This vigil for the Egyptian people is a poetic exchange between Belle Gironda, who taught at the American University in Cairo, and Stockport Flats publisher Lori Anderson Moseman. This collection charts their friendship and the plight of women protesters through a collage of photos, Facebook posts, emails and poems.
See Jillian Mukavetz of Womens Quarterly Conversation inteview about project. http://womensquarterlyconversation.com/2012/11/21/profiles-in-poetics-lori-anderson-moseman/
"Writer Lori Anderson Moseman connects to this conversation through the comparative sedimentary and turbid landscape of difference. Our discussions amass around DOUBLE | VIGIL, a collaborative book with poet Belle Gironda who was in Cairo for the first year of the Egyptian Revolution. The project begins, she measures, as a way for her to calm the distress of Belle's environment. But the mirroring of creative gesture here opens the self to a communicative nurturing breadth. One that safely encounters the unease of a politically unsettling time handled with coalescing congruity."
"We are able to articulate violence, distress, and cultural gaps, unified and displaced in a similar and foreign rhetoric. She acknowledges, 'Belle and I exchanged poems because the role of the military in Egypt's future remained/remains uncertain." Moseman, "seeks to close the gap created by difference.' And furthermore, as a diction of the experience as writer and reader, 'This is what we do together: exchange writing, images, then write more, and offer more images. It is a space we build.' At the age of four, Moseman reflects an, 'imperative for life—stay afloat, breath. I turn to this memory because it speaks to an awareness of text as an ancient, sacred, human activity and because writing in the margins is where I have found space as woman.'
Jillian Mukavetz: "Included is a passage copied from Susan Brind Morrow The Names of Things: A Passage in the Egyptian Desert, 1997: “I walked downhill to where the ferry was … if this was where we waited to board the boats. ‘Yes, but you are a foreigner,’ he said. / ‘There is no need for you … he lifted me up over his head and passed me on to the next person. / I was passed like a sack of grain over the heads of the.” Amidst every culture we encounter gaps. Generational, environmental, religious, political, sexual; difference. These traits are exemplified when we travel further outside of our comfort zones, particularly when we become “other” as foreigner. The fascinating ability of poetry is its ability to cohere difference. The personal encounter becomes a translating exchange. Your project complicates this further in the ways in which the creative prowess between you and Belle mirror the mirror; translate an alienating experience into an intimate one. Can you describe the process of this creative teamwork, the ways in which the stories developed, and how this affects cross-cultural communication?"
" ... I encountered The Names of Things in New Orleans post-Katrina. The store was dank, and I ended up throwing away the book after I read it because of mold. But I gave a new copy to Belle Gironda. Susan Brind Morrow grew up in the same neighborhood that Belle did in Geneva, NY. Susan and Belle lived in the same Cairo neighborhood in different decades. They don’t know each other nor do they know much about each other’s writing, but their bodies have lived in the same landscapes. Can I use words to make a mirror between them? I doubt it. But each of their texts helped me enter the other’s work—and, perhaps, the work of the Other. Can we use difference to forge bridges? Belle and I hope so. But most often we think of ourselves as two writers sending poems back and forth within a friendship."
"In the Brind Morrow scene cited in DOUBLE | VIGIL, I am captivated by how Susan surrenders to the swarm. I want to know if it is like Belle’s yielding to the masses when she smuggles medical supplies into Tahrir. In the early days of my vigil for Belle, I turned to Susan Brind Morrow to understand throngs, to watch a single body within a mass movement. Brind Morrow’s words were a safe passage to contemplate. As news poured out of the streets of Cairo, there were the sources we cited in the opening montage of DOUBLE | VIGIL. Now, thanks to the videos of director Leil-Zahra Mortada, we can watch/hear/read Words of Women from the Egyptian Revolution on You-Tube. We can hear perilous first-hand accounts from Rasha Azab, Sabah Ibrahim, Evelyn Ashamallah, Nada Zatouna, Hanan Sadek & Mona El-Sabbahy, Mariam Kirollos, Madeeha Anwar, Om Ahmad Gaber, Maryam Alkhawaja, Mahienour El-Massry, and Aya Tarek. We can hear how then navigated the throngs, what they believe they accomplished, how the conquered their fears. The Facebook portal for Leil-Zahra Mortada’s is https://www.facebook.com/HerstoryEgypt"
"Another fine example of cross cultural collaboration is Belle Gironda’s videopoem “You make a better door than a window.” In the video, she works with Egyptian poet/journalist John Ehab (camera work by Aras Ozgun). This “translating exchange” is an elaboration of a poem featured in Gironda’s book Building Codes (Stockport Flats 2008) and in her collaboration with Shelia Goloborotko in High Watermark Salo[o]n v.1 n.4 (Stockport Flats 2006). The relationships Gironda built in Cairo allowed her to give the poem a larger cultural resonance than it had in her previous stateside printings. PYROMEDIA, the website featuring this poem speaks to the ability of poetry and new media to try and close the gaps created by difference. The exciting work done by Aras Ozgun and his experimental media arts collective is worth exploring."