A hyphen between

Not one language but a hyphen between

Neither here nor there
– but the middle –
something only definable
and discernible
through the experience
of both here
and there
and everything that it means.

This duality becomes her
It maps her.

She is a foreigner, they say.
Her command of the language is impressive.
But foreign.
She is odd.

What they don’t know:
she has become a foreigner
both here


English Teacher

I’ve just listened to Karen Carpenter on spotify. It sometimes occurs to me that it was through my childhood fascination with her beautiful voice and melodies that I became fascinated with English. I desperately needed to understand what she was singing so I started to translate the lyrics with a dictionary and somehow put the words together so that they made some sense to me. I think I was my very first English teacher.

The rest is history.

Writing in a second language.

It is an interesting exercise to write in a second language. Writers like Beckett, Conrad and Nabokov did it. Maybe for some writers the sense of estrangement helps. Maybe, beyond a conscious intent to “translate”, there’s also an unconscious transit between the two languages that results in something else, some sort of hybrid form, similar to grafting? I am thinking of the Latin term “translatio” meaning to carry over, to transfer, transport, to convey. In this sense, “translation” is always a plus. There’s always something to be gained, rather than lost.

If there is such a thing as an “authentic” language, I dare say it is the one that comes from one’s heart.  And the heart of an immigrant is, to awkwardly appropriate the words of the English Bard,  “an isle full of other noises, sounds, and sweet airs.”