“The Power of Words”

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“I wrote down ‘The Power of Words’ in my sketchbook and I don’t know why.”

Mika Caldera, an art student at the University of Connecticut, presented this piece, “Empathy,” (pictured above) to me during a one minute artist-writer speed dating event that was held. She expressed her love for this piece in one minute and it caught me attention. A picture of this artwork does not give it enough justice to the way it felt in my hands and fanning out the progression of emotions along with the powerful quotes on the back of the pictures was more eye-opening than I could ever imagine.

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According to the creator of “Empathy,” the piece takes on the project of portraying human emotions through empathy. On one side, there is a black card that says the name of the piece on it and as it is fanned out, there are descriptions on what is going on in the photos printed after the emotion typed out. The progression of the emotions and photos go from horrifying to hopeful. The opposite of the black cards and pictures hold quotes that can only be read when fanned out. The quotes relate back to human interaction and quotes by people such as Maya Angelou and Marilyn Monroe are included.

After talking to Mika and getting to know her motives behind her artwork, I realized that we both recognized the power of words and visuals when the two went hand-in-hand. We talked about how the piece was meant to show that people do not normally empathize with others in the way that they feel towards certain situations; most of the time, people sympathize with others but until one can truly empathize, one doesn’t know how the other truly feels.

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I shared with her one of my favorite short stories, “Drown” by Junot Diaz, and thought to myself why I chose this work. There weren’t pictures that explained the story but the words were powerful enough. I mentioned the power of words and how Diaz conveyed a short story facing many controversial issues along with being Latino in the story. We came to the conclusion that we can’t explain the power of words: it’s a matter of interpretation.

Focail Sneachta — Words of Snow

Our 2013 print issue of the LRR included a Foreign Literatures section. We purposefully published these pieces—two in Irish (Lisa Nic An Bhreithimh’s piece, “Grá Fómhair”; Alex Fogarty’s poem “Focail Sneachta”) and one in Spanish (Mikel Lorenzo Arza’s “Deola”) —in their native languages with no accompanying translations in order to assert our belief that our increasingly polycultural world requires a knowledge of various languages. We wanted our readers to struggle a bit. We wanted readers to appreciate the beauty of the written words in the original languages, even if they could not understand the literal meaning, to try to translate the pieces on their own, and to realize that all translations are separate works of art that serve as approximations of the originals.

However, for those readers who nevertheless love literal meaning (myself included), we are providing the English translation of Alex’s “Focail Sneachta” below (a translation of Lisa’s piece was posted on November 17th and a translation of Mikel’s piece was posted on December 27th). The original versions of all three foreign literature pieces can of course be found in the 2013 print issue of Long River Review and copies are still available for sale at a small price at the UConn Co-Op.

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About the author: Alex Fogarty is an English major who specializes in Irish literature and the Irish language. He used to be computer science major and somehow ended up with more work after the switch to English. He also won first place at the Sterling Count Fair Butter Dance when he was eight.

 

 

 

Photo for Focail Sneachta Post

 

Focail Sneachta

Amharcaim mo shaol bán

agus tá sé poncaithe le dearaí dorcha.

Tá an áit beag seo fuar agus glan

agus ’sí mó thearmann í.

Mar bhuail an stoirm faoi bhallaí an tsolais.

Feicim an reacht nuair a amharcaim amach,

Is féidir leis an domhan a ghlanadh orm go dtí a dhath.

 

Words of Snow

I lean over a white landscape,

Dotted with my dark creations.

This small world, cold and clean,

As the storm rages outside,

Becomes my harbor,

Crafted from light.

As I turn from my light,

I see the chaos brewing outside,

Threatening to cover my world and wipe it clean.