JD Pluecker’s Swamps Fly is a work of “halloing the wasteland” — greeting anew, pursuing in shouts, seeing/seeping pervasively amid the moor. Against the hollowing of draining, swamp is met as the listless and listened steadfast space.
Swamps Fly was published in Spring 2021, and it zapped onto my radar as I was steeped in investigations of Narragansett territory occupied by the early colonial settlers of my own family. Behind my grandmother’s house was a patch of woods, now bisected by train tracks and rail yards. Biking down a road called Liberty Lane, passing lumber yards and shooting ranges, I came to Great Swamp Monument Road. At the first house, a sign: Drive as though your kids live here. Whose kids? Whose your? I wondered.
The zine opens to a map of dotted lines: barbs on a wire, punctured lines symbol of trails, punctuation of walking routes. The lines trace a walk taken on October 13, 2019, by border artists Maire Reyes, Nayeli Hernández, Iris Díaz, Ana Iram, Paloma Galavíz, Olga Guerra, Marcia Santos, and Alejandra Aragón. The walk traverses between the artists’ homes through Ciudad Juárez, on the border of El Paso, TX, concluding that “the entire city and its dynamics of exploitation and precariousness is a barrier of containment.”
The tender, raw poetic investigations in Yousif M. Qasmiyeh’s recent Writing the Camp (Broken Sleep Books, 2021) conceptualize a theory of the refugee camp as archive, taking as local frame Baddawi Camp in North Lebanon, where Qasmiyeh grew up.
The questions came out of walks — from El Paso Service Processing Center (ICE Detention) to the Bus Route 50 stop, outside USPS on Boeing Ave. On sandstorm nights, the walk was lean and grimace, spit and hack. The wide stretches required it; long blocks zoned postwar. Required wait, corners of dust lots labelled “Property of US Government,” under the airport watch tower and the Super Guppy’s tarmac gleam.