The Poetry Project

Master Class

Translating Enigma/Inheritance: Master Class with Trish Salah

Our histories are in somewise histories of being interfered with. And while we have stories about what has happened to us, about what we have done, such narratives may operate as a form of myth, or explanation for what we have struggled to comprehend. One could say, we do not know. We do not know where we come from, or what makes us up.

With queerness and postcolonial identities in mind, Dina Georgis considers how we elaborate “the better story” in relation to how we have been inscribed. Beneath and even within that story resides what we do not know.

Analyst Jean Laplanche offers a vision of life, of the self, as a series of attempts to translate enigmatic messages we do not remember receiving, or whose memory does not broach their enigma. Such impingements present meanings that are unthinkable but excite and trouble thinking and feeling. As memory comes of movement, attachment and loss, can we think of writing as a kind of making up, translating between what remains and what is before us?

In this class we will discuss poetry as a practice of enigmatic translation, and work with exercises pointed at unsettling what we have inherited and what we have come to know about it, and opening us towards the possibility of something new.