Sound art. A weathered, leather-bound copy of Divry’s Greek-English Dictionary, published in 1917, drew my attention during an evening stroll through a used bookstore. Flipping through the dog-eared pages, where printed text mingled with handwritten notes, I wondered about the man who had owned the dictionary and whether the book’s text reflected his experiences as a Greek immigrant in early 20th century America.
Using the book as a narrator, I wished to tell the story of its previous owner, Mr. Tom Stamatis. I composed this sound piece from readings taken directly from the book’s text. The poetic, antiquated, language tells of immigrants’ common experiences, from searching for housing, to applying for work, to seeking United States citizenship. Originally intended to instruct immigrants of important English phrases, the text also reveals much about the treatment of immigrants and their struggles in a strange, new country.