While it may be true that art cannot redeem the flaws of our deleterious society, it can often reveal more anodyne alternatives nested neatly inside the familiar. Such is the vision of Ryan Clark’s ARIZONA SB 1070: AN ACT, a homophonic translation that writes against the hateful and xenophobic 2010 Arizona anti-immigration law that gives the book its title and emerged as a harbinger of much vileness in word and deed during the long decade that followed its passing. Clark’s translation innovatively rescripts the bill and calls to the fore the contested nature of language in Arizona. His deft choices and rigorous techniques destabilize and transform the letters of the law itself, using linguistic processes and a keen poet’s ear to morph the bill’s divisive language into tender, vulnerable, and compassionate lyric poetry that seeks to untangle knots of unease and advocate for healing. While interrogating and investigating the fear of immigrants that buttresses a climate of oppression in which a bill like Arizona SB 1070 becomes law, Clark’s work also pursues a public space where difficult dialogues about the wounds such legislation has continued to open—and reopen—are paramount.
”In this unfortunate era of anti-immigration policies, racial profiling, and violence directed toward people of color, Ryan Clark’s ARIZONA SB 1070: AN ACT interrogates legislation through homophonic translation. Not only does the work expand our thinking on this poetic practice through infinite sound combinations, it does so with a lyric quality that attempts to repair the linguistic damage. The words are tender ‘where a scar in the earth hung law over a young presence’ and express ‘awful lines of ache’ in the undercurrent and aftermath of such decrees. The poem laments division, ‘severs our vein,’ vocalizes a bird song in the midst of a feral census while the ‘white feather of defense’ provides a sanctuary—a place where we may conceal our wounds. ‘Tired is the river migrating’ alongside the blood-stained map, inside our geographical lungs praying for breath. Let this verse wash over the tongue, glisten on river rocks immersed in sun water, write/right the migrating eye as it looks inward and toward the horizon. This book borders the fragile home within the sentence of the body.”
—Michelle Naka Pierce, author of Continuous Frieze Bordering Red
”This book is an innovative ‘homophonic translation’ that critiques and rescripts the racist, xenophobic bill: Arizona SB 1070. The translated poems cross the borders of political and legislative discourse to create a lyrical grammar of compassion and solidarity. Throughout, Ryan Clark repudiates and repairs the harmful language of this cruel nation.”
—Craig Santos Perez
”As ‘Ar/… chive pursues us’” methods/metaphors for engaging Ryan Clark’s ARIZONA SB 1070: AN ACT: 1) Focus on SB 1070’s gray-scaled lines, 2) Read between the lines the work’s ‘homophonic translations,’ 3) Both/and, 4) Repeat option three, ‘extending the document’ ad infinitum. Arizona SB 1070: An Act brushes legislation against the grain by way of sonic literalism, an appeal to the chordal subconscious. Here’s the rub: Will you act beyond this collection’s noisy sedimentation, the formal limits of interpellation and linguistic reparation; contribute to once and future collective re/enactments of wholesale structural transformation in the growing greater Mexican borderlands?”
—Amy Sara Carroll
”To wrest from Arizona SB1070, an ill-bred death bill, this breath, a bell sounding.
To rend from an act, rank & mephitic, an other act & will to fissure, to disrupt & deform, to essay—
We have been waiting for this transgression, this precise intervention, this relentless homophonic How-To—
Ryan Landry Clark, sagacious & defiant alchemist.
ARIZONA SB1070: AN ACT, Clark’s ingenious coup.”
—Duriel E. Harris
”Ryan Clark does something incredibly important in his homophonic translation of the SB 1070—Arizona’s infamous anti-immigration bill. He takes the political and legal language present and recontextualizes it as a damning indictment against the state. Clark turns language from a weapon against those disenfranchised to a weapon against the powers that be. ARIZONA SB 1070 isn’t a piece of resistance writing, it transcends these popular tropes to be something more necessary, more urgent.”
—Slope Editions editorial
Ryan Clark writes much of his work through a unique method of homophonic translation. He is the author of the book How I Pitched the First Curve (Lit Fest Press, 2019) and the chapbook And Bring My Developing Hands (Con/Crescent Press, 2008). His poetry has appeared in such journals as DIAGRAM, Painted Bride Quarterly, Yemassee, Posit, and Barzakh. He holds an MFA from Naropa University's Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, as well as a PhD in English Studies from Illinois State University. A native Texan, Ryan now lives in Forest City, Iowa, where he teaches and serves as Director of Creative Writing at Waldorf University.