Thursday, 1 April 2010

poems about translation 3

For April Fool's Day, a gorgeous poem 'Translator's Note' by Bob Hicok. I don't know his other work but the poem is from the collection Insomnia Diary and there's more here.

Why this poem today? Because it's a touching reflection on the horse-trading of the act of translation that reads like the gentlest of spoofs. Does the language exist? Does it matter? It's possible that a language exists somewhere in which the same line can mean 'The arm rose and embraced the sun' or 'The arm rose and devoured the sun'. It's the kind of translation problem you always think is quite rare until you're wrestling with it on the page. The amusement Hicok finds in the contours of his imaginary Kuntolo words and their cultural context reminds us how much unexpected fun still lurks around the corner of our next translation.

This is also by way of a 'happy Easter' to both the loyal readers of this blog - I'm off for a few days to practice my Italian and read up on the further adventures of the girl with the dragon tattoo. Have a great Easter break, all.

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