Next week, I’ll be giving a handful of talks and poetry readings in California. Here is a flyer for an talk that I will be giving at California State University, Long Beach. Thanks, Prof. Jordan Smith, for arranging this visit.
Call for Submissions: Seeking re-translations of poetry and prose
Inventory No. 5
The Re-Translation Issue
In celebration of its fifth anniversary, the Editors of Inventory are assembling a special issue devoted exclusively to original re-translations. That is, they are seeking fresh and thoughtful translations of literary texts that have already been translated into English. Compelling reasons for re-translation might include a problematic first translation or an exceptionally rich text affording a multiplicity of possible translations. Re-translations from less-taught and non-European languages are especially encouraged, as are re-translations of works little known in the Anglophone world.
Based in Princeton University’s Department of Comparative Literature, Inventory is a journal of literary translation supported by the Interdoctoral Program for the Humanities, the Lewis Center for the Arts, and the Program for Translation and Intercultural Communication at Princeton. Submit to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 1, 2014 to be considered.
In this funny and well-written special feature in the Guardian, translator Sarah Ardizzone talks about translating Marjolaine Leray’s April the Red Goldfish into French: Avril le poisson rouge. Handling a transgender, suicidal fish in another language is not always easy!
On April 18-20, 2014, University of Michigan is going to be holding a three-day conference on one of Japan’s greatest modern authors NATSUME Sōseki 夏目漱石. Highlights include a visit by John NATHAN, who did the new translation of Sōseki’s Light and Dark 『明暗』, and TAWADA Yōko 多和田葉子, one of Japan’s most important living novelists. To register, click here.
The Dalkey Archive Press and the University of Illinois are offering a summer session of its Certificate in Applied Literary Translation from 9 June to 5 September in Dublin, Ireland. Dalkey encourages applications from translators working from languages whose literatures are especially underrepresented in the English-speaking world.
The program is an intensive training experience that will result in a full-length translation and publication by the Dalkey Archive Press. The program is aimed at translators just starting their careers, and they have already had a successful track record with students in the program. Recent publications from participants include:
- Brendan Riley, Spanish (Final project: Hypothermia, by Álvaro Enrigue [Mexico], published 2013)
- Eric Lamb, French (Final project: My Beautiful Bus, by Jacques Jouet [France], published 2013]
- Lauren Messina, French (Final project: Origin Unknown, by Oliver Rohe [France], published 2013)
- Darren Koolman, Spanish (Final project: The No Variations, by Luis Chitarroni [Argentina], published 2013)
- Rhett McNeil, Portuguese (Final project: The Splendor of Portugal by Antonio Lobo Antunes [Portugal], published 2011)
Today is the third anniversary of the devastating March 11, 2011 earthquake that shook northeastern Japan, caused a devastating tsunami, and provoked the Fukushima meltdown. As a result of this unprecedented triple disasters, 15,884 people died in Japan, 2,633 were lost and presumed dead, and another 6,148 sustained injuries. Countless more were uprooted from their homes and sent to temporary housing, where a number of people still reside. The economy and national infrastructure took a severe blow, as did the confidence of the Japanese people in their government. Since these disasters, Japan has had to reconsider many of things that it had taken for granted—its usage of energy, its relationship to the natural environment, its relationship with its legislators, and its modes of organizing at the grass-roots level.
Almost immediately, writers took action. Many figures known for their involvement in social issues, writers such as Ōe Kenzaburō, Tsushima Yūko, and Ishimure Michiko, began respond and publish statements to the press, helping to use their influence to help shape reconstruction efforts and talk about new directions for the Japanese nation.
Perhaps the segment of the Japanese literary world where the seismic forces of 3/11 were felt most strongly, however, was the poetic world. Many Japanese newspapers include regular columns that include free verse (shi), tanka, or haiku poems, but in just the few days after 3/11, poetry began to emerge from those small columns and take a more prominent place in the news, eventually finding its way into a central position in the discourse that had started unfolding across the nation. Poetry exploded into the mainstream, serving as one of the ways that the nation thought about and processed its own complicated feelings about the disasters.
I was in Japan at the time and experienced the quakes, numerous aftershocks, and terrifying anxiety. After a few weeks of uncertainty and great worry, everything I had come to Japan to do was cancelled, and so I cut my stay short and returned to the United States ahead of schedule. As one way of working through the experience and my complicated feelings about returning to terra firma, I began translating poems about the quake and the resulting disasters. Some of those translations have been published in various online journals, but I have added to the collection over time to produce a book manuscript, which is now under review.
Here is a collection of links to some of those translations. Some appear with the original Japanese. Many of the poems first appeared in the May 2011 special issue of Handbook of Contemporary Poetry 『現代詩手帖』dedicated to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdown. Some were also published in a special section in the daily newspaper Asahi shinbun published in commemoration of the first anniversary of the quake. Others were published in various magazines or newspapers, but still, these poems are only the tiniest tip of the iceberg. There are thousands upon thousands more poems out there.
ITŌ Hiromi: “Cooking, Writing Poetry”
TANAKA Yōsuke: “Screaming Potato Field”
OHSAKI Sayaka: “Noisy Animal”
Jeffrey ANGLES: “Return After Earthquake”
The most recent issue of Monumenta Nipponica contains a detailed and carefully written review of my book Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishōnen Culture in Japanese Modernist Literature (University of Minnesota Press, 2011). The review was by Michelle Mason, an associate professor of Japanese literature at University of Maryland. She writes:
Angles convincingly argues that despite occasional borrowing from and homage to Edo-period notions of nanshoku (male-male sexuality), these three artists [discussed in the book, namely MURAYAMA Kaita, 村山槐多 EDOGAWA Ranpo 江戸川乱歩, and INAGAKI Taruho 稲垣足穂] were very much products of their particular historical moment. Specifically, amid the ascendency of heteronormative models of sexuality and an ever-increasing pathologization of male-male attraction and eroticism, they grappled and experimented with, queered, and challenged the aesthetic, medico-scientific, and social trends of their day. One strength of this study is that the lives and textual productions of the men it investigates are richly contextualized within Japanese and Western literary movements, dominant and popular sexological discourses, and trends in print and visual culture. The work also presents an assortment of imported and indigenous terminology and associations that intersect and transform in novel ways to configure modern Japanese conceptualizations of beautiful boys, male-male eroticism, and modern aesthetics…. Anyone reading to the end is rewarded with a rich rendering of an extremely important historical and cultural inheritance, which, as Angles compellingly argues, profoundly informs and inspires current Japanese understanding of male-male desire.
In this film recorded during the poet Takahashi Mutsuo’s 高橋睦郎 recent trip to Michigan, he reads from his memoirs Twelve Views from the Distance 『十二の遠景』about his memories of his mother in the days immediately before she abandoned him to go to China.
In intimate, poetic language, this book describes Takahashi’s youth in a poor, rural family in southwestern Japan and the tragic ways his family’s destiny intersected with the rise and fall of the Japanese empire. Click here to go to the Amazon page for this book.
The newest issue of Rain Taxi included this review of my translation of TAKAHASHI Mutsuo’s memoirs Twelve Views from the Distance. The author, Amanda Vail, wrote:
Twelve Views from the Distance does not hesitate to present uncomfortable subjects (violence, lust, death, adultery, greed) with as much honesty as moments of beauty, love, and charity. It is an elegant novel; the overarching imagery floats gently on the surface of Takahashi’s words, carried smoothly from memory to memory, shading the events of the author’s life and presenting avenues into the world of his childhood….
Takahashi’s memoir presents not only the difficulties faced by citizens living through a war, but also the challenges of growing up in poverty, of being raised by a single mother who is forced to make ends meet in creative ways, and of exploring an alternative sexuality, among others. The novel presents twelve reflections on the time and place it depicts; some of the details are very specific, and many are universal. Throughout, Twelve Views from the Distance is unflinching, compassionate, and beautiful.
Only three percent of everything published in the U.S. each year is translated from another language, and much of that is non-literary stuff like manuals, help books, and other odds and ends. Due to this, the author writes, “It’s likely that American readers will not discover today’s Borges, Calvino, Neruda, or Kafka until long after they are dead, if they even discover them at all.” Particularly distressing is that of the tiny handful of translated pieces of literature released in this country, only a quarter are by women. Things need to change, but as this article points out, small presses are beginning to make a huge difference.
Western Michigan University’s Soga Japan Center is pleased to bring husband-and-wife team Susumu & Emiko Miyashita to WMU to give two talks part of its ongoing Premodern Japanese Culture Workshop and Speaker Series. The talks will be held back-to-back on Thursday, February 13, 2014 in 3025 Brown Hall on WMU’s campus.
From 4:00 to 5:00 p.m., the haiku poet Emiko Miyashita will talk about the history of haiku and the translation of haiku poetry into English. Although Westerners think of haiku as a form of short verse arranged in the pattern of 5-7-5 sounds, there is also a style of haiku known as “free rhythm haiku” that follows freer rules. Miyashita will talk about the work of the modern free-rhythm haiku master Taneda Santōka 種田山頭火 (1882-1940), the place of his work in the history of haiku, and the difficulties of translating his work for contemporary Western audiences. The talk will be in English with examples of translations problems drawn from Japanese.
From 5:00 to 6:00 p.m., Susumu Miyashita will talk about the aesthetics of the tea ceremony and the ways that its profound appreciation of simple, rough ceramics and utensils contributed to Japanese aesthetics. People frequently describe the tea ceremony’s appreciation of rough, simple beauty as being uniquely “Japanese,” but is that necessarily the case? This presentation re-evaluates the assumption that other nations and people cannot appreciate the aesthetics of tea. Susumu Miyashita, an expert in tea-related antiques, will show examples of tea culture, and talk about the aesthetics that have shaped the tea ceremony and notions of “Japaneseness” over the years. This talk will be in Japanese with English interpretation.
Emiko Miyashita 宮下惠美子 is a haiku poet who, since 1997, has been writing in both Japanese and English. She is a director of the JAL Foundation, known for its World Children’s Haiku Contest. She is also a manager of the Association of Haiku Poets and a councilor of the Haiku International Association. She has translated more than ten books about haiku and waka poetry, Noh theater, and Japanese sweets.
Susumu Miyashita 宮下進 is a graduate of Dōshisha University in Kyoto. He is the owner of a shop in the Ginza (Tokyo) that specializes in tea antiques.
The American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) is inviting nominations for ALTA’s National Translation Award. The translator selected for this award will receive a cash prize of $5,000.
To be eligible for the 2014 National Translation Award, the translation must be:
- by an American citizen or U.S. resident
- from any language into English
- of a book-length work of fiction, poetry, drama, or creative non-fiction (literary criticism, philosophy, and biographies are not eligible),
- published anywhere in the world in 2013.
The deadline for nominating books published in 2013 is March 1, 2014.
Please use Submittable, at https://alta.submittable.com/submit to provide nomination materials, including the following:
- copy of the nominated book,
- copy of the original-language text (if available in pdf), along with
- a $50 entry fee for each nominated book ($30 if your press publishes five or fewer titles a year)
If original language text is available only in hard-copy, please send it by regular mail to: American Literary Translators Association, ATTN: National Translation Award, 900 East 7th St., PMB 266, Bloomington, IN 47405-3201.
Publishers will be asked to send THREE copies of the nominated book, if it is advanced to the Judges Round.
Queries concerning process can be sent to email@example.com.
Criteria for judging the award are:
- the importance of the translation and the literary significance of the original;
- the success of the translation in recreating the artistic force of the original.
Translations of contemporary works are preferred, but important re-translations or first-time translations of older works will also be considered if they make significant contributions to international literature and its translation.
The National Translation Award supports ALTA’s goal of enhancing the status of literary translation, improving the quality of literary translating, and broadening the market for works in English translation. Recent winners include such distinguished translators as Richard Wilbur (2008), Norman Shapiro (2009), Alex Zucker (2010), Lisa Rose Bradford (2011), Sinan Antoon (2012), and Phillip Boehm (2013).
The award-winning book and translator for 2014 will be featured at the 37th annual conference of the American Literary Translators Association in Milwaukee, WI.
In 2013, the Department of East Asian Languages and Literatures and the Council on East Asian Studies at Yale hosted a workshop about shakkyōka 釈教歌, poems on Buddhist themes. The papers and presentations from the conference are now available on the web, and they provide a fascinating, critical look at this often overlooked sub-genre of classical Japanese poetry.
More and more academics are […] undertaking translation as a component of their professional activity and as a natural extension of their teaching. Whether they translate literary or scholarly works or other cultural documents, they are engaging in an exacting practice, at once critical and creative, that demands lexical precision; detailed knowledge of historical, political, social, and literary contexts; and a nuanced sense of style in both the source language and the target language. […] Every translation is an interpretation; each one begins with a critical reading, then expands and ultimately embodies that reading.
|—||George Szirtes, “Afterword: The Death of the Translator,” The White Review, http://www.thewhitereview.org/features/the-death-of-the-translator/|