Issue Nine: Poetry in Translation

August 6, 2021


Nancy Naomi Carlson, “Stepping into Another’s Words”

“Using empathy, literary translators must take into consideration a number of factors which are often in competition with one another, such as literal meaning, historical and cultural context, personal connotations, etymological considerations, and, one of my favorites, the music of the original.”




Leahy SQUAREAnna Leahy, “Poetry of the Incomprehensible”

“This exploration of the physical self, both subjectively living in the body and objectively observing the body, is why I kept returning to Anna Swir’s poems these last twenty years—or so I thought. Only recently have I realized that her poems are often about the incomprehensible too—and that’s become their even deeper appeal for me.”



Mira Rosenthal, “Choosing Not Choosing”

“All writing—whether in translation or otherwise—is an act of choosing between different qualities of individual words and how they work in relation to one another. Making such choices can be divine or excruciating. Words might arrive out of the blue or through weighing every possible option. But they are never arbitrary.”



Yvette Siegert, “Forgetting Language: Translating Diana’s Tree”
What I was trying to achieve (my father’s word) was a sound and cadence that would be true to the Spanish. What mattered was how the Spanish syllables created a rhythmic effect and how that current of sounds could migrate into a complicit American music and meter. I wanted to create a fine instrument in English through which Alejandra [Pizarnik]’s own voice, and the music of her Spanish, could emerge and converge.



Marcela Sulak, “Slipping Through the Net: On Translating Eli Eliahu’s “The Poem”
“Like prophecies and parables, [Eli] Eliahu’s poems invite a believer to transform his or her life by transforming his or her understanding. Also, in his poems, one must first solve a riddle before one receives instructions. I love this approach, which ensures the reader is involved, a co-creator. As a translator, I valued the compactness of a riddle, parable, or prophecy.”



Laurel Taylor, “Dragging Translation”
“In conversations with friends and colleagues, I’ve discussed translation’s mire of metaphor, tried to come up with different images to conceptualize translation, but even there, the ghost of the feminine, of the derivative, rears its head. So I find myself wondering what happens if we run headlong into the “original” metaphor, which places us in the role of the subservient woman, and instead of acting with demure decorum, we dig deep into our feminine wiles. What if we don’t merely do the performativity of translation, but overdo.”


Madeleine Wattenberg, “Thirty Years Old: A Reflection”
“This essay is neither a review nor an essay on craft, though many of Choi [Seungja]’s poems are themselves lessons on craft. I have listened to many discussions about poetry that prioritize evolution, arc, volta, formal engines that feel unfaithful to the repetitions of my daily life. Now I am questioning what I’ve been told about poems, that they are journeys, parts in motion.”