It may well be that the closest, most interpretative, and creative reading of a text involves translating it from one language to another. Questions of place, culture, epoch, voice, gender, and rhythm take on new urgency, helping us to deepen our writerly skills and sensibilities. As Joseph Brodsky put it: “You must memorize poems, do translation, study foreign languages. And the best way to study a foreign language…is by translating a poem…The music of the poem carries you, you float upon waves of sound, but, at the same time, you peer below the surface of the ocean, and there, in the depths, you notice the teeming life of sea creatures…”
Writers in all genres are welcome to explore this “teeming life” that is the fruit of literary translation. Our workshop has a triple focus: comparing and contrasting existing translations of the same work; reading translators on the art and theory of translation; and critiquing students’ translations-in-progress. We will also consider translation as an act of bearing witness to cultural and political crisis, and as a means of encoding messages that would otherwise be censored.
For a final project, you will have two options: an extended critical study or an original translation (poetry, prose, drama) accompanied by an introduction. There will also be weekly reading assignments and research presentations.