Commentaries - April 2012

Dancing on ropes with fetter’d legs

The Ka Mate Ka Ora translation issue

Campana to Montale
photograph by Michael Dean / cover design by James Fryer

I went to an interesting paper at the Literature and Translation conference in Melbourne last year. The presenter was attempting to contrast two English versions of Rilke’s Sonnete an Orpheus, by (respectively) Don Paterson and Stephen Cohn, in terms of Dryden’s famous triad of metaphrase, paraphrase and imitation.

All Translation, I suppose, may be reduced to these three heads:

First, that of Metaphrase, or turning an Author Word by Word, and Line by Line, from one Language into another. ...

The second way is that of Paraphrase, or Translation with Latitude, where the Author is kept in view by the Translator, so as never to be lost, but his words are not so strictly follow’d as his sense; and that too is admitted to be amplified, but not alter’d. …

The Third way is that of Imitation, where the Translator (if now he has not lost that Name) assumes the liberty, not only to vary from the words and sence, but to forsake them both as he sees occasion; and taking only some general hints from the Original, to run division on the Ground-work, as he pleases. …

Portland's best bookstores

Portland, Oregon is a book town. While it may be known nationally as the home of Powell’s and zines, and of course, Women & Women First Bookstore from the TV show Portlandia, it is also the home of two of my favorite bookstores: Passages and Division Leap. Both are run by artists and specialize in poetry, artists’ books, little magazines, rare, and signed copies. Both have a relatively small, but carefully curated inventory.

Mac Low writing through Stein

Stein's 'A Long Gay Book' rewritten by Mac Low's diastic Stein series: Notes on 'Very Pleasant Soiling (Stein 7)'

Jackson Mac Low made available several sections of his Stein series on his EPC page. I sometimes introduce my students to this series by reading and discussing with them number 7, titled “Very Pleasant Soiling.” Mac Low’s notes, as usual, describe the process by which this (and other) pieces in the series were composed:

Alan Golding reads Ed Dorn

Alan Golding reads from the work of Ed Dorn at the 40th University of Louisville conference on literature and culture after 1900 — on February 25, 2012: MP3. Recording made by Aldon Nielsen.

Experiments with sound

Couper catalyst
Matthew Couper: Catalyst 9 cover (2011)

Earlier this year I was sent my contributor’s copy of Catalyst 9 (subtitled “Export Quality”). It includes a CD of poetry recordings by local poets set to music by what producer Jody Lloyd calls “a collection of New Zealand musicians”:

For this production I asked dozens of musicians for sound donations in the form of musical samples – a chord, a series of chords, a solo, a bass line, a drum beat and where those were not available, an entire track: whatever they had and wanted to give. [11]

 To tell you the truth, I’d almost forgotten about the recording session for this particular project. I remember being summoned to some far-off part of town what seems like ages ago to read out a few poems, and it came as a bit of a surprise to see which one they’d chosen (a rather odd collage poem called “Vampires”). The delay can hardly be blamed on the editors of this Christchurch-based indie magazine, though. As Doc Drumheller explains in his editorial: