Sunday, February 04, 2007

Translation (repeat)

How many hundreds of journals and web journals (some very good) and books are published that show no interest in works in translation? Many editors will say that they are very much interested in international literature - then why are there no poems from other countries in their journals, why don't they publish any books of translation?

I could throw a stone.


Blogger François Luong said...

I would welcome any translation from you, Joris, Rothenberg, Eschlemann, Jen Rogers or a young unknown and brilliant translator. But I don't know, the number of translation submissions has dropped drastically those couple past issues of MTD.

9:34 AM  
Blogger François Luong said...

Which goes to say, I'd really love to see more contemporary poetry from the Maghreb.

9:37 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...

I can tell translators to send you stuff, but you can also find things for yourself. For example, every issue of Circumference is smackful of poets translated; I think Stefania and Jennifer would be pleased to give you the emails of various contributors.

9:53 AM  
Blogger François Luong said...

Oh, that would be great. Thanks, Johannes

4:22 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...


Your points are well taken.

I think the "premier"-model is dominant and irritating [I'm going to write another entry on this]- why try to replicate some notion of the dominant situation? And I think that's one of the strengths of translation is that it shows how relative these aesthetic hegemonies are.

You're also right that it does take some bit of effort to engage with foreign literature. But if editors are going to claim that they are internationally minded and such, well they're going to have to put in some effort.

Your final point is also relevant. Do we need to be experts at poems in order to publish them? One promise of translation is that I think it could encourage people to get away from the safe-reading they are frequently encouraged to engage in - to be experimental readers.

Who can possibly determine what the "effects produced by the original" are? Or how to communicate those?

But you are partially right. The danger is that a foreign country busts into another culture without knowing anything about the local culture. Then translation becomes globalism, rather than multiculturalism.

6:08 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...

I see where you're coming from. I went to a translation conference a while back. There was a panel of editors of magazines that considered themselves open to translation. I asked one editor how they considered translations - the process of evaluating the translation. And she said, it has to be "good." I tried to reply that perhaps translations can challenge your received evaluative standards, but she didn't know what I was talking about.This will ensure that translations pose no challenge to the status quo, and in fact the rest of the world is thus absorbed. This is true of editors/poets of all persuasions. And what makes Circumference such a brilliant journal.

4:57 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Yes, this is very interesting to think about. And actually I do a bit of this in my introduction to Remainland, and I've done it in several papers given at various conferences. This is part of the appeal of translation - to see how the language permutate each other.

And I absolutely think journals and all of American poetry should be muddied up. That mud is the undoing of hierarchies, cultural insularity and stifling theories of reading.

Funny thing - right now I'm taking a break from translating Johan Jönsson's brilliant book "Collobert Orbital," a parasitic-Deleuzian rearrangement of the French poet Collobert's suicide diaries.

2:30 PM  

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