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Mary Economou Bailey (Ryerson University)

"(Re)translating" Penelope: From Mythic to Contemporary Gaze

In Homer's Iliad, Helen's song, poetry and weaving ultimately immortalize both the myths and the poet. In the Odyssey, Penelope is also a weaver, and her weaving also tells a story. Contemporary women poets have appropriated myth, translating stories with their own gaze and voice; "re-visioning" as Adrienne Rich notes, or "reimagining myth", what Elaine Showalter calls this process of deconstructing myth and recreating stories. Whereas Helen has a multifarious identity, from symbol of beauty to symbol of death, Penelope's very identity is focused on the act of weaving, for through her plot of weaving and unweaving, she postpones remarriage and childbearing with the suitors, an act which substantiates her as the archetypal figure of faithfulness and fidelity. For modern and contemporary poets, the 'traditional' concept of an adventurous Odysseus with a mundane Penelope hitherto without a voice offers an opportunity for women poets to "re-vision" or "(re)translate" Penelope, often culminating in a story which stresses male/female tensions and questioning of gender roles, as we see in Dorothy Parker, Linda Pastan, Katha Pollitt, Carol Ann Duffy and Janice Kulyk Keefer. In The Penelopiad, Margaret Atwood gives Penelope a voice to tell her story, one interspersed with poetic interjections from the twelve maids killed by Odysseus. In Atwoodian style, the personal world of Penelope and the 'voiceless' maids clashes/blurs with the political world of returning war heroes, and alternative stories emerge.

Mary Economou Bailey is presently teaching at Humber College, Toronto, Canada. She has published and presented several papers on Classical myth in poetry, and is presently working on a book project on Classical myth (re)written by women.

Marija Bergam (University of Bari, Italy)

Writing, Translation, Creolization: Culture-Specific Elements in Derek Walcott's Omeros

In his last published poem (The Prodigal, 2004), Derek Walcott compares his life's work to 'simply a good translation' bringing to the surface an undercurrent that has long marked his output. The concept of translation in Walcott's works can be approached from various points of view, but it should always be put in relation to creolization, which points both to linguistics and to the socio-cultural trends that characterise the Caribbean and, increasingly, the world as a whole. This paper focuses on Omeros, the acclaimed poem of epic dimensions published in 1990, and enquires into the way the author transposes his culture and environment into the written text. The elements analysed are, by large, lexical items qualifying as realia, i.e. terms denoting culture-specific concepts. I will argue that Walcott 'translates' his culture a) by not translating various patois expressions; b) riddling his text with references to natural phenomena and 'indigenous' cultural practices. The function of these components in the overall structure of the work will be assessed. Translation is known to decentre language, and the practice of forging a characteristically Caribbean poetics implies of necessity certain 'translational' techniques. The question is whether and to what extent the creolization of the source text produces the same effect when this text is translated into another language. The second part of the paper looks briefly into the Italian rendition of the poem and addresses the problems which arise when transposing the cultural elements from the source text/culture into the target text/culture.

Marija Bergam is a third-year doctoral student at the University of Bari, Italy, where she took her degree in Foreign Languages and Literatures in 2005. The main concern of her research work is the Italian translation of Derek Walcott's 'Omeros', a subject which conflates translation studies, post-colonial studies and literary criticism in general. She is particularly interested in the topics such as translation (both as interlingual transfer and metaphor), translation shifts and translation criticism, creolization, and the rewritings of the Odysseus myth. She has published an essay in Italian on the themes of space, voyage, and identity in Walcott's 'Schooner Flight' ('From the Depths of the Sea': lo spazio, il viaggio, l'identita; nella Goletta 'Volo' di Derek Walcott', Geografie della coscienza, Edizioni B.A. Graphis, Bari 2007), and a translation into Serbo-Croat of a brief excerpt from 'Omero's, accompanied by a short essay ('Some Reflections on Translating a Fragment of Derek Walcott's 'Omeros', available on the EnterText website).

Evan Bibbee (Minnesota State University, Mankato)

"What do you think of these signs?": Translation and Subversive Poetics in Le Conte du Graal

Near the end of Chretien de Troyes' Conte du Graal, there is a well-known episode in which Gawain is drawn to a mysterious castle where he endures an onslaught of fantastic adventures: deafening bells, hails of arrows, even a ferocious lion. Fortunately for the knight, these threats are no match for his chivalric prowess, and the castle's residents laud him as "the best and most valiant man of all" (le meillor de toz les preudomes, l. 7935). Yet when their hero later alludes to these same events, the knight Guiromelans laments such shocking lies (mencoinges, l. 8677) as the fanciful linguistic games of a cut-rate bard (jogloeres, l. 8680). It is not until Gawain thrusts out his battle-worn shield like some crude chronicle and recounts his exploits in a series of rhyming couplets that his adversary withdraws all criticism. And though he solicits interpretation of his composition (De ces ensaignes que vos samble?, l. 8712), the signs really speak for themselves. This sort of miraculous bringing forth (translatio) could only be the work of a true poet, one who is able to mingle the marvelous with the mundane, to give clear voice to an otherwise nebulous silence. In the Middle Ages, such a concept was nothing less than subversive, for it placed the poet on the same creative plane as God. In fact, when the imagery of this passage is compared with that found elsewhere in the Conte du Graal, Gawain's reading takes on a decidedly sinister hue.

Major Fields of Concentration: Medieval French Literature; Literary Criticism and Theory; Comparative Literature (including Troubadour Lyric Poetry, French & Italian Literature of the Renaissance, and French Caribbean Literature)

Francesca Billiani (University of Manchester)

It is Political: Translations of Portuguese Poetry in Italy in the 1960s and 1970s

Translation of Portuguese poetry in 1960s and 1970s Italy populated publishers' catalogues in an editorial fashion, which, because of its unusual popular appeal, raises rather interesting questions about the space translation of an elite and niche genre as poetry can occupy within a literary system which is undergoing a process of profound cultural and political changes. On the one hand, the 1960s and 1970s witnessed a deep transformation of Italian culture and politics. Amongst other well-known factors, this sea-change had been encouraged by the economic miracle, the student movement and the Communist Party hegemony over progressive cultural avenues. On the other, Portugal was still seen as the European country which was constrained under a dictatorial power which symbolically echoed the political oppression Italy had faced during Mussolini's rule. By looking at the publication history of and the narratives constructed by translators, agents and publishers on and around Portuguese poets, such as Agostinho Neto, Alexandre O'Neill, Eugenio de Andrade, Maria Isabel Barreno, Maria Teresa Horta, and Maria Velho da Costa, this paper argues that these translations, often in the shape of far-reaching anthologies, aimed at communicating to a wider than usual audience of middle-class readers a political message about the engagement culture should champion during periods of historical transition. In short, ideally Italian writers and publishers used translations of poetry from a so-perceived oppressed and marginal literary tradition as means of constructing an engaged cultural sphere where forms of aesthetic and ideological dissent could be voiced.

'Enter Bio here'

John Bradley (Northern Illinois University)

"Serious and Carvnivalesque": The Paradox of Mock Translation

Why are poets so readily embracing mock translations? Who or what is being mocked? Is it the practice of translation? Or translators? The "imaginary" poet? The creator of the mock translation? Or is it ultimately you, gentle reader? The publication of The Imaginary Poets, edited by Alan Michael Parker, Tupelo, 2005, raises these and other disturbing questions. Even the cover illustration of The Imaginary Poets provokes: a quill floating above an ink bottle which has a note tied to the top. The note reads "USE ME." Who or what is being used? Editor Parker calls the poets in his anthology "serious and carnivalesque." How can both be true? Twenty-two poets in this anthology create a poet, a "translated" poem, and a short essay on the fictive poet. The "translators" include Maxine Kumin, David St. John, Eleanor Wilner, Garrett Hong, Aliki Barnstone, and Mark Strand. Thus The Imaginary Poet provides a window into the world of mock translation, which has given us the infamous "translation" of the poetry of Araki Yasusada, alleged survivor of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima. After examining the paradoxes and politics of mock translation in The Imaginary Poet, I'll revisit the international uproar over Yasusada's book "Doubled Flowering" in light of the growing popularity of this subversive genre.

John Bradley is the author of "Love-In-Idleness: The Poetry of Roberto Zingarello" (Word Works), "Terrestrial Music" (Curbstone), and "War on Words" (BlazeVOX). He is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize and two National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships in poetry. He has an M.A. from Colorado State University and an M.F.A. from Bowling Green State University. He teaches at Northern Illinois University.

Zoe Brigley (University of Northampton)

The Construction of a "Minor Literature": Making a Canon of Cymraeg in the English Language in The Bloodaxe Book of Modern Welsh Poetry

This paper uses Gilles Deleuze's and Felix Guattari's model of a 'minor literature' to discuss the project of The Bloodaxe Book of Modern Welsh Poetry (2003), an anthology that creates a canon of Cymraeg (Welsh language) poetry in translation. In Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature (1986), Deleuze and Guattari discuss Franz Kafka's relation to different languages in the Prague of the Hapsburg Empire and they are particularly interested in the interaction between German, a language of power and bureaucracy, and Czech which was a marginalised language at that time. Deleuze and Guattari believe that Kafka's choice to write in Prague German is significant since that idiom was a peculiar language that deterritorialized the imperialist German in order to create a 'minor literature'. I proceed by using the three strategies defined by Deleuze and Guattari as constituting a 'minor literature'. They include the construction of a collective literary project, the adoption of political values and the deterritorialization of a major, global language. Through detailed discussion and analysis, I show that the editors, Menna Elfyn and John Rowlands, have adopted all of these principles: in their use of a large pool of translators; in the highlighting of Cymraeg poetry's political project; and most importantly in the deterritorialization of the English language as the translations insert Cymraeg's linguistic tendencies into the English idiom. Keywords: Language, Devolution, Minor Literature, Deterritorialization.

Zoe Brigley works as a lecturer in English and Creative Writing at Northampton University. She is also a published poet and winner of an Eric Gregory Award, an Academi Bursary and the English Association Poetry Fellow Award. Her debut collection, The Secret, was published in 2007 by Bloodaxe Books. She is currently working on a number of projects including a special journal issue of Orbis Litterarum on the subject of British literatures and an edited volume of essays on retheorising sexual violence via women's literature.

Tony Brinkley (University of Maine)

Fictive Listening: translating Mandelshtam's "Tristia"

Walter Benjamin suggests that what is most interesting about translation is not its impossibility but its possibility since it after all occurs. What is it that occurs? Benjamin calls it a "survival" or "afterlife" of the original, part of its "continuing life." In "The Task of the Translator," Benjamin was largely uninterested in either original or translation as an act of communication and did not regard speech acts as one of the translator's tasks. A reader comes upon a text the way an archeologist unearths a fragment of pottery whose creation is indifferent to the belated discovery. A translator translates this indifference as well, but when Benjamin subsequently translated his theory of translation into a theory of history (the survivals become fragmentary indices given to later moments of legibility) the earlier indifference was now an urgent yearning. The past yearns for recognition in the now-time of subsequent readings. When the translator becomes a historical materialist, perhaps translation becomes responsive to this urgency as well. Mikhail Bakhtin suggests that every speech genre involves listening as well as speaking. If speaking offers an efficient cause for what I hear, listening offers a final cause or telos for what I say. Different speech genres create different modes of listening, in the case of complex speech genres like lyric poetry, insistently overdetermined modes. If poems offer ways of listening as well as speaking, listening as well as speaking survives in their translations. Will it then be a task of the translator to translate a poem's way of listening (or what Benjamin might call the moment of recognition for which it yearns)? In the paper we are proposing, we would like to begin with a specific poem, Osip Mandelshtam's "Tristia," and consider both the listening it entails and how this listening might be translated into English. We will offer a new translation in addition to other translations (Joseph Brodsky's, for example) in order to consider a range of translations that Mandelshtam's Russian offers. In an early essay, Mandelshtam suggested that his poems by intention were addressed to future readers whose existence he could not imagine but to whom he wrote in response. To translate "Tristia" might be to find oneself in the temporary role of this unimaginable reader who listens as the poem's final cause. At the same time, however, it will also be to translate for such a reader. Perhaps what Mandelshtam suggests is only an operative fiction, but what happens to translation if one translates, as Mandelshtam wrote, with this operative fiction in mind and as if it were the case?

Editor (with Keith Hanley), Romantic Revisions (Cambridge University Press). Author of Stalin's Eyes (Puckerbrush Press) and Gomorrah (forthcoming, Flatbay Press). Poems have been published in Another Chicago Magazine, Beloit Poetry Journal, and New Review of Literature. Translations (with Raina Kostova) of Mandelshtam's poetry have appeared in New Review of Literature and Shofar. Co-authored articles on Mandelshtam, Stalin, and Dostoevsky have appeared in The Dostoevsky Journal and Modernism/Modernity. Co-authored articles on the Shoah have appeared in PMLA and Post-Modern Culture.