Sunday, March 31, 2013

Saturday, March 30, 2013

The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2013


Culled from PW's Spring Announcements issue (on newsstands January 28), we asked our reviews editors to pick the most notable books publishing in Spring 2013. Links to reviews are included when available.
The Yonahlossee Riding Camp for Girls by Anton DiSclafani (Riverhead, June 4) - This debut novel from a young Floridian writer sold for a bundle and has tremendous pre-pub support from the likes of Lauren Groff (“sexy, smart, and vividly drawn”) and Prep author Curtis Sittenfeld (“sexy, suspenseful, gorgeously written”).
You Are One of Them by Elliott Holt (Penguin Press, May 30) - From a Pushcart Prize–winning writer who New York magazine has called a literary “star of tomorrow,” this debut novel is set in America in the ’80s and present-day Moscow. Holt has tremendous pre-pub support, from Darin Strauss, A.M. Homes, Kevin Wilson, Hannah Tinti, and Lauren Groff, who calls Holt “graceful, sharp, and super-smart.”

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Friday, March 29, 2013

Femmes fatales, vampires haunt gothic Paris exhibition

By Jorg von Uthmann, Bloomberg News


PARIS — Count Dracula, the aristocratic bloodsucker, is not the only nocturnal visitor who likes to disturb the sleep of innocents.

"The Angel of the Odd: Dark Romanticism from Goya to Max Ernst," at the Musee d'Orsay in Paris, starts with one of his most famous soul mates: Henry Fuseli's "The Nightmare," an incubus perched over a blond woman who seems to have fainted.

The title of the show, which opened in September at Frankfurt's Staedel Museum, has been borrowed from a short story by Edgar Allen Poe, one of the grand masters of Gothic fiction, a genre that flourished in the late 18th and 19th centuries.

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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Fire partially destroys Europe's oldest theatrical university in central Moscow


Part of the Russian University of Theatre Arts in the heart of Moscow has been devastated by fire. For several hours firefighter struggled to save the historic 18th-century building that houses the largest theatrical university in Russia.
Part of the Russian University of Theater Arts (GITIS) in the heart of Moscow has been devastated by a fire. For several hours, firefighters struggled to save the historic 18th-century building that houses the largest theater university in Russia.
The fire caused no injuries or casualties but completely devastated the third floor of the building. At one point, the building's roof was at risk of collapsing.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Art prints illustrate Europe's great cities


Photo:© Koivo Amsterdam

Russian artist, Xenia Bystrova aka Koivo has created a charming series ofposters of some of Europe's great cities.

© Koivo Paris
What I like about these, other than the clean design and color schemes is that they feature two of my favorite things about Europe, the historic architecture and the variety of transit options, including rail, trolleys, canals and bikes.

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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Argentine illustrator wins child literature prize


STOCKHOLM (AP) — Argentine illustrator and writer Marisol Misenta, better known as Isol, won the 5 million kronor ($780,000) Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children’s literature on Tuesday for picture books that ‘‘vibrate with energy and explosive emotions,’’ the prize jury said.
Isol has written and illustrated 10 children’s books, starting with her 1997 debut ‘‘Vida de Perros’’ ("A Dog’s Life"). She has also illustrated works by other authors, including Argentine poet Jorge Lujan and U.S. novelist Paul Auster.
Her illustrations have the feel of a child’s drawings, which she says reflects her desire to show readers that it’s OK to break the rules.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Project to share Welsh literary classics across the continent gets EU backing

by Karen Price, Western Mail

LITERARY classics by some of Wales’ most renowned authors from the 20th century, including T H Parry-Williams and Kate Roberts, will be made available to readers across Europe as part of a new project being funded by the European Union.
Wales Literature Exchange is one of seven key European partners involved in Schwob – a project led by the Dutch Foundation for Literature which has recently been granted a 200,000 subsidy as part of the EU’s Culture Programme.
Schwob was launched in the Netherlands in 2011 to facilitate, in partnership with literature foundations in six other countries, including Wales, the promotion of literature, not yet translated, from all parts of Europe.
Continue Reading: Wales Online 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

TEFAF: the world's most glamorous art fair


Exploring the extensive, varied range of art on show at TEFAF Photo: L. Bodewes,

Held in Maastricht every March, The European Fine Art Fair welcomes the world's most demanding and sophisticated art collectors for a no-expense-spared celebration of culture.

Every year, in March, there is an appointment that the global art community feels compelled to honour with punctual regularity: TEFAF, or The European Fine Art Fair, in Maastricht. This year, the fair runs until 24 March, having opened on the 14 March.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

Seminar cycle focuses on German literature, language and culture



The Austrian Embassy in Athens has organized a cycle of seminars with the University of Athens's Department of German Language and Literature, to take place during the summer semester of 2013.

The classes will be held every second Wednesday at 5 p.m. in Room 712 at the Athens School of Philosophy. They will include lectures on Germanic literature, linguistics and culture, conducted in German and Greek.
The first seminar will take place on March 27, conducted by University of Vienna cultural studies professor Wolfgang Mueller-Funk, on the 19th century Greek travels of Austrian writer Franz Grillparzer.

The seminars are organized by Mark Michalski and Winfried Lechner. 

For more information, log on to Lechner's website at The site is in German and Greek.

Thursday, March 21, 2013


The CreArt project has launched the annual celebration of the European Day of Artistic Creativity, which will take place on March 21st 2013 in all the cities under the “Network of Cities for Artistic Creation”, and in the cities and institutions across Europe wanting to join our initiative.
“As members of the CreArt project, we are aware of the importance of promoting creativity as one of the basic elements of individual development and of the creation of a European identity. Our objective is to celebrate one day a year, and at a European level, artistic creativity in all Europe, with open activities in museums, public and private cultural institutions, visual arts centres, art schools, galleries, schools, etc.
We would also like to witness artists and public interaction in these centres and cities, communicating through the language of art and creativity. The European Day for Artistic Creativity will also become the springboard for new, original and necessary ideas, aimed at the general public, professionals and institutions”.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Translation workshop in Detroit! Check it out. SAUCY. consensual. contextual. translation Detroit, Michigan @ Honor and Folly Inn April 28th 2013 / 6-9 pm rsvp by April 6th website:

Sunday, March 17, 2013

PARADOX. Positions in Norwegian video art 1980–2010


Mother Tongue_03_318px.jpg
Elisabeth Mathisen, “Mother Tongue”, 1993, video

Museet for samtidskunst 15. February18. August 2013

Since the 1980s, Norwegian video art has gone from being a marginal art form to a dominant discipline. This exhibition presents a selection of Norwegian video works from 1980 to 2010.

Read the exhibition blog here

We trace the development of video art, from an innovative technique in the late 1970s through to its present-day incorporation in the field of digital art – from being a conceptual and technical idiom to a postmodern form of expression that is integrated digitally with related techniques such as film and photography.
Are there identifiable quali­ties specific to video art that has endured despite rapid technological advances? In what areas has video as a medium had an impact on Norwegian art? How did the video medium evolve between 1980 and 2010 in Norwegian art?

Saturday, March 16, 2013



Following the success of “SOS Planet”, the futuristic décor of the Liège railway station, a work of Santiago Calatrava, will welcome a new outstanding exhibition.  At the heart of the Meuse-Rhine Euro-region, linked by rail connections from many destinations, the Liège-Guillemins high-speed railway station will be the hub for visitors who have come by train from all parts of the world, whilst offering car users easy access to the exhibition site.

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Friday, March 15, 2013

Printemps des Poètes (Poet Spring)

Poet Spring

There is something poetic about Paris every day of the year – but poetry takes over for a few weeks in March.

This yearly highlight has been treating France to the delights of poetry for 13 years now. City of Paris libraries and museums, and the Institut des Cultures d’Islam, have also join in. For example in 2007 : the Petit Palais (Musée des Beaux Arts de la Ville) treated the public to a free-of-charge poetry and literature adventure around painters of light John Singer Sargent and Joaquín Sorolla. Victor Hugo’s house (in Paris 04) ran a guided tour and workshop around the love letters that the writer exchanged with Juliette Drouet.
The Printemps des Poètes takes place every March. 2011 : from 7 to 21 March.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Tom Joyce: Literature… slows down experience to an engageable unit

Jasmina Tacheva Talks with Thomas C. Joyce, Adjunct Professor of English at Canisius College, Buffalo, New York
Tom Joyce
Tom Joyce with his daughter, Gilbert. Photo courtesy of Fiona Joyce.
What do you think literature is and why do we need it in our Hi-Tech, multi-fast, mega-dynamic society?
I will answer in reverse order, because I think why we need literature is part of the definition. We humans live with noise. Mostly we live with habitual noise, but if we are lucky we live with the joyful noise the Bible celebrates. In our fast-paced world, we live with so much noise that we do need a place to rest, a place where experience winnows down and where we become reflective.
Many people misconstrue noise for passion and noise for living an active life. Some of the best web sites I know are over-stimulated mélange of great images that attack the reader at such depth and speed that the watcher becomes even more passive. In the face of a million stimulations at once, the human mind shuts down and shuts out.
Enter Literature, with its great heart for engaging and understanding and meditating over and accepting the world as it is. We need to know what it is that we are giving back when we die.
Literature, which I will define here in an attempt to define, slows down experience to an engageable unit.
Literature is the representation in words of passions, stories, sounds, experiences, and mysteries for the enjoyment, enlightenment, mystification of and challenge to a reader or readers.
As a professor of English of long standing, you reject the traditional notion of teaching as a disengaged teacher’s monologue and initiate a real dialogue between you  the students, and among the students themselves. What is the product of these discussions?
The product of these discussions I feel is to encourage students to break down the wall they feel has been constructed between them and a life of meaning and significance. Students are often both convinced of their own uniqueness and ashamed of being.
Often, a general question about meaning or life will be answered by a cliché reaction, which is simply false in every way. Ask them “Who has more power in relationships, men or women?” and the first response will be, “It is different for everybody.” They say this even though retailers can know by their zip code and age and sex what products they will buy and when.
But if we stay with a question about men and women, which students really express as guys and girls, and we will uncover an enormous amount of anti-girl sentiment. While the students maintain, “everyone is different”, the girls will readily pronounce, “girls are mean.” It seems clear that if girls believe that girls are mean, then the girls will not have the kind of solidarity from which power arises.
I think that the first thought, that everyone is different and therefore unique, is undermined by the second thought that girls as a class are mean. But more than whatever the discussion reveals about contradictions on any particular point, what the discussion reveals is that people pay lip service to individuality while embracing stereotypes and the off shoot of this is a feeling of being overwhelmed and small.
The student feels s/he has nothing to say, so s/he hides behind the collective idiom that “everyone is different”. Of course, there are other problems with this thought, for example, it makes people non-judgmental even where they are caught in a place where they have to make a judgment, so the thought leads to passivity, particularly about political events which really define their hopes and dreams, but which they feel lost to understand and so they rely on the, some people are into politics and that is fine for them, but I don’t care because the political stuff isn’t interesting and doesn’t really effect me (maintaining this, even as they climb into monstrous debt from student loans, even as they have no health insurance, even as the gap in entry level wages for them compared to previous generations is staggeringly set against them).
I think our conversations open the students up to the world in the classroom, and that such opening up is what Literature itself does. (I never know when to capitalize Literature, so I apologize for inconsistent use of L and l in referring to it.) Students are shocked to discover that others have problems and joys and passions, and I think novels and poems and short stories and songs, too, are unique in their ability to empower a person to find his or her identity.
I do not think it is too much to say that Literature as a category leads to the development of a concept of a soul (as do philosophy and religion and some other studies), and then through the experience of the lines, images, situations, stories, expressions, etc. of the works and how those works impact on the emotion of the reader, to the creation or realization of what one’s soul looks like or would look like.
If we imagine literature as a house that is constantly being built on, what is its building block?
Ah! This is such a fun interview with so many ideas rushing into my head, but this question is really great.
The building blocks are words and clusters of words, but there is so much more to it. In one of the essays I received this semester, a student wrote, being true to his generation, that music is different for everyone. That is really untrue. Not everyone responds in the same manner, but music can be described accurately as ‘sad’, ‘uplifting’, ‘regal’, ‘exciting’, etc. Music theory can describe what makes sounds have certain emotions.
The emotional power of words is similar to the emotion power of musical notes. Clusters of words function like clusters of sounds. The writer must find the words to evoke in the reader the emotions and passions that s/he is building in her/his writing. One of the sad things about the study of Literature today is that we do not have enough time to adequately address the emotions that the cluster of words and individual words themselves make. Ironically, students are too burned out after being taught “close reading” in lower grades and especially High Schools.
Tom Joyce
Tom Joyce with his wife, Linda. Photo courtesy of Fiona Joyce.
Teachers rightly pay close attention to the mechanics and workings of passages, but somehow in their insistence that the students see the “deeper meanings” of things, the teachers often convince the students that reading is NOT something that they can do alone. The student will miss too much of the real significance if they just read books and poetry on their own. That is not the message that teachers think they are giving, but way too often that is the message the student hears.
As an aside, I need to explain that English teachers in High School have over a hundred students and they have tasks and measures that they have to hit, The teachers have to teach students to write certain formulaic things for the essay tests that will be graded by other teachers who will read hundreds of essays and have rubrics that demand a certain conformity of thought and style. Teachers do not have time to allow students to be wrong, and since all true reading is in part a misreading, the students often do not learn to love reading and writing, they learn how to form thesis driven five paragraph essays in which they pay homage to the deeper meanings of things, all the while ignoring the mystery and the pleasure which reside both on the surface and especially within the inner layers and suggestions and hints and complexities’ of literature.
A poet and writer named Sandy Dedo has talked to me often of a theory she has about literature that turns on the mystery that abides within some works even after you know them well. That kind of engagement with literature is perhaps beyond high school students, but they are actively discouraged by the current system of teaching conformity to the rubrics upon which the student’s reading and writing will be rigidly graded.
Is it appropriate to talk about a unified body of literature that permeates the entire world, or is it better to think of literature as an ensemble of the literatures of various countries and cultures? How does literature differ from nation to nation; from century to century?
This is another great question that is almost too big to answer. I think it would be wonderful if we could construct a Canon, which included the best writing from every country, but such a canon would be immense.
I will eventually sketch an answer to the question of how literature differs from nation to nation and from century to century, but for now, I will write a short hand answer that will be more attempt than actuality.
I was lucky enough to go to school when American schools still taught Latin. The greatest thing about Latin was the works we read, especially Catullus and The Aeneid. My teachers, Fr, Conroy, S. J. and then Fr. Roslivich, S. J. were both impassioned teachers who believed that 16, 17, and 18 year old boys had a soul that would respond to poetry, and they were right. I remember Dido’s suicide and funeral, and I remember how modern Catullus seemed with his complaints about the evanescence of romantic, and for Catullus even sexual love. And I remember Catullus’s elegy for his brother, ‘ave atque vale’, and I remember his ‘Odi et amo’ and the fun of translating, I love and I hate, why do I do these things perhaps you ask. I do not know, but I do love sometimes and hate sometimes and life brings me excruciating pain from my passion.
That is a free translation with too many words, and that is the thing we need to understand about bringing life from another era into our life. It might be that we understand the poem perfectly, but it is also possible that the writer and his audience all those years ago would say, no, that is not even close to what we felt.
So there is a certain imperialist impulse even behind the good intention of learning from and respecting writers of another day or place. We need to be humble and realize we are getting a misreading, even of we do our best. But I agree with Harold Bloom that all reading is an action and always in a real sense a misreading, he calls it misprision, and so we should go ahead and try to engage writing from every corner and time of the Earth.
For Sartre, the literary work exists only through the collaboration of writer and reader: “Creation can find its fulfillment only in reading, since the artist must entrust to another the job of carrying out what he has begun.” Do you agree with this statement?
Yes, I do emphatically! I have had the great pleasure of reading an anthology of Bulgarian writers in translation. One poem in particular speaks to my soul, and I read it every day. The poem, by Binyo Ivanov is translated: “The wind is coming, and I love you,/dawn lifts an arm, the sunset fades,/a cloud is drying, and I love you.” The poem immediately struck me and raised so many passions inside me, and yet I knew from the lines about the “Balkan mountain bears he stalked” and the mention of an “eternal war with vermin” complete with a footnote informing a western reader that vermin also means “pagans” in Bulgarian, that the poem had dimensions which only study would bring me.
As I said in answer four above, all reading is a form of misreading and once an author writes something and gets it out there, s/he does lose control of how it will be experienced. It is not quite that case that the work will be “different for everyone”, but the work will change meaning over time and will strike some people with great passion and will barely stop long enough to even linger with another reader. What Sartre probably had in mind was an active audience of left wing philosophy savvy thinkers who would embrace his ideas and make his ideas their own and then perceive other readings through the lens he wanted to impose on the world, but what has happened is that we have seen that the readers see things in the text that the author did not consciously realize were there.
We make the text our own in some ways, if the author is lucky. Like language itself, which has to change over time in order to escape being a dying or dead language, so too texts must somehow change to attract new readers. The Italian philosopher and thinker Giorgio Agamben wrote that every generation produces a new reading of Dante and his Divine Comedy. This idea may offend purists, but it seems to me that the great works do last for a long time because when new readers come to them they recreate the work in the image of their own time.
Hail and farewell brother Catullus, you touched me when I was 17 and now that I am an older and completely different man, you still touch me, you still offer me a silent place to discover who I am, you still carry the mystery of a great work in your lines, whether translated or read aloud in the original. That is what we mean when we say we collaborate to create the text, and I would say the author is the most important part of that collaboration. But I get ahead of myself, and that is for another conversation.
Originally published on

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Christopher Papakaliatis on Europe, the film industry, success

In his first ever interview in English, Greek writer, director, and actor, Christopher Papakaliatis talked to New Europe's Alexandros Koronakis about the European TV and Film industry, its role in cultivating a European Identity, and what it takes to succeed. 

The interview was recorded at Odette en Ville in Brussels on March 3, 2013. 

Video editing by Christos Mavridis

Sunday, March 10, 2013

From Creative Clash – to Creative Clash Network Europe


The Creative Clash Final Conference will take place on 19 March 2013 at the Goethe Institut in Brussels.

This conference will present the results of the Creative Clash two-year cooperation project and engage reflection around artistic interventions as a tool for innovation. Policy makers, politicians and practitioners from a variety of fields will discuss about how artistic interventions can generate innovation, social innovation and local economy development and will analyse how they contribute to a more Creative Europe and enhance cross-sectorial fertilisation.

Download the Conference programme.

Register HERE.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

A new musical cosmos

Anne-Sophie MutterManfred SapperAnne-Sophie Mutter on Witold Lutoslawski

The world-famous violin virtuoso Anne-Sophie Mutter remembers going through agony before the premiere of Chain II. She had to struggle with the strange new hieroglyphics in Witold Lutoslawski's score, but even today the marvellous sounds and colours of his music still enchant her. Lutoslawski opened the door for Mutter onto the language of contemporary classical music and new freedom as a performer. She disdains any schematic divisions of music into tendencies, eras or national schools, and pleads the case for music that unfolds from silence. "We really need such music, since the world is very loud indeed!"
Manfred Sapper: Frau Mutter, you have just come back from your Asia tour, where you played Beethoven and Mendelssohn, but also Wolfgang Rihm'sLichtes Spiel and Sebastian Currier's Time Machines. How is modern music received in China and Taiwan?

Anne-Sophie Mutter: Very well indeed. The audience there is well informed, and they are just as interested in contemporary music as audiences in Europe or the USA. There's really no difference.

MS: You never had any contemporary music in your repertoire when you started out. You won your spurs with Mozart and Beethoven.

ASM: True, but I can still remember the very day I gave my first world premiere; it was 31 January 1986. I was playing with the Collegium Musicum, with Paul Sacher conducting, and the piece was none other than Witold Lutoslawski's Chain II
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Friday, March 8, 2013

Illustrated Children's Books


Agnes Vogt


Agnes Vogt

Translations grants children's books

In the case of high quality illustrated children’s books, foreign publishers can apply for financial assistance to cover a proportion of the production costs. The amount granted is based on the direct production costs per copy. The maximum sum that may be awarded is € 2,800. Subsidies granted under this scheme are funded by the Mondriaan Foundation and the Dutch Foundation for Literature. If the translator has been approved by the foundation, a translation subsidy of max 70% of the total cost of translation can be granted.
For whom For what Deadlines
Publishers Translation costs Continuous


The purpose of this subsidy is to facilitate publication abroad of high quality illustrated books for children, specifically picture books, originally published by a Dutch or Frisian publishing house, where both the text and the illustrations are of an exceptional quality.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Creative Europe in a Time of Austerity



UK / European conference – 9 May 2013 – Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, UK. It is a time of financial austerity in the UK and across the rest of Europe.  This event will provide arts and cultural organisations with a range of ideas to help them decrease their reliance on public subsidy by offering examples of initiatives, strategies, collaborative opportunities and alliances.  The event will provide attendees with a suite … Continue Reading

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Children of Men: Poems, Translations, and Robots

Peter Golub*


Photograph by timmygen is [the translator's] infidelity, his happy and creative infidelity, that must matter to us. −Jorge Luis Borges.(1)

Translations are quite literally children of men.(2) And this is both a very ordinary and a very intimate business, one which requires a great deal of love; yes, I've said it, translation is a labor of love. Clichés themselves are interesting puzzles for translation, and perhaps we'll get to some of these problems in due time, but for now love and children. As each person loves in their own body, place, and time, so does each person translate in their own way. And as all manuals on love are at best very amusing, so are programmatic approaches to translations. To        codify the proper way to translate would not only entail codifying the proper way to make art out of words, but the proper way to love. Each must follow their own intuition, without which the entire endeavor is nothing more than an exercise−the difference between a run on the treadmill and a hike through the woods.

A translation cannot be the original anymore than a human child is a clone of its parents. 
Because there are two parents, the child must necessarily be something new. The translator and author come together and make something new. Just as the same parents can come together and through their pro[creative] act make a great variety of children, so can the translator come together with the author, and through their mutual creative act make a great variety of texts. 

Even if the same translator translated the same text, she would inevitably come up with something different every time. And just as the tall offspring are better at basketball or the female offspring with 0.7 hip-waist ratio will be the more sexually appealing, each translation is suited for some things and unsuited for others. Each translation brings something new and different to the table, and this necessary difference is the new life of the text. The more translation, the more difference, the more alive the text is. As human beings live through their children, works of literature live through their translations.

This is why "fidelity" has never been a concern for me, because in the end it is always 
impossible. An obsession with fidelity at best yields slightly closer structural similarity between the two texts and at worst (and this is far more often the case) handicaps the text. These kind of translators, instead of encouraging play, send their kids off to summer school, fill their days with lessons, and examples of disciplinary excellence. These children may seem better for some extended period of time, but they are also the ones who are more likely to have a hard time adapting to changing environments, being flexible, and being imaginative (which of course is all the same thing).

As time passes, what lasts is what changes with and within its time−this goes for people and 
translations. As time passes, happiness is contingent on play and the imagination−this goes for people and translations. And of course, children are ultimately the product of two people, as the translation is the product of the translator and the text. Sometimes there are three people, in the case of a surrogate mother (which in translation is the equivalent of a podstrochnik). Or perhaps, as the case is for translations done by more than one translator, the text become rather translation is the result of some sort of polyandry, when it is hard to tell who the child belongs too. This was the case when I decided to invite a co-translator on my first book project. 

Things got pretty messy pretty fast, and eventually I simply gave up on the project. In this context, commentators, editors, etc. are more like doctor's and professionals who are there to give advice but ultimately have nothing to do with producing the actually sinews that make up the child or the words that make up the text. This is howI saw our workshop, and there were some really nice points made. Like when Piper pointed out the connection between "The Death of a Paratrooper" and the famous Randall Jarrell poem "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" I suddenly saw the Svarovsky in an new light, and was astonished I had missed the connections. This feeling of astonishment occurs often in translation. If you don't like feeling like a fool, then you probably shouldn't translate, unless, of course, you are a fool and a liar.

But translation comes with its rewards as well; even "bad" translations will be praised somewhere at sometime.

I got some fine feedback in the seminar; it is always a pleasure to not only have an educated 
readership, but to have them gather round the poems in one room and say what they think is best.

Many people suggested changes to this passage. I made some of these, but it also made me look closer at the passage, causing me to make a new translation. Here is one example:

You're alone in the house

And immediately jump from the window
Head first
Long bright-green plants sway in the current
You turn around and slowly drift
Down, your back on the sandy bottom
When father left me alone
I would dive from the window
And turn on my back so as to slowly drift
Down, bright-green plants swayed in the current
And with my eyes to the surface
I would sink until my back touched the sand

Two other examples of major revisions include the first stanza of part three in "Exiled Visitors," and the poem "Two Robots." In all these instances, people wanted more from the text. Some people were very specific rewriting lines as they saw fit, while others would simply write "something's missing here." All these comments brought me back to the poems with new insight; at times, as in the cases above, drastically reengineering the text. Whether I agreed with the suggestions or not, the feeling of community is just as important to a translator's work as the attentive editor or the sharp critic.

When you are in love, you should try, if possible, to understand what it is that produces this

feeling in you. This will help you not only be conscious of how you build an ideal around your
desires, but also, and perhaps more importantly, will allow you to see better how the real will
transgress the ideal you constructed. When you choose a poem, for instance, you should be aware of what elements in the poem drew you to it. These are the elements you should focus on, and when the poem does something else, or even contradicts your idea[l] of the poem, you as any lover will be faced with a choice to either try and change the beloved or change yourself (i.e. change your ideal).

Of course, the attentive eye of the honest lover will see the ideal in every aspect of their actions.

What strangers might see as a meretricious gesture, the lover will recognize as playful mimicry.

Whereas most responses to our actions are typical; if you yawn, they give you a pillow; if you laugh, they continue joking. But we are constantly misread, as texts are constantly misread, especially poems (those most ambiguous and capricious of texts). The poem is a child, but it is a lover as well, and both are incredibly fickle. The lover must know how to read their signs outside convention.

When most would respond to a yawn with a shoulder or pillow, the lover will lead the beloved in a mock tango to hum of the fluorescent tubes in the shabby traincar; when the beloved says they don't want to see the movie, what they're really saying is take me to the circus so that I can accost the elephant trainers with my PETA pamphlets. So too it is with poems, the translator must be ready to take an imaginative leap, leaps the text itself may have never foreseen, but which nonetheless are entirely natural and even more fun than the original.

There are several reasons why I like the poems of Fyodor Svarovsky; it would be silly to

declare your adoration for a person just because you like their legs or bank account or whatever. I like the poems because formally they are constructed according to the musical phrase, not the metronome, an edict of Pound's picked up the Olson in his "Projective Verse." In the essay, Olson introduces William's idea of “composition by field” and applies it to what he calls projective or open verse. Instead of predetermined conceptions about what the meter and rhyme of a poem should be, Olson’s projective verse focuses on the possibilities of the breath, of the breathing of the man who writes as well as of the man who listens. 

This is crucial. Not only does Olson quite literally couch form inside the actual, temporal form of the human author, he likewise couches it in the actual form of the human reader. Of ultimate concern here is the transference of poetic energy from source to poem to reader, and the way that energy shifts at each juncture, because the poet is no longer relying on a rigid contrived structure but on his own ever changing breathe and heart: "the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE / the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE."(3) A simplistic understanding of the above line would read this as a mandate for composing a line of verse, but one only need to remember that not all ears are the same (some poets are def) and not all hearts are the same (the continuous-flow artificial heart has no pulse). There is a vast landscape of possibilities.

In the Russian tradition, Mayakovsky makes a similar argument in his ars poetica "How to

Make Poems." Poets must oppose traditional methods of composition based on received forms.
Olson emphasizes physical temporal aspects of the poem but stressing the ear and the breath, and Mayakovsky likewise focuses on the sound of the poem. The cascading stepladder form used by Mayakovsky reflects his reading style, but it is also flexible i.e. it is able to change with time. He literally translates the form of his poems in relationship to the audience he is addressing. Therefore, the qualified reader is somewhat not bullied by the printed text, and can alter the poem according to the reading:

....careful planning notwithstanding even these intonations are not so strictly established. Indeed, I constantly vary my delivery when I read, depending on the makeup of the audience. Thus, for example, a printed text speaks somewhat differently, in that it assumes a qualified reader:

"One must tear the joy away from the future days."

Sometimes when reading on stage, I strengthen this line to a shout:
Tear joy away from future days!"(4)

I say all this because Svarovsky considers these poems to represent what he calls the new

epic, and epics are essentially long songs. They are performative and take their form from the natural breathe−one thing Dante and Mayakovsky have in common is that both chose the vernacular speech of their contemporaries as opposed to the traditional language of dead predecessors. So in my translations I do think of the contemporary, which in our time has been to a large extent occupied by the future, for if there is anything defining our age (in which the present seems to pass by at a superhuman pace) it is our ever growing obsession with the future. These futuristic epics or episodes from epics try to bridge that great divide between the past and future, creating a kind of new hybrid language that is both archaic and scientific.

This is another reason why I like these poems, and there are places where I have played with

the original in order to make my own hybrid in English. In the elegy that makes up Svarovsky's "The Funeral of Mekhos" there is a line in the original that reads: "в новом мире не будет зла / через восемь циклов отступит тьма." I have rendered this: "In the new world, there will be no evil / In the Eighth Epoch, the dark will recede." I have not kept the rhyme. I translated the word "цикл" which has a perfect English equivalent "cycle" as Epoch. I used capital letters where there were none in the original. At least three transgressions in a line poetry that has eight words. To my ear, the parallel construction of the two line brings in both epic and Biblical rhythms, and I felt no need to tawdry the couplet with an end rhyme. In English, the Psalms do not rhyme. In the language of contemporary cosmology the evolution of the universe is often divided into nine epochs, the last of which is called the Stellar Epoch (i.e. the epoch of the stars or light) and this is where we find ourselves today. And so I thought it best to connect the ancient yet futuristic ritual in the poem with our own contemporary language and place within the universe's evolution.

There are other places as well were I inserted more scientific language. In "Exile" I added

mathematical symbols and made reference to specific galaxies. Again, this was because I found the blend of scientific and mythic/epic language to hard to resist. I could have stayed inside the church of fidelity, but like a boy who sees fresh snow falling on the other side of the stained glass, I went outside and threw snowballs with other bad children. I have also translated "Гости" as "Exile."

Some translators might furrow their brow or squint their eyes at this indiscretion, but I love this

poem because it is about exile, and although for me the Russian the word "guest" has connotations of long travel and discomfort in English the word seemed too domestic and inviting for a poem about refugees. Now, one might object and say the poem is not about refugees at all, and I would simply respond that this is not what my poem is about. If someone has a another version let them toil with it as I have and have their own love affair.

And there are many more such derivations in these translations: I have changed tenses,

divided lines, inserted wives, and in a complete moment of recklessness not only rewrote a good deal of the dialogue in the poem titled "Two Robots" but inverted the names so that it is Petka grieving for Chapayev; thus, moving the poem closer to the Chapayev myth as opposed to the actual man. But I do not hide my biases, and will mention them in the introduction to the book; although, many I will not mention and more still I will be entirely unaware of, but this is the beauty of a translation that moves the SOURCE, by way of the IMAGINATION, to the NEW LANGUAGE / the NEW POEM, by way of PLAY, to the READER.(8) 



Prof. David Frick

Svarovsky Translation
May 05, 2012

(1) “The Translators of the One Thousand and One Nights.” Trans. Esther Allen. The Translation Studies Reader. Ed. Lawrence Venuti. 2nd ed. New York: Routledge, 2004. 

(2) Though children of men are really children of women, in that the material comes from women and the factory itself is housed inside the woman. Robots too, at least Earth robots in the near future, will be children of men, though this time it will be easier to cut out the middle man, woman.

(3) Charles Olson. "Projective Verse." New York: Totem Press, 1962

(4) Vladimir Mayakovsky. "How Are Verses Made?"trans. George M. Hyde. London: J. Cape, 1970. p. 65