A Story in the Spaces

 

Buzzing Hemisphere. Possibly one of the most bizarre novels I have ever read. Written by Urayoán Noel, Buzzing Hemisphere is a set of different poems that are written in both English, Spanish, and sometimes a combination of the two. Reading it once or twice, one may not understand the intricate nature of how each poem is written, translated, and even organized. Noel makes the absurd nature of the poems intentional in order to hide deeper meanings within each of them using many forms of formal methods. One of these methods is his use of spacing and separation between his poems, specifically the spaces between the English and Spanish translations. This use of spacing could be argued as a form of deterritorialization, a literary term described as the process of undoing what has already been done.

Noel uses this form of deterritorialization in multiple ways throughout the novel. Starting in the section titled Alphabet City (3) where poems written in English and Spanish are separated from each other in the middle of the page, sandwiched between two more stanzas of poems written in Spanish and English also separated from each other. We see more of a separation as we go further into the novel. After Alphabet City we get to Voice Creaks (14) which also has many poems, each with English and Spanish translations. Only this time, they are separated farther from each other, almost like islands. But as the novel progresses these separations between English and Spanish starts decreasing, and the translations start getting closer together. Just look at stanzas under Heaves of Storm (37); instead of each translation being at the far edge of the page, they are next to each other, providing easier read of both forms. And finally, as we get to Fake Flowers (75) the translations have become mixed, almost like it was Spanglish, where Spanish and English were a part of the same sentences, not separated into what translates into what. It’s almost as if neither can be apart from another.

Why might Noel do this? And how does this have anything to do with deterritorialization? Well what I believe, that the reason why Noel used so much space and separation between the translations of the stanzas of poems to create commentary on the separation of American and Mexican culture. So saying many of the stanzas in the novel that are so far away from each other on the same page are like islands isn’t too farfetched. We may be on the same continent as Mexico, but U.S. and Mexican relations have also been extremely fragile, criminalizing and isolating any person of Mexican and Chicano cultures, especially in this day and age. Noel uses the process of deterritorialization by decreasing the amount of separation in the stanzas of poetry, to argue that both cultures are necessary to create a better and stronger system, and for anything to make sense, as we see that many of the sentences in Fake Flowers don’t seem to make sense without taking in the context of the Spanish that was before and after it.

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