Last week I had the pleasure of participating at my first Quiet Lightning. They describe it as a monthly series that features submission-based reading in San Francisco, and includes all forms of writing without introduction or banter. “Writing” may need an expanded definition from now on, because this particular one also included a drawing. Turns out that in all the years they’ve been having the events, no one had submitted an illustration before.

A few weeks ago they posted a call on their site to translate a beautiful short piece by Melissa Chandler called Considering They Lived. While the call suggested translations using literary techniques (“in poem form, in fiction, creative nonfiction, etc.”), it also said “anything you can imagine, basically, you can do.” One thing I like doing is drawing using texts as inspiration (Drawn Quijote, Visual Comment), so my translation turned out more visual than verbal.

It was very flattering receiving the email from the curators inviting me to participate. Katie Wheeler-Dubin, Lauren Traetto, and Evan Karp wanted my illustration included in sparkle + blink (the booklet they publish for the event), and asked I be part of the reading by doing a live drawing performance.

Which turned out to be a lot of fun. Considering They Lived was translated in so many creative ways, including short stories, poems, even back-and-forth-across-languages through Google Translate. The list of participants included Steven Westdahl, Kristina Ten, Emily Weinstein, Caroline Kessler, Amy K. Bell and Julie Morse.

And that was just the first half of the show. After a break, the Center for the Art of Translation had a group of translators share translations into English of the pun-ridden Pornografismos, from Guillermo Cabrera Infante’s famously difficult-to-translate book Exorcismos de esti(l)o. It was fascinating to listen to various takes on the same source, and even more so being a native Spanish speaker.

So all in all, a really great time. Made new friends, listened to cool readings, and was asked by the writer of the text if she could keep the drawing. Will definitely submit again next year!

Thank you to @quiet_lightning@vouchedbooks@disembodiedpoet, and Orie Alpern for the photos, as well as to Evan Karp for the video!