2015. február 11., szerda

[1] I discussed 'cramped sonnet manifesto' with Laura Elliott who had seen the glosses. She wanted to know where the image of the child with a train-set had gone. Partially it had been turned into a white elephant. I had chosen to carry over what I felt was the sense of that image rather than a literal rendering of the words. 

[1.1] In Hungarian the word for lost/vanish has connotations of take or steal. The rushing train in the original is a metaphor for growing up but it is also something stolen. If I have understood it well, this metaphor is quite pedestrian and one which could be carried over to English with relative ease. I suspect however that there are levels of irony operating in the poem and chose to avoid 'translation-proper' in this instance. 

[1.11]A white elephant, a 'possession that is useless or troublesome, especially one that is expensive to maintain or difficult to dispose of' [Oxford], replaces the train as the toy in the poem keeping in tact to some degree the use of an image. The white elephant brushes against a sense of the original. It also performs another function. The original makes use of a traditional sonnet form but the speaker regresses into the use of sonnet form, then in the sestet we are told the speaker would prefer to be misunderstood than write facile or palatable verses. I take the strict use of form to be a parodic device and the white elephant is, to some extent, a nod to this.

[1.2] Laura and I also discussed the 'cramped' layout. It's possible that it's hard to read. I'll look at using stanza breaks.

[2] I have been thinking about what a 'bad' translation is. Differences in grammar, gendered nouns etc. cause problems for both machine-generated and human translations. If you stick a text back and forth through some less reputable internet translation sites (an old trick now) the penumbra of meanings make for unusual results and the translated word may at first seem at a remove from the original. Often the autotranslated text is as jumbled syntactically as semantically and as I demonstrated previously can have fairly pleasing results. What is important here is that a sense of the poem is retained.

[2.1] We remember that sense is from the Latin sensus, a 'faculty of feeling, thought' and most importantly 'meaning'[Oxford]. That is to say that when we think about the production of meaning in reading (or writing) a poetry, it is the sense of the poem which is our primary experience.  

[2.12] Reading is my sense of meaning guiding my feeling in the writing of the poem which is always already translation.

[3] On 19th January I went to a Creative Translation workshop organised by Alba Londres and steered by Peter Jaeger, Professor of Poetics at Roehampton. We were introduced to a number of strategies for translation. These included:

  • Homophonic translation which was discussed in relation to Zukofsky and framed within a tradition of nonsense verse. There is probably something to be said here about the homophonic translation and the oral tradition but it's taken me so long to sit down and type up these notes that the thought has alluded me.
  • Antithetical translation which is where each word is replaced by its opposite. 
  • In trying to find a link to antithetical translation I have found this link to some interesting strategies, not all translation.
  • Allusive referential translation, where you free associate with the poem i.e. you write the first word you associate with each word you read. I felt that the outcomes of this are highly dependent on the mood of the translator. This in turn led me to think of the method as performative and indeed how many of these strategies are performances. A good example would be James Davies and Philip Terry's reading at the first Camaradefest.
  • N+7, of course. There is a generator for this here which is quite fun. 
We took some of these for a run, which I wasn't expecting, and I churned out some bad writing. 

[3.1] The conversation seemed to conclude with a discussion of Tim Atkins' Petrarch Collected Atkins. We were shown a stanza which made use of the N+7 method but soon found the method didn't appear to have been strictly adhered to. Atkins employs a number of creative translation strategies, often within a single poem. This raises questions about creative translation methods, are they constraints, strictly procedural (the conceptual manner) or are they guidelines? Atkins appears to be listening to the poem he is writing as closely as the 'original' text and being guided by that sense rather than strictly semantic questions of fidelity.

[3.11] I have been thinking about the championing of the new poem over the source poem, particularly where use of multiple creative translation techniques have been employed, as a kind of nontranslation. Has somebody already coined this phrase and is it even necessary? 

[3.12] What has been missing from the discussion are questions around the ethics of fidelity.

[3.2] Further reading mentioned was Roman Jakobson's On Linguistic Aspects of Translation and Walter Benjamin's The Task of the Translator.

[3.21] I am not aiming to say anything original in these blog posts and I am unlikely to undergo the kind of analysis of my own poems as I have above. The aim of these recent posts is to approach some of the questions posed by translation. The answer to any of these questions, if there is one, is improvised in the performance of the translation. 

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