Monday, March 23, 2009

Translation Issue

The current issue of the prestigious Hudson Review is dedicated to translation of literature and poetry.

There is also an interesting article on the translation of poetry. Apparently "many more poets than before are interested in translation" and thinks "poets are drawn to the challenge . . . the discipline appeals to them," because "the digital era means all poetic forms and media from all places circulate rapidly and incessantly. Language differences, not distances, are the only barrier. Translation thus breaks down the final obstacle to the true international poetry community."

Which brings us to the Globalization of Poetry! Can't they leave anything intact, these globalizers??

Talking of poetry and translation, if you don't mind didactic nonsense and mouthfuls of air, here are the woes of Arab translators in Dubai. They are scared, apparently, to work on poetry: "How do we make Chaucer understandable in, say, Arabic translation? Would it show Chaucer’s original poetry with Arabic equivalents or a modern version of Chaucer?" Obviously individualism did not hit there yet - no one is saying "each one of us will translate Chaucer as we personally interpret his work, as he speaks to our gut and heart". Mr. Huwaireb, who is organizing some form of an international poets symposium in Dubai, bemoans that "translation remains a hurdle towards enjoying a variety of world poetry, especially at a prominent gathering of world poets". Why? Because "translation of poetry goes beyond conventional elements of literal translation as far as ambiguities and mystic speculations are concerned, making it an art of its own"

I am not sure if it is a typo, or the writer is a LOTE speaker, or what - but the "literal" translation has very little place ANYWHERE. And yet again and again, I mentor young Arab translators working from English, and the hardest thing to beat out of them (that's not literal, ok?) is this need to do it "literally".

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