I also love such moments as these for the chance to show how we connect as humans, even outside of language. If I fall behind in conversation, I can always ask for a translation of a word or a phrase. At times, it's just a simple translation. There are other times, however, when the person attempting to translate takes thoughtful pause. She might gesture with her hands, make sounds that aren't quite words, or ask for the input of others, who each throw out a suggestion with a slightly different perspective than the next.
Sometimes, a word just can't be translated simply into words that I can understand.
That's the idea behind The Clattering Loom, the quarterly reading series hosted by Valerie Chavez and Jonathan Hirsch. They really have a great thing going. Each installment is based on a word or a phrase that can't be translated into English.
One of my favorite things about art is the way that it captures what can't otherwise be said. Is there any better way to go about expressing the feeling of an untranslatable word?
The word for last month's installment of The Clattering Loom was dépaysement, a French word that could be translated loosely to a sense of disorientation, being somewhere other than one's place of home, or to new horizons. I was really glad to read, especially considering how much of my work seems to connect with this feeling.
Here is my reading. It's worth checking out the whole show on Litseen, with readings by Valerie and Jonathan, Sarah Fran Wisby, Caitlin Myer, Shye Powers, Evan Karp and William Taylor Jr, and music by Tiny Home.
Here's one of the delightful songs by Tiny Home: