Monday, 11 March 2019

A quick interview with Kate Wakeling, co-translator of 'The Adventures of Na Willa'

It's launch week for our latest childrens book, The Adventures of Na Willa, a collection of stories about a little girl growing up in Surabaya, Indonesia. Here's a quick interview with one of the translators, Kate Wakeling!

What were your first thoughts on reading The Adventures of Na Willa?

I remember thinking: this is absolutely brilliant. The book has this sharp humour and total honesty – it feels so refreshing and alive.

What's your favourite story in the book? 

I really love the book's opening chapter, 'Just Like Mak' – it captures so much of the spirit and purpose of the book and yet handles these huge topics with such a deft touch. I also love 'Fish', which hones in so playfully and sensitively on the particularities of a child's preferences.

What did you find challenging about working on the translation? 

It was challenge to make sure we always stayed true to the tone of Reda's writing, particularly the humour that underpins everything in the book and which is so crisp and alert and never-ever-ever-ever twee. And then there are all sorts of interesting quirks to Indonesian – as of course there must be with any language – but I remember getting particularly flummoxed by certain Indonesian exclamations like 'wah' (which sort of means gosh/wow/heck/well...) and 'aduh' (oh dear/oh no/poor you/poor me/ouch). These words have such particular senses/implications in Indonesian depending on the context (and I was also struck that the way they are uttered is also crucial – they're often articulated with a particularly musical/theatrical ring) and I remember thinking: the English language just doesn't get quite this. (Aduh.)

Why do you think it's important for children to read books in translation? 

Reading in translation really helps transport us beyond those little bubbles of familiarity that we can so easily float about in. Books in translation remind us that there are zillions of different sorts of lives and give us amazing access to different ways of thinking and being, which seems so very crucial. At any stage in life. But of course the sooner better.

What are your favourite books in translation? 

I read The Vegetarian by Han Kang (translated by Deborah Smith) a couple of months ago and still haven't really recovered. I've loved devouring everything by Elena Ferrante (translated by Ann Goldstein). And I have loved W.G. Sebald's books (as translated by Michael Hulse and Anthea Bell) since I was a student and only wish he could have lived until he was 107 and kept on writing his strange and wonderful works.

Buy The Adventures of Na Willa (£8.99) from our webshop here.

Kate Wakeling is a poet and musicologist. Her debut poetry collection for children, Moon Juice, won the CLiPPA in 2017 and was nominated for the Carnegie Medal. A pamphlet of her poetry for adults, The Rainbow Faults, is published by The Rialto. Kate studied music at Cambridge University and holds a PhD in Balinese gamelan music from SOAS. She is writer- in-residence with Aurora Orchestra.

Twitter: @WakelingKate

A quick interview with Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul, co-translator of 'The Adventures of Na Willa'

It's launch week for our latest childrens book, The Adventures of Na Willa, a collection of stories about a little girl growing up in Surabaya, Indonesia. Here's a quick interview with one of the translators, Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul!

What were your first thoughts on reading The Adventures of Na Willa

I thought: finally, a book which can take me back to my glorious childhood! It’s Na Willa!

The Adventures of Na Willa is a must-read children’s book that can be enjoyed by all ages. Once you have this book in your hands, you won’t be able to stop reading. It talks about the essential freedom of thought which all the children in the world should possess – that’s why this book should be read universally.

All the elements – places, characters, conflicts – are drawn with care and brought alive by the fun and spontaneous Indonesian and Javanese expressions. The Adventures of Na Willa is fun but also powerful; funny but full of wisdom.

What's your favourite story in The Adventures of Na Willa

All of the stories! It’s a difficult question, isn’t it? I really like ‘Just Like Mak,’ which might be some children's first introduction to ideas about gender equality. Oh yes, Na Willa! You can be whatever you want and for sure, girls wear trousers too!

What did you find challenging about working on the translation? 

I was born in Surabaya, east of Java, the city where (I believe this is fate) Na Willa lives too. Every time I came across pieces of Javanese dialect included by the author, Reda Gaudiamo (Did I mention I was already a mega-fan of hers? Well, now you know!), I understood what they meant but found it hard to express this in English.

This was my biggest challenge in translating The Adventures of Na Willa, because I wasn’t just translating the text in terms of grammar – more than that, I was trying to communicate the vibrancy of Javanese culture so it could be shared by everyone.

My co-translator Kate Wakeling (I hope I’ll have a chance to drink a glass of wine with her this summer, finger crossed) helped a lot about this, as she has a great sensitivity to Javanese culture and the words she has proposed were absolutely brilliant!

Why do you think it's important for children to read books in translation? 

As a mother of mixed-culture children, I think reading books in translation is an essential delight. By reading literature across borders, children open their minds and their hearts to new ideas, new realities. It’s like the biggest adventure for them, giving them inspiring ideas as a change to their school routines!

What are your favourite books by Indonesia authors?

Buy The Adventures of Na Willa (£8.99) from our webshop here.

Ikhda Ayuning Maharsi Degoul is an Indonesian poet currently based in Japan. Her debut pamphlet, Ikhda by Ikhda, was published by the Emma Press in 2014. Her poems have been published in Mildly Erotic Verse and The Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood. Her second poetry collection, The Goldfish, is forthcoming with the Emma Press in 2019.

Twitter: @ikhdadegoul
Instagram: @ikhdadegoul

A quick interview with Reda Gaudiamo, author of 'The Adventures of Na Willa'

It's launch week for our latest children's book, The Adventures of Na Willa, a collection of stories about a little girl growing up in Surabaya, Indonesia. Here's a quick interview with the author, Reda Gaudiamo!

When did you start writing stories? 

I wrote my first story when I was 6, a very short one.

Do you remember the first story you wrote? 

Yes, it’s about a farmer who found a tiny seed, he planted it, and it grew beautifully and multiply by itself. Turned out that tiny seed was a grain of rice.

What do you like writing about? 

People and their stories, their lives, feelings….

What’s your favourite story in The Adventures Of Na Willa?

Oh my, this is difficult. I can’t pick one – “This Evening” and “Party”.

What were your favourite books as a child? 
What advice would you give to a budding writer? 

Good writing is like drawing, riding a bike, baking… You need practice. You start with something simple and easy, and move to something more delicate. You might stumble along the way, but then you become better and better.

Buy The Adventures of Na Willa (£8.99) from our webshop here.

Reda Gaudiamo is a writer from Jakarta, Indonesia. She was born in 1962 and she wrote her first story when she was in the first grade, reading it to her parents after dinner time. Her first book – Bisik-bisik / Whispers (EKI Press), a short story collection consisting of dialogues – was published in 2004. In 2012, she published her first children’s book: Na Willa (Aikon). This was followed by Meps, Beps and Me (2016) – a collaboration with Soca Sobhita, her daughter, and Na Willa and the House in the Alley (2018). These last two books were published by Post Press, who also reprinted Na Willa. Reda is also well known as a singer and musician through the AriReda duo, whose poetry-inspired ballads have captivated audiences across Southeast Asia and Europe.

Twitter: @reda.gaudiamo
Instagram: @reda.gaudiamo

Friday, 8 March 2019

Happy International Women's Day from the Emma Press!

Happy International Women’s Day! We are so proud to be a publisher run by an all-female team and to have published some fantastic books written by women, including poetry, short stories, and books for children – here are just five of our favourites: 

Paisley by Rakhshan Rizwan

The poems in Rakhshan Rizwan’s debut pamphlet explores issues of class, linguistic and cultural identity – particularly for women – in the context of Pakistan and South Asia. The pamphlet was shortlisted for the 2018 Michael Marks Award and judges commended it for “her formal control over the prose poem or ghazal…an impressive tonal sharpness, [and] a fascinatingly laconic voice”.

Once Upon a Time in Birmingham words by Louise Palfreyman, illustrations by Jan Bowman, Yasmin Bryan, Amy Louise Evans, Saadia Hipkiss, Chein Shyan Lee, Farah Osseili and Michelle Turton

Meet the women who made – and are making – Birmingham the great city it is today. Featuring stories and portraits of 30 inspirational women from Birmingham, this book is sure to encourage and motivate a new generation of female artists, activists, athletes, and more. The book will also be part of several events to celebrate International Women’s Day in Birmingham, including a model display of the book in Victoria Square – find out more on our events page.

The Secret Box by Daina Tabūna, translated from Latvian by Jayde Will, with illustrations by Mark Andrew Webber

This book features three short stories, all narrated by young female protagonists at different stages of their lives. Two siblings realise they’re too old to be playing with paper dolls, a teenager re-examines her religious beliefs and fixation with Jesus, and a disaffected young woman stumbles into an awkward relationship with an office worker. The narrators of these three stories each try, in their own way, to make sense of how to behave in a world that doesn’t give any clear answers.

The Emma Press Anthology of Motherhood, edited by Rachel Piercey and Emma Wright, with illustrations by Emma Wright

Mother’s Day is coming up – why not give this beautiful anthology as a gift? The poems in the anthology examines the depth and complexity of emotion surrounding motherhood, celebrating motherhood at the same time as challenging the huge expectations placed on mothers.

Trouble by Alison Winch

This pamphlet presents a “distinctly feminine (and feminist) perspective” on intimacy in various relationships and settings – between lovers, between a granddaughter and a grandmother, and in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. The poems move through these explorations of intimacy in a witty, playful, and bold voice.

Thursday, 7 March 2019

World Book Day with the Emma Press: favourite books from the past year

In celebration of World Book Day 2019, we asked a few of our recent and upcoming authors and poets to tell us the best book they’ve read in the past year…

Aalfred and Aalbert by Morag Hood – Rachel Plummer, poet

‘A book I've really loved sharing with my kids this year is a picture book called Aalfred and Aalbert, by Morag Hood. It is a sweet and funny queer love story for younger children, about two aardvarks who are perfect for each other but need a little push along the way. Sweet and charming, this book is great LGBT representation and a lovely read. What's not to love?’

Don’t miss Wain by Rachel Plummer, a collection of LGBT themed poetry for teens based on retellings of Scottish myths.

The People in the Trees by Hanya Yanagihara – Rassi Narika, author

The People in the Trees was my second Yanagihara after I read A Little Life - I was an emotional wreck after reading it. It was so good, I laughed and cried with it. In 2018, The People in The Trees left me with a different kind of wreck. I kept rereading its pages just because I wasn't sure how I feel about the story. I love the book because my interpretation about each character, and their story, was continuously challenged in every turn of events. I had many moments of self-conversation, questioning the social construct of how we see culture, and who decides – or defines the cultural narrative of the Ivu'ivu's world. It made me think about an alternate universe where civilization has a different storyline than one we have today. And, the fact that this fiction was inspired by true events, made me even more obsessed with how Yanagihara beautifully tells such difficult story.’

Publishing later this month, When It Rains by Rassi Narika is a children’s picture book that spins a story of hope and discovery to brighten even the rainiest of days.

Keats: A Biography by Andrew Motion – Kathy Pimlott, poet

‘My favourite book during 2018 was the only prose book I read, Andrew Motion’s biography of John Keats, published in 1997 and given to me, I see from the inscription, in 2002. I’d started it two or three times but had always been distracted. In 2018 I was just finishing an 18-month Writing School with the Sheffield-based Poetry Business and one ‘homework’ was to read a poet’s biography. Keats was my schoolgirl crush (along with Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, Simon & Garfunkel and Hamlet), the book was on the shelf, so it was a no-brainer. Though, of course, I knew Keats’ short and tragic story, I wasn’t ready for the emotional undertow of the book, how it would drag me into the deeps over and over again. It sent me straight back to the poems I thought I knew so well, to the house on Keats Grove, and prompted four new poems of my own. What more could you ask?’

Newly released, Elastic Glue is a poetry pamphlet by Kathy Pimlott exploring the ways we own and are owned by land – how we both make and are made by the places we inhabit. 

The Bubble Wrap by Dean Parkin – Ieva Flamingo, author & poet

‘It’s so hard to choose! Because all of them are really interesting and special to me. The Bubble Wrap is a poetry book, written and illustrated by Dean Parkin. I choose this book because the author not only writes for children, but also thinks and lives in these poems like children. The poems are vivid, funny, cheerful and heart-warming.’

Ieva Flamingo’s The Girl Who Learned All The Languages of The World is an illustrated story for children exploring the joys of language learning.

Snail, Where Are You? by Tomi Ungerer - Rūta Briede, author & illustrator

‘Sometimes there are books with not a lot of text in them. And sometimes silence and observing is the best state of mind when nothing really happens but everything happens. In Snail, Where Are you? by Tomi Ungerer, there aren’t too many lines to read. Only two. But can a story be told by a good question? Can one feel the author’s bright and playful mind by seeing some illustrations and reading one question and one simple answer? Yes, it’s possible if the author is Tomi Ungerer. This is a book where simplicity is done by a true master and one question is exactly the one that must be asked and the answer is truly simple. Can you guess it?’

Don’t miss Rūta Briede’s latest children’s picture book, The Dog Who Found Sorrow, a beautiful, resonant story about sadness and healing, suitable for all ages.

Insectopedia by Hugh Raffles – Lenni Sanders, poet

Last year I really loved reading Hugh Raffles' collection of essays Insectopedia. It's a fantastic book that I read slowly from summer through to winter, dipping in, reading an essay here and there. This means for months at a time in 2018 I was saying "Oh look, a bee! Hey, did you know...?" and things like that, to anyone around. His style is captivating and clear as he explores our various relationships to insects. I was especially into 'My Nightmares', a poetic and incantatory piece about what it is about insects that can be so frightening to us - 'There is the nightmare of putting the shoe on and of taking the shoe off. There is the slithering nightmare and the one that walks backwards. There is the squirming nightmare and the squishing nightmare.'’

Publishing in May this year, the wryly funny Poacher by Lenni Sanders is influenced by magical realism and puts strange characters in mundane places.

The Book of Clouds by Juris Kronbergs – Reda Gaudiamo, author

‘This is a book I cannot stop talking about. The Book of Clouds by Juris Kronbergs showed me that Indonesian children need to read and enjoy poetry — the format often considered the most serious one compared to other formats. Poems are seen as being the type of text for adult, the rhymes we know are so old, and forgotten. Little do we know that poetry is the type of format that helps children to read, love reading, helps their articulation... and much more. This book makes me want to pursue a new project: working with Indonesian poets to write poems for children.’

Launching at the London Book Fair, The Adventures of Na Willa by Reda Gaudiamo is a collection of stories of curious adventures and musings of a multicultural girl growing up in Indonesia.

The Carrying by Ada Limón – Jeffery Sugarman, poet

‘Ada Limón's newest collection, The Carrying, is one for these times, and I think, for the ages. Her poetic speakers are most always astonished and bewildered in, and by, this troubled world; yet they won't be stopped by it, nor let us be stopped. She's a poet whose very flesh seems composed of compassion—the poems of incandescent feeling, wrought in simplest words. Seeing and feeling with, and through, the flesh—often in emotional and physical pain—she captures essences, in poems which, nonetheless, cast outward toward timeless reflection, resolutions on the desire and will to survive, indeed flourish. She's also a master at "saying the thing", and plays few linguistic games. I marvel at her directness and clarity, how it conjures the profound; and gain great pleasure too from the jewel-like epiphanies that rise up within, and often end, her poems with fresh insight, but seem also inevitable! In this new collection, especially, she's unflinching in her effort to understand and describe the world, even if her methods become ruthless; thus she's able to live in this world, I think, for the better—and so might we. In "Killing Methods" her speaker, reflects— "I'm thinking of how we make stories, / pluck them like beetles out of the air // I don't know how to hold this truth, / so I kill it, pin its terrible wings down / in case, later, no one believes me." The Carrying, helps me to see how we might hold the truth, and believe.’

Jeffery Sugarman’s pamphlet Dear Friend(s) is due to publish in April. Its long title poem is an elegy, to a specific “Dear Friend”, dead from AIDS in its earliest years.

What's your favourite book from the past year? Comment below or tag us @TheEmmaPress on social media. We'd love to know what you're reading!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Interview with Elīna Brasliņa, illustrator of The Dog Who Found Sorrow

We interviewed Elīna Brasliņa about her work in The Dog Who Found Sorrow, a picture book about an adventurous dog whose town has been taken over by dark clouds and smoke...

How did you draw all the smoke?

I made a whole bunch of smudgy clouds by crumbling charcoal on paper and rubbing it in with my thumb. Then I cheated – I scanned all these clouds and, by combining some bits and erasing others, I was able to create these smoky landscapes on my computer.

Where did you learn to draw?

At first I drew pictures of animals from encyclopaedias – I didn’t put the paper over the image and trace it like my classmates did, I looked at it and struggled to draw one that was just as good. I couldn’t, obviously. After that, I drew cartoons I saw on TV, then moved on to Japanese manga characters. It was only when I was 21 and started attending evening courses at the Art Academy that someone actually taught me the basics of drawing. I think all of it helped in some way!

What was your favourite picture book when you were little?

I don’t really remember any picture books – but there were illustrated books that I loved. Tove Jansson’s The Moomins and the Great Flood was one of my favourites. My mother used to read it to me – she did all the voices too – and I would look at the pictures.

Elīna Brasliņa studied Printmaking and Graphic Arts at the Art Academy of Latvia. Since 2014 she has illustrated more than twenty titles, including Moon Juice by Kate Wakeling, which won the 2017 CLiPPA. She has been nominated for numerous awards in Latvia and won the Zelta Ābele (Golden Apple Tree) National Prize for Book Art twice. She was awarded the International Jānis Baltvilks Prize in 2017.

The Dog Who Found Sorrow is available to buy on our website. 

Interview with Rūta Briede, author of The Dog Who Found Sorrow

We interviewed Rūta Briede about The Dog Who Found Sorrow, a picture book about an adventurous dog whose town has been taken over by dark clouds and smoke...

Where did you get the idea for this story?

Well, I’ve always liked clouds. And sometimes when I was little I would sit down on a balcony and watch thunder-clouds coming. And there’s actually nothing you can do to turn those clouds away. But then I thought: what if your sadness or misery was a cloud as well? Can you do something about your own dark, dusty clouds? Can you stop them coming?

Why is the main character a dog?

Because I like dogs and unfortunately I don’t have one. But I would like to. Would you like to? I’ve rarely met a dog who’s sad. They’re almost always so happy. Always up to something. Just like the investigator Dog in my book.

The dog plays the harmonica to cheer up the Sorrows. What cheers you up?

Two things – cleaning and nature.

What was your favourite picture book when you were little?

Hmm. When I was little there weren’t very many picture books published in Latvia. And I guess you won’t recognise the names of the picture books I was reading back then. But I read a lot. And one of my favourite books of all was Ronia, the Robber’s Daughter by Astrid Lindgren.

Rūta Briede illustrates books, draws comics, designs puppet shows and teaches at the Art Academy of Latvia. Her first picture book, Queenof Seagulls, earned international recognition and won the International Jānis Baltvilks Prize 2017 for the best debut. Rūta is the artistic director and stage designer for a puppet stage show based on Queen of Seagulls. The Dog Who Found Sorrow is her second book.

The Dog Who Found Sorrow is available to buy on our website.