A conversation with Oomph! Press!

Transnational translation in action

You can read more about Oomph! Press at They got their start in Atlanta, and they're ready to make some moves in the world of translated poetry. Have an idea? Like what you read? Be in touch with them about your thoughts on the press and such.

a. How did you get the name Oomph!?


Tina Escaja with Robopoem components, 2015.  Photo by Dan Higgins.
Tina Escaja with Robopoem components, 2015. Photo by Dan Higgins.

Proto es principio y ‘previo,’ lo anterior al efecto, al typo, que es error y tejido, texto.  Hacer protos es hacer poemas en proceso, el preámbulo de la conciencia que como robopoeta es cyborg.  Crear prototipos es unir lo real con lo ideal, lo irreal con lo posible.  En palabra y objeto poético, en texto y vértigo lírico. Todo y posibilidad.

Line to list

Anna Deeny in San Juan 2015.  Photo K Dykstra.
Anna Deeny in San Juan 2015. Photo K Dykstra.

Anna Deeny Morales is a marvelous translator of poetry.  To date I know her work principally in relation to writers from the Southern Cone, among them Mercedes Roffé (see the Shearsman page for the new Floating Lanterns collection here) and Raúl Zurita.


Rito Ramón Aroche at the azotea.  Havana, 2010
Rito Ramón Aroche at the azotea. Havana, 2010

Rito Ramón Aroche (b. 1961) assembles and dismantles scene after scene in distinct poetry collections.  Many pieces project such a heightened awareness of construction and destruction as to put anything called “reality” at a marked remove.

Bright arrogance, gallery C

Speed, Erotics, Emergence

Insect writing from Brian Conley's Decipherment of Linear X, Courtesy the artist

While I feel hard-pressed to finish what I had planned for this column within the time allotted, time is on my side—or lack thereof.  One area that remains unexplored is the ways in which theories of artificial intelligence impact translation, especially given the huge impact of machine translation technologies.  Forgoing the sense of translation, no longer routed through consciousness, one can embrace an inhuman speed which, while riddled with non-sense may evolve unforeseen sensibilities and new forms of intelligence—while still attending to the situatedness of the agen


Bird, 2015, Photo by K. Dykstra
Bird, 2015, Photo by K. Dykstra

The obvious entry for A is anxiogenic:  translation is anxiogenic.

Whereas the convergences defining translation cause anxiety or manifest around situations causing anxiety – be that experienced as apprehension, dismay, desire, dread, fear, fugue, inclination, misgiving, restlessness, etc. 

Alternatives. Abolition Abrasion Accompaniment Acumen Adhesive Alien Aliment Altercation Altitude Amnesty Anathema Anodyne Antichronism Apoplexy Arabesque Asperity Asylum Aversion Axis And

Antonym. Advisable

Bright arrogance #14

How the weird enters the world, part one

Image from Edmund Joseph Sullivan's illustrations of Rubáiyát from 1913, appropriated in 1966 by the Grateful Dead

There is a large shelf in the poetry section of Powell’s Used Book Warehouse in Portland, Oregon that is weighed down exclusively by versions of Edward FitzGerald’s illustrious and legendarily loose translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. It is perhaps the destiny of only the greatest poems to become furniture, decorative shelf-filler, markers of conformity masquerading as taste. Ultimately, unread. Just as easily do these all-too-willingly adopted artifacts start to become emblems of an embarrassing past, haunting “used” stores with their overabundance like copies of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights.

Bright arrogance #13

David Hadbawnik and Carrie Kaser's epic redux reduced

Image from David Habdawnik and Carrie Kaser's Aeneid, Courtesy the Artists

David Hadbawnik’s Aeneid (currently a series of hand-sewn and illustrated chap-books numbered 1 & 2; 3 and 4) is a translation-as-reduction, paradoxically allowing for selective amplification through subtle resonances generated in the space of what’s left out. The epic in general is no light reading, although these translucinations make it so without trivializing the content. Like Christopher Logue’s similarly reduced Iliads (but unlike, I would say, Ronald Johnson’s erasure of Paradise Lost or this more transductive work of conceptual needlepoint), the modernist spacing and minimalist gestures of condensation allow the poem to take advantage of an aeon of intertextuality, without getting the Laocoön end of it.

Bright arrogance #11

Sawako Nakayasu's modernist feedback loops

Clark Lunberry and Hiroko Washizu at Tokyo National Museum, Ueno Park, Tokyo

I met with long-time colleagues and collaborators Clark Lunberry and Hiroko Washizu in Tokyo to discuss Sawako Nakayasu’s book of translations and anti-translations Mouth: Eats Color.

Bright arrogance #10

Ostashevsky and Timerman's pirating-parroting of language

Images from The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, Part I, Courtesy the artists

No language is one. That’s one of the more salient affirmations of Derrida’s work on translation. This multiplicity and struggle for meaning, the infirmation of a singular text, is amplified in these works that introduce images in ways that are additive, not reproductive. Eugenes Ostashevsky and Timerman’s recent collaborative chapbook The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi, Part I extends the informatic looseness of Brainard/Berrigan’s Drunken Boat to show that if language is not one, neither is it 3.14159265 . . .

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