Translations of an Invented Sign Language: Excerpts from Ilya Kaminsky’s *Deaf Republic*

Much of what transpires in Ilya Kaminsky’s Deaf Republic goes unspoken. A brutal violence wrought upon people by people is committed, and observed, in silence, and passed along in gesture. These gestures are their own language, a way to convey the literally unspeakable. A note at the end of the book of poems explains that these gestures were a sign language of the villagers’ own invention, “derived from various traditions (Russian, Ukrainian, Belarusian, American Sign Language, etc.)” with other signs “made up by citizens, as they tried to create a language not known to authorities.” Kaminsky, who is a refugee (he left the USSR in 1993), and hard of hearing, described in a recent interview with The Rumpus Poetry Book Club, that he is grasping for a language—or rather multiple languages—to better express the experience of the displaced, and the effect of physical disability:

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Translating Each Other: Irene de la Torre ↔ Lauren Moya Ford

Irene de la Torre and Lauren Moya Ford met by chance in Madrid at the end of 2015. Both are transplants to the capital (de la Torre is from Mallorca and Moya Ford is from Texas) and in 2018 they created Editorial Froitas.

As part of their creative partnership they have translated one another’s work; de la Torre writes in Spanish, and Moya Ford in English. La isla rural – The Rural Island, an excerpt of which is produced here, is a farewell to rural Mallorcan life. Over the course of a few afternoons, de la Torre sat with her mother, looking at photo albums from her childhood in Mallorca. While the author had initially intended to make up a new story out of what her mother recounted, she ultimately wrote down her mother’s words, only slightly modified.

Ocean Air – Aire del océano is an artist’s book by Moya Ford based on her experiences in Gran Canaria, where she completed an artist residency in the fall of last year.

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