Jennifer S. Cheng

Other ways of seeing: The poetics and politics of refraction

Refraction as rupture

In investigating the significance and stake in refractive poetics, especially for artists who come from the margins, it is necessary first to ask what is meant specifically by the term refraction: How am I defining refractive poetries? What is it that holds my attention here?

The poetics and politics of refraction

[image: jar of plant submerged in water]

In some ways, all language is errant translation. Language wanders from its intended assignments, language is slippery, and what makes the desire to communicate so beautiful is its desperation and inevitable failure; it revels in something basic and intrinsic to humanity, a primal longing, like Sisyphus and his round boulder, Wu Gang and his moon tree. In some ways this is every writer’s and artist’s ongoing work: to continuously rename the world anew, and in this renaming we attempt to grasp it while also giving it up to the ether.