SPAM® Sushi #1

Dear Readers, we’ve seen many mad things made from SPAM® such as costumes, musical instruments, and even sports gear. However, we like to do even madder things with it. Is it possible to make something crazier than Sir Can-A-Lot or Can-Jo? Yes. Making answers to spam comments! Welcome to The Night of the SpamEaters®! (Don’t forget to put your bibs on!)

Baby security gates aгe typically made use of on staircases, entrances and somke uneven openings in thе residence.
—Zane

Thank god for those security gates, eh? Babies are monsters, and they must be contained! Let’s stay vigilant so that we can escape this residence of evil alive!
—Tati & Tony (of the SpamEaters® Initiative)

(Anybody need seconds?)

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

TATI’S TRANSLATIONS // ‘O’ Zone by Sudeep Sen

Well… I should admit I’m a pretty adventurous and curious person. But, hell, how can I miss another cool opportunity to get my feet wet?

That’s why I often lure Tony into different ventures like associated editing of a magazine or illustrating a collection of bizarre poems. And Tony, like a real noble knight, puts a shining armour on, and bravely fights for the honour of his restless, beautiful lady. He’s sweating over crazy drawings and going through the nine circles of hell of proofreading. Poor, poor Tony! But this time I let Tony take a short rest. I went into another crusade solo.

I met Sudeep Sen during Tony’s and my collaboration with The Wagon Magazine’, thanks to Krishna Prasad, the chief editor. A review of Sudeep’s book, ‘Erotext’, was featured in the current issue. I should admit, I’ve never heard of Sudeep before, but I was completely blown away by his writings. And, when I received an (unexpected) proposal to try translating this book… well, I think you know my answer. Of course, I said ‘yes’ and ran with drawn sword to conquer a new peak.

Dear Readers, today I take the courage to present myself in a new role: that of translator. Sudeep has kindly allowed me to show my first translations along with parts of his book on Unbolt Me. Thank you, Sudeep! I don’t know what this will result in, but I sincerely enjoyed the process and did my best. Word of honour!

TATI: Tony! Hey, Tony! Wake up! Stop drooling over your comic books…

TONY: What? Again? I’ve only just started to relax… and what about your translation?

TATI: That’s enough translation for now! I have another excellent idea! Let’s go!

The spray of scented chill pierces my lungs first, then comes the slow desperate heaving, the grinding spasm splaying, trying to centrifuge stubborn coves of mucous — whose greenish-yellow viscosity remains more deceptive than quicksand’s subtle death trap.

My face — confined in the transparency of plastic, frosted glass and thin air — regains for a moment the normalcy of breathing. It is a brief magical world. The oxygen in my blood is in short supply. I feel each and every electron’s charge, spurring my senses.

Dizzy in aerosol hope, I try to free myself of the medicated mask, but the frozen rain that batters my face reminds me of the tentativeness of living. As I survive on borrowed air, I’m grateful to the equation of science, its man-made safety, its curious balance that adds that precious molecule to create the sanctity of ‘O3’ — the holy Brahmanical triad — and the triumph of its peculiar numeric subscript.

My breathing is temporarily back now — electrolysed, perfectly pitched and nebulized — as narrow transparent tubes feed dreams into my wide opaque palate.

The sun’s edges are dark, so are my heart’s. No amount of air will light them up.

Сначала мои легкие пронзает ароматная ледяная струйка. Потом начинается медленная, тяжелая качка. Ритмичные волны судорог поднимаются, пытаясь затопить непокорную склизкую бухту, хрупкий зелено-желтый берег которой таит в себе большую опасность, чем смертельная ловушка зыбучих песков.

Я начинаю погружение. Мое лицо заковано в маску из прозрачного пластика, матового стекла и разреженного воздуха. На мгновение мое дыхание возвращается, и я вижу мир вокруг себя. Мир, волшебный и мимолетный, как картинка в калейдоскопе. В моей крови дефицит кислорода. Я ощущаю движение каждого электрона внутри, их микроскопические разряды бьют по моим органам чувств, словно молнии.

Опьяненный кислородом и надеждой, я пытаюсь освободиться от маски, но ледяные иглы дождя, жалящие лицо, напоминают мне о хрупкости бытия. Я – жалкий банкрот, мой воздух взят взаймы у научного уравнения. Мертвая формула, дарящая жизнь, странный баланс которой уравновешен лишней молекулой. Драгоценной молекулой, венчающей священный союз «О3», небесную триаду браминов, триумф этого особенного числового индекса.

Мое дыхание постепенно возвращается ко мне. Наэлектризованное, идеально ровное, глубокое, оно течет по узким прозрачным трубкам прямо в бескрайнее черное небо.

Солнце медленно погружается во тьму, и мое сердце тоже. Я знаю, что рассвет не наступит никогда.

 

Poem by SUDEEP SEN
Translation by TETIANA ALEKSINA

© All rights reserved 2017

Comfy Confabs: Elly Kellner

Hullo, Dear Reader. Welcome to what shall hopefully become an ongoing feature where I pester fellow creatives to chat about themselves and their process of birthing art.

As many of you would already know, art can and does take many forms. Sure, it can be a standard landscape on a gallery wall, but it can also pop up as a stirring folk song or taboo busting webcomic. Art doesn’t need permission to appear however it wants. As long as people from different walks of life are making it then it’s going to bust preconceptions wherever it goes.

There’s someone who was born in Antwerp that I’d like you to meet. She’s half Flemish, half Dutch, and she lives in the Netherlands. I’m not sure if she paints scenes of the countryside but she definitely sings songs and draws comics, ergo she’s an artist. So, hey, let’s break out the billiard chalk and buff our eyes for the click clack of words that follow…

TONY: Welcome, Elly Kellner. I’ve spent the morning listening to your rather pleasant vocal stylings at Creatieve Vlo. You see, I hadn’t even realised that you’re an accomplished singer ’til I tore my eyes away from your comics to find a clearly visible Music tab at the top of your site. As soon as I clicked on that… Well, all I can say is my hearing aid did a little flip of approval! How long have you been singing for?

ELLY: Well I’m glad you liked what you hear! Gosh, I’ve sang ever since I can remember! And when I was 9 years old I started picking up the guitar and after a while songs magically started to appear in my head.

TONY: Wow! What kinds of things were you singing about at that age? Do you remember?

ELLY: I read a lot of books from the library then and would sometimes be inspired by things I read, for instance a story about a girl that got run over by a car and died. I first performed my own song ‘Rain’ in music class at age twelve. It described the sun smiling at a dark rover (a dark cloud with a gun) as he took over the night shift and looked down on us with a grumpy frown. And how his rain made my clothes all wet and how I wished to be home beside the warm fire.

TONY: It’s clear that you had quite an active imagination from a very young age. And empathy too. Where do you think that empathy came from? Was yours an idyllic childhood?

ELLY: Oh dear, idyllic? No, my upbringing was like a fairy tale to me, filled with monsters, witches and much darkness. I was just trying to find out if I was the only one going through what I experienced. I left home at age 15 and lived ‘ever after’ and I still put a lot of energy and focus into the ‘happily’ part every day.

TONY: Yes, people do tend to forget that fairy tales were a lot darker back in the day. I’m glad you were able to find a way out of yours into a much happier story. So, what things make you happy these days?

ELLY: The first that comes to mind is drawing! It was my first creative love as a child but as soon as the music appeared my focus shifted and drawing took the backseat. But now, after some 30 years of focusing on making music my inspiration has decided to not come out in songs anymore. I spent a year without inspiration and then it suddenly came to me in images! It’s a bit scary seeing my dear friend ‘Music’ wander off… but I’m happy my long lost friend ‘Drawing’ came back to me as a replacement. In July 2016 I started creating my own comic and it’s been a fun journey so far!

I’m also quite proud of the give away shop that a friend and I set up a year and a half ago. The shop is open to the public to come shopping for free or to drop off things they don’t use anymore and that someone else may be happy with. It’s a great joy and shows the light side of life; everything in the shop we received from kind people including the shop interior and even the space where our shop is we may use for free. I find that’s pretty amazing! I’ve recently left the shop to focus more on my drawing and it is now run by my friend and six volunteers but the whole thing just proves to me that if you set out to do good and ask for help people are very willing to support you.

TONY: How on earth did you come up with the idea of a give away shop? That’s a quiet kind of genius that could change the world!

ELLY: Here in the Netherlands we have about 40 give away shops so for most of us it’s a normal thing. Of course there are special places all around the world for the needy and poor (I assume?) but a give away shop is for everyone! Even someone who has enough money may enjoy up-cycling and durability. They may enjoy rummaging through old clothes and finding that one gem!

TONY: I don’t think we have an equivalent to be honest. The closest perhaps are the charity shops here that sell second hand essentials at severely reduced prices. I prefer the Netherlands’s approach though. It feels more generous! Do you give away books as well? And what books do you personally love to read? Do you have a favourite author?

ELLY: Yes people can pick books as well as DVDs and some choose to return them once they´re done with them. Hmm, Haruki Murakami´s Kafka on the Shore remains a favorite as is Alice in Wonderland. I don´t read much though, I don´t have the peace in me to quietly sit and read.

TONY: Which explains why you have your fingers in so many creative pies in a way. So, could you tell me a little about your webcomic, and how and why you started it?

ELLY: I guess I’ve always needed a creative outlet to let off steam about my day to day experiences and emotions. I used to put it all in my songs but since that musical inspiration went on a holiday I just had to find something else. I slowly started getting images in my head and tried to draw me! It took a while before I found the right way to draw me.

We have to take into consideration that I’ve never much read any comics before, I had no interest in it whatsoever, except as a child I read the Donald Duck and old Flintstones comics. And I don’t research stuff, I just do it my way. It was the same with music making and writing songs, I just gave it a go and didn’t research what others were doing or how it was meant to be done. And I quite like that tactic in life.

With drawing it works the same… I do follow artists on Instagram, and I just discovered Chuckdrawsthings who draws pigeons that make me laugh or gets me teary eyed sometimes. It can be very inspiring but I don’t want it to influence me too much. The main thing I draw about is me. Anything I draw in these Creatieve Vlo web comics is about my experiences and my feelings. With dating and trying out a polyamorous lifestyle there was enough stuff happening to draw about so I started off with that. Positive body image, me being silly, my relationship with food, mental issues and life with its darker and lighter moments also come into view. And then I have many more ideas to work on…

TONY: Has drawing your strip been as satisfying as you’d hoped it would be? What are some elements of it that you wish to develop going forward?

ELLY: As I’m getting more practice and seeing there’s development in the drawings it gets more and more satisfying. But also, I have so many ideas to draw and it’s just so much fun to get it out on paper and see it actually work! I’d like to keep trying to be open and honest in my work, so try to go into the core, to areas that many would possibly recognize but not many would openly talk about. That way I can be of some help I hope! I think hurt starts the moment one thinks he or she is alone in it. And it can be very comforting to realize there’s many more people feeling the same as you do. I have more ideas that go more towards the ridiculous, talking poop or talking penises for instance. They seem to lead a life of their own so I’ve started drawing them too. I bet they’re very pleased with me.

TONY: I’ll bet they are too! In fact, you mention penises, and there’s something I’ve noticed with that. I get the distinct impression that you are completely enamoured of them! Is this the case? I ask because you seem to draw them on a regular basis.

ELLY: Yes, to me a penis definitely has a certain charm (as an entity of its own) and I also find them aesthetically pleasing, just like ladybugs, boobs, trees and birds. The penis is just another beautiful thing in this world that I enjoy drawing. Now this isn’t a shout out for males, ladybugs or trees to come tug at my sleeve so they can model in the nude for me. No thank you, don’t call us, we’ll call you…

TONY: Yes, this isn’t a cattle call, Dear Readers. Elly’s doing just fine, thanks very much. Well, I guess all that remains is for me to thank you for taking part in this interview. Is there a question that you wish I’d asked?

ELLY: Hmm, did you ask about where the name Creatieve Vlo came from?

TONY: Oh my god. Yes! Of course! That!

ELLY: Creatieve Vlo is Dutch for creative flea! Sometimes when I get a creative idea it’s like it’s an itch that needs to be scratched or dealt with asap. Once I was telling a friend that I was in a good flow with so many creative plans while I was thoughtlessly scratching my head. He smiled and commented that I might have the creative flea. So I really owe the name to this friend.

 

Interview by TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

Big Fish

Once upon a time, there was a girl and a boy, and they got up to all sorts of mischief. No, they weren’t bad children. They would just get bored on a lazy Sunday afternoon, that’s all. Actually, they’d get bored any old day of the week – it really didn’t matter when. They were in constant need of stimulation to keep their creative juices flowing, much like overripe cows in want of round-the-clock milking. That’s why the boy and girl were always poking their curious, little noses into different things.

So, the girl and the boy were feeling quite nebby. They sat there, swinging restless legs over the edge of a bridge high above a river flowing with ideas. And the adults! They had such serious faces! Why were they beached there on the riverbanks below just doing nothing? Well, that wasn’t entirely true. They were writing books and editing magazines… which looked like important stuff.

The boy and the girl exchanged glances. While she had his attention, the girl gave the boy a cheeky wink. The boy gave a goofy grin in return. He was a bit shy. The girl’s heart warmed at this, but she didn’t let on. Instead, she said, ‘I bet we can make a magazine too.’ The boy piped up, ‘Can we?’ He studied her resolute face with a mixture of interest and bewilderment, and that’s when he knew she was for certain going to do something about this.

She grabbed his hand and said, ‘Let’s go!’ And so they sprang from the bridge and plummeted into the river of ideas. They didn’t even come up for air. Ideas were where they lived, so they definitely had the gills for it. Actually, that’s not entirely true. They had the gills, certainly, but they did come up eventually… and they had a big, wet magazine cover with them. It flapped and it dripped, but the girl and boy held onto it tightly, and they were proud.

 

by TETIANA ALEKSINA & TONY SINGLE
© All rights reserved 2017

GUEST POST // A Game of Look and Find for Poetry and the Blog that Hosts it [Q&A]

Dear Readers, we are lucky enough to have become acquainted with Franki Hanke, a student administrative assistant with the Hamline University English Department. She also writes for its in-house blog Hamline Lit Link, and we’re thrilled that she decided to conduct an interview with us recently. My, oh my! Isn’t that exciting? We’re going to be on the front page of the University wall newspaper! So lean in, Dear Students, and squint your eyes to catch all the fine print. Oh, and please, do be polite and don’t spoil our beautiful faces with scribbled moustaches and shiners, okay?

FRANKI: Describe your site unbolt in its entirety? What is it? What does it hope to accomplish or what do you hope to accomplish through it?

TONY: Hi, Franki. Thanks for interviewing us. This should be fun!

TATI: Yes, let’s play!

TONY: Unbolt Me is a literary blog. It’s an online repository of poems, prose, and anything else we decide to try.

TATI: We have made art and audio recordings too. And a video! But Unbolt Me will always be about the writings.

TONY: As for what we hope to achieve with it, we just want fame and fortune, man. Like Scrooge McDuck, we wanna dive into huge piles of money and see how far we’ll sink!

FRANKI: Your web design leaves links all over the place to new creative work. What is the reasoning behind this feature?

TATI: Unbolt Me is a live organism. Beating. Throbbing. Breathing. Links are its circulatory system. They bring the oxygen of readers to every nook and cranny so there’s no necrosis.

FRANKI: What feedback have you gotten from readers about this feature?

TONY: They seem to like it. It can be fun to follow the links around… like a trail of breadcrumbs really. Just don’t gobble ‘em up as you go. Don’t want all our other readers getting lost!

TATI: Well… I remember one person said it’s rather annoying. But hey, don’t like, don’t click!

FRANKI: Throughout the site, do the links lead only to poems by the two of you or also reader submitted work?

TONY: It’s mostly only to our own poems, isn’t it Tati?

TATI: Yep, but not always. We’re not greedy.

TONY: Folks will just have to click around and find out for themselves. Ha ha!

FRANKI: Tell me about your writing challenges. When did they start? What’s the reasoning? How do you design them?

TATI: Actually, my writings were started like challenges, but maybe that’s off topic…

When I joined WordPress, I started to receive many awards and writing challenges. At first, I diligently tried to fulfill every challenge I received, but I later realized that I no longer had the time to get them done. They were growing in my to do list like a snowball. When I started to pay more attention to my writings and books, and when I started to work with Tony, these writing challenges became secondary.

One beautiful day, I decided to release them, and gave our dear readers the opportunity to raise this fallen banner of challenges themselves. We created a special page. It was my idea, but Tony’s brilliant execution. I’m very grateful to Tony. His mastery helps me to fulfil many bold ideas, and to create a modern design for the blog.

FRANKI: You currently have eight challenges, correct? Do you typically add more or is this typical to expect to see these same ones?

TATI: It’s actually a good idea! We should create some new challenges, Tony. Shouldn’t we?

TONY: Oh my god! A resounding yes!

TATI: By the way, I have an idea. What about a special bonus for readers of this interview? The ‘Create Your Challenge’ challenge and the ‘I would never write about…’ Challenge? How does that sound?

TONY: Yeah, totally! And our readers can make up their own rules for those challenges too!

FRANKI: For the Ears Wide Open challenge, are readers invited to offer their own readings too? Where should those be submitted and in what format?

TONY: We encourage it. If there are any poems we’ve written that tickle the fancy of our readers then we’d certainly love to receive their audio renditions of them. We accept mp3s and mp4s. Failing that, delivery via carrier pigeon in ten foot high braille is also acceptable.

TATI: Usually we use SoundCloud, and combine the reading with a fitting picture.

FRANKI: Which challenge is your favorite?

TATI: If I needed to pick a challenge for myself now, I would grab the ‘In Ten Sentences’ one. I think it’s because of my tendency to be laconic. Tony can confirm this. I’m not a chatterbox. Not in life. Nor in my writings.

TONY: Which is a boon since I’m deaf and half blind. As for me, the ‘Read Our Poems Aloud’ challenge would be my pick. Why? Because I’m an insufferable narcissist.

TATI: Deaf and half blind? Are you sure you’re human, Tony? You sound like a mole. A mole-narcissist. Really cool! Yep!

TONY: Careful! You don’t want me digging a hole beneath you…

FRANKI: How do you hope readers will interact with the challenges posted? What do you hope they gain from it?

TONY: Sexual prowess? Untold levels of virility? I’ve no idea. I guess all I want is for them to have fun with it. Writing is a chance to be creative, and we should all be given that opportunity at least once in our lives.

TATI: Finally, Tony said something valid. Amen to that!

FRANKI: What have you thought yourself doing these challenges (as they come from other nominations)? Has good work come out of the inspiration they stir up?

TATI: Every challenge forced me to think outside the box. To extricate myself from it. And challenges with a strict time frame also helped me to realize one interesting thing… Once, I wrote a piece in Russian in 10 minutes because rummaging in a dictionary would have devoured time if I had started to write in English. But the translation back into English took much longer than I had anticipated. Actually, I then wrote this piece again from scratch. It was a valuable lesson for me. Now, I never use Russian or Ukrainian drafts. I always write in English. Every language has its own logic and structure, and if you want to get a nice result then you need to think on this language, not just translate your own thoughts.

TONY: I believe challenges come from everywhere. Life itself goads one into writing something, anything, just to make sense of it all, don’t you think? I’ve never needed to look very far for my inspiration. By the way, Tat, good essay there!

TATI: Exciting.

TONY: Hey you, stop yawning already!

FRANKI: If someone was only willing to check out one challenge, which would you recommend as best for spurring some writing?

TONY: They should pick the challenge they’d hate the most. Methinks that’d really stretch out the old writing muscles!

TATI: Tony, what happened? The second reasonable thought during one evening!

FRANKI: Running a blog is a lot of work, what makes it worthwhile for you?

TONY: Writing and spending time with Tati is reward enough, but I do also have ambitions for our words to reach a wider audience. I feel we both have a lot to offer the literary world, so I’m definitely interested to see how far we can push this.

TATI: Yes, blogging is a great springboard. The more you shake it, the higher you jump.

FRANKI: What do you think are the benefits of writing for your own blog space versus other “goals” for writing: like writing in attempt to publish to other spaces or writing only privately, etc?

TONY: If I only ever wrote privately, then nothing would get done. I wouldn’t achieve a damn thing. That’s why I like to blog it all. This forces me to keep to a schedule, and it keeps me accountable to our readers. I feel this is the key to successful and productive writing for me.

TATI: I think it depends on goals, actually. There is nothing bad in private writings. But, yes, blogging disciplines you. It helps you to assess your efforts adequately. And the fact that I’m sitting here, struggling with my answers, means that I have made some steps toward my dream to be a famous writer. God bless you, blogging.

 

Interview by FRANKI HANKE
Image by TONY SINGLE

© All rights reserved 2017