日付変更線 International Date Line
与謝蕪村句集の英訳は2014年の日米友好基金の翻訳賞を受賞
I was pleased to find out that W.S. Merwin and Takako Lento’s translation of the Collected Poems of Yosa Buson has just won the 2014 U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, which is distributed by the Donald Keene Center at Columbia University. 
Click here for more information about the prize. Click here for a link to the book on Amazon.  A few months ago, I wrote this review about the book on Amazon.

Yosa Buson (与謝蕪村) is one of the most important haiku poets to have ever lived. Born about a generation after the death of Matsuo Bashō, Buson helped to push haikai in important, new directions, and shape haiku (the first verse of a haikai sequence) into an individual, independent art form.It is no surprise that many collections of Japanese traditional verse in English, such as Robert Hass’ collection of “essential haiku,” contain some of Buson’s poems. Most of those collections, however, only contain of a tiny number of poems, which are presented with minimal commentary and little to no context. Because the offerings in English are currently so poor, Anglophone readers have not yet really had the opportunity to figure out what is actually Buson-like about Buson, and how this giant’s voice differs from those of other haiku greats, such as Bashō, Issa, and Shiki.Those of us who love Japanese poetry owe a great debt of gratitude to Takako Lento and W.S. Merwin for giving us the first thorough retrospective of Buson’s work in English. This book presents renditions of 868 haiku, plus a small scattering of longer poems—the best look at Buson yet in this English. All of the poems are presented in Romanized Japanese as well.Donald Keene once wrote about Buson’s poetry that it was “so exclusively concerned with his private feelings, tastes, and perceptions that it strikes us as being modern; there is no barrier of time between him and us” (Seeds in the Heart, 1976, p. 343). Indeed, some of the poems do feel strikingly imagistic, such as haiku 211, “nanohana ya / kujira mo yorazu / umi kurenu,” rendered as Lento and Merwin as “A field of mustard flowers / no whales passed today / night falls on the sea.”At moments, Buson even gives us glimpses of surrealism avant la lettre, such as with haiku 360: “dedemushi ya / sono tsuno moji no / nijiri gaki” or “With his horns / a snail slowly scrawls / a hesitant letter.” At the same time, Lento and Merwin give us a look at Buson’s other side as well, the one that loves to draw upon Chinese influences and earlier Heian-period literature. The picture that emerges is one of an erudite, intensely focused poet with a distinctive voice.Personally, I was surprised that this otherwise excellent book provides so little commentary. The translator’s introduction includes a short, one-page summary of Buson’s position in Japanese poetry, but obviously, there is much more that could be said about such an important poet. I suspect that Lento and Merwin felt they did not need to reinvent the wheel; after all, the Japanese literature scholar Makoto Ueda has written about Buson’s life and work in the long out-of-print book The Path of Flowering Thorn. Still, it would have been useful, especially for those of us teaching Japanese literature at universities, to have had some basic information about Buson in the same volume as the translations themselves.All in all, these are the best Buson translations currently available, hands down. Lento and Merwin deserve much praise for bringing them to us. I hope that they will collaborate again in the future and will continue enriching our bookshelves with their collaborations.

与謝蕪村句集の英訳は2014年の日米友好基金の翻訳賞を受賞

I was pleased to find out that W.S. Merwin and Takako Lento’s translation of the Collected Poems of Yosa Buson has just won the 2014 U.S.-Japan Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of Japanese Literature, which is distributed by the Donald Keene Center at Columbia University. 

Click here for more information about the prize. 
Click here for a link to the book on Amazon.  

A few months ago, I wrote this review about the book on Amazon.

Yosa Buson (与謝蕪村) is one of the most important haiku poets to have ever lived. Born about a generation after the death of Matsuo Bashō, Buson helped to push haikai in important, new directions, and shape haiku (the first verse of a haikai sequence) into an individual, independent art form.

It is no surprise that many collections of Japanese traditional verse in English, such as Robert Hass’ collection of “essential haiku,” contain some of Buson’s poems. Most of those collections, however, only contain of a tiny number of poems, which are presented with minimal commentary and little to no context. Because the offerings in English are currently so poor, Anglophone readers have not yet really had the opportunity to figure out what is actually Buson-like about Buson, and how this giant’s voice differs from those of other haiku greats, such as Bashō, Issa, and Shiki.

Those of us who love Japanese poetry owe a great debt of gratitude to Takako Lento and W.S. Merwin for giving us the first thorough retrospective of Buson’s work in English. This book presents renditions of 868 haiku, plus a small scattering of longer poems—the best look at Buson yet in this English. All of the poems are presented in Romanized Japanese as well.

Donald Keene once wrote about Buson’s poetry that it was “so exclusively concerned with his private feelings, tastes, and perceptions that it strikes us as being modern; there is no barrier of time between him and us” (Seeds in the Heart, 1976, p. 343). Indeed, some of the poems do feel strikingly imagistic, such as haiku 211, “nanohana ya / kujira mo yorazu / umi kurenu,” rendered as Lento and Merwin as “A field of mustard flowers / no whales passed today / night falls on the sea.”

At moments, Buson even gives us glimpses of surrealism avant la lettre, such as with haiku 360: “dedemushi ya / sono tsuno moji no / nijiri gaki” or “With his horns / a snail slowly scrawls / a hesitant letter.” At the same time, Lento and Merwin give us a look at Buson’s other side as well, the one that loves to draw upon Chinese influences and earlier Heian-period literature. The picture that emerges is one of an erudite, intensely focused poet with a distinctive voice.

Personally, I was surprised that this otherwise excellent book provides so little commentary. The translator’s introduction includes a short, one-page summary of Buson’s position in Japanese poetry, but obviously, there is much more that could be said about such an important poet. I suspect that Lento and Merwin felt they did not need to reinvent the wheel; after all, the Japanese literature scholar Makoto Ueda has written about Buson’s life and work in the long out-of-print book The Path of Flowering Thorn. Still, it would have been useful, especially for those of us teaching Japanese literature at universities, to have had some basic information about Buson in the same volume as the translations themselves.

All in all, these are the best Buson translations currently available, hands down. Lento and Merwin deserve much praise for bringing them to us. I hope that they will collaborate again in the future and will continue enriching our bookshelves with their collaborations.

Human institutions are built on terms that are more like the word “happiness” than they are like the word “apple.” Acknowledging that the concepts on which we build these institutions, our expectations, and our forms of life are tied to the languages in which they take shape and are expressed does not mean abandoning the task of making these institutions better, more equitable, more precise, and it doesn’t mean granting privilege to one experience or one identity or one tradition over others. It means agreeing that the project of building these defective institutions is an endless and often a violent one, beset by injustices that need to be expressed and imagined in words we will have to translate again and again, for ourselves and for others.
Jacques Lezra, “How to Translate an Untranslatable Book,” The Washington Post, 16 Jul 2014.

中原中也詩英訳パネルディスカッション
伊藤比呂美、ジェフリー・アングルス、アーサー・ビナード、四元康祐
Panel discussion about translating Nakahara Chūya into English
Sponsored by the Nakahara Chūya Memorial Museum, Yamaguchi City

A group of bilingual poets—Hiromi Itō, Jeffrey Angles, Arthur Binard, and Yasuhiro Yotsumoto—is coming together in Yamaguchi City to do a panel discussion on July 13, 2014 about our ongoing project to translate into English the modernist poet, Nakahara Chūya, a figure often considered one of the fathers of Japanese modernist poetry. (Chūya was heavily influenced by symbolism and Dada, and he was one of the most important Japanese translators of Rimbaud.) This event will be hosted by the always wonderful Nakahara Chūya Memorial Museum.

「ゆあーん ゆよーん ゆやゆよん」は英語でどう言うの?日米両国で活動を続けている詩人・伊藤比呂美をコーディネーターとして、日本語と英語双方に深い造詣をもつ詩人・翻訳家のアーサー・ビナード、ジェフリー・アングルス、四元康祐をパネリストに迎え、英訳することで初めて見えてくる中也の詩の特徴、日本語と英語の詩的表現の違いなどを、熱く語り合います。

日時:7月13日(日) 14:00~16:00(開場:13:30~)
会場:ホテル松政 2階 芙蓉の間
(山口市湯田温泉3丁目5-8 TEL.083-922-2000)

参加料:無料・事前申込み不要

お問合せ:中原中也記念館
TEL 083-932-6430 FAX 083-932-6431
http://www.chuyakan.jp/04news/20th09.html

アメリカの一番よく読まれている絵本作家、ドクター・スースの和訳を取り上げる拙論は『Japan Forum』の新しい特集「Geographies of Childhood」(幼児期の地理学)に載りました。アメリカでも広く知られていないが、第二次世界大戦中、スースは戦時中の日本を風刺する漫画を描いたり、アメリカ陸軍の映画班に所属して日本文化と軍隊主義の問題を取り上げるドクメンタリー映画を作ったりしました。戦後になって、スースは『ライフ雑誌』のために取材しに訪日して、関西で知り合った友人からインスピレーションを受けて、アメリカ児童文学の古典になる『ぞうのホートンひとだすけ』を書きました。その歴史から始まり、本論はスースの和訳史、そして絵本に隠る教訓の翻訳による変容を論じています。特に、占領下の日本で活躍した翻訳家・大森武男と、1970年頃に「児童文学の翻訳の王様」と言われた渡辺茂男と、2000年頃にスースの和訳を出したフェミニストの詩人・伊藤比呂美の貢献を重視しています。論文は英語で書いたが、興味のある方に喜んで送ります。

The new special issue of Japan Forum (Vol. 26, No. 2)is entitled Geographies of Childhood and contains several fascinating articles about the ways that globalization, translation, and localization have shaped children’s culture in postwar and contemporary Japan.  Among them is my article “Dr. Seuss Goes to Japan: Ideology and the Translation of an American Icon,” which looks at the history of Dr. Seuss translations into Japanese. It begins by looking at Dr. Seuss’s own long, intimate, personal engagement with Japan, beginning with his World War II political cartoons satirizing Japan, his contributions to Frank Capra’s wartime and Occupation-era documentaries about rebuilding Japanese culture, his fact-finding visit for Life magazine in 1953, and the ways that inspired Seuss’s own writing. It then moves on to see how Japanese translators have dealt with the messages embedded in Seuss’s work (especially the messages related to Japan) and the changing ways that they have used Seuss in their own political and social agendas over time. In particular, it focuses on the Japanese-language translations of the Occupation-era translator Ōmori Takeo, the prolific translator of children’s books during the 1970s Watanabe Shigeo, and the contemporary feminist poet Itō Hiromi.   

The article is free to download for the first fifty people who click here.  If you would like to read it but are unable to download it from the link above, please e-mail me, and I will be happy to send a copy.

Amanda Vail at Rain Taxi, one of the journals that I often turn to for literary reviews, wrote a glowing review of my translation of the gay Japanese poet TAKAHASHI Mutsuo’s memoirs, Twelve Views from the Distance.  In it, she writes,

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.

Click here to see the Amazon page for Twelve Views.
Thank you, Amanda, for the wonderful review.

Julio Cortázar “Los Dioses,” “The Gods,” translated by Stephen Kessler

伊藤比呂美xジェフリー・アングルスの朗読会スタンフォード大学(米国カリフォルニア州)2014年5月2日(金)
During this reading at Stanford University on May 2, 2014, Itō Hiromi will appear with me as her translator. We plan to read from her work about the 2011 disasters in Japan, as well as from the translation of her long, narrative poem Wild Grass on the Riverbank, which will be forthcoming from Action Books in fall 2014.  This award-winning, book-length narrative poem, called by critics “unprecedented” in the history of modern Japanese literature, deals with transpacific migration, linguistic isolation, and the question of what it means to belong to a place.

伊藤比呂美xジェフリー・アングルスの朗読会
スタンフォード大学(米国カリフォルニア州)
2014年5月2日(金)

During this reading at Stanford University on May 2, 2014, Itō Hiromi will appear with me as her translator. We plan to read from her work about the 2011 disasters in Japan, as well as from the translation of her long, narrative poem Wild Grass on the Riverbank, which will be forthcoming from Action Books in fall 2014.  This award-winning, book-length narrative poem, called by critics “unprecedented” in the history of modern Japanese literature, deals with transpacific migration, linguistic isolation, and the question of what it means to belong to a place.

Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize

Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize in Japanese Literature, Thought, and Society

The Department of Asian Studies at Cornell University is pleased to announce a prize honoring the life and work of Kyoko Selden. The prize will pay homage to the finest achievements in Japanese literature, thought, and society through the medium of translation. Kyoko Selden’s translations and writings ranged widely across such realms as Japanese women writers, the atomic bomb experience, Ainu life and culture, historical and contemporary literature, poetry and prose, Japanese art, and early education (the Suzuki method). In the same spirit, the prize will recognize the breadth of Japanese writings, classical and contemporary. Collaborative translations are welcomed. In order to encourage classroom use and wide dissemination of the winning entries, prize-winning translations, together with the original Japanese text, will be made freely available on the web. The winning translations will be published online at The Asia-Pacific Journal: Japan Focus <http://www.japanfocus.org/>. 

Submit three copies of a translation and the original text of an unpublished work or a new translation of a previously published work to the Kyoko Selden Memorial Translation Prize, Department of Asian Studies, 350 Rockefeller Hall, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853. E-mail submissions should be sent to seldenprize@cornell.edu.  Please provide both paper and electronic versions of the translation and the original text. The maximum length of a submission is 20,000 words. The translation should be accompanied by an introduction of up to 1,000 words. In case of translation of longer works, a 20,000-word excerpt should be submitted.

The closing date for the first prize competition is May 30, 2014. Awards will be announced on August 31, 2014. A prize of $2,500 will be given to the author(s) of the award-winning translation. For further information, please visit <http://lrc.cornell.edu/asian/seldenmemorial>.

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 invent@princeton.edu by June 1, 2014 to be considered.

Difficulties of translating children&#8217;s literature
In this funny and well-written special feature in the Guardian, translator Sarah Ardizzone talks about translating Marjolaine Leray&#8217;s April the Red Goldfish into French: Avril le poisson rouge.  Handling a transgender, suicidal fish in another language is not always easy!  

Difficulties of translating children’s literature

In this funny and well-written special feature in the Guardiantranslator 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!  

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.

高橋睦郎『十二の遠景』の新書評 

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.

Click here to read the entire review.
Click here to go to the page for the book on Amazon.  

 

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.  

俳人・宮下惠美子、骨董専門家・宮下進は西ミシガン大学で講演をする

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. 

Nominations Solicited for the 2014 ALTA National Translation Award

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 aron-aji@uiowa.edu.

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.