listening to a bird on a branch of the live oak outside mom’s porch — neither of us sound awake
Hello everyone. This will be the first week of summer for most of you with kids. For most of the rest of us, it’s a hot day. Like last week’s prompt — which brought forth a slew of poems, so go read if you haven’t — this is a simple prompt: find a poem in a language other than English and translate it into English.[ I didn’t say the exercise is simple, just the prompt.]
This can be a hair-pulling exercise but it is also fun, a lot like a treasure hunt, and it is valuable in what it teaches us about the importance of word choice. In translating someone’s poem, we take on the role of being that poet’s voice, that poet’s speaker’s voice.
First, find a poem. You can choose one in a language you feel some knowledge of, or one in a language totally foreign to you [Korean poems work a treat]. Working line by line is probably the most workable way, to start. Babelfish, Google Translate, and Reverso are just three places that you can use to help.
Make a rough and ready translation. If you know what the intent of the poem is start revising, which can mean changing the line breaks, choosing different words, or phrasing, even altering the punctuation, so that the English translation is the other poem. If you aren’t sure, leave it and come back to it; in essence, the poem is yours [in trust] and you need to see it that way once you are revising.
A fun possibility is for two of you to get in touch and choose the same poem, then completely independent of each other, do the exercise and post.
Be sure to credit the original. Have fun with this. If it seems overwhelming, choose something very short. Play
I shall see you next Tuesday. This week you really may not hear from me. The move is on.
Happy writing, all.