Translating Poetry

"Why do you translate poetry?" someone asked me lately. Simple. Because I am a masochist and I cannot help it! Translating is my job, but translating poetry has become a beautiful habit too in the past couple of years.

The result may not be perfect, but I always strive to say "almost the same thing," as Umberto Eco suggests. I have been lucky enough to translate poets such as Jack Hirschman or Michel Butor that have been published or exhibited. And, I am now collaborating with an Italian online review, Patria Letteratura, that is giving me the opportunity of translating poems I love by poets I either know or have been in contact with for reason of the biography I am writing or, simply, by poets I admire.

Only once I decided to give up translating a poem. It is a long poem written with a Joyce-like language and the continuous puns and wordplay make it impossible to render into Italian. You either lose the puns or the meaning of  the words in the process. Every time I think about the author of the poem challenging me to translate his poem, I smile. He still believes I can do it, whereas I shake my head all the time!

But, I must admit it, wrestling with words is a fantastic exercise. It keeps the writing muscles active. I guess there is no better exercise for a writer.


  1. So glad you are doing well Alessandra! I've been very busy too, unfortunately with other things besides writing, but I'm glad to say I too am enlarging my circle of friends. I will be attending the AWP conference taking place in Boston this year and meeting up with two Twitter friends one from Germany and the other from the UK. Hopefully I'll make more friends in my neck of the woods. So far I've made lots of international friends. Will have to get myself on a plane to visit them all, including you and John.


  2. John and I look forward to meeting you! If you are in Boston for the AWP, do not miss this event: "Birds of a Feather Read Together" Wed. 6th March from 8:00 pm to 10:00 pm at the Elephant and Castle Pub (between Franklin St. and Milk St.). It is a joint reading of people published by Thrush Poetry Journal and Barn Owl Review. It should be great fun. I was published by Thrush and Helen Vitoria, the Editor, will be there. Have a great time. I love Boston. Say hi to Beacon Hill. :)

  3. thank you Alessandra! I will definitely stop by and say hello. as a matter of fact one of my friends will reading there too. it might even be at the same venue. I will definitely keep you posted. I believe this is a free reading. hopefully I'll be able to get the tickets for the whole weekend because I hadn't realized that registration ended the 23rd of January. either way since my son is in Boston I don't forsee any problems. I think I'm even going to be meeting Kaity in February as she’ll be in Brooklyn for a book signing! and of course 1 of these days I'm getting on a plane and coming to Rome.

  4. You will have a great time in Boston, I am sure! And, I am so delighted that you are meeting Kate in NYC. You will love her. She is a force of nature! :)


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