One winter I found myself living in a strange land, in the middle of my own country, somewhere I had never been. No peaks or valleys, miles of flat covered with snow. For a brief time, I earned an income answering calls from all states, tending to a vexed populace, untangling corporate glitches through a headset device.
Inside that monolith of cubicles, patterns of speech shared a certain uniformity, an elongated o, a quickened pace. Where I was from, at least 185 languages are reported spoken, each with an attendant inflection, pitch, timbre. Homesick in my own nation, it wasn't English I missed but the multiplicity of language, even within a single one.
The Intermedium series concludes with my conversation with Antena, the collaborative created by Jen Hofer and John Pluecker. As individuals Hofer and Pluecker have carried out extensive projects in translation and poetics. United as Antena, they create manifestos and how-to guides regarding translation, among many other thought-provoking interventions. As the conversation demonstrates, Hofer and Pluecker have reflected extensively on values and practices associated with literary translation while pursuing experiment. In the context of a poetics magazine, the Antena project merits special attention for another whole zone of exploration: it advances conversations and events to highlight specific complexities of interpretation (spoken and signed), with special attention to language justice.
Why am I drawn to abstraction in images and quite dubious of this gesture in writing, wary of a writer’s intentional subterfuge, and the privilege, perhaps, of a writer who does not need to comment on the world with narrative clarity, with a point, with a discernible stance, evidence, argument? In an attempt to bring this personally persistent mix of desire and wariness into dialogue, I have begun to unpack the word “abstraction,” and though I voluntarily stepped away from a PhD program more than twenty years ago, I am still exploring “argument” and its forms. Researching textiles — in order to teach a course on expository writing through textiles and to imagine a poetry workshop via textiles — the words “geometry” and “pattern” began to take hold, not necessarily eclipsing abstraction, but emerging from a word more various than I thought.
The Evenings of Various Wonder occur as an entirely homemade, occasional, and joyful labor of love. I organize them when friends from afar whose work I am excited to share with the local literary and arts communities are coming to Los Angeles at a time when I have the space and wherewithal to host an event. Performers have been from many places in the U.S., from India, from Mexico, from all across Los Angeles, and from right around the corner in Cypress Park. Audience sizes have ranged from around 40 to around 120.