2016 Publication


To pick up each letter, one at a time, blow the dust off of it,
to examine it, we say aaaaaa, we speak it into a new being,
we say it is magic.


Born out of a-festival’s fateful encounters is a multilingual and multiauthored book of poetry titled Abracadabra. Below is the English version of the letter from the fairies behind the festival and publication.


A letter from a-festival

“ABRACADABRA” is tattooed on the shoulder of a man who cooks dinner for me most nights. He said the word means as one speaks it, one creates it into being, and because he often makes meals appear as if out of the very words ‘turmeric’ and ‘black rice’ and ‘curry’, I believe him.

That words and the speaking of them contain tall powers of creation is also something I believe. Perhaps we need only to find the precise pairing of words, like ingredients, to make magic occur, to open locked doors, to turn absence into presence, to be looped into a different experience of the real. The poems in this book, as the poets and translators who have spoken them into being, are gathered together as one pairing of magical ingredients. The authors who appear here, simultaneously sharing one transitory space while perpetually existing in a book, are those who push themselves in their individual lives and in communities, which seem to be always beyond and further outside, with works, poems, translations. The encounter is that which creates a more possible community along one’s path.

These contributors lead us to consider their biographies as poems themselves, where the most poetic aspect, perhaps the aspect that can never be written, is the labor between books, is the journey before the shaping of a project, are the interpersonal relationships with places where one selects/one is selected to be born, the places we pass through and the people we meet, the books we have read and books that are waiting for us to read and write them. The neighboring together of different languages, English, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese, and Tamil here makes me think of clustered butterflies in a garden. There is no minor or major language, only things of beauty that are nurtured and cared for by different writing-reading communities, here and there. The translations that appear here, as with the very act of translation itself, can somehow connect these languages, as light can somehow wash over the fluttering butterflies, both exposing and concealing some secret of each beauty.

To return to the beginning of our languages we start with the first letter, we say aaaaaa, not knowing what will follow, but beginning again (and again) to find a new path with (and in) our languages, to meet our words in their pure form, simply the letter, simply another letter, simply the word, and another, to gently cradle them who have fallen underfoot and endured the heavy tread of our sedimented discourses and messages, to pick up each letter, one at a time, blow the dust off of it, to examine it, we say aaaaaa, we speak it into a new being, we say it is magic.

The singed-brown words were licked up by a flame into written honey-poetry by me: scorching coded lemon essence signals (bubble) and decoding hidden letters. There was a mark burnt on the left margin, decayed by the touch of fire, I kept it whole and let the flames lick an “ai” up from the lost space. I fire licked up all the a: a: ai: ảo mộng ái ân ái tình à ơi ánh trăng ảo tượng. The genesis of fire is a rubbing. The rubbing of acid on paper, it is fire that bears the letters. Fire evokes the letters. The rubbing of letters and letters bears thơ (poesia). Thơ flowers the thơ-ers. The rubbing thơ-ers flower in each other and bear fire.

We gather here, an encounter is always a not-yet-known encounter. A place where humans touch, and touch the wings of butterflies.

Hanoi, August 2016


To get a taste of Abracadabra magic (limited edition!), please say aaaaaaaa and click here.