Transference, WMU’s journal of poetry in translation, is having an open reading period through January 5, 2014. Please download the previous issue and submit at http://scholarworks.wmich.edu/transference/.
The journal Poetry Kanto, designed to bring Japanese and other international poets into dialogue, has just released its newest issue completely online. (Click here to follow the link.) In it are some translations of some important Japanese poets: ŌOKA Makoto 大岡 誠, one of the leaders of the Japanese poetic world in the mid-twentieth century, and TSUKAGOSHI Yūka 塚越祐佳, one of the new, dynamic generation of poets whose work I have been following in recent years with great interest. Alongside them is Gorō TAKANO 高野吾朗, the Hiroshima-born poet who tests the boundaries of language in his adopted language of English. Check out their work, along with the many other writers included in this issue.
Map of Asia, 1905
Modeled after similar organizations in Europe, the newly formed Emerging Literary Translators’ Network in America is designed to provide support for beginning and early-career literary translators. If that sounds like you, click here to find out more.
My department, the Department of World Languages and Literatures at Western Michigan University, just published the inaugural issue of Transference, a journal of poetry in translation. The inaugural issue can be downloaded as a PDF by clicking here. It includes some wonderful translations of many poets from around the world, including many Japanese poets—Fujiwara Shunzei, Takamura Kōtarō, Yamanokuchi Baku, Doi Bansui, Ishihara Yoshirō, and even Natsume Sōseki.
We have just opened the reading period for the second issue. The journal publishes English translations of poetry from Arabic, Chinese, French and Old French, German, Classical Greek and Latin, Japanese, and Russian. We encourage translators to submit a short commentary on the art and process of translating along with their translations.
Submissions for our second issue will be accepted through January 5, 2014. Submissions can be sent in via the Transference website.
The newest issue of Asymptote, one of the very best journals of international writing out there, contains lots of gems, including a short story by Tawada Yōko, who in my book, is nothing short of a genius. (Whenever I hear all of the hype about Murakami Haruki being in the running for the Nobel Prize for Literature, as we did last week before Alice Munro finally took home the prize, I always secretly hope that Tawada, who is so much more creative and brilliant than Murakami, will stage a radical upset.)
Here is how the story in Asymptote begins:
One day, when you open your eyes, perhaps there will be a tiger standing beside your pillow. The sky is azure, the earth is amber, and should the two go to war, all words shall be swallowed up in the turbulence and suffer a hundred falls, a thousand scratches; and no beast, bird, or man shall be able to tell the chill from the swelter, joy from dolour. Perhaps the tiger will speak to you. No one may learn the words of the tiger, but on that day, perhaps you will listen carefully to what it says, and comprehend.
Daniel Mendelsohn and Dana Stevens write for The New York Times on the qualities they expect from a superior translation, especially of classical literature.
|—||Judith Halberstam, The Queer Art of Failure (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2011), p. 21.|
Underlying the sweetness of the song “Sukiyaki,” a Japanese song that hit the top spot in America for three weeks in 1963, was a story of sadness and loss that had deep roots in the Japanese student protest movement. Click here and listen to an NPR broadcast to find out why! (In Japanese, the song was called “Look up and Walk.”)
Next week, two of the most thrilling and dynamic Japanese poets, Mutsuo TAKAHASHI and Hiromi ITŌ, will be visiting Michigan for a series of three poetry readings and talks at Western Michigan University, University of Michigan, and Kalamazoo College’s Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership. Details about each of the three events can be found in the posters above. Already, the poets are talking about how to make each of the events unique and fun, so no two events will be the same.
Mutsuo TAKAHASHI (b. 1937) stunned the poetry world in the 1960s with his bold evocations of homoerotic desire. Since then, he has published more than three dozen collections of verse and countless books of essays, earning a place as Japan’s most important gay writer. In addition to poetry, he has written novels, plays, haiku, tanka, countless essays, and even an opera libretto. Five volumes of his work are available in English, including Poems of a Penisist, which became a favorite work of Allen Ginsberg, and the memoir Twelve Views from the Distance, much admired by novelist Yukio MISHIMA. Takahashi currently lives in Zushi, Japan.
Hiromi ITŌ (b. 1955) made a sensational debut in the 1980s writing about sexual desire, pregnancy, and abortion with a directness that shocked some and made her a feminist hero to others. Since then, she has become a prominent fixture in the literary world, writing with unfailing originality about women’s issues and experiences. She has lived in California since 1997 and written several prize-winning works about her experience as a transnational migrant. Her English translations include Killing Kanoko, which was on the SPD Poetry Bestseller list for over one year, and the forthcoming Wild Grass on the Riverbank. She lives outside San Diego.
- Thursday, September 5: The University of San Francisco, Center for Pacific Rim, 5 - 8 p.m.
- Friday, September 6: The University of California, Berkeley, Institute of East Asian Studies, 1 - 3 p.m.
- Monday, September 9: York University, “Japanese Authors at…
Tony Beckwith, who is both cartoonist and translator, has on his website a number of cartoons having to do with translation, interpretation, and language. Here are two, but for more, check out his website.
Looking through these was the most fun that I had this afternoon! Thanks to the folks at ALTA for sharing these on their mailing list.
But Achilles,weeping, quickly slipping away from his companions, sat on the shore of the gray salt sea, and looked out to the wine-dark sea. —Homer, The Iliad
Lapham’s Quarterly has a fascinating little article on the trouble of translating Homer, specifically his age-old description of the sea as “wine-dark.” I remember being especially fascinated by this turn of phrase when I first encountered it in Japanese. My imagination turned with images of dark, sultry, deep red wine, but as this article shows, the phrase may have meant something altogether different to the Greeks. The result: things only get more complicated for the translator, who has to decide on a meaning and chose an English turn of phrase that best represents that interpretation.