tropikal teknologies

By Noelle de la Paz

I believe form is not simply container, but story itself.

This project emerges from constraint, from the force that compels us to create through it. From nonlinear logic and a longing for guidance. An oracle deck, of sorts, drawing on the past, insisting in the present, and looking to the future. Piecing together facets and fragments into many possible versions of a dynamic whole. 

I began composing these cards on my typewriter in March 2020, a time of confinement, uncertainty, and loss giving way to despair—but also to a rupture: an opening. Arundhati Roy called the pandemic a portal, one we could choose to “walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world…ready to fight for it.” Natalie Diaz reminded me, “We are alive because of story. It is one of our ancestors’ most powerful technologies.” And what of the others, I thought, and the power they contain?

Exploring this question reveals technologies embedded into every facet of daily life. Turning into tiny poems, the number expanding and contracting, merging and branching off, messages and sentiments evolving, being pressure tested against the radical illuminations, reckonings, and violences that come, and keep coming, our way. 

And while I create this deck through my own lens as a diasporic daughter city-kid pinay full of tropikal feelingz, I hope shining some light on these teknologies can reflect some shine onto you and yours, illuminating new tropikulay theories as we turn them in the light. I hope that we may be mirrors for each other as we find our footing, the way we’re braided up together, and how right that can be, so long as we commit to loving ourselves and each other with compassion and rigor—our oldest, most sacred technology.

Headshot of Noelle de la Paz

Noelle de la Paz is a writer, poet, and artist. Working from New York City and San Francisco, she draws from stories that are inherited, embodied, speculative—almost always some combination of the three. Through iterative explorations of form, narrative, archival research, and translation, she assembles words and images, plants and food, clay and shape, in an attempt to visibilize and interrogate girlness, brownness, languaging, and movements through borders, temporal and spatial. Noelle’s work appears in The Kenyon Review, The Recluse, Southwest Review, Newtown Literary, and elsewhere, and as part of the exhibitions Otherwise Obscured: Erasure in Body and Text (Franklin Street Works, 2019) and Boulevard of Ghosts (Local Project Art Space, 2021). She was a 2021-22 Emerge–Surface–Be Fellow at The Poetry Project, and has also received support from Brooklyn Poets, VONA, KulArts, Dia Art Foundation’s Poetry & series, and the Queens Council for the Arts.

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