I Can Hear The Barbarians

The most critically acclaimed volume of poetry by Syrian-Brazilian poet Waly Salomão (1943-2003), Algaravias: Echo Chamber takes its title from an entangled history, referenced in an etymological epigraph: “From al-garb, the West; that language of the Arabs considered corrupted, little understood by the Spanish. Also a name of a plant, given that name for the messiness of its branches.”

Its ruminations on passage, self-placement, virtual geography, human-electronic interaction, poetic consciousness, and mortality are inflected by Salomão’s dual heritage; they also confront the isolating nature of the dictatorship he lived through as well as the aggressively optimistic discourse of post-dictatorship “modernization” efforts: the torrential influx of mass media and multinational corporations, and the sterile, touristic, and militarized landscapes of modern space and spectacle.

In a dynamic reading-performance incorporating simultaneous translation in Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, and English, as well as Catalan, Yoruba, Latin, and French inflections, Maryam Monalisa Gharavi is collaborating with local performers to bring the “messy” branches of this landscape to live effect.

Maryam Monalisa Gharavi is an artist, writer, and theorist. Her work in film, video, performance, photography, drawing, sound, and text has appeared in various exhibitions and publications including Townhouse Gallery of Contemporary Art, Museum of Fine Arts Boston, Art Dubai, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Pacific Film Archive, Triple Canopy, Experimental Media and Performing Arts Center, Women and Performance, among others. Artist residencies include Delfina Foundation (London), Darat al Funun (Amman), and Mansion (Beirut). Her work has explored the activated or live film; meaning, legibility, and poetics (including neologism, epistolary fiction, abécédaires, and networked literary forms); visibility and iconography (from iconicized bandits to facial recognition technologies); surveillance, empire, and security; and emerging approaches to the interplay between aesthetic and political valences in the public domain. She completed a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature and Film & Visual Studies at Harvard University, and is currently an M.F.A. candidate in Film/Video at Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts at Bard College. In 2014-15 she was a Fulbright U.S. Scholar and Visiting Professor at Birzeit University. She is author of the open text South/South and an editor at The New Inquiry. In 2016 Ugly Duckling Presse published her translation of Syrian-Brazilian poet Waly Salomão’s Algaravias: Echo Chamber. Forthcoming books include The Distancing Effect (BlazeVOX) and American Letters (Zer0).

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