Unnatural Bird Migrator

Unnatural Bird Migrator

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Author: Ariel Resnikoff

Publisher: The Operating System (2020)

Unnatural Bird Migrator stitches together disparate filaments of diasporic language as a living quilt of translational refuse, a patchwork-art gleaned and assembled from the pieces of writing and speech we are quite literally taught to forget. 'UNBM' traverses the semi-permeable borders between doubling and tripling mother tongues in exile, looping these languages through one another and back again in the form of a highly adaptive poetic boomerang that returns from the "other side" of the linguistic threshold already changed. This translinguistic praxis explores writing as a mode of perpetual displacement, translating language in wide spirals outward to the farthest edges of the sonic/semantic divide, while gleaning materials for a poetics from even the minutest residues left behind. Resnikoff's compositional method engages by (mis)translation in/to​ Yiddish-, Hebrew-, Aramaic- and Akkadian- adapted​ sonic/semantic properties in​ grammar, syntax and lexicon, taking English as its temporary "host" while performing perpetual inflectional slippages—interlingual punning and fusion-slangs—as much as the "host" can absorb. The dybbuk (Yiddish: spirit-possessor), which the author's Jewish-Ashkenazi ancestors believed to inhabit the body of the wild stutterer, mad person, heretic or "akher" [lit. other], becomes the peripheral focus​ of this poetry, as Resnikoff reimagines the ways in which such a "possession" by language itself might manifest in the ​"odd" practices of the poet, translator and Jew. The word "odd" here functions in deliberate echo of the terms against which Sabbatean stigma was first transcribed in 17th-century Palestine: "for the odd practices of a false messiah."

"Ariel Resnikoff's 'Unnatural Bird Migrator' ignites immediacy. It cast spells. Indeed one's cells feel subsumed by primordial realia having nothing in common with the plagiarized density that purports to signify experience reduced as it is to secular equation by lucre. Resnikoff's 'UNBM' roams via the telepathy of "wonder." As readers we begin to gather experience that articulates a plane suffused by magnificence, by the voice of the uncanny. This being language that allows us to crystallize fever, to excavate hunches via the mathematics of power."

–Will Alexander