Wednesday, February 20, 2013

U.S. editor and poet Naomi Schub interviews Peter Robertson, President of Interlitq, about the publication

I note that Issue 16 of Interlitq ( was published in August 2011, and it is now February 2013. How do you see the long-term future of Interlitq?

In the autumn of 2011, Interlitq encountered a number of challenges which we have been in the process of addressing. Issue 17 of the review is now projected for publication in March 2013. Meanwhile, Interlitq has been publishing at  I see a strong future for Interlitq, despite this extended stasis vis a vis publication. But let us focus on the publication of Issue 17, and then we can look further ahead.

Do you still have the same vision for Interlitq as you did at the outset, when you founded the review in November 2007?

Essentially yes, the raison-d’etre is the same, but I am keen to include more contributions in the form of analysis, critical essays and high-level journalism. I am certainly averse to tub-thumping and opinionated writing.

Mid 2012 Elena Poniatowska, the Mexican writer, was appointed as Vice-President of Interlitq, alongside Sari Nusseibeh. What was the rationale behind this decision?

I admire Elena Poniatowska because she has broken the bounds of her class. A princess, she has chosen in much of her writing to bear witness to civil upheaval and social injustice in Mexico, a case in point being her classic work La noche de Tlatelolco (The Night of Tlatelolco) which chronicles the massacre that took place in Mexico City on  October 2, 1968. As it happens, Poniatowska was already a Consulting Editor for Interlitq and, with her 80th birthday fast approaching, I considered it opportune to write to invite her to be a Vice-President of the review alongside Sari Nusseibeh, the admirable Palestinian intellectual and conciliator.  

Recently you also became the London correspondent for the Islamabad-based newspaper Daily Halat ( Can you tell me more.

I see this as a challenge that I hope I can rise to.  Most of my friends in London are Muslim and spending time with them has dispelled prejudices that I held previously because, in the end, ignorance breeds misconceptions. In any case, a friend of mine at Daily Halat put this proposal to me. I asked, “But what do I know I know about Pakistan?” He replied, “You can learn as you go along”. I do believe that the fact of having lived for more than a decade in Argentina, a country to which I will soon return, stands me in good stead. Of course, I am aware of the significant cultural differences between Argentina and Pakistan, but I have accumulated extensive grassroots experience of living in a developing country, and this I can draw on.

In Issue 17 of Interlitq your essay “A Chorus of Ghosts”, about your friendship with the controversial Ground Zero videographer Kurt Sonnenfeld, will be published. Can you elaborate on this.

I have had no direct contact with Kurt Sonnenfeld for many years, so the piece is retrospective. It transcends reportage and is, I would say, a multi-layered meditation on friendship, dislocation and loss. I have been in two minds about whether to publish it, as it is a personal piece, but on balance I decided to press ahead. I hope that the various strands of the essay come together, and that the essence of the friendship is captured successfully.  

Naomi Schub, currently based in Sydney, Australia, is co-founder of Na Zdravi, Na Schledanou Press. She has published the poetry collection Before We Can Give Them Names, and co-authored I Fall Asleep Watching Triumph of the Will, and her poems have appeared in Sun’s Skeleton and So to Speak.
Peter Robertson, an author and journalist, is President of Interlitq and the London correspondent for the Islamabad-based newspaper Daily Halat. He lives in Buenos Aires and London.

Writers and Guest Artist to be featured in Issue 17 of Interlitq:
Innokenty Annensky, Konstantin Nikolaevich Batyushkov, Alex Cigale, Paul Scott Derrick, S.B. Easwaran, Fiona Farrell, Peter France, Alexandra Fraser, Felisberto Hernández, Daniil Kharms, Mikhail Lermontov, Marcelo Maturana Montañez, Robin Myers, Hernán Neira, Tanyo Ravicz, Peter Robertson, Gonzalo Rojas, Alejandro Tarrab, John Taylor, Elizabeth Welsh, Stephen Wilson and Manolis Xexakis. The Guest Artist will be Susana Wald.

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