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A Global Poetic/Positioning System: The Transborder Immigrant Tool

Transborder Immigrant Tool - Dubliners from banglab on Vimeo.

by Amy Sara Carroll

Love is not all: it is not meat nor drink

Nor slumber nor a roof against the rain;

Nor yet a floating spar to men that sink

And rise and sink and rise and sink again;

Love cannot fill the thickened lung with breath,

Nor clean the blood, nor set the fractured bone;

Yet many a man is making friends with death

Even as I speak, for lack of love alone.

XXX, Edna St. Vincent Millay

The poems—“Al-Khwārizmī,” “Precession,” “Transition,” and “Dubliners”—are representative of my collaboration with Electronic Disturbance Theatre (EDT) on the Transborder Immigrant Tool. If the tool is slated to be distributed locally through NGOs on the Arizona-Mexico and California-Mexico border, but also imagined as a global project under development, my own involvement in that ongoing process is linked to the question of what constitutes sustenance in the quotidian of the conceptual, on the varied musical scales of the micro- and macro-. For, often—rightly enough—conversations about crossing the Mexico-U.S. border refer to disorientation, sun exposure, lack of water. The Transborder Immigrant Tool attempts to address those vicissitudes, but also to remember that the aesthetic—freighted with the unbearable weight of “love”—too, sustains. A poetic gesture from its inception, the Transborder Immigrant Tool functions, via the aspirations of such a dislocative medium, as dislocative media, seeking to realize the possibilities of G.P.S. as both a “global positioning system” and, what, in another context, Laura Borràs Castanyer and Juan B. Gutiérrez have termed, a “global poetic system.” The Transborder Immigrant Tool includes poems for psychic consultation, spoken words of encouragement and welcome, which I am writing and co-designing in the mindset of Audre Lorde’s pronouncement that “poetry is not a luxury.” The particular poems included here—part of that larger collection, which codeswitches between languages—are for a predominantly English-speaking audience, who recognizes uncanny connection (i.e., for the sake of a Dublin/Belfast presentation, that of the Irish and the Mexican, historically made manifest in pheonomena like the San Patricios, artistically acknowledged vis-à-vis travelling exhibitions such as the 1995-97 Distant Relations). Postscriptually, Derrida’s vision of hospitality, indexed as scrolling text in “Dubliners,” speaks to the Transborder Immigrant Tool’s overarching commitment to global citizenship. For, the excerpt, itself infused with the “transversal logic” of the poetic, acts as one of the Transborder Immigrant Tool’s internal compasses, clarifying the ways and means by which I and my collaborators approach this project as ethically inflected, as transcending the local of (bi-)national politics, of borders and their policing.

Text of poems: Amy Sara Carroll

Video poems design: Ricardo Dominguez, Micha Cárdenas, and Elle Mehrmand

Voices included in the poems: Micha Cárdenas, Amy Sara Carroll, Césaire Carroll-Dominguez, Patrick Carroll, and Ricardo Dominguez