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A Quick Note on César Vallejo

A Quick Note on César Vallejo

Selected Writings of César Vallejo, ed. Joseph Mulligan, various trans. (Wesleyan University Press, 2015) is a badly formulated publication, in contrast, for example, to the same publisher’s magnificent handling of Victor Segalen’s Stèles (2007). It has to be said that it is not infrequent that seemingly all-embracing selected volumes make uncomfortable reading. The Selected Poetry and Prose of Andrea Zanzotto (University of Chicago Press, 2007) is another case in point. This is not to say that one should not buy this Vallejo. Probably one should because some eighty percent of its contents have never been translated into English before. The problem is that the wonderful wealth of decently translated and annotated prose, extracted from a great deal more: articles, chronicles, stories, plays, letters, has, interspersed among it, selections from Vallejo’s poetry, some in previously published translations, all anyway previously translated many times. This makes for irritating intrusion, not the helpful context the editor or publisher presumably intended. And that space could have been taken up with more of the prose. Two other points, just for example. Firstly, the earliest Vallejo prose includes quotations from poems by two other poets, which are not translated. Why? This book is offered as a translation. Doubtless many of its readers will be unable to read Spanish well or at all. So why is it assumed that these quotations do not also need to be translated? Secondly, that part of the bibliography, while described as selected, devoted to “Works by Vallejo in English Translation”, is nevertheless grossly negligent in important omissions, including Shearsman’s The Complete Poems, Allardyce Book’s The Black Heralds, and others.

Anthony Barnett 15th July 2015

Tears in the Fence 61

Tears in the Fence 61

Tears in the Fence 61, designed by Westrow Cooper, with a stunning winter woodland cover, is now available from https://tearsinthefence.com/pay-it-forward It features poetry, fiction, art criticism and drama from Mike Duggan, Robert Vas Dias, Ian Seed, Jennifer Compton, Anne Gorrick, Kelvin Corcoran, Charles Wilkinson, Sheila Hamilton, Chris Daly, Gerald Locklin, Mark Goodwin, Kimberly Campanello, David Pollard, James Roome, Tim Allen, Matt Bryden, Sheila Mannix, Cora Greenhill, Jackie Sullivan, Colin Sutherill, Yvonne Reddick, Michael Henry, Andrew Shelley, S.J. Litherland, Elizabeth Cook, Cristina Navazo-Eguía Newton, John Bloomberg Rissman & Anne Gorrick, Nigel Jarrett, David Goldstein, Reuben Woolley, Kate Noakes, Rupert M. Loydell, Paul Sutton, Seàn Street, Louise Anne Buchler, David Clarke, David Andrew and Ziba Karbassi.

The critical section consists of David Caddy’s Editorial, Hannah Silva’s Make It Strange
, Anthony Barnett’s Two Childlike Antonyms
, Andrew Duncan on Kathleen Raine
, Steve Spence on Daniel Harris & Rupert M. Loydell
, Ric Hool on Tom Pickard
, John Muckle on James Wilson
, Elaine Randell on John Muckle
, David Caddy on David Miller
, Mandy Pannett on Jay Ramsay
, John Welch on Paul Rossiter
, Belinda Cooke on Yves Bonnefoy and Leonid Aronzon
, Fiona Owen on Victoria Field, Jay Ramsay on Anna Saunders
, Anthony Barnett’s Antonym: Literary Tumbles
, Sheila Hamilton on Melinda Lovell
, Notes On Contributors
 and Ian Brinton’s Afterword.

David Caddy 12th March 2015

SNOW 3 Spring 2015, edited by Anthony Barnett & Ian Brinton

SNOW 3 Spring 2015, edited by Anthony Barnett & Ian Brinton

SNOW 3 is a cornucopia of international delights and quite unlike any other UK literary review. There are translations, musical scores, drawings, writing paintings, original poetry and prose, essays, extracts and stills from Rei Hayama’s film, The Focus, based upon a Nathaniel Hawthorne story, extracts from the correspondence between the Dutch writer, Cees Nooteboom, and Anthony Barnett, sketches by Harold Lehman, and a photographic essay on the artists and musicians at the Grand Terrace Cafe, Chicago, in early 1941.

The poetry translations include Simon Smith’s Catallus, Emilia Telese’s Erika Dagnino, and Barry Schwabsky’s Pierre Reverdy. Anthony Barnett translates the poetry and prose of Gunnar Ekelöf. Christina Chalmers and Concetta Scozzaro translate Andrea Zanzotto’s essay ‘Infancies, Poetries, Nursery’, Ian Brinton translates Philippe Jaccottet on Francis Ponge, Jørn H. Sværen translates his own prose from the Norwegian. Konrad Nowakowski writes on Busoni’s Letter to Verdi and Bridget Penney writes about the literary and artistic connections of Abney Park Cemetery, north London. The original poetry, less than usual, comes from Caroline Clark, Dorothy Lehane, Yamuph Piklé, Alexandra Sashe and John Seed.

This extraordinary mix is beautifully designed and presented by Allardyce, Barnett, Publishers. 14 Mount Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1HL.

http://www.abar.net

David Caddy 3rd March 2015

Parting Movement, Constantly Prevented by Isabelle Baladine Howald

Parting Movement,  Constantly Prevented by Isabelle Baladine Howald

Translated by Eléna Rivera (Oystercatcher Press)

A delightful arrival from the Oystercatcher: a moving sequence of poems under the three headings ‘August’, ‘September’, ‘October’ contained beneath a cover which merges the almost tangible sense of loss in the ‘Creation of Adam’ on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with ‘Venetia, Lady Digby, on her deathbed’ by Van Dyck. Both paintings deal with stasis and movement, a recognition of the living and an awareness of the irretrievable loss of parting. The cover is of a statue, stone and movement, and is followed by an epigraph, “I have to find my place again and you have to move.”

The personal intimacy of these poems rests with the awareness of the gap between people:
‘Knowing you was never something I tried to achieve, even as
a child.
That’s the way I conceived of things right from the beginning.’

They remind me of Rosemarie Waldrop’s ‘Conversation’ recorded in Contemporary Literature, Vol 40, No 3, Autumn 1999:

‘what matters is not things but what happens between them. Or if you take the linguistic model, it is not the phoneme but the connection of phonemes that makes language, the differences in the sequence…The gaps keep the questions in relation.’

As Nikolai Duffy put it in her Shearsman publication Relative Strangeness, Reading Rosemarie Waldrop, ‘For Waldrop, poetry is the taking place of language in the spaces between words. Throughout her writing there is the sense that language can be experienced only as fissure, gap, aperture, an empty middle into which the possibility of meaning both enters and escapes.’
In ‘Projective Verse Charles Olson writes ‘At root (or stump) what is , is no longer THINGS but what happens BETWEEN things, these are the terms of the reality contemporary to us—and the terms of what we are.’ In ‘Aesthetic’ Charles Tomlinson writes about reality taking place in the space between things. In Howald’s ‘August’ the dominating sense is movement and stillness: fullness and emptiness: ‘The room resonates, without the furniture.’

Fragment 22:
‘A day of arguing, he had wanted to leave; in his backpack, his alarm clock, a flashlight.’

The clock presents an urgency of now whilst the flashlight suggests a stare into the future.

The fragments from ‘September’ give us a world of Beckett’s ‘Play’, the touching urns and the fragmented relationship conveyed lyrically to us as dismemberment, and Dante’s Canto V from Inferno with Paolo and Francesca:

Fragment 6:
‘I speak to him, he rarely answers but he listens.
In a certain way I love him, even if I never knew anything about
him, never wanted to know anything.’

The poet gives us a world of the suspended moment, as with Keats’s ‘Ode on a Grecian Urn’ or that painting by Van Dyke:

Fragment 11:
‘Constant parting movement, constantly prevented.
Slight gesture toward turning round, finally not doing it.’

Another echo for me is Anthony Barnett’s translation of Anne-Marie Albiach’s ‘An Object of Anarchy’:

‘A memory in the body, attempts the awakening of coded signs in a partially blind work.’

Ian Brinton 15th October 2014

Ian Brinton at Tears in the Fence Poetry Festival

Ian Brinton at Tears in the Fence Poetry Festival

We are delighted that critic, editor, translator and literary historian, Ian Brinton, will be participating in the Tears in the Fence poetry festival, 24-26th October. https://tearsinthefence.com/festival

Ian has not only made a substantial contribution to Tears in the Fence as Reviews Editor but also to English poetry in the past few years. He has edited An intuition of the particular: some essays on the poetry of Peter Hughes (Shearsman 2013) and Thrills and Frills, Selected Prose of Andrew Crozier (Shearsman 2013), Andrew Crozier Reader (Carcanet 2012) and A Manner of Utterance: The Poetry of J.H. Prynne (Shearsman 2009). He has written a series of articles on Black Mountain in England for PN Review, as well as a generous number of reviews for PN Review and other journals, edited Use of English, for the English Association, and written dozens of blog reviews and essays for Tears in the Fence. He has also written Contemporary Poetry: Poets and Poetry since 1990 (Cambridge University Press, 2009), Dickens’ Great Expectations: A Reader’s Guide (Continuum, 2007) and Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights: A Reader’s Guide (Continuum, 2011). He co-edits the occasional review, SNOW, with Anthony Barnett, and serves as an adviser for the Cambridge University Poetry archive. He has become a familiar and smiling presence at a great many poetry events.

Ian has translated Yves Bonnefoy, with Michael Grant, published in two pamphlets by Oystercatcher in 2013:

The Ravine

There was only a sword thrust
Into the mass of stone.
With rusted hilt, the ancient iron
Had turned the flank of the grey stone red.
And you knew you had to have the courage to take hold
Of such absence in both hands, and wrench
The dark flame out of its vein of night.
Words were scrawled in the blood of the stone,
They spoke of the way of knowledge and of dying.

Enter the depth of absence, distance yourself,
The port is here in the scree
A bird song
Will be your guide on the new bank.

We are thrilled and honoured to be welcoming Ian to the Festival. He will be an active participant. Please come along, meet Ian, and hear him talk.

David Caddy 29th September 2014

Tears in the Fence 60

Tears in the Fence 60

Tears in the Fence marks its Thirtieth Anniversary with a poetry Festival 24-26th October, and the publication of issue 60.

Tears in the Fence 60 is now available from https://tearsinthefence.com/pay-it-forward and features poetry and fiction from Lucy Hamilton, John Freeman, Ric Hool, Francis Ponge translated by Ian Brinton, Lynne Wycherley, James Midgley, George Ttoouli, Melinda Lovell, Michael Farrell, Paul A. Green, Norman Jope, Rethabile Masilo, Jo Mazelis, Helen Copley. Saint James Harris Wood, Paul Kareem Tayyar, Linda Black, Jeremy Reed, Peter King, David Ball, John Torrance, Jay Ramsay, Dorothy Lehane, Caroline Maldonado, Mark Dickinson, Michael Henry, Amy McCauley, Lesley Burt, Deya Mukherjee, Colin Sutherill, L. Kiew, Adam Fieled, Rob Stanton, Steve Spence, Colin McCabe, Elaine Randell, Mandy Pannett and Mark Russell. There is also a Conversation Piece between Fiona Owen and Ric Hool.

The critical section includes Hannah Silva’s Make It Strange, Jennifer K. Dick’s Of Tradition & Experiment, Anthony Barnett’s Antonyms, Belinda Cooke on recent translations, Basil King’s Learning to Draw / A History, Ben Hickman on Tony Lopez, Jeremy Hilton on Andrew Taylor, sean burn, Ric Hool, Peter Hughes on Women’s Experimental Poetry in Britain, Philip Crozier on Andrew Crozier in Hastings, Gavin Goodwin on Thomas A. Clark, Mandy Pannett on Simon Jarvis, David Caddy on John Goodby’s The Poetry of Dylan Thomas, Rosie Jackson’s Between The Lines, Notes on Contributors and Ian Brinton’s Afterword.

InExperience and UnCommon Sense in Translation

InExperience and UnCommon Sense in Translation

a lecture given by Anthony Barnett,

 

published by Allardyce Book

 

This beautifully produced little pamphlet is simply a delight and it should be acquired by anyone who is interested in the art of translation. The opening paragraph of this guest lecture given at Meiji University sets the scene for some serious debate:

 

I start off with the premise that there is no usable theory of translation other than the one that says that each text to be translated dictates, in the necessary rather than the tyrannical sense of the word, its own requirements—and that you must use your head. It is in that fresh innocence of each text to be translated, and the fresh naïvity of the translator’s approach to each text, that I have used the word inexperience in the title of this lecture.

 

The fine combination of good sense and sympathetic understanding expressed here reminds me of J.H. Prynne’s 2007 paper titled ‘Some Aspects of Poems and Translations’ in which he says that translating poems into poetic form in a foreign language is difficult in many ways and that no individual translation can be satisfactory in every direction at once:

 

There is very often a conflict between the effort to convey the meaning in a recognisable way, and the effort to communicate the formal aspects of composition, to show the shapes and patterns and energies of the writing as much as its meaning.

 

Prynne goes on to say that translation ‘is for sure a noble art, making bridges for readers who want to cross the divide between their own culture and those cultures which are situated in other parts of the world; and yet a material bridge is passive and inert, without any life of its own, whereas a poetic translator must try to make a living construction with its own energy and powers of expression, to convey the active experience of a foreign original text.’

 

Anthony Barnett is himself a translator of immense subtlety and power and I urge our readers to look for his 2012 publication of Translations which he published in association with Tears in the Fence. In that extraordinarily powerful collection we can read the entire script of Akutagawa’s A Fool’s Life as well as major poems by Roger Giroux, Anne-Marie Albiach, Alain Delahaye, Andrea Zanzotto and Paul Celan amongst many others. That volume, like this excellent little lecture, is a model of the art of fine printing and it is available from www.abar.net

 

Ian Brinton July 22nd 2014

 

 

Anthony Barnett’s InExperience and UnCommon Sense in Translation

Anthony Barnett’s InExperience and UnCommon Sense in Translation

Allardyce Book ABP http://www.abar.net

This lecture on translation delivered at Meiji University, Tokyo, in May 2002, has been lightly revised and is prefaced with a new note updating references.

Barnett confronts the slippery world of translation theory by boldly asserting that there is no usable theory of translation other than treating each text to be translated in terms of its own necessary requirements and using your head. He utilises Umberto Eco, whose book Experiences in Translation offers practical and imaginative solutions to various problems, Yves Bonnefoy, who believes that translation is not only possible but also poetry rebegun, and his own experiences. He uses the word uncommon to indicate that a common sense solution to a translation may not be obvious, and that something unusual or uncommon may be seen eventually to be the obvious common sense solution. There is, he argues, a way through to the poetic equivalent in the second language.

The lecture is full of illuminating asides and examples of what he means. Barnett notes that poetry, whilst a special use of language, may not be special in every way by comparison with packaged food labels and product instruction sheets, which come in several languages. He wonders why the translators may opt on the same packet for a less precise equivalent and a potentially hazardous result, and notes the necessity to avoid calamitous results by confidently refusing nonsense.

His first example refuting the impossibility of translation is the Italian poet, Giuseppe Ungaretti’s two line poem, ‘Mattina’ (‘Morning’) ‘M’illumino / d’immenso’, literally ‘I am illuminated / with immensity’ and other possible but unpoetic versions. He explains how he found the solution ‘I am blessed with light’ one morning. The line certainly has more poetry than the literal translation and is in harmony with the original.

Amongst further examples, Barnett considers Donald Keene’s problem with translating Midori iro no sutokkingu by Abe Kōbō. When Keene asked the playwright whether the translation should be singular or plural, there being a lack of distinction in the Japanese, he replied that it was his problem. Keene settled for the plural, The Green Stockings. Barnett notes that he failed to utilise the help given by the non-committal reply and could have dispensed with the definite article and the plural to arrive at the more poetic, Green Stocking.

In his consideration of Bashō’s famous frog haiku ‘Furuike ya / kawazu tobikomu / mizu no oto’, translated by Nobuyuki Yuasa as ‘Breaking the silence / Of an ancient pond / A frog jumped into water / A deep resonance’, he cites the concrete poet and Benedictine priest, dom sylvester houédard’s fortune teller origami construction from 1965 where the reader manipulates the folded paper to reveal ‘frog / pond / plop’. This wonderful solution to the translation moreover also has the mouth and shape of the frog, the hollow and shape of the pond, and splosh of the plop as the fortune teller is manipulated through its various combinations. This translation is a shade more minimal than say Cid Corman’s ‘old pond / frog leaping / splash’.

Barnett also points to the example of exceptional author-translators and cites the practice of Samuel Beckett and Isak Dinesen of re-writing their original work in translation. Sentences are recast and passages removed, and sometimes added.

The lecture is full of practical common sense and comes with an appendix ‘Thinking About Translation’, addressed to a translation symposium in Bremen and a translation of Leopardi’s ‘The Infinite’ poem, with accompanying note, as an insert. The translation ends:

In this immensity my mind goes under:

And my foundering at sea is sweet.

 

David Caddy 6th July 2014

 

 

Tears in the Fence 59

Tears in the Fence 59

Tears in the Fence 59 is now available from https://tearsinthefence.com/pay-it-forward and features poetry, fiction and nonfiction from Lucy Burnett, Anne Gorrick, Colin Sutherill, Peter Larkin, Mark Goodwin, Chris Hall, Sue Chenette, Stefan Zweig translated by William Ruleman, Lesley Burt, June English, Sheila Hamilton, Rachel Sills, Mandy Pannett, Janet Rogerson, Valerie Bridge, Elizabeth Stott, Seàn Street, Charles Hadfield, Natalie Bradbeer, Grahaeme Barrasford Young, Charles Wilkinson, Eleanor Rees, Christos Sakellaridis, Carole Birkan, James Bell, Nicolas Ridley, Gerald Locklin, Caroline Clark, Simon Jenner, Rosie Jackson, Geraldine Clarkson and Steve Spence.

The critical section includes David Caddy’s Editorial, Anthony Barnett’s Antonym: A Disaccumulation of Knowledge, A Conversation Piece with John Freeman by Gavin Goodwin, Jennifer K. Dick’s Of Tradition and Experiment X: Five Small Press Publications, Peter Hughes on John Hall, Ben Hickman on Keston Sutherland, Norman Jope on recent Waterloo Press books, Elizabeth Stott on Kathleen Jones’ biography of Norman Nicholson, Juha Virtanen on recent Knives Forks and Spoons Press publications, Tom Jenks on Robert Sheppard, Mandy Pannett on Valerie Bridge, Rosie Jackson’s Between The Lines, Anthony Barnett’s Antonym: Gunnar Ekelöf ’s Table and Ian Brinton’s Aferword.

SNOW

SNOW

SNOW 2 Fall 2013- Spring 2014 (Allardyce, Barnett Publishers

14 Mount Street, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 1HL) http://www.abar.net is an extraordinarily high quality literary review.

This issue has considerable variety encompassing poetry, translations, photography, film stills, music, drawings, visual poems, and essays. A veritable cornucopia of delights beautifully designed and presented.

SNOW 2 consists of poetry by Ralph Hawkins, Eleanor Perry, William Fuller, Peter Larkin, John Hall, Justin Katko, Simon Howard, Ray Ragosta, James Wilson and collaborative texts by Vincent Katz and Barry Schwabsky. There are superb translations by David Lloyd of Anne-Marie Albiach, Ian Brinton of Francis Ponge, Anthony Barnett of Giuseppe Ungaretti, and Andrea Zanzotto, Boyd Nielson of Raul Zurita, Keith Sands of Osip Mandelstam, and Jørn H. Svaeren by the author.  Music is provided by Joëlle Léandre, Michelle Rosewoman, and Dave Soldier, with words by Anthony Barnett, in the Requiem to the Memory of Amy Li.  The drawings are by Anthony Barnett, Dom Sylvester Houédard, photographs by Sung Hee Jin, Pauline Manière, visual poems by Sarah Kelly, and film stills by Nick Collins.

Amongst the essays Kumiko Kiuchi writes on ‘The Silence of Film And The Voice From The Spectral: Samuel Beckett, Buster Keaton And …’, J.H. Prynne writes on ‘The Night Vigil’ of Shon Zhou, David Hutchinson writes on ‘Caring for Historic Buildings in Japan and England, and Anthony Barnett on ‘Parts Of A Lost Letter From George Oppen’.

David Caddy

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