Subcribe to Our Newsletter

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.

Perhaps, for you, only the Chinese word for ‘wave’ (波) will accurately capture the symbolism behind the word, the sound, the gesture of an ocean’s movement; only the Spanish phrase for ‘my sister, (mi hermana) encapsulates the intimacy inherent in that relationship; or the Arabic word for ‘fig’ (تين) must be used when gesturing toward the fruit of life’s abundance, endurance, and peace.

Our literature and lives are enriched when many traditions and languages sing together.  Indeed, multilingualism is, for most of the world, the norm rather than the exception (see article by G. Richard Tucker). In this special “Broadsided Responds” feature, we will offer a folio of work that speaks and sings between and with multiple languages.

If you write/think/speak in multiple languages, please send work that features and explores this rich convergence. We’d like to honor writers whose bilingual/multilingual family history prompted this mode of writing, rather than those who came to languages through academic study.  We rely on you to decide if this is the right space for your submission.

GUIDELINES: Our general guidelines for length apply.  There is a special button on Submittable for this feature.

DEADLINE: September 15, 2018

NOTE: The Broadside featured below, “Lexiconography 1” is not officially part of this feature, as it was first published in 2002.  However, it beautifully speaks to the type of work we hope to honor.

About the title:

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” for the title, which literally means “many voices.” It’s just perfect.

Kaja 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.”