My Translation of Handke’s “To Duration” Featured in Tomorrow’s Times Literary Supplement

In Gabriel Josipovici’s discussion of his “book of the year” (tomorrow’s Times Literary Supplement) he writes the following:

Peter Handke’s long poem Gedicht an die Dauer came out in 1986 and has
only just been brought out in English, as To Duration, in a fine
translation by Scott Abbott, from the small press, Cannon Magazine.
That the same person could write Offending the Audience, Essay on
Tiredness, Repetition and this poem is quite remarkable. Handke is one
of the shining literary lights of our time and it says a great deal
about the insularity of our culture that this profound and beautiful
poem has had to wait almost thirty years to appear in English.

Josipovici is a brilliant novelist and thoughtful critic. See my thoughts on his novel Infinity: The Story of a Moment HERE.

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After the Snow

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New LDS Restrictions on Children of Gay Parents Make Perfect Sense

Since the new LDS restrictions on children of gay parents were made public yesterday, there have been many angry denunciations against a church that punishes children for the sins of their parents. That will change, I think, when people think through the issue more carefully. I’ll try to help with that process.

Let’s start with the premise that same-sex marriages are unnatural and thus evil and with the fact that what we know to be evil is now legal and increasingly natural in the United States. That makes it harder and harder for us to make people understand that gay marriage is evil.

We have a special problem with children  being raised by gay parents. A child whose parents love and support it — and feed and care for and challenge and correct and nurse  and weep with and celebrate it — will, unfortunately, understand the goodness of those parents. Their family life may even seem natural to those children. They may love their parents. That puts them in a position of inevitable opposition to the principles of the gospel we are trying to teach, namely, that their parents are engaged in evil and unnatural lifestyles. Were we to allow them to be blessed and baptized and to enjoy full fellowship with the rest of us, they might attend church and express their admiration for their parents in ways that would undermine our valiant efforts.

Some of the anger being expressed today is aimed at the fact that while these children can’t be baptized, children of murderers and rapists can be baptized and welcomed into the church. That is good logic, if you think about it for a minute. Children of murders and rapists will easily recognize those acts as illegal and evil and will not be inclined to defend them in church. But children whose gay parents love them are more problematic.

The only way, then, to protect the delicate faith and true belief of the members of the church is to discipline and punish people in same-sex marriages and to keep their sympathetic children away from our meetings and out of our fellowship.

That makes perfect sense. The LDS leaders who have announced the new policy understand the problem well and have taken appropriate action.

They haven’t, however, thought this through to the end. In coming months, as the fruits of their actions are manifest in more fully correlated and homogenized congregations, inspired leaders will realize that additional restrictions are called for. Heterosexual parents of gay children often sympathize with their children and are grateful when they find a supportive and loving partner. And when they marry the parents are no longer out-laws but in-laws. That can’t be good for anyone. The church will be better off once all parents of gay children are disfellowshipped for the good of the congregation.

Additionally, siblings of gays and lesbians often know from long and intimate experience that their brothers and sisters are good people. Better disfellowship all of them too. And while we are thinking in that direction, friends of gays and lesbians cannot be trusted.

In short, while the new restrictions on the children of parents in same-sex families are a good start, parents and siblings and friends and acquaintances must be excluded as well. Appropriate signs can be posted at all entrances to our chapels: gays and lesbians, children of gay parents, parents of gay children, siblings… LDS public relations will come up with something inoffensive and still effective, I’m sure.

As this retrenchment is enacted, new policy will have to be drafted concerning the words “congregation” and “ward” and “fellow citizens” and “fellowship” and “community” and “saints.” None of those old words fit what will be the new reality: henceforth Sunday meetings will be attended by a few bitter and fearful white guys, unless, of course, there is an important football game on TV.

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Morning Light

morning light

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Utah Book Award

Here, the official announcement of the Utah Book Awards. Coming in second place to Theresa Jordan’s wonderful “meditation on the search for meaning in an ordinary life” is an honor.

2015 Utah Book Award Winners and Finalists


Winner: Princess Wannabe by Leslie Lammle
Finalist: Fairy Tale Christmas by Michael McLean and Scott McLean


Winner: A Song for Issey Bradley by Carys Bray
Finalist: The Bishop’s Wife by Mette Ivie Harrison


Winner: The Year of Living Virtuously: Weekends Off by Teresa Jordan
Finalist: Wild Rides and Wildflowers by Scott Abbott and Sam Rushforth


Winner: The Logan Notebooks by Rebecca Lindenberg
Finalist: like water, like bread by Joyce Webb Kohler


Winner: The Avatar Battle by Chad Morris
Finalist: Strike of the Sweepers by Tyler Whitesides

A couple of photos of the perpetrators:

IMG_5919 snakes

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Autumn Skies

redsky2 morning

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We’ll be HOWLing tonight

howl@60 poster

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Peter Handke’s TO DURATION

Copies of the beautiful little book arrived yesterday from Amsterdam (after a long transAtlantic voyage). Scan 2

My translation of Peter Handke’s Gedicht an die Dauer is the first English translation of the poem, published in German in 1986.

Philip Baber instigated the translation, edited and designed the book. It is part of his Cannon Magazine project and can be ordered at their website.

ScanThe poem is an investigation of duration — what it is, how it is (sometimes, surprisingly) achieved, what the task of the writer is in regard to duration.

A couple of pages here.

The poem is strikingly simple, I thought again last night as I read it in this new form. Simple and profound. It is remarkably personal for a writer whose plays and novels and essays draw heavily from his own experience but do so in the third person or from some formal narrative distance. This is a philosophical poem, that rarest sort of philosophy: personal and poetic philosophy.

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