In response to the announcement of the planned deactivation of the French, Russian, Italian, Classics and Theater programs at University at Albany-SUNY, Barzakh put out a call for creative and critical submissions that addressed the practice, circulation, and importance of translation. Language is culture and Pierre Joris’ statement that, “all language is translation” captures the notion that there is no language or culture that is not informed, contorted, inhibited and expanded by others. An ever-evolving fractal, the structure of an language is best fostered by different contextual placements. In order for consciousness to burst through stagnation it must be exposed to foreign contexts.
The second issue of Barzakh features the work of literary artists working in, with and around the praxis of translation as a praxis of language disruption, equivalence, selection, and performance. In this light, visiting writer, Jena Osman’s innovative investigation of etymological structures in her book The Network, winner of the 2009 National Poetry Series, revealed to her that “It was as if the word roots took some unexpected turns and created a family that didn’t really get along. Many of the words I worked through had interesting sets of relations, and the diagramming forced me to acknowledge these relations rather than pretending they weren’t there.” Jayne Cortez, who found her voice in community, speaks to the relations between words that should be acknowledged and not ignored when she writes, “in my community people are very insightful in sound, language, gestures and attitude. Because of my interest in music I’ve been aware of the sound of words, the words as sound.” The sound, gesture, attitude and relationship between words found in this issue plays on a phenomenological decision to say yes to translative praxis as language praxis and to open one’s self to the possibility such an acceptance offers. The Yes! Reading Series coordinated by Anna Elena Eyre, James Belflower, and Cara Benson seeks to bring poets into our community who navigate the area between a word’s finite and infinite parameters, a word’s equivalence and nonequivalence, a word’s material and immaterial qualities, and the co-performative realm of a text’s creation, reception and translation by author and audience. This issue features authors whose every word is an affirmative decision dependent on and aware of multiple contexts for its reception. Faculty member, Lydia Davis discusses the intersections of her highly acclaimed translative and creative work. And, in honor of Elizabeth Bishop’s centennial, two poets and Bishop scholars, Robert Shaw and University at Albany Professor, Eric Keenaghan, delve into the ethos of Bishop’s translations, a topic few have broached.
Translation is a global practice, and as we enter an increasingly globalized world, it is important that we honor the communal, cultural, embodied, rooted, and uprooted humanity that all tongues share. Global humanity is complexly holistic and to deny any aspect of its composition is, as Hélène Cixous writes in an open letter to President Philip, akin to denying its breath, or as Jean-Luc Nancy writes, akin to deciding whether to remove the heart or lung. The body cannot breathe without either heart or lung and the humanities cannot live without foreign languages/cultures or their translation. University at Albany will save less than half of one percent of the total operational budget for all State Universities of New York by deactivating these five departments and by doing so set a precedent for other state schools facing a budget crisis to cut departments from the Humanities. The editors of Barzakh invite all who are passionately concerned for the welfare of the humanities in the era of globalization to send us letters, plays, poems, stories, performances that address the importance of theater, classics, and foreign languages/cultures.
- Anna Elena Eyre
Anna Elena Eyre
Undergraduate Interns and Contributing Editors
Pierre Joris and Tomás Urayoán Noel
Sandra Gardner / RedFrau
Questions and submissions to the journal: firstname.lastname@example.org