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Showing posts from September, 2006

trans-national

Richard Lopez dropped by a few days ago and left interesting comments about translation and internationalism.

Like him, my translation projects aren't necessarily in languages I know well, or at all. I only really know English but rely on other versions, transliterations, dictionaries and other aids. Yet I also feel that much of the poetry that interest me is in languages other than English. One of the first books of poetry I ever ever bought was a selection of Montale's poems in English - one of those Penguin Modern European Poets series.

For instance, at the moment I am reading translations of the Cuban exile poet José Kozer, a volume entitled Stet: Selected Poems of José Kozer, translated by Mark Weiss and available through Mark's Junction Press. I had heard of Kozer, specifically but not only from from Mark, but had never read much in translation. Now I can and am loving what I am reading so far.

And, like Richard, I get something from the old Chinese poets, I have turned…

ebb and flow

Reading Jen at blue acres and also thinking of the times when the words don't come and when they do.

I was doing one of the regular(ish) DiVerse readings today - we're the ekphrasis team, writing in reference to artworks, this time prints at the S.H. Ervin Gallery - and one of the other poets said an interesting thing - that she tried to write a poem in response to a print of a cat. She's a cat person, so it should have been a shoe-in, she and we all thought. But, nope, the poem wouldn't 'go'. Whereas another print 'insisted' she write about it.

Of course, this is all speaking in metaphors about process, which is fine. I'm not scared or worried by metaphors. Jen says: "when I'm stuck it seems poems are like equations with one or two possible but elusive solutions, both requiring a good ten or twenty more IQ points than I have spare to find." I understand that as well, though it's not how I would have put it. I think in terms of flows…

free-boating

I was re-reading some of Yves Bonnefoy's poems, for other reasons, and came upon this interesting essay by Hoyt Rogers on Bonnefoy and translation. The problem discussed begins with the translation of 'boat' as one of Bonnefoy's fundamental metaphors. For he uses barque not bateau, and that makes all the difference.

Bonnefoy says: "The more a translation interprets a poem by making it explicit, the more it reflects the translator, with all his or her differences from the author. But to be truly faithful, we have to be free. And do we have any freedom if we are not entitled, every now and then, to leap ahead of ourselves as we read? To translate does not mean to repeat: it means to be won over; and that only happens when we put our own thoughts to the test as we proceed."

I put all the above on my translation blog latitudes but thought it may be of interest here. I would like to know what it is to be free.

just chatting

I've got a day off work today. That's something hard to come by. All thanks to powers that be. I'm pretty pooped, I can tell you.

I saw the first blossom on our cherry tree this morning. It's coming out real slow. The Japanese maple is already spreading outside the front door but the cherry is always slow.

It's that spring weather that messes your head. There's still a chill in the breeze but the heat tricks you into thinking it's really warm. And it isn't, strictly.

I've neglected the Bobster in recent years but I got a copy of Modern Times. Happy with it on first play through - all sorts of high and low registers in the words and full of the Dylan trademark steals from folk and blues and old timey American music. But, please, everyone knows he didn't write Rollin' and Tumblin'. That's just silly and disrespectful. Sure, the original author may be lost to us, though McKinley Morganfield (Muddy Waters) often gets the cred. At least Bob …

Babylon Burning: 9/11 Five Years On

Nearly 90 poets from around the world have contributed to Babylon Burning: 9/11 five years on, an anthology of poems on the Twin Towers atrocity and its consequences. But they aim for more than pious hand-wringing: the anthology will be free, but readers are asked to donate to the Red Cross.

nthposition, the site behind the anthology, wants to maximise the money raised by listing it on iTunes as a PDF. (Only a handful of publishers are putting PDFs on iTunes, and they tend to be techie rather than literary.) Fourteen per cent of internet users visit iTunes. Though sales of poetry books are flat, online poetry is booming, poetry downloads rose by 40% last year and DEF Poetry Jam on HBO introduced a vast new – and young – audience to poetry, which nthposition wants to reach. Critic Marjorie Perloff recently remarked that the internet is "more fluid, flexible, and much more accommodating" than print for poetry.

Todd Swift, nthposition poetry editor, agrees: "Auden said that …