Negro marfil / Ivory Black, Myriam Moscona’s first book translated into English, is a book_length experiment in inversions: at times the text can be read from left to right or vice versa, the poems reverberate from top to bottom or the other way around, at moments the book itself can be read backwards or forwards. The visual and the textual converse acrobatically. Binaries become multiples. As any painter knows, ‘Ivory Black,’ also known as ‘bone char,’ is the name of a color: to obtain ivory black bone is burned.
“Writing backwards (by English- and Spanish-language standards, that is) evokes an array of cultural, linguistic and even spiritual connotations. Further, it objectifies language: words are ‘only fragments/lack,’ a mark on the page in relation to the negative space around it. A thing written backwards is not the thing, nor is it the inverse of the thing. It is another thing, which is also the original thing yet is not the original thing. In other words: translation.”
About The Authors
Myriam Moscona is from Mexico, of Bulgarian Sephardic descent. She is the author of nine books, from Ultimo jardín (1983) to De par en par (2009). Two of her published books are outside the realm of poetry, yet remain connected to poetry: De frente y de perfil (literary portraits of 75 Mexican poets) and De par en par, which explores the phenomenon of poetry beyond its traditional construction. When Negro marfil was conceived, Moscona focused on the use of visual materials (inks, pastels, graphite and acrylics), which led her to explore alternate means of expression. In this way she came to visual poetry: drawn in through the side doors of writing. Moscona has received numerous awards, including the Premio de Poesía Aguascalientes and the Premio Nacional de Traducción; she is a grantee of the Sistema Nacional de Creadores de Arte, and she was awarded a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation.
Jen Hofer is a Los Angeles-based poet, translator, social justice interpreter, teacher, knitter, book-maker, public letter-writer, urban cyclist, and co-founder of the language justice and literary activism collaborative Antena. Her translation of Negro marfil by Mexican poet Myriam Moscona, published as Ivory Black by Les Figues Press in 2011, won the 2012 Harold Morton Landon Translation Award from the Academy of American Poets and the 2012 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation.
Her other translations include the homemade chapbook En las maravillas/In Wonder (Libros Antena/Antena Books, 2012); sexoPUROsexoVELOZ and Septiembre, a translation from Dolores Dorantes by Dolores Dorantes (Counterpath Press and Kenning Editions, 2008); lip wolf, a translation of lobo de labioby Laura Solórzano (Action Books, 2007); and Sin puertas visibles: An Anthology of Contemporary Poetry by Mexican Women (Ediciones Sin Nombre and University of Pittsburgh Press, 2003).
Her most recent books are the handmade chapbook Lead & Tether (Dusie Kollektiv, 2011); a series of anti-war-manifesto poems titled one (Palm Press, 2009); and The Route, a collaboration with Patrick Durgin (Atelos, 2008). She has poems, essays and translations forthcoming from Dusie Books, Insert Press, Kenning Editions, and Litmus Press. She teaches in the MFA Writing Program at CalArts and the Graduate Writing Program at Otis College of Art & Design, and works nationally and locally as a social justice interpreter through Antena. Most recently she has been hand-sewing quilted poems; her installation “Uncovering: A Quilted Poem Made from Donated and Foraged Materials from Wendover, Utah” is currently on view at the CLUI.