Poems and Texts

from The Paper Camera by Youmna Chlala

Variations between
_____________________letter and sound
_____________________is released
from the back of the throat
force and muscle___spit and saliva and tongue against teeth.
The difference is a minute tongue induced difference

When they ask where you come from, tell them:
Don’t believe in origins. Authenticity died with Colonialism.

Find a worn Arabic phrase book, practice saying Ghorba.
a kind of home, outside of language

Ghorba: Gha is a fricative sound.

Even if your mouth is closed (you are a mouthpiece)

This poem originally appeared in Aster(ix) journal, Kitchen Table Translation summer 2017 issue.

Youmna Chlala

Youmna Chlala is an artist and a writer born in Beirut and currently based in New York. Her work investigates the relationship between fate and architecture through drawing, video and performance, prose, and poetry. Her book of poetry, The Paper Camera, is forthcoming from Litmus Press. She is the founding editor of Eleven Eleven {1111} Journal of Literature and Art and the recipient of a Joseph Henry Jackson Award. Her writing appears in publications such as Guernica, BOMB, Prairie Schnooner, Bespoke, CURA, and MIT Journal for Middle Eastern Studies, among others. She has exhibited widely including in the Performa Biennal 2011, LIAF Biennal 2017, Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, The Drawing Center, Dubai Art Projects, Rotterdam International Film Festival and Art In General. She is the co-founder of the Mutating Cities Institute and Associate Professor in the Humanities & Media Studies and Writing Department at the Pratt Institute.

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