Iron Twine Author, Lyn Coffin, Wins Georgian National Literature Prize

The Knight in the Panther Skin, translated by Lyn Coffin, winner of the 2016 Saba Award for Translation
The Knight in the Panther Skin, translated by Lyn Coffin, winner of the 2016 Saba Award for Translation

On September 18th, 2016 it was announced that American author, playwright, poet, fiction writer, translator, and Seattle resident Lyn Coffin has been awarded Georgia’s top literary prize, the Saba, for her translation of Shota Rustaveli’s, The Knight in the Panther Skin (Poezia Press, 2015).

We published an interview with Lyn about this amazing work earlier this year. But, just to refresh your memory:

The Knight in the Panther Skin is a 12th-century epic poem from the country of Georgia. It is considered the national poem of Georgia. It has been largely unknown to English-speaking audiences because few translations have been produced. Those translations that have appeared over the years have opted for free verse or prose re-tellings rather than the much-more-difficult poetic translation in meter faithful to the original. Some scholars familiar with the poem have even gone so far as to say a translation that preserved the rhymes, the metaphors, the poetry and the scope of the original was impossible.  Lyn Coffin took on that “impossible” challenge, working for over two years to faithfully translate, line by line, the 1,661 quatrains of the nearly nine-hundred-year-old masterwork.

Lyn Coffin read from her translation of The Knight in the Panther Skin to an audience in Georgia on September 20th, 2016
Lyn Coffin read from her translation of The Knight in the Panther Skin to an audience in Georgia on September 20th, 2016

Saba is the most prestigious literary award in Georgia, founded by TBC Bank and Rustavi-2 TV. Its winners are revealed each year. The categories vary from fiction to non-fiction, poetry, as well as translation works.

Following her time in Georgia for the Saba Award ceremony, Lyn will travel to Stockholm, Sweden to present a reading from her latest collection of short fiction The First Honeymoon: New and Selected Stories (Iron Twine Press, 2015). She’ll read at The English Bookshop in Stockholm, October 8 at 10 a.m. and then will return to Seattle where she will be reading at Elliott Bay Book Company on October 28 at 2 p.m. in support of Color Stories (forthcoming from Iron Twine Press, 2016) a short-fiction anthology in which her work is featured.

Congratulations to Lyn and Poezia Press for this remarkable honor!

The First Honeymoon Goodreads Giveaway — Enter Now

Goodreads_Giveaway_2Iron Twine Press is giving away 15 copies of Lyn Coffin’s The First Honeymoon: New and Selected Stories via a Goodreads Giveaway.

The giveaway is live now! Click here to request a copy of the book.

You could argue that, as the publisher of this book, we’re biased. It’s true, we publish work that we like. I think that should be true of every publisher. I’d like to explain to you just what it is we like about The First Honeymoon, I think it gets at what is special about this collection of stories:

The edginess of Joyce Carol Oates; the ability, like John Updike, to extract human drama from the mundane, the suburban, the overlooked experience; the twisting of form to the service of story, a la Alice Munro; the poeticism of Virginia Woolf; the quirk and off-beat humor of Richard Brautigan—all these elements come together in Lyn Coffin’s distinctive style.

Simply put, Iron Twine Press wanted to publish these stories because they are not like any stories we’ve read before. There are moments throughout the collection that remind us of the writers mentioned above, and it’s helpful to use those names to try to place these stories on the literary landscape, but on the whole these stories are unique. The voices are mature, characters who have lived and lost and are trying to regain what, after a lifetime, emerges as truly important—simple connection in friendship and in love, acceptance despite flaws, patience and honesty and grace.

The stories collected in The First Honeymoon often don’t feel like stories. That is to say, you won’t always find the patient narrator waiting at the door to guide you in to act as your tour guide, to feed you facts in a sequential order, to introduce you to everyone and make sure you’re comfortably situated as the show unfolds. These stories defy our expectations about how stories should come to us, how they should act. These stories have the feel of events into which we have tumbled unwittingly—at times, as though, at a restaurant, we were looking for the bathroom and stumbled into a banquet room hosting a family reunion and one person after another mistakes us for family and begins speaking to us, at other times as though we’ve broken into an apartment and are rifling through private correspondence, completely taken in by the intimacy and the urgency in the language of what we’ve found. Events unfold around us unexplained, and yet if we pause to think about what we’ve read, we realize that we don’t need an explanation; as human beings involved in our own searches for connection with others, our own searches for love, our own desires for acceptance, validation, forgiveness, we recognize exactly what’s happening and we understand. These stories are more than narratives which you read: you live them, you participate in them, you complete them, in the same way your eye completes a minimalist sketch of a face (a swooping line here, a dark line there, a dash—a nose, an eyebrow, a mouth), you look at it, you relax into it, you see it.

That’s what we saw in Lyn Coffin’s work and why we wanted to publish her collection.

But see for yourself. Enter the Goodreads Giveaway, or buy a copy today in print or Kindle format.

Thanks!

Coming soon: The First Honeymoon Goodreads Giveaway

We’ve just added Lyn Coffin’s The First Honeymoon: New and Selected Stories to the Goodreads Giveaways list. It still needs to be approved so it isn’t live yet, but we wanted to tell you about it right away so you’d be ready to pounce the moment it is. We’ll post an update when the giveaway goes live. If you like to participate in that kind of thing, you can then head over to Goodreads and enter the giveaway. This is our first time doing this, so we’re learning right along with you. As we understand it, it’s competitive — that is, you and others enter the giveaway and Goodreads, using algorithmic magic, picks the winners (I hope it’s you!).

If you do enter and you do get a copy, we humbly ask that you write a review of the book. You don’t have to, and if you don’t like it you probably have more pressing things to do 😉 But, in all seriousness, if you feel so inclined we’d be grateful.

Keep your eyes on this blog, we’ll post again as soon as

Thanks for your interest and keep on reading!

Our First Company Scandal and What It Has Taught Us

so-you-want-to-be-a-writer-where-do-stories-come-from
Kaye Dacus offers some interesting insights about the origins of stories on her Web site. Click the image to go see.

Once upon a time (Monday), Iron Twine Press published a new book (The First Honeymoon: New and Collected Stories, by Lyn Coffin) and the world caught fire with excitement. No, not really, but we were excited—no lie, it’s a damn fine book, you’ll enjoy it if you’re a reader who appreciates fine crafted writing, the play of language, the clever image, tongue-in-cheek humor, and unabashed offerings of wisdom—”Life as we know it is always coming to an end”; “the farsighted swim in irony-infested waters”; “Moral: there is none (Fables usually have morals, people usually don’t)”—all within the comfortable confines of good stories. In our excitement to share, we posted excerpts of two of the stories, and Lyn (the aforementioned author) posted links to those excerpts on her Facebook page. Minutes later: outrage! hurt! scandal!

Robin Hemley, from whom I took a writing class at Western Washington University, has written a book about this topic. Click the image to learn more or go to Robinhemley.com.
Robin Hemley has written a book about this topic. Click the image to learn more at Robinhemley.com.

It seems one of the stories we excerpted is based on actual events and a real human person in the world at large, a person who participated in the non-fiction events now fictionalized in the excerpted story took umbrage over the story being told at all. Sore aggrieved this person was. Super pissed. No one wants to see anyone’s feelings get hurt. But it got us to thinking about a few truths about fiction:

  1. Most fictional stories draw from real life. Many times the true event is just a jumping-off point. I’ve written a story about the home-invasion robbery I endured, for example. But in my story every single thing that happens after the robbery is made up. I wanted to see what would happen if my protagonist, faced with the same experience I had, then made the opposite choices from the ones I had made.
  2. As readers we take it all as fiction, if we’re told it’s fiction. But if you’re the person who lived through the events that figure in the fictional account, you can feel exposed even though the readers most likely don’t know you’re there.
  3. If you have writers in your life, assume you’re in one of their stories. Go ask your writer “am I in any of your stories?” They will say no. Then sometime later you’ll read one of their stories and you’ll see yourself coming into a paragraph with a different name to ask “am I in one of your stories?” We are all raw materials in writers’ workshops.