Chain 5: Different Languages
This issue is about conversation.
It is about the many languages that we use. It is about languages forming through intersection and interference: a life within language that generates beyond semantic limits.
Some of the writers here use different languages daily, some use them on a less regular basis, some use them to survive, some use them in the leisure of the classroom, and some use them knowing only their sounds. Regardless, we have read the move to write in more than one language as political, as a move that questions monolingualism and other homogenizing language controls. This issue argues that an aesthetic space that acknowledges the difficulties of communication and respects these difficulties can be an antidote to social spaces that demand "English first."
We have at various times in working on this issue felt nervous. Nervous because we often couldn't read all the languages. Or nervous that too much work remains in English. Or nervous about appropriation. Or even more nervous about proofreading. But the final product calms our nerves because it is so noisy.
We started Chain with the desire to gather together ranges of work that challenged standard English as the lingua franca. We wanted to suggest that an idiolect and a dialect and a pidgin all had the common goal of communication through nonconventional methods, communication against the standard. The result has been a very talkative book. In every issue of Chain, we try to print work that is extremely various, so that in dialogue, the pieces create an active and unpredictable conversation around a special topic. In this issue, we see that conversation occurring not only between the pieces, but also within the individual works. All standards of linguistic politesse have been abandoned. Babel just isn't confusing anymore.
Every issue of Chain has been produced with the help of friends and colleagues. But this issue of Chain has been unusually dependent on help from others. We have relied extensively on twenty-three co-editors: Adam Aitken, Charles Bernstein, Javant Biarujia, Manuel Brito, Nicole Brossard, Norma Cole, Maria Damon, Dubravka Djuric, C. S. Giscombe, Ray Gonzalez, Georgi Gospodinov, Ernesto Livon Grosman, Lyn Hejinian, Myung Mi Kim, Walter K. Lew, Traviz Ortis, Marjorie Perloff, M. Nourbese Philip, Joan Retallack,Catherine Schieve, Ken Sherwood, Jeffrey Twitchell-Waas, Edwin Torres, and Cecilia Vicuna. Without their guidance, this issue would not have been such a huge learning experience nor would it have been as much fun. We owe everyone that recommended work or gave us lists of people to contact a huge thanks. Three people--Dubravka Djuric, Walter K. Lew, and Cecilia Vicuna--over-extended themselves. They deserve special thanks.
Finally, this is the first issue that we have produced without the help of funding from the State University of New York. For a while, it looked like we might have to cease publication altogether. This issue appears thanks to generous contributions from readers and various grants. We especially thank those that contributed funds over and beyond the subscription price. This issue appears because of their generosity. We hope to continue Chain in this manner. Please subscribe.