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Writing is Beyond is Translation is Across


Translation is carried out within the constraints of at least one other “alternity of being,” to use George Steiner’s term. Still, I would venture it is “impossibly possible.” Poetry, on the other hand, is often generated under similar constraints, but seems to retain the option of trying to do what it can’t, until it doesn’t, or until it does. Could poetry be considered “possibly impossible”? … for more on translation see “Across,” for more on poetry see “Beyond”


écrire c’est traduire

“An older woman will fall into the middle, nearly excluded from the marketplace. Her meaning will be lost from its translations, the wearing down from one side to the other. Still, she must pull the weight of pride toward the height of age until, dragging face behind her, she falls. Older drops to old, and by the logic of the transaction, older is younger than old, is emptiness still shriveling. Shriveled, the woman rises up bold toward the final heights, from which fear has fallen away. A compact with a center ready to sluice down darkness wide, she leaps toward prayers once woven from rim to sky, nets netting nets, a knife between her lips.”

From my stuffings gnawings splutterings, see “Beyond.”

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With this site, I hope to explore, and invite others to explore, what might be meant by the idea of writing as translation, and translation as writing. Both having the merits, the pitfalls of both. As equals, and inseparable. Translation as writing’s equal? It isn’t my idea, and others have expressed it far better and explored it in far greater depth than I could ever hope to do. I am a technical translator, that’s how I’ve made my living for the past 15 years. I am also a literary translator, having learned a great deal and enjoyed, mostly, the hours upon hours I spent on the three novels I’ve translated. I may be a poet as well, having completed an MFA in 2018. But what I really want to know is where does across beyond lead, if anywhere. Trans- means both across and beyond. So which is it? Or are they obviously the same, and I am just too !$*/§°ù dense to get it. Well, if translation is writing, considered the nobler of the two, then can translation carry us beyond? Or do we always fall somewhat short of the mark? Or worse, fall into the inter- no man’s land between, or the molten chaos of trying to rip language apart and put it back together again. Same, only different, different only same. Translation… writing… anyway. I’ve put up my creative thesis—stuffings, gnawings, splutterings—along with some materials on the great, truly great poet and translator Paul Celan, including my critical thesis. Translation has influenced my writing, and my writing (to say nothing of that of many many others) informs my work as a translator. Finally, you’ll find information on the literary translations I’ve done. I hope you get something from this site, if only a little harmless perplexity.

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