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Index: Translations

Devotions.

Yves Bonnefoy: And always to quays at night, to bars, to a voice saying I am the lamp, I am the oil.

Paths to Speech.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘I have the impression that we never fully hear the tonal subtleties of each other’s languages. Probably I want to imagine stronger accents in French than really exist for you as a native speaker, whereas I note in your English versions that you soft-pedal the metrical beats, as though our language were as mildly accentuated as yours. Most of the time, when you find me slightly altering the semantics in a verse, I am in quest of a prosodic fit—not just ignorant of the faint modulation in meaning.’

The Olympic Games.

G.S. Robertson: ‘Athens, all hail! Hail, O rejoicing throng!
And from our lips receive the tributary song.’

Translating André du Bouchet.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘…there’s no such thing as a perfect translation. If readers have little or no French, then we owe them—not a word by word translation like those old interlinear texts we used to crib with in Greek class—but the best poem the translator is capable of making while staying true to the basic meaning, and above all the spirit, of the original. To paraphrase the parting shot of [Peter] Riley’s review, when I am reading a translation of poetry from a language I don’t know, I’d rather be overpaid than shortchanged. I want to know what the poem says; but to some degree, I also want to know what it connotes, what it evokes, and how it would sound if the poet had written it in English. In poetry, some things are lost in translation; but as with Bonnefoy’s version of Yeats, quoted earlier, other things are gained. In any case, there is far more to poetry than a simple string of words.’

Two Dominican poets.

 Selections from  El HOMBRECITO Two Dominican Poets: Frank Báez and Homero Pumarol Selected, Translated, and Introduced by Hoyt Rogers. FRANK BÁEZ AND Homero Pumarol might both be described as homegrown versions of Junot Diaz: native Dominican authors rather than a son of the diaspora like Diaz, but with the same hip originality and with-it verve. […]

Three poems by Alain-Fournier.

Alain-Fournier: Firstly…no…well…in the evening…perhaps…
I will dare to take her hand, le petit pas;
If this takes too long, and the evening is fresh,
I will speak the truth until I’m out of breath,
And her eyes will be wet with words so tender
And with no-one overhearing, she will answer.

Otto telegrammi dalla città assediata.

Marco Genovesi: ‘La piazza era buia, quella notte. Quasi tuti i lampioni erano spenti, fatta eccezione per due o tre. Il vento spazzava via tutto quanto. Gelido, assassino, veniva dal nord, dove ghiacciai affilati ringhiavano dall’inizio dei tempi in una notte eterna, mentre i palazzi di marmo e i colonnati della piazza stavano immobili, indifferenti all’inverno che infuriava.’

Eight Telegrams from the City under Siege.

Marco Genovesi: ‘She turned another page, but then it seemed as if a hunch had started tickling her brain. She swiveled around and saw somebody walking along the street. He wasn’t from the neighborhood, and from the way he was dressed he probably came from the North Side, with its working-class houses of concrete, clumps of stores with bullet-proof glass, asbestos wrecks dumped in the parks, and factories with barred doors and broken windows.’

Marco Genovesi: translator’s note.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘By systematically reducing his vocabulary and syntax to the lowest possible common denominator, Genovesi declares his independence from the Italian rhetorical tradition. He has taken this approach in his novel and his short stories as well as in his poetry, and it will be interesting to see how he develops his work from here. ‘

Ten poems by Francesco Giardinazzo.

Francesco Giardinazzo: ‘Voices crack and vanish/
just as pages never read/
introduce the occasion,/
project light/
where nature loves to hide.’

Francesco Giardinazzo: translator’s note.

Giardinazzo: ‘The classics are the texts that always return, and this faithfulness is the best proof of their importance. I think that the most difficult poetry is meaning itself: words and their meaning amplify and justify our existence, make us understand that their life is our own that always returns to us in language, because we cannot do without them; everything we can know about ourselves has already been written by others.’

New Italian poetry.

Hoyt Rogers: ‘It would be difficult to imagine two paths more divergent than those of Francesco Giardinazzo and Marco Genovesi.’