Alan Semerdjian


For instance,
to turn off a light
is inevidently
not to close
like a book
of history
or a country
off from another
such as kohtseh

                              "How do you close a light, Alan?"

say it: koh short o like
in fast policeman,
officer of the law
and government
agent of change,
and tseh like saying it's a
really fast.
The sound is respiratory,
is in/out,
lip puck then shut
the light,

                              "that's how"

but the truer one--the subject at hand--
and the problem with translation
is that it's
too literal a turn to lead to off,
like a corner
or a getaway car,
a tunnel in a wall
under a city,
or the turn of a screw,
like reverse with tartsur,
so that it's a
"How do you reverse the light?"
rather than turn it off so much
that it has to be close.

How do you reverse the light?

Just close the light, please.


"On Armenian Translation" focuses on what it's like to think in one language and speak in another, a common phenomenom among hyphenated Americans. It also grapples with frozen bits of memory in language, how words are a conduit to unreconciled history and translation a kind of demented digging.