translation

'playback on the rise'

The Señal chapbook series

US cultural diplomacy with Latin America seems a low priority under the current administration, and this makes me more grateful than ever for the Señal poetry chapbook series. These poems and their English translations engage questions about the intersections of Latin American and US history, culture, and language — implying that what is received in literature and culture bears examination.

When poems travel

Trans-. The prefix means “across,” “beyond,” “through.” It appears at the beginning of words that signify motion and change: “transportation,” “tranformation,” and of course “translation.” In 1830 Goethe captured just one kind of motion and change brought about by translation when he remarked to Johann Peter Eckermann: “I do not like to read my Faust any more in German, but in this French translation all seems again fresh, new, and spirited” (trans. John Oxenford).

'Coolie Woman' and trans-creation

Gaiutra Bahadur came to visit the University of Hawai‘i while I was there as a graduate student. She gave a presentation on her book which emerged as a kind of light to guide my own writing. In Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, Bahadur begins her process of investigating Caribbean history with the oral histories of her family. In pursuit of information about her great grandmother, Sujaria, Bahadur wonders about the particularities that women faced during the period of Indian Indenture.

Coolie Woman

Gaiutra Bahadur came to visit the University of Hawai‘i while I was there as a graduate student. She gave a presentation on her book which emerged as a kind of light to guide my own writing. In Coolie Woman: The Odyssey of Indenture, Bahadur begins her process of investigating Caribbean history with the oral histories of her family. In pursuit of information about her great grandmother, Sujaria, Bahadur wonders about the particularities that women faced during the period of Indian Indenture.

She begins her book with the assertion that,

Versatorium:

Translation as social project — Austria and elsewhere

Neuberg Train station, Neuberg, Austria
Neuberg Train Station

After the unfathomable swarm that was the Women’s March in D.C., I find it both difficult and necessary to return to thinking about the small, local, intimate actions that are the focus of this series of posts. Necessary because massive gatherings, though exhilerating, are also largely symbolic and affective (unless they actually shut things down), while the actions I am writing about are concrete, direct, and (inter)personal. Difficult because actions both small and slow provoke feelings of panic in a time of such painful crisis.

Just out: Ashraf Fayadh’s ‘Instructions Within’

Very pleased to be back in New York, despite all — and find my copy of Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within, translated by Mona Kareem (with Mona Zaki and Jonathan Wright) and published by the operating system. And what a rare occasion it is, design-wise: the parti pris of choosing to print this bilingual (Arab-English) edition the way Arabic is read and printed, i.e., from right to left.

Very pleased to be back in New York, despite all — and find my copy of Ashraf Fayadh’s Instructions Within, translated by Mona Kareem (with Mona Zaki and Jonathan Wright) and published by the operating system. And what a rare occasion it is, design-wise: the parti pris of choosing to print this bilingual (Arab-English) edition the way Arabic is read and printed, i.e., from right to left.

Gerry Loose: Eight further poems in ogham script with a note on poetics and translation

Church of the 3 Brethren     Lochgoilhead 

little saint of whitethorn

little quencher of wolf spark

welcome to the burial mounds

 

dear confessor of blood-red berries

sweet dweller of beehive cell

oaks make good gallow-trees

 

Artaud Through the Looking Glass

Dr. Ferdière and Antonin Artaud at Rodez

While Artaud was interned at the Rodez asylum, Dr. Ferdière suggested he work on a translation of Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass as a part of his therapy. Since Artaud didn’t speak English, he worked alongside the chaplain, Henri Julien, who was also an English teacher. Father Julien explains the process the two undertook, saying that “during his visits, he listened to me read and translate the text. He then took up the translation and suggested different words and phrasing. It was in reading the resultant translation that one can sense his soul of fire, the grand actor …”[1]

Notes on the translational Gothic

Or, how the weird enters the world, part two

The poems of George Trakl mulling/translating themselves in preparation for Chri
The poems of George Trakl mulling/translating themselves in preparation for Christian Hawkey's ‘Ventrakl.’ Image courtesy the artist.

The term “Gothic” is marvelously, if disconcertingly, fluid, designating at times both barbarian horde and proto-nationalist regime, pagan chieftain and Christian theocrat, aesthetic atrocity and high art; thus to speak of the “translational Gothic” is to speak of both the wild mutations possible through “infidel” translation and the wild translations implicit in the survival of the term Gothic itself. John Ruskin describes the Gothic as “the rough mineral … submitted to [the analysis] of the chemist, entangled with many other foreign substances, itself perhaps in no place pure, or ever to be obtained or seen in purity for more than an instant.” He nevertheless thinks that this instant — knit into the mess of centuries — is definable, much like Walter Benjamin’s faith in a translation that only momentarily, fleetingly touches upon the meaning of the original — or the meaning of “originality,” for that matter.

Alec Finlay: A poem of namings, from Gaelic and Norn

River Dee: photograph by Hannah Devereux, 2016 (from ‘gathering’)
River Dee: photograph by Hannah Devereux, 2016 (from ‘gathering’)

Alec Finlay is a Scottish poet and artist based in Edinburgh. These texts come from a series of ongoing projects derived from research into place names, in particular Gaelic (from his book gathering, forthcoming from Hauser & Wirth in 2018) and Norn — the dialect of Scots and Norse spoken in Orkney and Shetland Norn c. 1800 (from MinnMouth, forthcoming in 2017). This sequence derives from a performance given at the 2016 O-I/I-O Poetry Festival in Glasgow as a closer to the whole event.

 

Poetic uprisings

Poetry, knowledge, imagination

Georges Didi-Huberman at an October 2014 interview for the SON[I]A podcast series at Radio Web MACBA (Museu de'Art Contemporani de Barcelona). Photo by MACBA.

Note: The writing of the philosopher and art historian Georges Didi-Huberman is so tightly bound up with images, so rich in ways of seeing, that it may sound odd to say that he first mattered to me as an invisible voice on the radio, long before I familiarized myself with his books.

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