Like a tsunami the deluge of incessant tweets news streams live feeds opinions outrage alternative facts sound bites deep web upheaval scandal conspiracy image and text assails us every day demanding that we read act react retweet share sing and make known our own outrage into the ether we the tiny fishing boats adrift and keeling on the crests of information a tumultuous ocean around us a constant insurrection of dopamine and serotonin floods across our brains keeping us simultaneously unfocused and hyper focused captive minute-to-minute to the liquid crystal worlds in our hands on our desks never breathing never comprehending never analyzing only regurgitating the words that have filled us body and soul.
We have the power to step away. To breathe again. In this breath we come to process, to witness and recognize our own presence. We pause.
Poetry invites us to pause.
In this issue, cæ || sura, we invite you to breathe in poetry. Tristan Tzara celebrates sound and resists sense within the Dadaist realm, translated by Forrest Pelsue. Across five poems translated by Cecilia Weddell, Nadia Escalante Andrade explores the spaces between bodies, how they bifurcate and rejoin. Between heaven and earth, Vito M. Bonito interrogates the dark with narrow shafts of light and is translated by Allison Grimaldi-Donahue. Lubna Safi discusses the difficulties and histories implicit in the task of translating medieval ghazals into English via the poetry of Hafsa bint al-Hajj ar-Rakuniya. With unremitting trauma, Fiston Mwanza Mujila writes of a boy broken by war, translated by J. Bret Maney. Translated by Kimrey Anna Batts, Santiago Vizcaíno exposes the visceral ecstasy and agony of youth in Ecuador. In contemplative quiet, Aleksandr Blok interrogates the end of life, and is translated by Sarah Wright. Gretchen McCullough translates Mohamed Metwalli, who takes us through dreams of the Aegean Sea. Lastly Maryam Al-Masri writes poetry on the abduction of her son and the pain of his absence, translated by Hélène Cardona.
Also, we rejoice for the opportunity to share visual work that seems to intrinsically dialogue with our theme. Reena Spansail’s cover feature, “Presence Becomes Absence,” offers the endless, self-consuming ouroboros shaped into an eternal Celtic knot, framed within a broken geograph. Peruse our pages and you’ll also encounter the visual explorations of Olaya Barr, Gabriel Feld, Asma Bezneiguia, Allyson Hanson, and Joan G. Cox. Pause. Bask. Enjoy.
Finally, within our prismatic Exchanges cohort, cæ || sura marks for us a breath between movements, the time and space that expands infinitely within the translator’s leap as she bounds between languages. Here we are—senior editors Laurel, Patricia, Amira, and Jovan—mid-jump, marveling at the shifting vista as we each take a path among forking paths, ever-inviting the pause. We’ll miss Exchanges, but when next we look our world will have turned again, not a full. stop. but rather a ||