Translation Slam

May 1, 2008 | Bowery Poetry Club | New York City

Copresented by Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival

With Ross Benjamin, Susan Bernofsky, Coral Bracho, Monica de la Torre, Linda Gaboriau, Michael Krüger, Michael F. Moore, Idra Novey, and Michael Reynolds

We’ve borrowed this special event from its creators, our friends and colleagues at the Blue Metropolis Montreal International Literary Festival, where it is a smash hit with festival audiences. Internationally renowned translators from around the globe take the spotlight and test their linguistic mettle against each other in a battle to the translation death. Be prepared to cheer for your favorite wordsmith!


• Introduction (6:54)
• Idra Novey and Monica de la Torre translate Coral Bracho (20:16)
• Susan Bernofsky and Ross Benjamin translate Michael Krüger (17:09)
• Michael Reynolds and Michael Moore translate Dino Campana (27:01)

• Entire event (1:11:22)


Que caiga esa lluvia fina
by Coral Bracho

En esta oscura verdad
que abre sus mantos y sus ebrias mareas para protegernos,
que abre sus alas tristes para ahuyentarnos,
para decir que sí,
que caiga esa lluvia fina frente al umbral;
que caiga como aleteo, como irrupción brevísima.

Como un mensajero que, empapado y ardiendo en fiebre,
viene de lejos.
Trae los pliegos, trae las palabras.
Pero el dibujo de la lluvia se extiende
y no deja oír. No deja ver
lo que está sucediendo. Y es que
lo que se acerca,
lo que nos habla
y nos agarra de los hombros con fuerza,
lo que nos grita y nos sacude es la lluvia,
es el confín que se desdibuja.

Tiritamos, ardiendo, frente a esa puerta,
frente a ese puente levadizo que nadie baja.
Nadie se apresta a oír.

Esta verdad oscura, esta oscilante levedad
como el murmullo de un sinfín de murciélagos,
todos tanteando,
todos brotando a un tiempo en las despiertas
galerías de la sangre, todos tratando
de salir de las torres.

Para decir que sí,
que caiga esa lluvia fina contra el umbral,
que caiga sobre los muros;

que los vaya borrando.

Let This Fine Rain Fall

In this dark truth
that opens its palls and drunk tides to protects us,
that opens its sad wings to flee from us,
to say yes,
let this fine rain fall at the threshold,
let it fall like a fluttering, like the briefest irruption.

Like a messenger, drenched and burning with fever,
who comes from afar.
Bringing missives, bringing words.
But the sketching of the rain extends itself
and doesn’t allow for listening. For seeing
what’s taking place. And what it is,
what comes nearer,
what speaks to us
and roughly grabs at our shoulders,
what screams and beats us is the rain,
is the boundary that loses its outline.

We shiver, burning, before this door,
before this drawbridge that no one lowers.
No one prepares for listening.

This truth darkening, this wavering lightness,
like the murmur of endless bats,
all probing,
all gushing at once into the open galleries
of the blood, all trying
to flee the towers.

To say yes,
let this fine rain fall against the threshold,
let it fall over the walls;

let it slowly erase them.

Translated by Idra Novey   Let There Be a Fine Rainfall

In this dark truth
spreading its cloaks and drunken tides to shelter us,
spreading its pathetic wings so as to shoo us away,
so as to say, Yes,
let there be fine a rainfall before the threshold;
let rain fall like a fluttering of wings, like the briefest interruption.

Like a messenger who, drenched and feverishly ablaze
comes from afar
bringing the scrolls, the words.
But the trace of rain extends itself,
making it difficult to hear. Making it difficult to see
what’s going on. The rain is what approaches,
what speaks to us
and grabs our shoulders forcefully,
what screams at us and shakes us up,
it’s the boundary beginning to blur.

We quiver, ablaze, at the entrance,
at the entrance of a drawbridge that no one lets down.
No one is ready to listen.

This dark truth, this dangling levity
like the rustling of countless bats,
all reckoning,
all emerging at the same time in the wakeful
galleries of blood, all wanting
to leave the towers.

To say yes,
let fine rain lash against the threshold,
let it fall on the walls;

let it begin erasing them.

Translated by Mónica de la Torre

• Introduction (6:54)
• Idra Novey and Monica de la Torre translate Coral Bracho (20:16)
• Susan Bernofsky and Ross Benjamin translate Michael Krüger (17:09)
• Michael Reynolds and Michael Moore translate Dino Campana (27:01)

• Entire event (1:11:22)

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