This week marks the one year anniversary of AAWW closing down its New York City office and beginning a period of work-from-home. One year ago, billions of people entered a period of isolation, a period of suspended and manifold grief, a period from which the world has yet to emerge. In this sense, the world lingers in a liminal state: not what it was before, not yet what it will be after.
The lullabies offered in this notebook of the Transpacific Literary Project are in no way a direct response to or reflection on the COVID-19 pandemic. Rather, the lullabies gathered here swirl in various transitional spaces and threshold crossings: a woman’s twilight walk home from work, a mother’s self melted into her baby’s, a baby’s first encounter with earth, a spirit’s waiting for reincarnation, a body’s waiting for its funeral, a body’s physical decomposition, a face’s nighttime disappearance, a dream’s sacred knowledge, a people’s exodus to the sea, and a music’s enduring resistance to silence.
In the tradition of rather dark music, some of the lullabies presented here carry pain and tears. And because sadnesses cannot be (just) written, each text in this notebook of Lullabies is accompanied by the human voice of its writer and translator. The utterances of song, chant, poem, and story allow for their words to occasionally vaporize into the wordless textures of mourning, and possibly radiate a consoling embrace.
It’s possible that the lullabies of this notebook might shake up as much as soothe. But perhaps, like after a fit of tearful screams into a pillow, there can be a kind of surrender on the other side of this shaking. And I do hope, with a very long shhhh, that all this leads you somewhere just a bit closer to a deep, good sleep.
March 8, 2021