We look forward to seeing you this September at &Now: Points of Convergence!
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Saturday, September 21 • 10:45am - 12:00pm
Beyond Return: Translation, Diaspora, and the Poetics and Politics of Origin

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Does convergence always entail what the Antena Collective refers to as "the discomfortable?" Is translation always a conveyance that reworks its source, leaving part of it as something that cannot be said, a detritus in the margins of a worldly order marching inextricably forward?  These four writers and critics take on these questions in relationship to their own and other writings as they address their own national and ethnic origins. Zhang Er considers her Chinese heritage as a writer who writes in Chinese and then works with translators to publish this work in English.  Of interest to her is how specific Chinese contexts become opaque once translated into English and how in rendering these into English new poetic possibilities emerge, sometimes valuable in themselves, if erasing other realities. Susan Gevirtz examines her Eastern European Jewish background focusing on how the narratives and poetry of Jewish identities are often intermixed with multiple and intersectional national and ethnic accounts while at times suppressed from these accounts. She asks more basically, what should one make of the strange desire to do family archeology? How is this "history" necessarily discomfortable and unsettling?  What diverse sources must be turned to—memories, dreams, fieldwork, family lore—to invent and escape the limitations of past accounts? In writing on Greece today, Eleni Stecopoulos explores the ways diaspora and ecology inform each other in the poetics of place, where people are not figures in a timeless landscape but contemporary actors and artists responding to austerity, migration and displacement, loss of biodiversity. How is the idea of the oikos unsettled by contemporary social practice, including poetry and site-specific performance, to make new forms of kinship, economies, and interspecies song?  How to write diaspora not as a myth of return but an ecology of present conditions and multiple identities? Quenton Baker works in what Saidiya Hartman calls the “enormity of the breach” created by chattel slavery. His work asks what it means to survive within the uninhabitable, to have a full inner life while being overdetermined as object? How to call absence into being through speech, how to translate a dominant, violent English into an English that can properly attend to Black interiority, free from the semiotics of a society/world that requires Black death and trauma to arrange itself. He is after a language that unmakes the world through interior spaces,  that might be possible through poetics.

avatar for Quenton Baker

Quenton Baker

Quenton Baker is a poet, educator, and Cave Canem fellow. His current focus is anti-blackness and the afterlife of slavery. His work has appeared in Jubilat, Vinyl, Apogee, Poetry Northwest, Pinwheel, and Cura and in the anthologies Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic... Read More →

Susan Gevirtz

Gevirtz’s poetry publications include Hotel abc (Nightboat, 2017) Aerodrome Orion & Starry Messenger (Kelsey Street, 2010); Broadcast (Trafficker, 2009); Thrall (Post-Apollo, 2007); and Hourglass Transcripts (Burning Deck, 2001);  critical writing includes Coming Events (Nightboat... Read More →
avatar for Zhang Er

Zhang Er

Zhang Er, poet and opera librettist, was born in Beijing and moved to US in 1986. She is the author of six collections of poetry in Chinese, most recently Closest to You (2017). Her most recent book in English translation, First Mountain (2018), a collaborative work with American... Read More →

Eleni Stecopoulos

Eleni Stecopoulos is the author of Visceral Poetics (2016), Daphnephoria (2012), and Armies of Compassion (2010). Recent work appears in Best American Experimental Writing 2018, Kitchen Table Translation (ed. Madhu Kaza), and Resist Much, Obey Little: Inaugural Poems to the Resistance... Read More →

Saturday September 21, 2019 10:45am - 12:00pm PDT