Myriam Moscona’s Tela de sevoya (Onioncloth) was published in English in 2017, translated from the Ladino by Antena (Jen Hofer with John Pluecker). In today’s essay, Asymptote’s Sergio Sarano, himself a Ladino speaker, uses Moscona’s book as a starting point to explore the language and its history, shaped by the complex migrations of the Jewish diaspora. Sergio also discusses Ladino’s current status as an endangered language and highlights the important role that Moscona, as one of just a few writers who continue to publish in Ladino, has to play in keeping the language alive.
“I come upon a city
that there lived
my two mothers
and I wet my feet
in the rivers
that from these and other waters
arrive to this place”
Antena is a language justice and literary experimentation collaborative founded by Jen Hofer and John Pluecker, both writers, artists, literary translators, bookmakers and activist interpreters. Antena activates links between social justice work and artistic practice by exploring how critical views on language can help us to reimagine and rearticulate the worlds we inhabit. Antena has exhibited, published, performed, organized, advocated, translated, curated, interpreted, and/or instigated with numerous groups and institutions, including Blaffer Art Museum, Hemispheric Institute for Performance and Politics, and Project Row Houses. I recently spoke with Jen Hofer and John Pluecker over email.
Alexis Almeida: I’d like to start with Antena’s beginnings. It seems collaboration is a key element of everything you do. Can you talk a bit about how your different backgrounds/interests were able to coalesce in this project?
John Pluecker: As I’ve described previously in an interview Nancy Wozny did with Antena in 2014 for Arts + Culture TX, “Jen and I initially met in Tijuana, Mexico in 2006 at the Writing Lab on the Border, a six-week series of workshops organized by Mexican writer Cristina Rivera Garza. Jen’s ideas and thinking about translation, interpretation and writing blew me away from the very start. After our first meeting in Tijuana, we kept running into each other: as interpreters at the National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights and the US Social Forum, as literary translators at various gatherings and as poets in readings and events. Over the years, our friendship grew to the point that we decided to join forces.” READ MORE…