The American Poetry Review


APZ Books

Street Gloss by Brent Armendinger Brooklyn, NY: The Operating System, 2019 Paperback, 126 pages

Translation is a practice fraught with unequal power relations, a site where belonging and exclusion are negotiated and legitimized, and one in which existing ideologies are often reproduced. Yet it also can serve as a mode of access and collective experience, an aesthetic and ethical strategy that can challenge hierarchical structures and create alternative versions—not just of the text but of the economy of literature and language to which it belongs. Brent Armendinger’s makes this collaborative act explicit, while opening up its strictures to the archi-texture of the city. Accomplishing this requires letting go of one’s authority-as-interpreter but, moreover, it demands taking in the vocabulary of the streets, which is where Armendinger relocates himself in order to comb the whereabouts of certain words, “problems” of translation that become reconfigured as possibilities. That there are gaps in transmission is beside the point; the point is, in fact, that translation necessitates a poetics of contiguity, a being around a person or place or thing—a being around the text—which moves us closer to a heightened awareness or certain uncertainty, an intimacy with the person and words we gyrate with, gathering tone, feel, mood—a valency we couldn’t otherwise receive, if, say, we were too close. Intimacy requires this distance, but also the missteps in the continuous play of approximate unveiling, slippages and the stripping of words, to get inside

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