I’ve been listening to a pre-release copy of an EP by Dao Strom called We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People (official release date May 28). I don’t write about music much on Vertigo, but in this case I was struck by how the themes of her work so echoed those of the literature that I’m usually covering. She studied at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop and is both a writer and musician. In Gentle People, she blends the two by transforming the traditional CD booklet into something much more expansive. Her website describes the 150-page booklet as “a literary chapbook of prose, images, fragments and writings on Vietnam, as a late-century mythology, a war, a word, an aftermath, an inheritance.” Dao Strom has a quiet, ethereal voice that matches her lyrics about the “aftermath of a cataclysm.”
my given name is tiêu-dao….
i was born in Viet Nam, in the wake of a war.
i am the daughter of writers,
i am also the daughter of a political prisoner. but i followed my mother –
i am one of the children divided
between mother & father / mountains & sea / between
i am part of the middle world; a hybrid; a troubadour.
these are my notes from the southern world.
Here’s more information from her website:
We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People is a hybrid music-literary project, combining both written and sung voices, plus text and imagery, to revive some of the old tradition of “ca dao” (a tradition of sung-poetry in Vietnamese culture ) utilizing the tools, language, and stylings of our modern era. Music and poetry-storytelling have for many centuries been a crucial part of the Vietnamese people’s mode of expression. The project will encompass two “geographies” (or two EP’s/books): East and West. We Were Meant To Be A Gentle People: East (EP) – a 6-song EP album and literary chapbook – is the first of these two geographies.
As everyone must know by now, Sebald’s A Place in the Country is out in England. My copy has finally arrived and I’m slowly making my way through this long-awaited translation. Here’s a chance to meet the translator and scholar Dr. Jo Catling (and get a signed copy of the book). So, get yourself over to the Bull Hotel, Bridport in Dorset June 5!
MAX SEBALD : A PLACE IN THE COUNTRY
An event organised by Wild and Homeless Books and Lectures On Everything
5pm, Thursday 5 June 2013 The Bull Hotel, East Street, Bridport
W.G.(Max) Sebald’s A Place in the Country is the much anticipated English language version of literary essays, translated by Dr Jo Catling. Each of six persons evoked here were important influences on him as a person and writer, underlining his interest in the role of literature and art. Dr Catling will talk about A Place in the Country and she will introduce readings by herself and Horatio Morpurgo.
JO CATLING is a senior lecturer at the School of Literature of the University of East Anglia where she was a close colleague of Max Sebald. She is co-editor of Saturn’s Moons, W.G Sebald – A Handbook (2011). A Place in the Country promises to be a further landmark in Sebald’s extraordinary literary reputation. Copies of the book will be available for purchase which Jo Catling will be pleased to sign. Tickets (£6) are available from Wild and Homeless Books, 12, South Street, Bridport. (Tel. 01308 421970)