1/20/2013

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.


1/02/2013

Meeting Poets and Friending Them Too

Yes, meeting poets has become the order of the day it seems. I am really thankful because writing the bio is giving me a great opportunity I would never have had otherwise. Getting in touch with poets who have met "the Poet" way back then in the Fifties, Sixties, Seventies etc. is truly fascinating. Not only have I become a "research fiend" as John calls me, but I am also having the chance to connect with wonderful people and artists who are very eager to help me. And, I am friending some of them, too. Which is a beautiful thing. I am particularly grateful for having met and friended one of the "Baby Beats" who met Jack in SF in the Seventies. He has sent me so much material and so much information, it is almost unbelievable. His house in the mountains of North Carolina is not a mere archive, but a true arsenal of Jack's poetry and memories.

Thank you, All! And, thank you, Tom!