Aurélie Maurin and Elianna Kan on Poetry
Elianna Kan (New York)
Elianna curates the translation portfolio for each issue of The American Reader, where she is a Senior Editor. She has done editorial work for New Directions, The Paris Review, and Picador, among others.
This year marked the launch of the NYRB Poets series, committed to publishing original translation of important voices in international poetry. The series launched with two fantastic collections: Alexander Vvedensky: An Invitation for Me To Think, edited and translated from the Russian by Eugene Ostashevsky and Matvei Yankelevich and Donald Share’s translation from the Spanish of a collection of Miguel Hernandez’s poems.
I was also thrilled to see Alejandra Pizarnik’s poetry finally translated in English by Yvette Siegert for New Directions’ Pearl series. This particular collection, A Musical Hell, is only a taste of the work of one of Argentina’s most important poets. These poems pulsate with the vitality and sense of foreboding characteristic of most of Pizarnik’s work. Here is a poet rattling at the bars of her inner prison, pouring her frustration into tightly controlled verses. Cortázar applauded her work, marveling at how “so much can be contained in such apparently slight verbal correlatives.” I hope this is not the last we see of this poet’s work in translation.
Other favorites this year included:
Henrik Nordbrandt’s collection of poems entitled When We Leave Each Other, translated from the Danish by American poet Patrick Phillips.
My Poems Won’t Change the World by Patrizia Cavalli, edited by Gini Alhadeff and translated from the Italian by various translators, published by FSG this fall.
Lastly, I was delighted to discover the poems of Romanian poet Simona Popescu while curating the Romanian portfolio for our year-end issue of The Reader. We’ll be featuring Sean Cotter’s marvelous translations in our forthcoming issue.
Aurélie Maurin (Berlin/Paris)
Aurélie is a freelance curator, translator and editor for numerous cultural institutions and literary magazines, among them Haus der Kulturen der Welten, Literaturwerkstatt Berlin, European Society of Authors, La mer gelée, Transkrit, and Schreibheft. She is co-editor of the poetry collection VERSschmuggel/reVERSible published by Verlag das Wunderhorn, and her current translation projects include work by Thomas Brasch, Dagmara Krauss, Steffen Popp, Thomas Rosenlöcher, and Daniela Seel.
Translation’s no loss, but rather a journey. It gains ground.
Here is an illustration. At the start of this exercise, I pictured my situation via a title by Friederike Mayröcker [“I just sit there CRUELLY”], then moved through associations that made of each poet a translator.
To translate the strangeness of their fellow poets, Rosmarie Waldrop, Pascal Poyet, Uljana Wolf, Eugene Ostahevsky, and Monika Rinck create new strangenesses. They are masters each at making distance, but also of reinstating distance and strangeness, and they somehow pull this off without ever losing the intimacy of the original’s humor.
They mind the gap. They are all obsessed by words, by each others’ words, and the results are equally addictive. When I read these poets, I have the feeling they’ll go on writing and translating until each word has been savored fully, in every possible combination with every other word.
1.ich sitze nur GRAUSAM da by Friederike Mayröcker, Suhrkamp, 2012.
2. Heiligenanstalt by Friederike Mayröcker, translated into English by Rosmarie Waldrop, Burning Deck Press, 1994.
3.D’Absence abondante by Rosmarie Waldrop, translated by Pascal Poyet into French, Contrat Maint, 2009.
4.“Draguer l’évidence” byPascal Poyet, translated by Uljana Wolf into German, VERSschmuggel, Wunderhorn, 2012, and more soon in Schreibheft).
5. The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza by Eugene Ostashevsky, translated by Uljana Wolf and Monica Rinck into German.
6. Daniiel Kharms translated by Eugene Ostashevsky for Oberiu: An Anthology of Russian Absurdism, ed. Eugene Ostashevsky and Matvei Yankelevich, Northwestern, 2006.
7) Rudert! Rudert! byTomaž Šalamun, translated by Gregor Podlogar and Monika Rinck into German, Edition Korrespondenzen, 2012.
8) Hasenhass: Eine Fibel in 47 Bildern by Monika Rinck, Verlag Peter Engstler, 2013.