About SPARKS

Author, dentist Zuleyka Robles, myself, two illustrators (Pamela and Maricarmen) and Lian, at Tintero 2015. Look at that majestic mergoat.

My eyeballs are burning and, as I told my friend Zuleyka, the author of Sparks, “I’m kind of manic” because I’ve been working on her book for so long and it is ALMOST DONE. Almost. But before I sleep, I want to share my excitement with everyone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This means you can get your hands on it pretty soon (July? Hopefully.) and it will be absolutely worth it.

Subverse is on facebook now, where I’ll be posting news, as well as on instagram (subversepub), please like or follow if curious.

Sparks consists of microstories (rejoice, commitment-phobic and/or lazy readers) that, in spite of being only a few sentences long, are concise and stab you right in the feels.

Our unexpected bonus was the willingness of our artist friends to collaborate with illustrations for many of the stories – as well as their enthusiasm. So this book will have tons of illustrations in a variety of styles that represent how the artist interpreted the stories. It even inspires me, so I might end up illustrating one or two.

I don’t want to share any of her stories because that will spoil the surprise. Some of the illustrations have already been shared, but there is so much more.

What I don’t mind sharing, however, is a fragment of the foreword I wrote. I’m really hoping to make you curious and want to read Sparks (as well as the rest of this introduction).

Do you remember the last time you lit sparklers? Think about it for a moment. If your memory is a recent one, you were probably in the company of other adults, laughing, cheering and having fun. Maybe you were even inebriated. If your memory is from childhood, you may remember getting accidentally burned by the crackling sparks, or having touched the glowing ember (against your better judgment). Then, lighting your sparklers with respect or apprehension, holding it a safe distance away from your body. The next day or after that special event, you may have had to dispose of the ugly, black wires making a mess on the floor, all with a hint of melancholy, now that the party is over and routine resumes.

Zuleyka’s stories exploit the moments we overlook. While we may reminisce about parties, the fun stories we prefer to tell, the sparks in this book reveal the most private events: the actions and interactions (the initial sparks) that light up fires of passion. The author leaves the fires and explosions to the reader’s imagination, but strategically so, that we may imagine an outcome according to our own values, experiences and individual traumas. Some are fires that melt away the biting cold, others, fires of shame, anger and despair that scorch the flesh and nerves. The most persistent dilemma throughout Sparks is that of love, but from different points of view: parent, small child, adult child, lover, ex-lover, spouse, friend, stranger, enemy, self. Some stories are about the strike of the match, some, about the burning. Some are about picking up the trash the day after the party.
Every story offers insight into hidden parts within our selves, even the most seemingly fantastical or unlikely. When have you not been so affected that you felt as if trapped in fiction? Overwhelmed to hyperbolic proportions, that you knew yourself to have become a beast, or have your soul float out of your body? On the other hand, there is the impossibly real: monsters in the mirror, self-injury, homicidal impulses towards those we love the most. In Sparks is a mirror: we are all neurotic. We have all had a few seconds of psychosis, of paranoid schizophrenia that, with a small change of events, revert us to mental and emotional “stability.” (…)

 

Just look at that table full of communion, friendship and beauty.

Just look at that table full of communion, friendship and beauty.

We had lots of fun at Tintero (back in March – establishing some continuity from my last post).

We could barely fit all of our stuff on the table, but mission accomplished. We took some emails from visitors interested in Sparks, gave them free stuff like pins, stickers and bookmarks (which seemed to scare most people, as in “why are you giving me things?”)… so if by chance you were one of those folks, expect some goodness coming your way soon.

 

 

About that day I presented Daniel’s book…

In March I was invited by my friends, Daniel Pommers and Miguel Pruné (associated with their individual books, collaborations, nd tons of other publications) also known as Gato Malo Editores, to present Daniel’s book of poetry, Que Así Sea (which you can google to read lots more about it, or check it out locally at bookstores – or HERE).

This picture is just for fun:

This is the first time I present a book (surely not the last), and my experience was both intimate and alienating. Mostly alienating at first… repeatedly I asked Daniel, “Me? Are you sure…?” because our styles and backgrounds are somewhat different. Then the doubts, “what if I’m getting this all wrong…?” – which is fine, when you don’t personally know the author, or if the author is dead in a literal sense. But then, inclusive… reconstruction of a person and his literary work through deconstruction.

I read this is front of a crowd of mostly his friends and family, whose expressions were quite difficult to read. But he smiled the entire time, so I suppose my analysis wasn’t too off.

Considering this will otherwise be lost forever in a sea of digital documents, I’m sharing a shortened version of it here… and perhaps, to awaken some curiosity in you and motivate you to go look for it and read it!

It’s in Spanish, by the way. I suppose you’ll notice that… (Also: No accents on account of not understanding shortcuts on Windows8. I suppose you’ll notice that, but I do know my rules, please don’t be mistaken.)

You can read more about the event on this link.

Links related to the boys:

Photo by Abram Fuentes. I missed the joke.

Continue reading

Why Stars Like Fish?

Since I’ll probably never be using this introduction again, I’m sharing part of the conference I gave at the UPRH last October, for everyone’s pleasure – of this sort of thing pleases you. 

Credit unavailable. If you know the artist, please send a message!

 “Why Stars Like Fish?” is a question I am asked very often, not only by people who are looking for clues before reading it, but also some who have already read it entirely. I’ve probably been unfair when answering to both, with replies such as a very secure “well, if you read it I’m sure you’ll get it” – or the distressed and insecure “really, you read it and you didn’t get it?” 

When naming the book, I never gave it much thought. Images of stars and fish are recurrent in my writing, and they share many similarities in their symbolism. I suppose I overlooked the fact that “Stars Like Fish” is a poetic line in itself, one that invites interpretation (whether a conscious or unconscious one).

For those who expect an explanation on how stars are in any way like fish, or how fish can be possibly be similar to stars might be disappointed. Yes, there are stars in the book as well as fish, but there is never a direct comparison.

Before I make my best effort to explain my title choice, I’d like to show you this illustration by one of Prof. Carmen Torres’ students, Michelle (whose last name I don’t know), who was kind enough to let me keep it.

I was excited to see it for many reasons: one, to know that by means of your own creativity you have bonded with a stranger who has reacted through art. We are all inspired by other artists, but we rarely get to connect. Having the opportunity to see an interpretation of your work in an entirely different medium provokes a feeling of togetherness and communication, even if it’s based on a title alone.

A second reason is that, having this self-created complex that “nobody gets it” regarding my title, this student helped me get over my anxiety because, when she showed it to me, with intense emotion I thought “SHE GETS IT!”

I would like to analyze Michelle’s  watercolor as an answer to “Why Stars Like Fish?”

It’s a reversible image of creatures in water and outer space. You may look at it from one angle or another, and its meaning is unaltered (in the same way stars like fish or fish like stars are interchangeable).

But what is the meaning?

Does a starred sky ever meet the ocean’s edge?

From our human perspective, it does. As residents of an island, we might take visits to a shoreline for granted, but we’ve all noticed the horizon, the line where the ocean ends and the sky begins (or vice versa).

Under a dark night sky, however, this line is almost impossible to isolate.

Michelle’s illustration shows both sky and sea, almost blending into one another, but not quite. She painted white dots in the violet space, and colored stars in the blue one. The stars in space resemble stars as we see them, tiny white dots against a dark background. The stars in the sea resemble starfish, or anemone. In a sense, through linguistic signs (not considering definitions), there are stars in both sky and sea.

Now I’d like to focus on the characters: a mermaid and astronaut are looking into each other’s eyes, yet, they’re not touching, but waving at each other.  Where do they meet?

I really had to give this some thought. What seems obvious to me is quite difficult to word, because I’ve never thought of it in words, until this moment, but in metaphor.  We are beings of the earth… the sky and the sea, whether we have a scientific understanding of it or not, are realms beyond our reach. Humans may visit these spaces, in suits that allow us to temporarily adapt, but we cannot naturally experience them.

Hence, sky and sea are where we look to for solace, for a promise that there exists what we cannot grasp: origin and flight, a beginning where there is an end, birth and death (and an afterlife), which is why the sky and sea are elements in creation myths around the world. There are fish in the ocean and there are stars in the sky, so much we know… more than we can count, because we simply cannot.  Stars are born and die as often as fish do, as our own lives are ephemeral… but we manage to live on our own, relative time, as we look beyond the horizon, beyond our atmosphere.

So, how are stars like fish? They inhabit the unknown, and are symbols, in Stars Like Fish, of what we can see – but cannot fully comprehend.

On occasion, we might see stars reflected on water. In our dreams, we may see fish floating in the sky with other impossible objects. 

Where some things found are announced…

If any of you follow my livejournal, rx you might already know I’ve been cooking something up for the last couple of months…

It’s Where Everything Lost is Found, sildenafil and it’s scheduled to be published in… well, when it’s finished. Approximate date is May 2013.

This one contains a bonus… art! A handful of doodles in between poetry and bits and pieces of prose and, possibly, short stories. However (as it happens), the chronology is all backwards. Most of it contains a healthy dose of teenage angst and existential desperation, because it only contains pieces written more than a decade ago.

welif

This is a teaser of some of the drawings (all in black ballpoint pen), many of which will be recent (because all my “art” worth sharing has already been seen online).

So keep an eye out! There’s actually more than one announcement to be made, but only when the time is right!