Carve is pleased to welcome Ana Cottle to our team. Ana studied Comparative Literature at UC Berkeley with a concentration in Yiddish. She has lived in Uruguay and Argentina and speaks both Spanish and Yiddish fluently, and she has edited and written for a number of publications, including books, newspapers, and online journals.
She'll lead our poetry committee and seek out the newest poetry contributors to Carve. Here are some of her thoughts.
What was your particular path to taking on this role at Carve?
For the past few years most of my writing has been nonfiction—reporting for a community newspaper, editing a policy journal, and writing a book for a historical society. I’d been missing having a bigger involvement in literature and poetry and started looking for the right opportunity. Almost immediately I found Carve’s listing for a Poetry Editor and it was so exciting to find something that really felt like the right role at the right publication.
My background in poetry started at UC Berkeley where I studied Comparative Literature with a focus on feminist Yiddish poetry. After graduating, I moved to the bustling port city of Buenos Aires, Argentina, where I worked for about two years. While I was there, I studied Spanish poetry translation at the University of Buenos Aires and Yiddish literature at IWO, the Yiddish Research Institute.
Now back in my home state of California, it’s amazing to have this opportunity to connect with poets and writers all over the world through Carve.
Your poetic background has a lot to do with translation—from the multilingual literary magazine you worked on to your studies and work in translation. What have you learned in the process, and how do you think these experiences and interests will shape your perspective as the poetry editor of Carve?
Like poetry, translation is all about choosing the word that is the most perfectly adapted to the writer’s intention and context of the work. Each word comes with a precise tone and nuance, similar to poetry, with a foundation based on well-crafted word choice and formatting.
How do you intend to bring a consideration of “honest fiction” to future poetry offerings of Carve?
To me, “honest fiction” is about conveying true and visceral feelings. That’s not to say it needs to be factual, but that there should be a sincerity behind the words. I would actually also connect this to translation. In much the same way you try to keep a translation loyal to the original text, I think “honest poetry” shows a constancy in relating to the human condition.
What do you love seeing in poems?
Seeing a new perspective through the eyes of someone else and being dropped in a situation that I would never get to experience otherwise. With my background in comparative literature and literary translation, I also like to see poems that bridge cultures and show that the emotions coming through the works are universal, despite of, and most of all, thanks to, the specific and unique viewpoint of the writer.
When you’re not thinking about poetry, what do you like to do?
I've got an amazing pitbull, named Rhino, whose head is the size of a large grey melon, and his best little buddy, Foxy (yes she looks like a fox). When I'm not hanging with those two, I like to read anything and everything, ranging from Yiddish poetry to every online advice columns. Having moved back to my hometown in southern California a few years ago, I have a newfound appreciation for spending time at the beach. Also, I love the show Monk.
What poet do you wish everyone would read?
This might be an odd choice, but I just kept coming back to it when I was thinking about this question. When I was in Argentina, I had a bit of a pet project researching and translating Jevel Katz. A Lithuanian immigrant to Argentina in the 1930’s, Jevel Katz composed songs and poems in a mix of his native Yiddish with Castellano (Spanish), resulting in “castídish.” He fashioned himself as a traveling minstrel and performed throughout the country. Known for using a wide variety of instruments, particularly whistles which he sometimes hid in his mouth, he spent most of his earnings on new and often bizarre instruments.
Despite its comedic tone, his work shows the deep pain and nostalgia recent immigrants felt after being uprooted. This duality caused him to be paradoxically referred to as both the Gardel Judío (the Jewish Gardel), after Carlos Gardel, the composer of many famous, melancholy tangos; and el más alegre de todos los judíos (the happiest of all the Jews). I think this really brings us back to the earlier questions about seeing that honesty in poetry, in the sense of someone using it to connect people and with a sincerity that's rooted in their reality.