The other day I received in the mail four books published by Xexoxial Editions, a state-run imprint of the Autonomous Republic of Qazingulaza. Four books: of fracture, a collaboration by Buffalonian Robin F. Brox and mIEKAL aND (prefect of Qazingulaza); Xerolage 51: graphemachine by SFer Lily Robert-Foley; Xerolage 50: Three Sequences by the late Bob Cobbing; and The Elimination Considerati by mIEKAL aND.
I feel that these are four distinct modes I will try to describe succinctly. A hypothetical translation, from the unreadable to the more familiar. A translation of another kind, from the familiar to the sculptural, diagrammatic, concrete, visual. Unfamiliar plays of shape and light and darkness, presented as (perhaps) language sequences. And language blown and distorted to examine the qualities of the edges of words.
As such, they all seem to have different, but related, pivots. Changes. And different kinds.
Of Fracture. This collaboration between Brox and aND takes an older book length poetic sequence called factura by Langpo fungimentalist and conservative radio antennae Bruce Andrews, and twists it, visually, from things resembling words, transforming it into a poetic sequence more intelligible than the original, while maintaining its original, concrete, shape.
To explain Andrews' factura a bit more, it's written in "Near English" as I would put it. Words and word parts suggestive of language you might know, but never with an obvious word it "should" be, and as such without any concrete meaning. So then of fracture is something akin to a homophonic translation, taking words we know (for the most part) and putting them in the places of Andrews' Near English. There may be more to the constraint used by aND and Brox but this is how it appears to me. I attempted a similar project some years ago. I made a poem of book-length by taking Jackson Mac Low's Words nd Ends from Ez, which is also composed of words and word parts, and "staring" another text out of it. It makes little sense perhaps but I was attempting something I have been calling "translation by Rorschach." I would suspect similar projects have been undertaken by other poets (and I would like to see them. Commentators suggest there is nothing new under the sun. In my poem, Dawn's Erasure, the language seemed to be a blend of the recent/familiar and the repressed, with a fair amount of "other" thrown in. In this sense the language "of translation" is coming from the "back of the head" and the "bottom of the guts." What's interesting to me is this kind of translation being done as a collaboration-where are the guts? Are they shared, manufactured, both?
In graphemachine, the 51st installment of Xerolage (a serial devoted to xerography, collage, concrete & visual poetry) we have another kind of translation. Interpretation might be a better word. This time there is a personal language, of self description (i.e. "Lily needs a boyfriend of any kind") used as the source material. In graphemachine, the author takes the source and breaks up the language into diagrams, often reminiscent of Jackson Mac Low's "vocabulary gathas," resemblant of ancient (1960s) vispo.
These are then transformed, in series, into things like architectural diagrams, board games, paper jewelry, cubist bookshelves. All of these executed in a graceful and soft dark pencil and/or pen. I hope she sends me something for the newsletter (if anyone reading this knows her, tell her how, or give me her address).