“I see my work as that of crossing thresholds, bordering and bridging between often asymmetric or estranged places and fields of inquiry. My practices involve walking, divinatory work, qualitative research, creative methodologies of mapping, oral history and archival research, assemblage, erasure, translation and deep listening.”

Yanara Friedland is a recipient of a 2017 Artist Research & Development Grant.

Artist Research and Development Grants are designed to support the advancement of artistic research, aid in the development of artistic work and recognize the contributions individual artists make to Arizona’s communities. For more information about the Artist Research & Development Grant, click here.

Friedland’s book project, titled Groundswell, began in late May 2016 and will conclude by January 2018. The book-length completed manuscript will present a choreographic map (comprised by text) of two borderlands: the historical border region of her country of birth Germany/Poland and the borderlands of her current home in the Sonoran desert. The book will be “multivocal,” made up by and from many voices, curated from collected life stories, oral histories, personal and autoethnographic observations, and excerpts from literary productions. The work attempts to define terms from border theory such as “border formation,” “white zones,” “removal,” and narrate their meaning through the experience and language of diverse border actors. Groundswell ought to act as both an imaginative and culturally relevant document, in which these contradictory, adversarial, and perhaps overlapping narratives co-exist, determine and etch out the “cultural commons” that the geo-political space rejects.

During the grant period, Friedland will interview work closely with several organizations involved with U.S-Mexican border populations, and interview individuals who have specific relationships to this region. For example, a woman farmer who has struggled to maintain her homestead in Elfrieda, AZ, or Patrisia Gonzales, an indigenous birth attendant who has worked with local indigenous communities for several decades. There are also two former border patrol agents who have agreed to be interviewed for this project.

Born and raised in Germany to an American mother and German father, Friedland’s past research and writing has been strongly influenced by her bilingual identity and narratives of borders, migration, and diaspora. She completed her M.A. at the University of Kent, UK, in Migration Studies in 2009, where she focused her research on shifting personal and legal contexts in which asylum seekers had to recount border crossing, narratives of home, and subsequent migration from home. During her PhD in Literature and Creative Writing at the University of Denver, she moved toward a critical reflection of migratory aesthetics within her own writing, in postmodern diaspora narratives as well as an exploration of the intersections between cartography and literature. Her first book, a novel which centers around characters and biographies born out of diaspora and displacement in Eastern Europe and Germany through the 20th century, is forthcoming from Noemi Press and was their 2015 Fiction Book Award winner. Her most recent manuscript, Embraces the Carrion, was a finalist for the National Poetry series and Essay Press’ annual book award. Other writings have been published or are forthcoming from Fence, Witness Magazine, Essay Press, the Poetry Foundation, Denver Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Friedland teaches Creative Writing at the University of Arizona South and as a Writing the Community Mentor at the Poetry Center, where she also facilitate a class on the poetics of encounter. She is a member of the poets’ theater group GASP: Girls Assembling Something Perpetual; and of the POG board of directors, a poetry reading series in Tucson, Arizona.