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Saba Syed Razvi (The University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA.)

The Lines Between the Hidden and the Manifest: Navigating the Language of the Beloved in Sufi Subculture and Mystic Poetry

Concepts lost in translation between languages resonate to varying degrees in versions constructed through differing translation philosophies. How then, can slippage between concepts emerge when the matter of language itself constitutes a tangible code of culturally-embedded, historically-inherited material? Coleman Barks, in a recent interview, claims that "to write poetry in another language, or even to read it, you have to have the language in your mother's milk," in such a way as cannot be gleaned from a dictionary. Not a Farsi-speaker, he works instead with existing translations rather than original texts, yielding the most popular Rumi translations in American publishing. He answers this tension with Rumi's own claim that those who "love words...get to approach the divine through words." In a mystical tradition such as Sufism, wherein the language of love exists as a vernacular particular to a distinct group of people, nuances are amplified. The word itself is connected to the sacred, the language of the beloved functioning as a code allowing or denying entry into dimensional spaces to those speakers using its words as keys. Translation between such constructs might consider such interconnectivity. This essay demonstrates the integral function of the vocabulary of love in maintaining a balance between the ineffable and the ordinary, that is, between encountering the divine and longing for it, through way of obscurity, the concealment and revelation of moments of truth, to perpetuate the ideal experience of desire, within poems by Rabia, Attar, Hafiz, Rumi, & Ghalib.

Saba Syed Razvi holds a BA in English from Creighton University, a MA in English and Creative Writing from the University of Texas at Austin, and a MA in English from the University of Southern California. The recipient of a James A. Michener Fellowship, a Fania Kruger Fellowship, and a Virginia C Middleton Fellowship, she has also participated in readings and panels through Writer's Harvest, Cole's, The Loudest Voice, the founding conference of the British Society for Literature and Science, and SoundEye West: Poetry Between Languages. Her poetry has appeared in Diner, Karamu, Anthology, The Homestead Review, and, most recently, in the anthology Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War Faith and Sexuality (Seal Press 2006). Her current manuscripts include "heliophobia", "In the Crocodile Gardens", & "The Book of Deeds". She is currently writing, teaching, and completing doctoral studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she is researching interfaces between Poetry and Science as well as Sufi Poetry in translation.

Peter Robinson (University of Reading)

Translation and the "Foreign"

David Constantine has written of how 'for the nation ... the continual shock of the foreign is absolutely indispensable.' My paper will ask if the activity of translation, and the understanding of that activity, might not be detached from the concept of the 'foreign'. Arguments are made for the value of the translator's equivalent to a Russian Formalist 'making strange', namely 'making foreign', or, 'foreignization'. This is said to be a method for resisting 'domestication','naturalization', or 'annexation' by the target culture, and is an equivalent in translation studies of the vanguard stylist's resistance to 'recuperation'. By first considering to what extent the concept of foreignization requires for its salience the contrastive sense of writers and readers at home in, or native to, a language or culture, I explore ways in which this archaic binary structure of the foreigner, stranger, or alien disturbs understanding of translation and of relations between languages and cultures. as if translators and their theories were still and forever awaiting the arrival of Cavafy's barbarians. To sketch a contrasting picture, I consider the distinct location that a poet's work occupies in its own culture, and how translators from another culture can work through a familiarizing dialogue with their source texts and, when living, their author, to achieve an equivalent distinctness for the translation, a distinctness whose coordinates are drawn more from tensions in relations between the original and its situation than between those of source and target linguistic cultures.

Peter Robinson is Professor of English and American Literature at the University of Reading. See his wikipedia entry: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Robinson_(poet)