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Border Codes

Mark Marino, Author

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Embedded within the Transborder Immigrant Tool are another lifeline in the form of poems.  The six that are part of the core set to be loaded on phones were written by Amy Sara Carroll, who teaches at the University of Michigan.  Most have been translated into several languages and readings of them can be found in the SourceForge audio files.

While conservative commentator Glenn Beck may not appreciate all of the poetry, it is clear from the code that the poetry is central to the functioning of the piece.   Core methods select poems at random and play them for the traveler.  When EDT presents the piece, they talk about these poems as part of the larger project of providing sustenance.

And yet the poems are of a peculiar sort: part odes to the desert, part webs of association, and part practical suggestions, the poems help the traveler decode the environment -- or perhaps encode a new understanding of the desert.  Whether explaining which cacti to get water from or how to respond to a snake bite, the poems do not waste time with rhyme or meter.  On the other hand, they situate the desert landscape not into the contemporary debate about the border but in ancient encounters between humans and desert spaces, laying out some of the rich historic mythos and iconography surrounding the chaparral and sever climes.

As I argue elsewhere [link to DHQ article], the poems then offer an analog to the code, as embellished instructions, or practical signs that point to rich cultural contexts.

This thread will lead through various forms of poetry that attend the Transborder Immigrant Tool.
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