Posts featuring David Huerta

Our Shared World of Language: Reflections on “US” Poets Foreign Poets

If I am a person, I make things with language. If I am a poet, I make art with language.

Today, as a sequel to this previous post, we are continuing to feature reflections on the computationally assembled poetry anthology “US” Poets Foreign Poets (ed. MARGENTO, frACTalia 2018) from some of the most outstanding contributors to the collection.

 “US” Poets Foreign Poets was launched in 2018 at the Electronic Literature Organization Conference and at Bookfest by the collective editor MARGENTO, featuring a line-up of Chris Tănăsescu, Diana Inkpen, Raluca Tănăsescu, Vaibhav Kesarwani, and Marius Surleac. The book won accolades from major theorists and practitioners in the genre such as Christopher Funkhouser, Maria Mencia, and David Jhave Johnston. It features both digital and page-based poets, represents and analyzes the resulting corpus as network graphs, and also includes an algorithm that expands the initial corpus by identifying poems that would “fit in,” that is, display certain stylistic features tracked down by computational analysis.

Regarding the previously mentioned way in which the anthology analyzes and expands its own contents, digital poet and critic Christopher Funkhouser has commented that, “I have never, in three decades of study, seen a literary anthology so determined to generate something out of itself, something beyond a 1:1 conversion, and then successfully do so. What an interesting idea, to both transcreate and more literally translate the contents of a collection of writing. Algorithmic, linguistic, and graphical expansion here grabs and holds onto my attention every time I delve into the book.”

In today’s feature, we choose to illustrate this “transcreation” Funkhouser speaks about as it goes even beyond the covers of the anthology, and continues in the digital or digitally inflected creative and/or critical work of four major names in contemporary electronic literature and digital humanities: John Cayley, Johanna Drucker, Alan Sondheim, and Brian Kim Stefans.

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Say Ayotzinapa

A special feature in 20 languages: presenting David Huerta’s “Ayotzinapa” with an introduction by Faces in the Crowd-author Valeria Luiselli

David Huerta wrote “Ayotzinapa” on November 2, 2014, “in anger, outrage, and horror.” It has already formed an installation at the Oaxaca Museum of Contemporary Art, been printed by Juan Nicanor Pascoe’s letterpress, and been read and excerpted in protest banners from Berlin to Xalapa. When I read it two weeks ago, I realised there was a very practical way for Asymptote, as a journal of international literature, to communicate Mexico’s rallying cry for change and justice in multiple languages. Juana Adcock’s English translation was the first in a chain that now stretches from Mexico to Scotland, China, Romania, Israel, Indonesia, Brazil, Greece, and beyond. Asymptote’s global “Ayotzinapa” has become a poetic event, an audible coming-together, which is one constructive way of responsibly renewing the word Ayotzinapa, as Valeria Luiselli suggests we must do in her introduction to the poem. All of the translations begin with the same, untouched word, Ayotzinapa; like David, all of our translators took pains to get across—rephrasing the Greek poet C. P. Cavafy—what these Ayotzinapas mean.

Below you can read and listen to David Huerta’s original Spanish-language poem. You can also use the drop-down menu like a map to read translations of his poem in 20 languages. Listen, too, to our translators’ audio recordings, and particularly to their pronunciation of the unchanged title, “Ayotzinapa.” Above all, this global translation is about resisting the state of speechlessness that is easy to fall into when what you are witnessing is beyond imagination; about learning how to say Ayotzinapa; about stopping the word Ayotzinapa from being a strange, unrelated Mexican sound. #WeAreAllAyotzinapa #WritersWithAyotzinapa — Sophie Hughes, Editor-at-large, Mexico

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