I did this write up about Sulfur Water back in May for Hyacinth Girl‘s website. Now that it is officially available (after myriad delays), I thought that I would post it here for anyone interested in learning a little more about it’s composition and collaborative elements:
Sulfur Water‘s composition spans Baja Mexico, Vancouver, Lebanon, a hippie commune on Staten Island, Brooklyn, Pittsburgh, and the stripped second growth woods of coal country Pennsylvania where I was raised. I chose to include translations in this book, not only to reflect the disconnect, displacement, fusion, and amalgamation that went into the writing process, but also to present the magic possible when artists take the time to cross boundaries of symbolic patterns. You can grow new roots through it.
Each of the translations involved different levels of interaction between myself and the translator. With Rula, we met twice to ensure that the Arabic translation still contained all of the vital nuances of the words in English and to make sure the sound patterns still reflected the meaning on an aural level. Rula strove for perfection in both. Ghiwa and I sat next to one another in my kitchen smoking, drinking wine, reading and rereading in French and English, allowing for sacrifices and playing with possibility. The last translation, strangely the first, published also in The Poetry Society of New York’s Translation Project, was entirely detached and filtered through a medium. One of Jessica’s poems was among the batch that I translated into English for the project.
The inclusion of Tamara’s artwork happened by happy impulse and was one of the most exciting aspects of putting this collection together with Hyacinth Girl Press. After falling in love with her work through a mutual friend at AUB, I sent Tamara the manuscript. We met and discussed some possibilities for her illustrations. What she produced is exactly the kind of uncomfortable, expressionist re-imagining of story through image and color that Sulfur Water wanted to be when it grew up. The deep connection and evolution of symbol that went into these collaborative processes becomes the primary cries of Sulfur Water.