In an essay reflecting on translation, Yoko Tawada reads the poems of Paul Celan as if he had written in Japanese. The essay's translator, Susan Bernofsky, offers context, and in an earlier piece, Rivka Galchen considers "Yoko Tawada's Magnificent Strangeness." More conventional introductions to Celan are available via the Poetry Foundation page on Celan, 14 poems from Breathturn, and a video of Celan reading "Allerseelen" (English sub.; alt. trans.). Tawada's own poetry includes "The Flight of the Moon" (video in Japanese). [more inside]
Travel was always desirable to them / And they visited every continent … They considered travel and homeland synonymous / For them, every valley and desert was home. [more inside]
Poetry International Rotterdam has contemporary poetry in English translation from all over the world, from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, including countries as different as Argentina, China, Finland, Iran and Romania, in languages as unrelated as French, Malayalam and Zulu, as well as many poems originally in the English language. The poets range in age and stature from those barely over thirty to Nobel prize winners. There are also videos and audio recordings of poets reading, as well as articles about poetry.
"The name "bLogicarian" may be one of the the most pretentious conglomerations of philhellenic puns I could concoct." A blog on language, poetry and translation. [more inside]
"and even when there's nowhere left, no refuge for their pain, they turn to the illusion of travelling" - Kajal Ahmad, translated by Mimi Khalvati
The Poetry Translation Centre pairs living poets from Asia, Africa and Latin America with English-language translators and then puts the resulting translations online. You can browse the poetry by country, language, translator or poet. Besides the hundreds of individual poems, all presented in the original and both literal and poetic translations, many have been recorded in dual readings by translator and poet, and put online as videos or mp3s (look for the microphone or camera icon). There are also podcasts to download, articles to read, and chapbooks to purchase. It is absurd to single out a few poems as favorites, but nonetheless, here are a few that struck me hard, Birds by Kajal Ahmad, translated by Mimi Khalvati, Cataclysm and Songs by Conceição Lima, translated in a workshop, and Survivors by Choe Young-mi, translated by Kyoo Lee and Sarah Maguire (who is the founder and director of the Poetry Translation Centre). If these poems do not hit you, no need to worry as there are literally hundreds more to read. [via The Guardian]
With cities, it is as with dreams: everything imaginable can be dreamed, but even the most unexpected dream is a rebus that conceals a desire or, its reverse, a fear. Cities, like dreams, are made of desires and fears, even if the thread of their discourse is secret, their rules are absurd, their perspectives deceitful, and everything conceals something else. December 2012 marks the 40th anniversary of Invisible Cities -- the sublime metaphysical travelogue by author-journalist Italo Calvino. In a series of pensive dialogues with jaded emperor Kublai Khan, the explorer Marco Polo describes a meandering litany of visionary and impossible places, dozens of surreal, fantastical cities, each poetically reifying ideas vital to language, philosophy, and the human spirit. This gracefully written love letter to urban life has inspired countless tributes, but it's just the most accessible of Calvino's fascinating literary catalogue. Look inside for a closer look at his most remarkable works, links to English translations of his magical prose, and collections of artistic interpretations from around the web -- including this treasure trove of essays, excerpts, articles, and recommended reading. [more inside]
TransLAtions! Get your free lit-e-rary transLAtions here! Ya want Ovid? Ya got Ovid! Ya got all your classic French poets, your Germans, your Italians, your Russians! Ya got a verse rendering of Zorilla's Don Juan Tenorio with parallel Spanish text! Ya got a rare translation of Vazha-Pshavela's Georgian epic Host and Guest! Everything downloadable in every major format! All edited by A.S. Kline!
Michael Caine plays If- straight. Robert Morley hams If- up. Dennis Hopper misses a line or two, Harvey Keitel misses a whole stanza, and Grampa Simpson misses the point entirely. Joni Mitchell sings sublime. KeyKrusher raps ridiculous. Federer and Nadal go head to head, with commentary. International cricket pundits celebrate the Indian Premier League, Des Lynam toasts World Cup 98, and a failing football manager addresses a press conference. A teenager learns from an angel, and seven year old Humza learns If- for himself. [more inside]
BEOWULF: A new translation Many modern Beowulf translations, while excellent in their own ways, suffer from what Kathleen Biddick might call “melancholy” for an oral and aural way of poetic making… The sense of loss or nostalgia for the old form seems a necessary and ever-present shadow over modern Beowulfs. What happens, however, when a contemporary poet, quite simply, doesn’t bother with any such nostalgia? Michael Davidson: "Tom Meyer’s Beowulf reenacts the dark grandeur of a poem that is as much a story of vengeance as it is of courage and loyalty. Meyer brings the poem’s alliterative, inflected line in concert with post-Poundian lineation to give the reader a vivid sense of our oldest poem’s modernity." Free download from independent publisher Punctum Books. [more inside]
"L'infinito": Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity. Infinity...
The translated rarities at Virgil.org include the first biography of Virgil, medieval Aenid fan-fiction, and the poet's recipe for cheese dip. [more inside]
Enheduanna was a priestess and poet in the city of Ur in the 23rd century BC and supposedly the daughter of Sargon the Great of Akkad. She is the first author known by name. Here are a number of her poems in English translation, The Exaltation of Inana, Inana and Ebih, A Hymn to Inana, The Temple Hymns and A Balbale to Nanna. Here are two alternate translations of The Exaltation of Inana, one by James D. Pritchard and an English rendering of Dr. Annette Zgoll's German translation. If you want to learn more, go to The En-hedu-Ana Research Pages.
Brindin Press has lots of poetry translations into English online, concentrating on French, German, Italian and Spanish, though more than 40 other languages are represented as well. A boatload of translators is represented, from those toiling in obscurity to big literary names (e.g. there are translations of Catullus poems by Ben Jonson, Jonathan Swift, Louis Zukofsky, Aubrey Beardsley and Thomas Hardy). There is also a section of quirky poems. Finally, here's a rendition of Goethe's Der Erlkönig that substitutes the elfish king with a dalek.
[Ezra Pound] worked on and for poetry as others might work on a major scientific discovery or a drawn-out military mission. Thus, as Sieburth reminds us in his introduction to The Pisan Cantos, when, on May 3, 1945, Pound was arrested at his home in the hills above Rapallo, he immediately put a small Chinese dictionary and a copy of the Confucian classics in his pocket. Working as he then was on his Confucian translations, he knew that, wherever the military police were taking him, he would need these books.From Pound Ascendant by Marjorie Perloff. Ezra Pound's ability as a translator of Chinese poetry has long been disparaged by sinologists, such as George A. Kennedy in Fenollosa, Pound and the Chinese Character. Other academics have sought to defend him. Two examples are Zhaoming Qian's Ezra Pound's encounter with Wang Wei: toward the "ideogrammic method" of the Cantos and Stephen Tapscott's In Praise of Bad Translations: Ezra Pound and the Cultural Work of Translation (pdf). Eric Hayot draws the contours of this long-running debate and explores its significance in Critical Dreams: Orientalism, Modernism, and the Meaning of Pound's China. Pound's Cathay in full and a public domain audiobook version (iTunes link).
Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl is an Icelandic poet. He translates Icelandic poetry into English (I particularly like his versions of Sigfús Daðason), and he has an interesting interview on Icelandic poetry ("Curiously enough, back in the days the nationalists would sometimes write in danish. And writing in a foreign language was more or less seen as the only alternative to literature being a mere hobby until Halldór Laxness came along"). But really this is an elaborate excuse to post a link to Höpöhöpö Böks: Köld öld Böks mjög örg, Ölböl örlög Böks! (Warning: My wife thought the linked video sounded like vomiting.) Via wood s lot. This one goes out to my man Kattullus; hope you can stick around! [more inside]
A Mid-summer Night's Story - one of hundreds of novels, poems, and tales in English translation at Suat Karantay's Contemporary Turkish Literature pages. Also: Turkish Poetry in Translation (the side-by-side translations of Dağlarca are particularly well-done), and selected stories of childhood & youth from Turkish authors in the mid 20th century.
Sean Bonney's translations of Baudelaire are unconventional. Instead of following the form of the French originals they are semi-concrete typewriter poetry. In a review of the book, everyone's cup of tea, onedit magazine says that they are "certainly the best translations of Baudelaire in English ever written." Which might explain why they published 35 of them in their latest issue. You can listen to Bonney read his translations here [mp3]
Love that can't be withstood, Love that scatters fortunes, Love like a green fern shading The cheek of a sleeping girl. Seamus Heaney's search for the soul of Antigone. (more inside, with Christopher Logue)
Can't hack Catullus in Latin? How about Brazilian Portuguese, Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, English, Estonian, French, German, Hungarian, Irish, Italian, Japanese, Norwegian, Polish, Portuguese, Rioplatense, Romanian, Russian, Scanned, Serbian, South African, Spanish, Swedish, or Welsh? You can also compare two languages side by side.
Poetry International Web opens today. "Hundreds of poems by acclaimed modern poets from all around the world, both in the original language and in English translation."
An interesting look at translation: Australian writer Peter Goldsworthy "on being Spanished, Deutsched, Japanesed, Greeked and Malayed", and what he thinks is gained or lost in the process. (Also: translating poetry.)