Poetry in Expanded Translation

Arrived only half-way through this whole-dayer, which took place on a sultry Monday 25 June 2018 (and was itself a lovely unexpected expansion of the AHRC Poetry in Expanded Translation Network, involving three conferences, all of which I’d already missed).  On the day missing many fine readings too, including the xylophonic book of Iris Colomb, the dulcet tones of Jeff Hilson etc.  And took no notes and no photos – those here are courtesy of said Jeff Hilson.  So is my attempt to write an account of the event a metaphor for the task of the (expanded) translator?

Zoë Skoulding: drawing from the textual traces of the now-hidden Bièvre river in Paris; and reading from parts of her Revolutionary Calendar project, including the section published in Tentacular here.  In all the work she read, I had a strong sense of unfoldings and foldings, in which elements suddenly appear with an intense clarity, only to recede or be piled upon further.  Effects of haunting, of palimpsest, of perspective, of trompe l’oeil, as with

more willows disappearing
behind yellowish goat teeth

'Marceau (Goat Willow)', from ‘Ventôse’ in Revolutionary Calendar

Jonathan Skinner: something eerie about his sound recordings, especially where ‘nature’ crosses ‘the human’, the highway intervening across the woods and the lake.  Something powerful in his call for us to unlid our ears, to take in and engage with what we tone out.

Lee Ann Brown: descents into the nine circles of Cambridge.  And so joyfully skipping as she sang a ballad.

Amy Evans: reading from The Report of the Iraq Enquiry: Poetic Summary.  Insistent, but shadowy voices emerge, voices of the victims, voices from the audience echoing the word ‘Blood’ in several languages.  Channeling unrestrainedly and expanding variegatedly upon Conrad’s creatively cavalier use of adverbs. And from SOUND((ING))S - an excerpt of which is also in Tentacular here – which channels an echoic language of the sea, of soundings taken of the sea, of soundings taken of our response, of the European response to the refugee crisis.

Ghostly themes emerging.  Translation as the ghost of the future, the hope of a leap that both conjures and abjures the always-already.

Peter Manson: an exploded translation of every possibility of Mallarmé’s unfinished Hérodiade (?).  ‘If you wanted to produce a late modernist masterpiece in 1898, the best option was to drop dead.’   The sense of return, of the laying bare of an endless clawing at variation.  At one point, the juxtaposition of the word ‘time’ followed by a pause, followed by the word ‘sherbet’ made many (and especially perhaps the thirsty) members of the audience smile.

Harry Gilonis: a feast of what Conrad might have called Oulipianly-inflected translations from what may have been old Irish, mediaeval Welsh, early Gilonis, late Gilonis, Chinese.  Transtranslations of William Carlos Williams back and forth via antique Babelfish rendering subtle differences, translations cool and so sweet.  

Sonnots from Peter Manson and Mendoza: nine-lined nine-syllabled songs plaiting together words of the North East, as gathered by Bill Griffiths and others.  Source of song in work song, in the hard-edged conditions of fishers and miners, word-treasure smoothed and disappearing by global overload now.  Collages by Mendoza which relate to this sequence are also in Tentacular here.  (Apologies for relentless and shameless content marketing.)

Tim Atkins: Ovid’s last poems from exile, a quixotic whirlwind, a ballad of failed maleness, a final challenge to and recognition of how hard it is to (was it?) ‘shit in the master discourse’.

Stephen Watts: a barefooted Blakean bard.

Montenegro Fisher: insects purring and abounding, crashing chords accompanying dietary recommendations for a cow, the truly unbaguettable Lanternfly mating ritual, a green-hulled insect lying very still within the whispering branches of the uncertain ‘certain trees’ uttered by the audience.

The Pineapple.

All photos by Jeff Hilson except lanternflies. For this, all thanks to the feeding habits of Linus Slug.