Helen Lambert

Lit-Mag #40 – Expatriations:  The expat edition

Literatures of Multiplicity

This issue of GANGAN Lit-Mag is devoted to the question of ‘expatriations’ – for whatever we might think about expats or the process of expatriation, it is a term that defies being reduced to the singular. Indeed, as the contributors to this edition show, expatriation constitutes a multiple relation to place, culture, language, history and nation.

Can multiplicity (of interpretation, of languages, of allegiances) make a difference to literature, to politics, to the world? In an age of increasing homogenization and commoditisation, where even poetry has a price (not a very good one), where even poets have CVs and career plans, literary expatriation seems to offer a site of resistance. This is not because expats are in some way excused from the marketplace (they are just as much a part of the system), but rather, expats, by insisting on the divide between languages and places, and by refusing to adhere to the mythology of ‘rootedness’, reveal the ways in which the market mistranslates the world, in its attempt to reduce the irreducible.

The contributors explore expatriations in multiple ways, whether using dialogue (Ken Edwards), or poetic essay (Vahni Capildeo), whether writing in their native language (José Kozer) or a bricolage of languages (Shelby Matthews), whether focusing on the place before one lands (Kent MacCarter), on the divide of two places (Tony Baker), on linguistic breakdown as critique of the commoditisation of place (Marcus Slease), on memory and history (Louis Armand), on writing and foreignness (Jim Goar), on the temporality of writing (Matvei Yankelevich), on spiritualism and despair (David Miller), the impossibility of return (Jaki McCarrick), on displacement, ethnicity and culture (Kristina Müntzing), on the critique of unity and empire (Anne Elizabeth Moore), on the ways of looking at many places (Laurie Duggan) or on the ambiguous, covert nature of expatriation (Catherine Hales).

In forms both innovative and traditional, this issue hopes to tease out, explore, critique, and engage on the question of expatriation/s. With thanks to Gerald Ganglbauer and A.H.

Dublin, June 2010

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