Upcoming & recent:
October 3 at 10:45 am – Presentation on the elegy at the Oregon Poetry Association Conference, University Place Hotel, 310 SW Lincoln St. Portland.
October 3 at 6:30 pm (doors at 6 pm) – Bridges: A Night of Poetry in Translation. Translations from the Russian by Marat Grinberg and I, and translations from the Anglo-Saxon by Annie Lighthart and Michael Faletra at TaborSpace Café, 5441 Se Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215.
Videos! Watch my introduction to translating Russian poetry and a bilingual reading of "Relearning Solitude" from the event at the Oregon Jewish Museum in April 2015. Also, see me tell the story“Summer of Men” at Truth Be Told at the Multnomah Arts Center in May 2015. Thanks for filming, Mike Chastain.
I've been spending lots of time with this guy's poems. I've travelled to many places – Bratislava, Tokyo, the inside of the Nike campus – but I've never stood in a place quite like this: between a dead poet, his words, and the large gap between the source language and English.
Meet Boris Slutsky. Born in 1919 in Ukraine, dead in 1986. He was a significant figure in Russian poetry in the last century, fought in WWII, and had a fascinating relationship with his own Jewishness as it often clashed with the times he lived in. By the end of this year, my collaborator, Marat Grinberg, and I will have translated 50 poems and will also have started translating selections from Slutsky's memoir. Yes, this will make up a manuscript. And yes, I am excited.
My favorite analogy to describe the strange work of literary translation is forcibly shattering a mirror and then creating something out of all the pieces. The poem in the source language is broken apart into its elements of meaning, diction, rhythm, tone, rhyme, line, and syntax. As the translator stares at all the shards, she recognizes that there is no way to make the same thing again using the English language. She accepts this fact, not without disappointment, and then begins the slow and challenging work of trying a hundred ways to create a new, beautiful mirror out of the splinters of glass.
I'd love to see you at the next public presentation of these newly-made poems on Saturday, October 3 at TaborSpace Cafe at 6:30 pm. Marat and I will be joined by Annie Lighthart and Michael Falerta, collaborative translators who will be reading poems in Anglo-Saxon and sharing their broken mirrors along with us. The event is free and un-ticketed.
Best to you in the changing season,