So next week the Liberal Studies Program at NYU will be presenting a panel on Poetry and Globalization that sounds like a don’t-miss-it event for translation enthusiasts in the NYC area. It’s been put together by poet and translator Eugene Ostashevsky, who’ll be moderating. Here’s the official description:
A panel discussion with poets and publishers on the making and spreading of poetry in a global world. Some of the issues to be discussed are: How do new technologies and new economies affect the production of poetry? What is the role of translation and of multinational audiences in determining what poets say, and how they say it? How is poetry disseminated in an environment that is both multilingual and diasporic? Is there a politics of poetry and, if so, how does it relate to nationalisms?
When I asked Eugene if he could tell me more about what he was thinking when he put the panel together, he said:
Translation is what makes a global poetry scene. If we are talking “global,” we can’t expect people to read the overwhelming majority of work in the original—there are too many languages involved. As a consequence, you need translation to make the foreign present; you also need the rare kind of translation that lets you perceive the foreign as both meaningful and foreign, i.e. that shows us the terms and values of the foreign. This is all the more difficult since languages aren’t just different as sets of rules and words but they are also spoken differently—the speech acts that are likely within different languages form different configurations, if that makes sense. Perhaps I am confusing culture and language here, but I don’t think the border is very clear-cut in literature, and of course culture at times explicitly becomes the subject of translation. For example, how do you translate Moroccan oral poetry? If you just put the phrases into English and introduce line breaks, have you translated enough? Or have you overtranslated? You’ve turned it into an American print-culture poem—is that the only possible result?
Are you convinced yet? If not, check out the list of participants:
Ram Devineni is a filmmaker and publisher of Rattapallax Press, a truly global, interdisciplinary outfit based in New York City. Ram’s most recent poetry video is On the Road with Bob Holman, a three-part LinkTV special on African and Middle Eastern poetries. He is also one of the founding partners of Academia Internacional de Cinema, the first independent film school in Brazil.
Elizabeth Hodges is the founder and publisher of The Saint-Petersburg Review, an English-language literary magazine with a strong translation component.
Dmitry Kuzmin, the founder of vavilon.ru, ARGO-RISK publishing house, and Vozdukh magazine, is arguably the most visionary and innovative poetry impresario in today’s Russia. He is also an award-winning poet and translator.
Uche Nduka, Nigerian writer and musician, is the author of seven books of poetry and recipient of the Association of Nigerian Authors Poetry Prize. His most recent work, eel on reef, was published by Akashic Books.
Murat Nemet-Nejat is a prominent American translator of Turkish poetry, and editor of Eda: An Anthology of Contemporary Turkish Poetry, as well as the selected works of Orhan Veli, Ece Ayhan, and Seyhan Erozçelik’s Rosestrikes and Coffee Grinds. His most recent book of poetry is The Spiritual Life of Replicants, published by Talisman House; his essay “The Peripheral Space of Photography” came out from Green Integer.
Elizabeth Zuba is an American poet and translator of Spanish-language poetry from Spain and the Americas. She has recently co-edited La familia americana. Antología de nueva poesía de Estados Unidos for a publishing house in Madrid.
Thursday, April 19th, 5–7 p.m., 19 University Place, Great Room (first floor). The event is free and open to the public, but get there early for prime seating.