[The following is yet another excerpt from the forthcoming Barbaric Vast & Wild: A Gathering of Outside & Subterranean Poetry from Origins to Present, edited with commentaries by myself & John Bloomberg-Rissman, & published by Black Widow Press as the fifth volume of Poems for the Millennium. Earlier excerpts have been posted on Poems and Poetics over the last several years, referring to the work as “a mini-anthology in progress,” but the completed work will now appear
You're working on a dissertation on poetry and translation at Queen’s — do I have that right? What are you writing about at the moment?
That's right. The theory side of things is separated into three studies on experimental strategies within the three different kinds of translation, as outlined by Jakobson—interlingual (the most familiar = translations between languages), intralingual (translations of texts into other versions of themselves within the same language) and intersemiotic (translations between media).
I've just finished the section on intersemiotic translation, which focused on ekphrasis — so, translations from the visual to the verbal. In poetry, for most readers, “ekphrasis” tends to conjure ideas of elegies to canonical paintings (and their creators), comprising life lessons and/or expanded narratives.
Whenever I move to a new place, I find that getting lost is essential. I’ve never been very good at top-down, abstract forms of orientation. I have to feel my way around. I drive, walk, take a bus. Certain locations become reference points, often unusual ones. I remember a street because of a particular laundromat or the bright purple paint job on a house.
That subject-position of being disoriented, uncertain, and unacclimated will be my approach to this series of commentaries, wherein I explore Detroit poetry as a complete outsider, a new-comer, a non-expert.