Charles Bernstein, Norbert Lange (German), Ernesto Livon-Grosman (Spanish), Collective à Royaumont (France), Haroldo de Campos (Portuguese), Leevi Lehto (Finnish), Gizem Atlı (Turkish), and Carla Buranello (Italian)
A Test of Poetry
“A Test of Poetry” was written in 1992 and published in My Way: Speeches and Poems (University of Chicago Press, 1999). The poem is based on a letter from the Chinese scholar Ziquing Zhang, who translated poems from Rough Trades and The Sophist for Selected Language Poems (Chengdu, China: Sichuan Literature and Art Publishing House, 1993); quotations from the poems are italicized. It seemed to me that Ziquing Zhang’s questions provided both an incisive commentary on my poems and also raised a set of imponderble yet giddy, not to say fundamental, translation issues. Several poets have take up the task of translating this poem, and we here compile the results: Norbert Lange into German, Ernesto Livon-Grosman into Spanish, Collective à Royaumont dans le cadre de l’Atelier Cosmopolite into French (originally published as a pamphlet by Format Américain), Haroldo de Campos into Portuguese, Leevi Lehto into Finnish, and Gizem Atlı in Turkish (orginally published in Buzdokuz).
A roundtable with Charles Bernstein & Leevi Lehto with Frederik Hertzberg, Teemu Ikonen, Karri Kokko, Hasso Krull, Leevi Lehto, Olli Sinivaara, and Miia Toivio at the Kiasma Art Museum, Helsinki, August 24, 2004
"But the basic conception that we realized last night was that there’s too much proliferation of the many languages in the world, and we need to understand what the root or the ur-language is that is behind all languages, the pre-Babelian state, and we are proposing that Finno-Saxon really is the mother of all languages, the deep language that underwrites all other human languages … because if we can establish that, we really could create much more stability in international semiotic exchange."
from the annoucment by Ntamamo, the publisher, in Helsinki:
A seminal early work by the influential, innovative American poet, in English-Finnish bilingual edition, translated into Finnish by Leevi Lehto, and with an interview with the author by Chinese scholar, Nie Zhenzhao, as an appendix.