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Poetry Related > Translating Poetry

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message 1: by Anthony, Administrator, Keeper of the Really Good Coffee (new)

Anthony Watkins (anthonyuplandpoetwatkins) | 495 comments Mod
A translator of poetry over at Poetry! mentioned the challenges of translating poetry as opposed to the challenges of translating fiction.

Wondered if any of our members have had much experience with translating or translations as a reader.


message 2: by Lisha Adela (new)

Lisha Adela | 3 comments Hi Anthony,
Translating fiction to my mind would be easier as you have a narrative that assists with momentum and direction. Poetry is translating not only words but essence of meaning from origin language to essence of translated poet voice in the new language. Metaphors can be mind boggling.


message 3: by Anthony, Administrator, Keeper of the Really Good Coffee (new)

Anthony Watkins (anthonyuplandpoetwatkins) | 495 comments Mod
Agreed, but its like trig and calculus, ain't neither one a pie of cake


message 4: by Ruth (last edited Nov 01, 2016 04:18PM) (new)

Ruth I've translated a few poems from Norwegian to English. It was an interesting experience. It helps that my husband is a native Norwegian speaker.


message 5: by Lisha Adela (new)

Lisha Adela | 3 comments Great comment Anthony. Good to see you here Ruth. Yes, if you are truly not bilingual then you need a native speaker so you get the colloquialisms correct or other references you might not have a clue about. This is true even in different parts of Latin America where certain references or words from Peru for example either don't exist in Mexico because they have an Incan origin or there are cultural in nature and peculiar to a particular region. Of course the internet these days is extremely useful.


message 6: by Tracy (new)

Tracy Reilly (tracyreilly) I try to read Russian poets and have difficulty finding good (or any) translations. Mayakovsky is a case in point.


message 7: by Lisha Adela (new)

Lisha Adela | 3 comments I agree, translation can be hard to come by. I am reading some translations of Borges right now and I am apalled at some of the word choices. Oh well...


message 8: by Anthony, Administrator, Keeper of the Really Good Coffee (new)

Anthony Watkins (anthonyuplandpoetwatkins) | 495 comments Mod
Lisha, Tracy, anybody, some links would be appreciated


message 9: by S. Ye (new)

S. Ye (advogato) | 4 comments I'd like to find way to translate Patty Smith's 'chain gang' from English to my own tongue ( or Chinese... if reinventing another tongue is considered lazier way out)

Aother poem on my mind is 'The star in the hill' by William Stafford ...

The Star in the Hills

A star hit in the hills behind our house
up where the grass turns brown touching the sky.

Meteors have hit the world before, but this was near,
and since TV; few saw, but many felt the shock.
The state of California owns that land
(and out from shore three miles), and any stars
that come will be roped off and viewed on week days 8 to 5.

A guard who took the oath of layalty and denied
any police record told me this:
"If you don't have a police record yet
you could take the oath and get a job
if California should be hit by another star."

"I'd promise to be loyal to California
and to guard any stars that hit it," I said,
"or any place three miles out from shore,
unless the star was bigger than the state--
in which case I'd be loyal to it."

But he said no exceptions were allowed,
and he leaned against the state-owned meteor
so calm and puffed a cork-tip cigarette
that I looked down and traced with my foot in the dust
and thought again and said, "OK--any star."


message 10: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Schwartz | 1 comments I have no experience as a translator but loved the book Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu by John Felstiner.


message 11: by S. Ye (new)

S. Ye (advogato) | 4 comments put 'translating Neruda' on to-read list


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