John Washington was born in New York, raised in Ohio, living in the Arizona borderlands, with a few things in between. Currently an adjunct at the University of Arizona, teaching fiction and creative non-fiction. Also working as a freelance journalist and translator. He claims he focuses his days on his novels.
It seems that on one of the mentioned in-betweens, he decided to go down to southern Mexico. Not only did he learn the language of the locals, but actually decided to work with that language. And he lived among the locals. He lived with them and he lived them.
Hey says there are some voices missing in the larger conversation that’s taking place over the United States / Mexico border. These “other” voices silenced under the persistent vociferations of “exploitative free trade and border militarization”.
John believes in “translating as an act of decontextualization, of deracinating a work and attempting to replant it in foreign soil. The act leads to crossbreeding, to mutation, and to the exposure of unintended or unrecognized aspects of the original”.
John firmly believes that in order to translate you have to go out to the field. One has to experience firsthand the writings and the language where these writings come from. To experience these writings not only in their native language, but in their native soil as well and as importantly. To ask what la frontera or the border actually means in terms of bodies, talking about human condition in the present day. In his own words “you have to be on the ground to understand what’s really going on”.
It is thanks to the Department of Literature, Department of Visual Arts, and the Division of Arts and Humanities at UC San Diego that John is here with us tonight, right on this border, on this corner of our very complex and sometimes contradictory world.
Es un placer para mí el poder darle la bienvenida a esta Universidad, este espacio que debe ser uno de inclusión y de discusión. Bienvenido a esta conversación que dista mucho de concluir pronto. Bienvenido, John Washington, a la New Writing Series de invierno de 2016.
*An introduction for John Washington’s performance at UC San Diego’s New Writing Series.