‘你吃马铃薯长大的啊? /you jiak kantang growing up ah?:
Did you grow up eating potatoes?

(Some people say this phrase in Chinese, some mix other language as in the second variation.

Jiak is Hokkien for eat

Kantang is both a Hokkien and Malay word for potatoes.)

You jialat la: You’re going to be in for it.

(Jialat is both a Hokkien and Teochew word for ‘draining strength’, which translates to ‘you’re going to be in trouble or you’re in a terrible situation.’

La is a Singlish word that’s used a lot at the end of sentences.)

Angmohs: a Hokkien word for Caucasians

ஐயோ/ 哎哟/ aiyo,  cannot tahan you leh, you always ponteng class isit?: Aiyo, I can’t stand you, did you skip class all the time?

(Aiyo is a Tamil word which has been absorbed into the Singlish vernacular, where it is used interchangeably with the Chinese aiya, both of which translate to ‘Oh no’ or ‘Oh dear.’

Tahan is a Malay word that means you can’t stand or bear something/someone.

Ponteng is a Malay word used for skipping (class or work).)

Atas: A Malay word that literally means ‘above’. It’s commonly used for describing sophisticated or upper-class people.

Kena: a Malay word that means ‘suffer’.

Popi: a Hokkien word for ‘pray’.

Sibei: a Teochew word for ‘very’.

Taitai: a Chinese colloquial term for a wealthy married woman who does not work.


Rachel Toh is a Creative Writing and English Literature undergraduate from the University of Melbourne who has learned to revel in her identity as female and Singaporean-Chinese since moving to Melbourne.

Avalanche: All these Old Jokes (Starý dobrý vtipy)

Avalanche reading ‘All these Old Jokes’

They just go on telling all these old jokes,
like the one about the one that got away –
a tak si tůtni a hvízdni a jedem dál,

slippery sax giggling clarinet
old faithful bass and dancing banjo –
to jsou jen pořád ty starý dobrý vtipy,

sixteen bars later, they switch parts,
laugh and eyeball the crowd, swing round and
si tůtni a hvízdni a jedem dál.

Their wrinkled hands and puckered lips
go well with flashing eyes that are still so young –
to jsou jen pořád ty starý dobrý vtipy,

all because the sun still shines,
like it always did like it always will –
a tak si tůtni a hvízdni a jedem dál,

there’s always a party someplace nearby,
so let’s us all spin and cheer along –
to jsou jen pořád ty starý dobrý vtipy,
a tak si tůtni a hvízdni a jedem dál! 


Transliteration and translation

a tak si tůtni a hvízdni a jedem dál, –  
ah tak sih tootnih ah hweezdnjih ahyededmh dhal
with a hoot and a whistle, let’s carry on

to jsou jen pořád ty starý dobrý vtipy, –  
toh sow yenh porzhaad tyh stareehdobreeh ftipih –
these are just all these same old jokes


I was born on an island in the middle of a river, in the middle of a city in the middle of Europe. The city is called Praha, and it means Doorstep.
My family were and still are variously employed as artists and scientists and disturbers of the peace in general – it was my mother who taught me to write, and far more importantly, to read.
At one stage, it got so there were a lot of shouting soldiers and tanks and such in the place we lived, and it was decided we needed to get away, as far as possible. To the other side of the planet, if you please.
So here I am, and hope you like my stories and poems.

Chaya Herszberg: אַ כּלה מיידל (A Kale Meydl)

Chaya Herszberg reading ‘A Kale Meydl’

I was born in a pack of eight
and Mum, she plait her חלה
with six strands, two
gracefully ordained our table when
the clock chimed
שבת

Behind candles Bobby loves me,
she said, אַ זיס מיידל, אַ שיין מיידל
But now she says, אַ כּלה מיידל
דו וועסט זײַן אַ כּלה מיידל
!איך וויל נישט זײַן קיין כּלה מיידל
I don’t want to be! I don’t want to be!

I tried to suck the פאַרעוו out
my big brown eyed existence
Blew the dust off a גמרא and
followed in painted nails
?נישט קיין ייִנגל

When פּסח came around we
swam in the theatrics of bondage,
celebrated loosened fetters and
mourned ancient knots untied.

We collected Nana’s tears and
soaked a potato in it.
A swastika in nightmares
an overstocked fridge by day.

I’ll grow old in rolled קניידלעך
and my Bobby’s dying wish,
composed in a left-handed language
…איך ווייס נישט, איך ווייס נישט


Transliteration and Glossary


Chaya Herszberg is a passionate and curious aspiring writer, currently studying at the University of Melbourne working towards a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in Philosophy and Creative Writing. Chaya was born to a Habad family and has lived in Melbourne, Australia all her life. She attended school at Beth Rivkah Ladies College and spent a year in Israel prior to university learning Talmud, Bible and Jewish philosophy at Midreshet Lindenbaum. Chaya received first prize in the Glen Eira City Council’s My Brother Jack Secondary School Poetry Award in 2012 and a commendation for her poem ‘Memories of a Colder April’ as part of the 2015 My Brother Jack Caulfield Park Community Bank Branch Open Poetry Award.

Chaya Herszberg: ‘A Kale Meydl’ Transliteration and Glossary

I was born in a pack of eight
and Mum, she plait her khale
with six strands, two
gracefully ordained our table when
the clock chimed
Shabes

Behind candles Bobby loves me,
she said, “a zis meydl, a sheyn meydl!”
But now she says, “a kale meydl,
du vest zayn a kale meydl”
Ikh vil nisht zayn keyn kale meydl!
I don’t want to be! I don’t want to be!

I tried to suck the parve out
my big brown eyed existence
Blew the dust off a Gemore and
followed in painted nails
Nisht keyn yingel?

When Peysakh came around we
swam in the theatrics of bondage,
celebrated loosened fetters and
mourned ancient knots untied.

We collected Nana’s tears and
soaked a potato in it.
A swastika in nightmares
an overstocked fridge by day.

I’ll grow old in rolled kneydelekh
and my Bobby’s dying wish,
composed in a left-handed language
ikh veys nisht, ikh veys nisht


Glossary

A Kale Meydl: (Lit. A Bride Girl) A term attributed to adolescent girls when seen to be blossoming into an adult ready to be married.

Shabes: The Sabbath

Bobby: Variant of Yiddish term “Bube” which means Grandmother.

a zis meydl, a sheyn meydl: A sweet girl, a pretty girl

a kale meydl, du vest zayn a kale meydl: A bride girl, you will be a bride girl

Ikh vil nisht zayn keyn kale meydl: I don’t want to be a bride girl

Pareve: A Yiddish word denoting foodstuffs made without milk, meat or other derivatives, and therefore permitted to be eaten with both dairy and meat dishes according to dietary laws. Sometimes it is used colloquially to indicate something monotonous or plain.

Gemore: A rabbinical commentary on the Mishnah, forming the second part of the Talmud —traditionally studied by men.

Nisht keyn yingl: Not a boy

Peysakh: Passover

Kneydelekh: Matzah-balls—a traditional Jewish food eaten on the festival of Peysakh.

Ich veys nisht, ich veys nisht: I don’t know, I don’t know. Often repeated in a sighing manner