The Tennessee Abolitionist: Jeremiah Dalton

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Jeremiah Dalton (1824-1882), XII Corps, Union Army. “To go against everything I’ve known, against everything everyone around me believes, against everything the churchmen preach, against everything my father and his fathers taught, against traditions and beliefs going back hundreds, thousands of years, evoking scorn, mockery, anger, disgust and violence from my own society, my own family – to do this and to believe that I am right and everyone around me is wrong, that I am not mad, deluded, corrupted, but that they are … This is the painful course of my life. Yet I will bear it out to the end, whatever the cost.”

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Bio: Marina Velázquez

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Marina Velázquez (1894-1957). Russian poet. Born Marina Lozovsky in Odessa, she published three books of poetry: Beyond the Cold Forest (1916), Random Green (1917) and The Special Animals (1921) She emigrated to Spain in 1922 and from there to Cuba, where she married the electrical engineer Miguel Velázquez, with whom she had two children. After his death in 1946, she moved to New York City, where she published one work, Modern Crescendo (1956), shortly before her death from pancreatic cancer. From Random Green:

я счастливее была, когда мучилась моя душа,
когда я проклятия боялась,
когда поцелуи преступление были.

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Bio: Aaron Greenwald

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Aaron Greenwald (1937-2016). Novelist. Born on Manhattan’s Lower East Side, Greenwald spent most of his writing life in Hawaii, where he’d been stationed during his four years in the Navy. His works include Caesar’s Thunderstorm, Valley of Salt, The Bird of Dawning, and his final novel, Low Warm Gold (2015), from which the excerpt below is taken.

“You ever seen an octopus? Their whole body is their brain or their brain is their whole body. Even their arms can think for themselves. They can change colors. Hundreds of colors, infinite patterns. They talk through colors, they talk to themselves in colors, they can run through a kaleidoscope of ever-changing patterns. You can even see them talking to themselves in their dreams. They’re strange, deeply strange, but they have a knowing. Their own way of knowing, their own kind of consciousness. They developed this, like we did, over millions and millions of years.

And you know how long they live? How long they get to enjoy all that knowing? Two years. That’s it. Can you imagine? What’s it for, those millions of years of development and evolution to produce a consciousness that fades and dies in two years’ time? And they don’t just suddenly kick off. No, they have a long period of decay, a decrepit old age, where their color-making skin flakes off and they get weak and stiff and slow and confused, practically rotting before they die. Can you imagine? What’s it for? I mean, the knowing, the consciousness. ‘Hey, look at me, I’m awake, I’m aware, every bit of my body is thinking and knowing, I know the world, I move and act within it, I’m alive and — oh, sorry, now I’m decaying and, oh gosh, now I’m dead. Oh well.’ What’s the point of that?”

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In the beauty of the stars

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In the beauty of the stars,
love stolen in all the beauty of the snow,
bright and cold, ice cold in the pit,
and the lips and sadness experienced.

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Bio: Juliet Antonelli

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Juliet Antonelli. Poet and translator. Born in 1961 in Volterra, Italy, to an Italian father and English mother, Antonelli wrote and published in both languages. Her books include Quattro Tempeste sulla Via Appia, Parabole di desiderio dimenticato, By Accident and There is No Moon in Hell. She is widely acknowledged as the foremost translator of Byron in Italian.

From Paroble:

Un momento meraviglioso: ero sdraiato sull’erba
in piena consapevolezza di tutto il dolore passato

e niente mi ha scosso, niente mi ha affondato,
nulla ha impedito alla mia anima spensierata di fluttuare,

un uccello che spara libero dagli alberi di betulla,
nel cielo serale ancora blu.

A marvelous moment: I lay in the grass
in full awareness of all past pain

and nothing shook me, nothing sank me,
nothing stopped my thoughtless soul from floating up,

a bird shooting free from the birch trees,
into the still-blue evening sky.

Translation by Antonelli

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“Moko the Clown”

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Still photo from the 1974 Soviet film, “Moko the Clown,” starring Mikhail Doroshevich; loosely based on the play “He Who Gets Slapped (Тот, кто получает пощёчины),” by Leonid Andreyev. An American film version of the Andreyev play was actually the first movie produced by Metro Goldwyn Mayer. It starred Lon Chaney and was directed by the great Swedish actor/director Victor Sjöström, best known for his remarkable lead performance in Ingmar Bergman’s “Wild Strawberries.” In the USSR, “Moko the Clown” ran for only two weeks before it was pulled from Soviet cinemas for its “spurious avant-gardism” and “anti-social character.”

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Bio: Rachael Landor

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Rachael Landor (b. 1978). Poet. Her books include Amharic Odes, Decadent Lustre, and The Afterlife of Roy Earle. Born in Macon, Georgia, she now lives in Mexico City with her husband, the artist and translator Guillermo Fuentes.

Jesus Christ was a woman walking in her garden with her wife, a Persian poet. 
They held hands in the twilight, talking low of daily things. 
The rustle of their long skirts on the grass, the fires and flowers 
that decorated their tunics gave holy substance to the moment. 
Laila’s brother came to mind, a soul abandoned to itself, left in torment, 
and they lamented his condition, and sent up prayers on his behalf. 
Darkening and dewing, the hour crept toward the time for sleep. But they lingered, 
taking one more turn along the walls, growing closer in silence, 
closer and deeper in a togetherness that made each soul more its own.

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