“The anxiety in the drinking glasses grows/ out of your secret whirl to the ward’s/ green light, to the corridors,/ to the glass partition, to the farewell/ with dry eyelashes, this death/ that no longer has any time.”
— From “To Find the Vein” in Theme of Farewell and After-Poems by Milo De Angelis, reviewed beautifully by Barbara Berman
“Of course, the strange thing was, it’s not a memoir. They asked me, “Could you write a book about translation?” So I just wrote about my experience and what I thought about it. But memoirs are selling, so we called it a memoir, and I won a prize for memoir.”
“I love the line he says: “’Hanne, I may not be on stage’”—he’s an unemployed Noh actor—“’but it doesn’t mean that there’s no life off of stage. I’ve fallen off the stage, but I’m still involved in life. It’s still here. Is that what you fear? That you’ll fall off your stage and you’ll be in nothingness? That’s not true.’” So he keeps poking and probing. Words aren’t the only thing in life. It’s not all category and labels and thinking and words. Then he goes deeper. You don’t have to be creating meaning all the time. It’s just here. This is divine. Right here.”
“At their best, love and translation share some contradictions, including selfishness and generosity. Translation is impossible, or at least not very good, without a passionate desire to own the material and leave one’s mark on it. At the same time, few translators want to “hide the light” of their translations “under a bushel.” The translations they undertake and complete belong to them, are marked by them, and yet they are without much value unless shared.”
“I found myself slightly distanced from the book while reading it– talking to myself about 19th century novels and how I feel about them and why is it that I can’t quite fall into the world fully? It only staked its claim clearly over the next months, as I’ve thought of it a lot. Clear as a bell in my head. Sadder over time. Really sad. And beautiful.”
Aimee Bender on the Lydia Davis translation of Madame Bovary in The Best Of Not 2012.
“This indecisiveness, I realize, is quite consistent with the impossible art of translating poetry at all, for there is no such thing as a final translation. Only the original is unique and absolute, and essentially cannot exist in “other words.” And one part of the impossibility of translating any poem is the fact that we want the translation to be is exactly what it never can be: the original. Yet the impossibility of the whole enterprise is part of the perennial temptation to try again.”
“I think poetry is maybe what gets lost in translation, but you have to add that poetry is also what transcends culture. Poetry is universal. It travels. The Japanese translated Emily Dickinson! They love Emily Dickinson. If you stopped and thought, “What the hell does Emily Dickinson from Amherst, Massachusetts, have to say to some contemporary Japanese?” you’d have to say it’s impossible, forget it. Yet it works. How does it work? It works because it’s poetry.”
— Charles Simic (via thecoffinfactory)