translation

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.

Gelmaning on

A review of 'Oxen Rage (Cólera buey)'

Photo of Juan Gelman (right) courtesy of Gianluca Battista, 2011.

Remarkably few volumes of poetry by Juan Gelman have been translated into English. This is perhaps because of the unique challenges inherent in translating his work, known for its neologisms, playful and musical language, and political exploitation of ambiguity — Gelman once wrote to his translator, Lisa Rose Bradford, “To be sure is a sickness of our times.

Remarkably few volumes of poetry by Juan Gelman have been translated into English.

José Kozer and what unfolds

Photo by Keyselim Montas.

“Where New York poets and others … tended to hear a ‘cool,’ abstract, even cerebral, poetry,” writes Peter Boyle in the translator’s essay accompanying this feature, “in Latin America a more emotional, threatening, and visceral ‘magic’ surrealism developed.” Boyle places Cuban poet José Kozer’s work in this surrealist camp: time and reality become warped and subjective in Kozer’s neobaroque poems.

José Kozer's stylistics

Religion, the surreal, and the neobaroque

Photo of José Kozer (left) by Carlos Blackburn.

Across a long, extraordinarily prolific career, Cuban poet José Kozer (born in Havana, 1940) is remarkable for the consistency of his style. His work has been viewed as part of the Latin American neobaroque movement — a loose grouping of poets from the 1970s onwards who preferred a dense, multidimensional approach rather than the then-common plainspoken colloquial or conversational style — yet Kozer’s poetry is very much sui generis.

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