mischievoice

some poetry, politics & what have you

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Duration press, edited by Jerrold Shiroma, have started a new e-book series, on poetics. This is in addition to their very fine seies of e-chapbooks & their print translation chapbooks. They will also start an electronic newsletter "on the new poetries of France". The first book in the poetics series is focused on translation & is titled towards a foreign likeness bent. Normally I don't read much theory, but this book contains work by a few poets whose work I find s(t)imulating. Charles Bernstein writes about what appears to be one of his favourite subjects; homophonic translations - that is, translations by sound rather than lexical meaning. In the process he says several useful things about what is normally known as translation as well. One of the most interesting things is he suggests "taking translation as its own medium, not merely a genre of poetry: what is the translation doing that can't be done in any other medium?" This is truly food for thought for someone who dabbles in both poetry & translation. I may return with a meditation on that question in a not too distant future. Ryoko Sekiguchi writes on self translation, which she has practiced from the Japanese to the French with her rather mesmerizing poetry. Interestingly enough the text is translated into english by Chet Wiener. She says that in self translation "translation and writing are combined". Yes, probably, but that might be even more valid for someone writing in a language they don't really know, as many exiled writers are forced to do, unless they choose silence or wait for someone else, who hopefully knows the original language. Sawako Nakayasu writes about, among other things, "speaking Japanese and then moved to the U.S. and spoke English and was writing in English and it was strange." There is an essay, or another duration press anthology, lurking in that statement, the strangeness & possibilities in writing in your second language. She also writes about choosing to translate experimental writing & a bit about how she does it, for example that she often, when forced to choose, chooses to try to save sound "because it is such a large part of what makes poetry feel like poetry, and because it is a large part of the pleasure I find in the task of translating." Also, I might add, a large part of her own poetry, & of the pleasure of translating it. Further in the book, Jonathan Skinner has an essay on & translations of some provencal toubadour poets. & most everybody else does what they're supposed to.

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