Ariel Resnikoff: New translingual poems from 'Lick and Spit' with a note by the author

[Author’s note: The poems in this suite (cor)respond to a group of ancient Akkadian exorcism incantations, several of which I first discovered in the form of Jewish-Aramaic adaptations in the Babylonian Talmud. I read the radical hybridity of the Talmudic discourse here as both precedent for, & invitation to, my own contemporary translinguistic praxis, one which engages writing as a mode of perpetual displacement — translating languages in wide spirals outward, to the farthest edges of the sonic/semantic divide — while gleaning materials for poetics from even the most minute residues left behind. I’ve begun, in these terms, to compose & transpose from homophonic transliterations, as well as Aramaic & Hebrew translations, of the Akkadian spells, stitching together poems from the translingual dregs between the gaps of the adapted texts.

The phrase “Lick and Spit” I take from the Ashkenazi-Jewish folkloric expectoration ritual of licking a person’s forehead three times, spitting between each lick — a physical gesture I associate most closely with the act of sucking venom from a snake bite — in order to excise the “evil eye” from the body. I continue here then my ongoing inquiry into the tense & intensive micro-socio-poetic ritual relations between translingual utterance, psycholinguistic stigma, & the preliterary Jewish curse. —AR]