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In Praise of Polyphony, 2018

Polyphony: combining a number of parts/voices, each forming an individual melody and harmonizing with each other.

Many writers move through the world speaking and thinking in more than one language, whether they were raised in a house that spoke two or more languages, lived in multiple countries over their lives, or found love and community with people tied to another culture. At Broadsided Press, we think that’s worth celebrating.

At Broadsided, we wanted to celebrate that, so we put out a call for submissions of writing (You can see our original call for submissions here.) — we received work from languages around the globe, and reading through them was a joy.  We selected six pieces to send on to visual artists, and they brought that language to the work, enhancing and expanding it even further.

Below is a folio of six broadsides from writers and who think/feel/see in English, Spanish, Finnish, Yiddish, Chinese, Italian, Polish, and Russian.  In narrative, metaphor, sound, ink, photograph, shape, and color.  We hope you’ll share them widely in your communities and help celebrate the gorgeous creativity of work forged in diverse worlds.

NOTE: We didn’t have a title for this feature when we launched our call for submissions.  We were calling it “Multilingual Writing,” but that didn’t roll off the tongue. Luckily, writer and musician Kaja Weeks emailed us and suggested the word “Polyphony,” a musical term which means “many voices.” It’s just perfect, and we are grateful.  She wrote:

“I thought of it instantly when I read about the theme. In addition to being a writer of lyric poetry and personal essays, I’m a classically-trained singer, and in my life have spent countless, delightful hours singing, studying and playing Renaissance-era polyphonic music. Through polyphony, it is awesome to experience distinctive melodies and rhythms simultaneously even as they create a larger form than the individual parts, which still retain their unique selves. I see our multi-lingual world, whether individual or collective, a lot like that, too.”