For this installation of 195, I thought I’d point our readers toward one of my favorite aspects of Eleven Eleven: our inclusion of translated works. Reading literary translation not only enriches us as readers, but as citizens of the world, giving the gift of access to rich cultural and literary histories of people and places that may otherwise be remote to us. How wonderful, for example, to be able to read a testimonio from Latin America and get to hear one person’s experience of something you may have read about in a world history class. How revealing to read about a foreign place from the perspective of someone who feels that places as home.
As an art, translation is especially fascinating. The translator may not be an author, but who can argue that the observation, interpretation, and reinvention that the translator does is not an artist’s work? The translator becomes so intimate with the language of a story or poem, its history and cultural references, that it’s hard for me not to think of a translator as some kind of spirit-artist-guide into another world. Before I get carried away with that, let me set you up with some links to a few of my favorite translations in our past online issues:
In Issue 12, Xi Chuan, himself a translator, has shared with us three poems originally written in Chinese. Chuan’s delicate language and references to place establish the ghostly atmosphere that he punctuates with matter-of-fact sentences that ground the reader in the tension of the poems.
Kristín Eiríksdóttir is an Icelandic writer whose story “Holes in People” we featured in Issue 10. Her narrator recounts the disappearance of her father and the small hopes and horrors they encounter in the years that follow. A truly beautiful and riveting story.
Last, for the moment, I’ll mention Yuka Tsukagoshi, a Japanese poet whose four poems she co-translated for Issue 8. I was especially taken with the sounds in her poem “Silkworm” and the sepulchral images the speaker conjures while recalling a silkworm she once killed.
Hope you enjoy reading these pieces as much as I did!