On the 23 of September 2016, Alex Caldiero celebrates his 67th birthday. On the 27 of September he celebrates the birth of his new book Who Is the Dancer, What Is the Dance at Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City.
On the 23 of September 2016, Zarko Radakovic celebrates the birth of his novel Kafana / Tavern in Belgrade.
On the 23 of September 2016 Scott Abbott celebrates more than three decades of friendship with two extraordinary writers and in early October the birth of his own book.
These are friendships that invite literary collaboration, friendships that encourage and support, friendships that provide opportunities, friendships that demand good work.
That my book Immortal for Quite Some Time will appear almost simultaneously with Zarko’s Kafana and Alex’s Who Is the Dancer, What is the Dance is a special pleasure, a literary linking of three friends who are friends in spirit as well as letters.
This photo of a few of Zarko’s books reveals him as an emigrant/immigrant (two titles with the word emigracije), as intimately connected to extraordinary visual artists—the painter Knifer and the performance artist Era, and as a translator of and fellow traveler with Peter Handke (the blue book is Zarko’s translation of Handke’s The Moravian Night and the two books co-authored with me are responses to Handke’s work, traveling responses that took us into Yugoslavia before the wars and into Serbia between the wars.
In my copy of Zarko’s translation of The Moravian Night, he wrote these words of friendship:
Dear Scott, again and again we flow into Peter’s Morava, and again and again we flow out of it. Wherever this powerful, meandering body of water flows, we two, my dearest friend, will always accompany it . . . Your Zarko, Cologne, 29/4/2013
This photo of a few of Alex’s books reveals him as an emigrant/immigrant like Zarko (sonosuono takes him back to his birthplace and home for his first 9 years, Sicily), as a visual artist (all of the covers except for that of Some Love feature his work), and as a prolific poet (the dozens of chapbooks Alex has produced in addition to these books are breathtaking in their scope). Like Zarko, Alex is also a translator, in his case from Sicilian to English.
Inside my copy of his Some Love, one of the most beautiful books I have ever held/seen, Alex avowed our friendship and reminded me that I too am a maker/writer.
Sitting here at my desk I think that I too am an emigrant/immigrant. With the help of these friends from Yugoslavia and Sicily, I emigrated from my lonely self and immigrated into collaborative friendships.
How is it possible, I am thinking this morning, that over my own 67 years I have found such dear friends? A high-school friendship with Doug Moeller continues. My friendship with Steven Epperson that began in Princeton and included a joint essay we called “House of the Lord, House of the Temple”—still one of the favorite things I have ever published— continues across the distance between Utah and British Columbia. My friendship with Sam Rushforth has invigorated me for three decades and resulted in our book Wild Rides and Wildflowers: Philosophy and Botany with Bikes. And there have been many others.
I’m a fortunate man. And today I lift a glass to friendship, to dear friends.