Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Poetry's Translation Issue Podcast

Hear some of the poems from Poetry's April translation issue at the Poetry Foundations podcast. First, reads "Our sweet companions -- sharing your bunk and your bed" by Marina Tsvetaeva, translated by Sasha Dugdale, who notes that, perhaps Tsvetaeva had been reading Pushkin's narrative poem "The Gypsies" or had otherwise been momentarily yearning for a nomadic life.

Hear a poem by Swedish "retrogardist" (akin to Neo-Formalist) poet, Håkan Sandell. The Translator, Bill Coyle, claims that Sandell does not enslave himself to the past, but gives himself the resources to plunder from tradition at will. Sandell's "Poetry rejoices..." reflects on the universality of poetry that transmits itself across geographic space--"on the Faroe Islands, over rendezvous on the Champs-Elysée [...] over Japan, over Korea"--and also across time, "over arts refined over a thousand years." Poetry, here, even transcends form, and is found in the arts of swordmanship and drinking tea.

Borges on writing (Norton Lectures from 1967 and 1967)

Excerpts from the 1967 and 1968 Norton Lectures given by Jorge Luis Borges can be heard here.

Amongst other things, Borges discusses how French literature, although great, is too self-conscious. Preconceiving one's characters, Borges argues can lead one to "labor under illusory problems."

Borges' advice to writers: tamper as little with your own work as possible.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Amsterdam World Book Capital 2008

Oh how I'd love to be in Amsterdam at the end of May when the city holds the UNESCO World Book Market. There will be over 1000 book stalls set up and a program of events, including publishing and author sessions. In connection with the event, the Amsterdam Public Library will hold an exhibition called Amsterdam in Words, which will feature authors who have written about Amsterdam. In June, Amsterdam will hold the Congress of European Booksellers, organized by the European Booksellers Federation and the International Booksellers Federation.

In Memoriam: Robert Fagles

The great translator, poet, and teacher Robert Fagles died at age 74 on March 26, 2008. His translations of The Iliad and The Odyssey were published in the '90s, and his Aeneid followed in 2006.

In an interesting video interview 2003, Fagles discusses how he originally "fell into" the classics and translation while he was an undergraduate at Amherst. He recalls his early love for Lattimore's translations and how learning Russian head him towards translation. Fagles affectionately quotes Auden's description of translation as "Braille for the blind".

Each new translation of a classic work, he claims, is a different performance, with its own nuances and foregrounded elements. In his own translation of The Odyssey, he attempts to bring across Homer's "single ruling imagination". Homer, he claims, is "the great conceiver."