KMB 2016: Biennale poets discuss the barriers and bridges in language

KMB 2016: Biennale poets discuss the barriers and bridges in language

Kochi, ( Dec 16): For Raúl Zurita, the story of language is both one of magic and one of misunderstandings. The iconic Chilean poet-revolutionary believes that words can both stave off mortaltiy and extinguish life, but is inetxricably linked to suffering and death.

He was talking at a riveting conversation, titled 'What Language Means to Me', at the Biennale Pavilion in Cabral Yard, Fort Kochi, on Thursday. The dialogue, held on the sidelines of Kochi-Muziris Biennale (KMB) 2016, heard arguments on language's unifying and divisive qualities.

'We are living in a period of the agonising of language. The unequivocal language of capital as represented by marketing where not one word means what it intends. For me, language is what they aret rying to remove from me in favour of the language of profit,' Zurita said.

The discussion saw participation from five other poets and writers, including Ouyang Jianghe, Sergio Chejfec, Sharmistha Mohatny, Valerie Mejer Caso and Aleš Šteger. Argentinean poet Chejfec, in particular, countered Zurita's thoughts about the hopelessness of language.

'Language has a strange music. It ist ranscendental, making the immaterial material. It is a bridge between opposing views and different worlds,' said Chejfec. A point agreed on by Mohatny who noted, 'Language was an inclusive, penterating art form that captures all and leaves no fossils. She read from a poem on memory and language.

Recalling anecdotes from her first association with language as a child, Mexican writer Mejer Caso said, 'Language is the abiltiy to recreate a moment and shepherd readers or listeners to that period with as little as a word'.

Explaining the benefits of have a living vocabulary, Chinese poet Jianghe said language was both existential and functional. 'It is the difference between a fish just out of water and one that has been frozen in time. Language has been infitlrated by science and it's time we returned to the original language,' he said.

Slovenian writer Šteger equated having a language to being possessed. 'It is like an external enttiy inhabiting our physical bodies. Language is something unknowable, mysterious yet familiar and personal,' he said.

The session was moderated by Anna Deeny Morales, who alsot ranslated for Zurita.

Keywords: Kerala, Kochi Muziris Biennale, KMB 2016: Biennale poets discuss the barriers and bridges in language