Translation is effortful: that’s part of its appeal and provocation. Translation, like any form of cross-cultural or cross-language communication (and I sometimes wonder if all communication, even communication within the self, is some form of “cross-cultural” communication? but perhaps there are gradations or spectra of “cross” in that construct...) highlights both separation—difference, distinction, divide—and connection—affinity, mutuality, movement towards.
Let me contradict myself immediately: on a good day, when the confluence of written and writer and translator is particularly generative and delightful, translation can feel like channeling, accessing some other river-like flow of speech just beyond the ways we normally articulate ideas. It’s never easy—it’s always an effort—but it can feel tremendously fluid, perhaps precisely because of the distance from self and ego that translation inherently entails.
Jeff Nagy and Eric Linsker released today the first issue of the their web magazine, The Claudius App, coinciding with the visit of Kate Middleton to Canada and the Royal Wedding in Monaco, and the collapse of the case against DSK. Coincidence? It’s hard to say, for The Claudius App is billed as the home of a new movement, or moment, as movements are always moments writ large – Fast Poetry. When I first heard the term, I thought at last some young poets were picking up on Hannah Weiner’s iconic work The Fast: a new poetry of spiritual quest and cleansing, purging the toxic poetics that surround us in North America. (And maybe they have.) But I slowly came to what sense I still have command over: this was fast in the sense of rapid or quick, in the sense of not slow, or possibly in the sense of dissipated, unreliable, loose, without scruples; entirely unrelated to Yom Kippur and penitence.
Hugh Kenner's huge (and hugely important) book on Pound was published in 1971. A book of its time? Well, considering the social and politcal context of 1971: maybe The Pound Era is a book running counter to the trend of its time. But never mind those assumptions. The book was first planned in....1960. Eleven years earlier. This startling fact I learned a lttle while ago when I read some unpublished Kenner correspondence in Chicago. Check out my 1960 blog for more.