Thursday, November 01, 2018

Celan Translaboration

I've been making "translations" by a process of running poems through Google translate (and sometimes using an N+7-like process) then tidying up or editing the results. It's a bit I Ching-like or like Cage's writing through acrostics.

 In these translation poems, I'm using the "translate" technique to create for me a resonant pile of phrases and images (a "heap of broken images"?) which I can then shape by exploring this open field of associations which didn't derive from me. Of course (like Cage choice he sources and techniques) I made choices about what to translate and which languages to use and how long to keep translating. Then there is an awareness of the initial poem informing my decisions as well as, of course, the range of my aesthetics--what I consider "working" even if it is beyond my logical understanding.

For me, it's a way of simulating collaboration without collaborating (not that I don't collaborate a lot too.) Maybe it's "translaborating."

Here's one from Celan's poem "Flower" (I don't know who did the original translation into to English. I got the poem of

it’s the wind where I'm going

eyes, like night, are stones

everything black: 

we see the word

flower—a word for darkness

your eyes upon me

like summer

your heart on a wall of hearts

another word like a name for disease

the government of dawn renews


Eccentric Scholar said...

This poem is amazing! In the first stanza, I love the wind pictured as a destination. Wind does indeed embody destination -- even the whirlwind, which conjures the Chinese fifth direction of "center." In the second stanza, we're able to see the word (only?) when everything is black, which darkly illuminates the biographies of so many authors. "Flower" as a word for darkness: it's theorized that we can credit today's flowers to the darkness following the comet that wiped out the dinosaurs ( ). And it's true that your heart is on a wall (a wall made of three layers, the epicardium, myocardium, and endocardium) and that there's a plurality (it's been said that the heart is many things: a vital organ, a lonely hunter, a sleeve ornament). May the governing dawn renew only diseases that are good for us, as cow pox makes us immune to small pox.

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