Coco Huang: 'Tongueless'

Coco Huang reading ‘Tongueless’

My first tongue I ate myself,

swallowed with 苦泪 

when I said the sky was green, not b(绿)

and they laughed first, then kicked

 

the moon

has bruises too, 你看 – 

one from hair too short for braids

two from eyes like slits in dough

–and yet it glows,

多么美丽


if only I were as brave

if only I were as pretty

 

new tongues grow like duckweed

innocuous leaves buoyant, while

sucking roots sip from the deep


how sweetly他 slips to “he”     | 我 slips to “me”

 

no thanks to my poor gardening

I speak with a stump,

blunt-axed syllabic swings

inflected with self-loathing


why should I speak, when

silence sounds wiser?
.


.


.


eins, zwei, drei

in the silence, I sow and reap

ein Zweig wächst dabei

I coax new tongues to speak

io posso, voglio, devo

but borrowing bears bitter fruit

 

my tongue is a stranger

a stranger in each tongue; 

wǒ zì jǐ yě bù míng bái


Glossary and Transliterations

Chinese

苦泪 – kǔ lèi: bitter tears
绿 – lǜ: green
你看 – nǐ kàn: look
多么美丽 – duō me měi lì: how beautiful it is
– tā: he
– wǒ: I/me
wǒ zì jǐ yě bù míng bái – I don’t understand (it) myself

German

eins, zwei, drei: one, two three
ein Zweig wächst dabei: a branch grows (meanwhile)

Italian

io posso, voglio, devo – I can, I want to, I must


Coco X. Huang is a Chinese-Australian writer, musician and scientist. She enjoys reading and writing experimental fiction and poetry and her work has most recently appeared in The Lifted Brow, ARNA, and Hermes. She was a participant in the Citizen Writes Project 2019 and received a 2020 Faber Writing Academy Scholarship. She tweets @cocoxhuang.

Marina Sano Litchfield: 'Three'

Marina Sano Litchfield reading ‘Three’

I know the evergreen comfort of warm humidity
A white Christmas and rolling a decorative snowman
A cold July, brisk ocean winds whipping by

Aussie Aussie Aussie オイオイ,
オイでMerlion へ、
I want to show you my childhood

Don’t feed the macaques
What’s a kangaroo warning?
Wave as the neighbourhood kids march by

Two by two, two by two
ランドセルと黄色い帽子
みんな手繋ぐ

Parliament casts out dual citizens
I grip my passports tightly, protect
My equatorial home

It’s her birthday
I hope it’s better for you
She babbles happily

고모


Glossary

オイオイ: phonetic “oi oi” [Japanese]
オイでMerlion へ、: (roughly) to the Merlion [Japanese + English]
** オイで : is a pun on the Japanese ‘come here’ (oide)
ランドセルと黄色い帽子: school backpacks and yellow hats [Japanese]
みんな手繋ぐ: everyone hold hands [Japanese]
고모: aunty (on the brother’s side) [Korean]

Pronunciation guide
オイオイ: phonetic “oi oi” [Japanese]
オイでMerlion へ、: oide Merlion e [Japanese + English]
ランドセルと黄色い帽子: randoseru to kiiroi boushi
みんな手繋ぐ: minna te tsunagu
고모: gomo


Marina Sano Litchfield is a Japanese and Australian writer. Raised in Singapore, she moved to Melbourne when entering university. Her writing reflects ideas of being in-between cultures and people, with a passion to expand the range of experiences that we see represented in print and the media.

Gabriella Munoz: ‘Madre Migrante’

Gabriella Munoz reading ‘Madre Migrante’

Migrant mother
sola no estás
el espíritu de las madres migrantes que lo hicieron antes te acompaña

Their worn-out hands hold yours
when you push the pram until he sleeps
and your legs hurt
They hold your back when you feel faint
because they’ve singled out your child
{otra vez}

Migrant mother
your womb will heal again
It will grow another child
y tus hijos crecerán sanos
{sin miedo}

But the heartache for your country won’t disappear,
it will steady your course

Cuando crezcas mijo
Remember your mother
Sin su madre, sin su tía
Sin su abuela, sin su hermana
Sola
Speak her language
Eat her food
Embrace her on Sundays
When she looks at the horizon looking for her mother’s arms
And their warmth
And how she longs for you to be held by that woman
she has told you about

Migrant mother
no estás sola
los domingos ellas
look at the horizon too
They feel your pain
y tu preocupación
por ver a tus hijos así
{sin abuelos, sin pasado entero, sin domingos familiares}

Migrant mother
the healing balm that Sunday’s dusk brings
comes from migrant mothers’ tears
and their strength

Juntas

Solas

Cansadas

Hermanas

Migrantes

Madres

Enteras


 

Glossary
Sola (‘so.la ): alone
Espíritu (ɛs.pi.ˈɾi.tu): soul, the non-physical part of the person
Madres (ˈma.ðɾes̬): mothers
Migrantes (mi.ˈɣɾãn̪.tes): migrant
Hijos (ˈi.xos): children
Crecerán (kre ‘θe ran): will grow
Miedo (‘mje ðo): fear
Mijo (‘mi xo): similar to kiddo, an endearing term that combines the words “mi” (my) and “hijo” (son). Female: mija.
Sin (‘sim): without
Tia (‘tja): aunt
Abuela (a ‘βwe la): grandmother
Hermana (er’ma na): sister
Ellas ( ‘e λas): they
Tu (tw): yours
Pasado (pa ‘sa ðo): past
Entero (eN ‘te ro): whole, unbroken
Juntas (‘xuN tas): together
Cansadas ( kan ‘sa ðas): tired, fatigued
Domingos (do ‘miŋ gos): Sundays
Familiares (fa mi ‘lja res): family (used as an adjective, family Sundays)
Abuelos (a ‘βwe los): grandparents


Gabriella Munoz is Mexican-Australian writer and editor based in Melbourne. Her work has been published in Mascara Literary Review, Eureka Street, Djed Press, The Victorian Writer and many other places. She’s a 2019 Hot Desk Fellow and is currently working on a collection of short stories.

Nadia Rhook: 'a father tongue'

Nadia Rhook reading ‘a father tongue’

on father’s day we go
to the local Italian restaurant

surrounded by families, mineral water,
and gorgonzola gnocci we speculate

will you be fluent en Español, nuestra niño? hay no

I try to ask you this in Castellano but I
don’t remember the word for ‘fluid’

perfectamente? fluido?

you tell me in the language of love and invasion and uncertainty you’re
not sure if that’s the right word. it’s not familiar. flu – ee – do

the promise of the tongue’s invisible labour, the mind’s reach for the meanings folded
away somewhere in the frontal lobe, that crinkly squishy place between mouth and memory

spreading now, like breath, to fill the space between bites we begin to argue over who’ll
do the work, and make promises in the language of a law and invasion and certainty

I will learn new lullabies, arrorró mi niño, arrorró mi
amor, arrorró pedazo de mi corazón

and you? will unfurl your mother
tongue para tener una lengua nueva


Glossary (new page)


Nadia Rhook is a white settler historian, educator, and poet, currently lecturing history at the University of Western Australia, on Whadjuk Noongar land.  Her background in ESL teaching has inspired much of her historical work on the politics of language, including the 2016 heritage exhibition ‘Moving Tongues : language and migration in 1890s Melbourne’. Her poems appear in various publications, and her first poetry monograph, ‘boots’, is forthcoming with UWAP in February 2020.

Nadia Rhook: 'a father tongue' Glossary

Pronunication guide :

Castellano -> Cas-te-sha-no

Spanish-English Translations :

en Español, nuestra nino? hay no: in Spanish, our baby? or not

arrorró mi niño/ arrorró mi amor/ arrorró pedazo de mi corazón: hush-a-bye my baby/ hush-a-bye my love/hush-a-bye oh piece of my heart

para tener una lengua neuva: to father a new tongue ( with feminine adjective and noun ) or to have a new tongue  ( literal translation )

Hessom Razavi: Pantoum – ‘First Date, First تعارف’

Hessom Razavi reading Pantoum – ‘First Date, First تعارف’

A table set, wobbles chocked with smiles,
courtesy a floral rug over shyness,
yearning liquid and stirring like umber chai
tapped from the قول قول of the samovar.

Her courtesy a لوری rug over innocence
as basmati arrives, white-gold with saffron,
tap-tap of rain outside, قول قول of a samovar,
appetites fleshy as kebabs, butter dripping

on basmati, saffroned, jeweled with barberries
and plump tomato skirts, grilled red-black,
appetites long as skewers, butter dripped,
slipped between glances and crunchy lavash.

Along plump tomato skirts charred red-black
comes تعارف: her polite decline, a moment
in between glances and crunchy lavash
when she excuses herself to the ladies’.

Enter تعارف, her polite decline, a moment’s
absence that leaves him alone with two meals;
her return from the ladies’ met with excuses,
two empty platters and his sheepish grin.

An absence, a lone man and a swiped meal;
outside, spring rains sweep in, flush laneways,
rinse two empty plates, his sheepish grin and her
polite smile a لوری throw over hollow bowels.

Spring rains sweep the village, fill the lanes
and tulip fields, downpour sweet enough
for تعارف  to forgive rumbling bowels,
for fondness to float up in the canals.

Tulip fields shake, drenched enough to ripple
in circles around the kebab house,
their fondness afloat in flooded canals,
valley ululating with tongues of red tulips.


Glossary

قول قول – ghul-ghul: bubbling, simmering (onomatopoeic).
لوری – Lori: from or pertaining to Lorestan Province; renowned for its tulip fields.
تعارف – ta’arof: complex form of Persian civility; can involve denying one’s real will, in deference to others; occasional source of unspoken desires, misunderstandings and comedy.


Hessom Razavi is a doctor and writer, born in Iran in 1976.  He was raised in Tehran and Karachi, speaking Farsi and Urdu, before migrating to the UK and then Australia.

His publication credits include Australian Poetry Journal, Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine, Newcastle Poetry Prize and Best Australian Poems 2016.  In 2019 Hessom received the inaugural Behrouz Boochani Fellowship from Australian Book Review and the Peter McMullin Centre on Statelessness.

Felicity Yiran Smith: 'Winter'

Felicity Yiran Smith reading ‘Winter’

那年的冬天,
My bird died.
My first death,
虽那么微不足道.
I buried her tiny frame under the snow,
the barren trees vigil in the garden.

春天的石榴花格外灿烂.

Sometimes,
我依然惦记着
the clear and green sound of
那只鸟的歌谣.
So I cup blossoms in cold hands,
剥去冬天的泪痕,
Listen,
天下的一切都
叽叽喳喳的唱出
their thirst for summer.


Glossary and Transliteration

那年的冬天 (na nian de dong tian): that year’s winter
虽那么微不足道 (sui na me wei bu zu dao): even though it was so insignificant
春天的石榴花格外灿烂 (chun tian de shi liu hua ge wai can lan): the pomegranate flowers in spring were especially brilliant
我依然惦记着 (wo yi ran dian ji zhe): I still reminisce about
那只鸟的歌谣 (na zhi niao de ge yao): that bird’s song
剥去冬天的泪痕 (bo qu dong tian de lei hen): peel away winter’s tear tracks
天下的一切都 (tian xia de yi qie dou): everything under the sky all
叽叽喳喳的唱出 (ji ji zha zha de chang chu): noisily sing out


Felicity Yiran Smith is a current student of Creative Writing and Ancient History at the University of Melbourne. Born to an Australian father and Chinese mother, she enjoys writing in both languages as part of exploring her racial identity.

Angela Costi: 'Night Shift Crescendo'

Angela Costi reading ‘Night Shift Crescendo’

The rain is slapping her window
harder, harsher
Stamata, stamata…
She knows this warning well.
The wipers are trying to fend off the slaps
Beesaw, beesaw…
The intersection is amber light
and proffers a U-turn 
to five minutes ago
Evans Street, Lalor, Melbourne, Australia
or five years since
mud path, torn village, Hartchia, Cyprus.

One home has her
gulping her coffee like medicine
covering her lips with mavro kerasee
forcing her thick curls to conform
fighting with the shadows for her car keys
leaving her kids to their toothpaste battles
to their adopted bed-time stories.

Walking the dirt carpet to her tired Capri
igniting the engine to deafen the dialect
Stile me mana
haunting the radio announcer’s slumber
with the song of guilt at the village well
when water was carried like a secret lover
Stile me mana sto neron
Na su do fero dhroseron

The older home has crept into the car
in the back seat, blowing into her ear
lyric, seed, graft, sprout
Yunaika kai sklava, bunta na eimai
with the rain turning into the water
brimming with threats to spill
Stile me mana sto neron
Na su do fero gatharon

There was that one path
her bare feet knew
like her mother’s command
Beyene yrioyra, koree mou
and now she is stopped
at a green light
wanting the rain to drown
her horn of rage.


Glossary and Notes for Greek and Cypriot-Greek dialect

Note: All spellings are phonetic

Stamata: (Greek) stop
Beesaw: (Greek) go back
Hartchia: (Cypriot) a Cypriot village in the North of Cyprus
mavro kerasee: (Greek) black cherry lipstick
Stile me mana: (Cypriot-Greek, derived from classic Cypriot song) Send me, mother
Stile me mana sto neron,/ Na su do fero dhroseron: (Cypriot-Greek, lyric derived from a classic Cypriot song) Send me for water, mother, do,/ I’ll bring it back so cool for you
Yunaika kai sklava, bunta na eimai: (Cypriot-Greek) I’ll always be a woman and slave (a statement of inner discontent)
Beyene yrioyra, koree mou: (Cypriot-Greek) Go quickly, my daughter.


Since 1994, Angela Costi has been publishing and performing her poetry in Australia and abroad. In 1995 she travelled to Greece to study Ancient Greek Drama and perform at Amphitheatre sites as part of a travel award from the Australian National Languages and Literacy Board. Her poetry, stories and essays have been published in a great range of print and online journals, including Southerly, Meanjin and Cordite. She is the author of three collections of poetry: Dinted Halos (Hit&Miss Publications, 2003), Prayers for the Wicked (Floodtide Audio, 2005) and Honey and Salt (Five Islands Press, 2007). Honey and Salt was shortlisted for the Mary Gilmore Poetry Prize 2008. She has written eight produced plays. She utilises both her law degree and arts background at Victorian Human Rights Commission, where she delivers a storytelling approach to legal education for newly arrived communities.

Helena Arnold: 'Starvation Song'

Helena Arnold reading ‘Starvation Song’

I saw a farmer
open his door to emaciated souls
sharing his last few potatoes
within weeks he died

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw my friend
refuse to steal food
from unsuspecting people
within days he died

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw my sister
prostitute herself for food
to feed us
she did not die

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw orphan children
roaming in packs
looking for victims
they ate human flesh

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw my emaciated school friend
desperate and hungry
caught cooking her husband’s dead hands
imprisoned and sent to Siberia

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

I saw the look of madness
in the eyes and faces of my neighbours
hope lost
they became the walking dead

Голодовка, Голодовка
усюди роздутий люди

вмирают, вмирают,
вмирают, вмирают

I saw my Ukraine
in the depths of the Soviet genocide

Famine 1932
усюди роздутий люди

вмирают, вмирают,
my parents, my family
my friends, my neighbours
три мільйони мертвий


Glossary with Transliteration

Голодовка, Голодовка – Holodovka, Holodovka: famine, famine
усюди роздутий люди – usyudy rozdutyy lyudy: everywhere swollen people
вмирают, вмирают, – vmyrayut, vmyrayut – dying, dying
три мільйони мертвий – try milʹyony mertvyy – three million dead


Helena Arnold uses a diverse range of styles which incorporate biography, memory, family and twentieth-century history. She writes about grief and intergenerational trauma.

Helena was born in Germany to two Ukrainian post-war immigrants. She pursued a career in visual arts as a painter which informs her writing. This is evident in her painterly writing style.

Bree Alexander: ‘In गति’

Bree Alexander reading ‘In Gati’

The first sensation of गति, my आज़ादी
rolling out, humming away
the rush to get here is washed away
the दिल्ली buzz, the crowd, the smog
I am stripped of it all as I lay my sheets down
stretch my body out, legs bent
लंबे लोग weren’t made for this bed
as the gentle side to side motion begins
rocking in crescendo as we glide forward, onward

the gentle sway, mesmerising dance
that will go on for days
that drives me to meditate, into an altered state
brings me into a शांत place with my प्यार
for this compact space, this flow, this flux
that will see me embrace my dreamscape
release my clenched fists, my downward gaze
let it all go, a state of calm, 
I surrender, let the गति take me

this solace in stillness I cannot taste
only ज़िंदगी in गति will see me sleep so deeply
as time and space take on another meaning
hours later when I wake, opposite me
auntie and uncle are seated खाना ready
packed and wrapped, they release their चपाती
सब्ज़ी in one टिफिन with another for अचार
my stomach is jumping, I lift my body slowly
feeling in my bag for foil, undo the पराठा       

that मेरे दोस्त had prepared at 3 o’clock that morning
You can’t take a train trip without खाना!
their fine work still holds warmth, rolled with their care
I tear away small pieces, wanting to savour it all
as I ruminate on धनिया, हरी मिर्च, आलू and गोबी
the मसाला of the आम का अचार made by रितु की मम्मी
I close my eyes, see the flavours all the more intensely
before I wrap it up, curl up once more
finding my dreamscape once more, captured
in a state of surrender, only in गति


Word/phrase Transliteration Translation
गति gati  motion
आज़ादी āzādī freedom
दिल्ली dillī  Delhi
लंबे लोग lambe lōg tall  
शांत śānt peaceful
प्यार pyār love
परदेशी paradēśī   foreigner
ज़िंदगी zindagī life
खाना khānā food
चपाती chapātī  A flat bread from the subcontinent  
सब्ज़ी sabzī  vegetable
टिफिन  ṭiphin tiffin – a metal lunchbox
अचार achār pickle
पराठा parāṭhā  layered version of चपाती madewith oil
मेरे दोस्त mērē dōst my friends
धनिया dhaniyā coriander
हरी मिर्च harī mirch green chilli
आलू ālū potato
गोबी gōbī   cauliflower

Bree Alexander (also Lika Posamari) is a multi-form Australian writer whose work has appeared with Eureka Street and Westerly, among others. She studied for a semester in Delhi in 2015 and continues to learn Hindi as she spends significant time in northern India. She was shortlisted for the Overland Fair Australia Prize 2018 (NTEU category) and she is the author of a poetry chapbook The eye as it inhales onions (in case of emergency press, 2018). She tweets sporadically @LaBree_A and blogs (mostly about films) at Roundly in the Eye.