Hopscotch Translation Series: Zahra Patterson's CHRONOLOGY

Zahra Patterson & Steve Vásquez Dolph
Dec 6, 2018 at | Penn Book Center
130 S. 34th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104


Taking as its starting point an ultimately failed attempt to translate a Sesotho short story into English, Chronology explores the spaces language occupies in relationships, colonial history, and the postcolonial present. It is a collage of images and documents, folding on words-that-follow-no-chronology, unveiling layers of meaning of queering love, friendship, death, and power. Traveling from Cape Town to the Schomburg Center in New York, Zahra Patterson's Chronology reveals and revels in fragments of the past-personal and the present-political.

"Journal of translation, of friendship, of politics, of document, of witness, of mobilizing, of love: Zahra Patterson walks into a café in Capetown in 2009 and changes the world by reading Marechera's Black Sunlight and meeting an instant soulmate. In trying to translate a short story from a language she doesn't know—Sesotho—Patterson invents a genre in such a generous way that you, the reader, invent one too. Take all this in—this beautiful collage of e-mails, pictures, self-made dictionary entries, theory upturned, letters to the dead, personal takes on whites colonizing blacks then & now, there & here. You won't regret living this & you won't be the same."

—Sarah Riggs

ZAHRA PATTERSON is the author of Chronology (Ugly Duckling Presse 2018). She writes about the relationship between language, colonial power, and writing systems, and is currently investigating the history of de/segregation in America’s schools. She is a youth educator, and created and directed the community arts project Raw Fiction. Her work has been supported by Mount Tremper Arts, Brooklyn Arts Council, The Pratt Center, and others. She is a Community of Literary Magazines and Presses Face Out Fellow and holds an MFA in Writing from Pratt Institute.

Steve Vásquez Dolph is Assistant Teaching Professor in the department of Global Studies and Modern Languages at Drexel University, where his research and teaching focus on the literatures of place and migration, and the politics and poetics of translation. He is the translator of three novels by Juan José Saer, published by Open Letter Books, and editor of Calque, a journal of new translations, archived at Jacket2.

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