Monday, December 10, 2007

translation is tricky work

Translation is such a tricky business, particularly instantaneous translations done on the fly early in the morning pre-café. Once again I am reminded that I can take nothing for granted when I translate: so many times I've "gone on my nerve," to quote Frank O'Hara, only to find I've missed an idiomatic expression or my brain has not-so-helpfully filled in a gap, reading one word as another.

Anyway, I apologize for mistranslating Captain Haddock's juron "Flibustier" as "filibuster." While using filibuster as an insult is certainly interesting, Flibustier is something else altogether. Having not learned my lesson, a rough translation sans dictionary reveals that the Flibustiers were actually a bunch of "aventuriers" (may I infer pirates?) who in the 16th and 17th centuries messed (incredibly bad translation here) with Spanish holdings in America. I'm leaving it at that until I get my hands on a dictionary because their history looks fascinating (and apparently the etymology of "Flibustier" is related to "free booter). I wonder what Peter Lamborn Wilson (aka Hakim Bey) has to say on these folks!

More soon. In the meantime, Saturday we went to a book party for two new translation releases. John Ashbery's translation of Pierre Reverdy's Maison Hantée, or Haunted House, has finally been published by John Yau's Black Square Editions, alongside an edition of Ron Padgett's translation of Reverdy's prose poems. I was disappointed that the poets didn't read at the party (the party was held at Cue Gallery in Chelsea and it's true that art galleries do make abominable venues for poetry readings--the echo! The echo!); however, you can hear readings and interview here.

Reverdy is woefully undertranslated, with only "some poems" in English, including "some" from his Quelques poèmes, originally published in 1916, translated by Ron Padgett in Some Translations, Some Bombs in 1963 (a translation followed quickly by Some Things in 1964 by Padgett, Ted Berrigan, and Joe Brainard--the French influence upon the New York School is a perennial interest to me).

Also saw Lydia Cortés and Andres Clerici at the FACE OUT book party, where we discussed Borges, Marquez, and the declining interest of magical realism. Lydia is reading Monday--today!!!--at the Poetry Project, with Mendi + Keith Obadike, so be sure to go. Andres has promised to email me materials on writers like Xul Solar, a teacher to Borges, so stay tuned.

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