Friday, September 28, 2007

So you want to be a poet...

So I am taking what in the context of my program amounts to a certain kind of “risk”—and that is working my translations of poems—translations of poems that are already well and often translated—from OE and OF and pasting them into my book of mostly poems (but some ‘essays’) which I am working hard on making a piece identified first as a “Book.” The book is largely about reading, and desiring texts. Old texts. And the book aims too, to think about its own poetics as a kind of historiography--as well as what it means to do this—, at what risk or gain or cost: I know not what just yet, but remain compelled to do so nonetheless. I think what is driving the writing is a sense of being marked not just by affect (à la a project like Dinshaw’s), but a Wonder (which I hope does justice and homage to Dinshaw’s conceptualization). It feels, to be honest, a bit ambitious, and I hope I’m not just lost in the clouds.

Anyways, I wanted to take another risk and expose some bits of these sequences and see what some of you all think. I have enough poets and comments of poets to stuff my ears with on the subject—but other types of practitioners have not had a chance to weigh in (my Ms. reading committee consists of 2 poets, a fantastic Americanist that can read and a Theorists/Historian of Intellectual practice--but they don't get the whole book until next semester).

So: I am going to periodically post a couple of these translations (as they now stand—very much on the side of the ‘literary’ translations) along with the poems surrounding them. So: 3-5 poems per sequence. Any comments are welcome—from qualms with liberties taken in grammar of OF/OE to modern English to very general comments. The first set is below as jpg's because the formatting is not always easy to html-out in any efficient manner.

Oh yeah: I guess this post #2 came quickly. I should say that I should not think the posts will always come this quickly. But I was feeling pretty about doing the blog thing: Thank you so much to all for the warm welcome.


highlyeccentric said...

I like your translation of Roland, although I don't know that poem very well. that was one of my favourite stanzas, though :)

i think if i were reading such a book i'd like to see the original text in there as well... that could be me being corrupted by the demons of academia, though.

hmm... i take it the original poems are supposed to be a reflection/product/response/thing to the medieval pieces? based on what you've said, i read them to be coming out of the process of translation... not out of the translation as you put it there, but out of the process of producing it.
there we go, that's my poetic reason why the original should be in there.

highlyeccentric said...

damn, i've used the word "original" in two different sensees. first paragraph it means "the original french".
begining of third paragraph i mean your personal poems; end of third paragraph i mean the original french again.


sarah said...

did i ever tell you that i didn't know if you mean selective serotonin receptor inhibitor, or reuptake (re-uptake) inhibitor...?

of course, if it inhibits re-uptake it is obviously having an inhibiting action on the receptor. but the "R" in SSRI is for re-uptake, not receptor.

sorry for the pickiness; i just wanted to ask.

i have to beg to differ on the idea of having the original OF. or, separating the OF from the translation. because the OF is still there, it's just ghosting around behind the translation. or possibly vice versa - i still have some thinking to do on ghosts and which way that interaction would go (spectres of marx is in the mail; so promises amazon).

or, to say it another way, having the OF would require of the reader a certain kind of "fact-checking," which turns the translation into some kind of mimetic realist project instead of the wonder-love-touch (which would be a good name for a care-bear special superhero power, also) for which you seem to aim.

Brandon H. said...

First, a belated welcome to the blogosphere!

This project strikes me, foremost, as a deeply interesting way to bring the pre- and postmodern together very carefully and thoughtfully. And I don't mean "interesting" as an ambiguous adjective, but to show this project as fascinating, intriguing. The way you weave these poems--your own and translations of "old texts" which you "desire"--presents a blend of your own voice and the voices that have shaped the past and you. Like I said, fascinating.

I am myself just beginning translations (of OE texts), so I cannot comment authoritatively, but these translations speak well to the quality and time you've put into them. Really, it is the general project of the original and old intersecting that brings a very special aspect to the project. And I must say, I like the idea as you've presented it. I'm eager to see more as you continue your blog posts in the future.

ak said...

I loved your translation of Roland, please make more!