Abstracts

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Abstracts-S



Andreia Sarabando (University of Minho, Portugal)


Poetry Noir: The Monkey's Mask, Deception and Translation

Australian writer Dorothy Porter's The Monkey's Mask is a book-length verse narrative which presents specific problems for the translator, as it is also a crime story in which the protagonist is investigating the murder of a woman poet, mainly through clues taken from her poetry, and in which several other poets become suspects. Poetry is further implicated insofar as Jill Fitzpatrick, the protagonist, keeps insisting that she hates poetry and doesn’t understand it, but, in fact, she is the narrating voice of the book, which is written in verse. In approaching the task of translating a work that presents the uncommon conjunction of noir as genre and poetry as both form and theme, choices have to be made among various potential registers that could be used to structure the type of book to be presented to a foreign audience. Given that the book presents a form in which deception, interpretation and double meanings are multiply crucial, but also that such multivalence is notably difficult to transfer to another language, the translator has a doubled responsibility towards the temptation to periphrastic "explanation" or contextualisation: such sleights of the translator's hand in the interests of the foreign reader may give linguistic or cultural help but at the same time give away clues that strategically dilute the rhythm of the accumulation of evidence precisely built up in the course of the book. The paper would present examples of the obstacles faced and the solutions devised.


Andreia Sarabando is a lecturer at the University of Minho, Portugal. She has translated several books on contemporary Portuguese art and a book of poetry by South African/Australian poet John Mateer. Her interests include poetry, translation, theatre and film, and her most recent publication is on Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange.



Reena Sastri (University of York)


"As one expects of a lyric poet": Meadowlands, Homer, and the reinvention of lyric

A poetic sequence that casts a divorcing couple and their son in late twentieth-century New Jersey as Penelope, Odysseus, and Telemachus, Louise Gluck's Meadowlands (1996) translates Homer's Odyssey historically, geographically, and generically, drawing on classical epic to revise and revitalize post-Romantic lyric. "Nostos" in particular focuses this revision. The Homeric Nostos, or homecoming, publicly restores social and political order (through violence toward usurpers of Odysseus's place, punishment of disloyal subordinates, tests of Odysseus' identity). In Gluck's "Nostos," by contrast, a solitary speaker remembers childhood and produces the Wordsworthian sigh for lost wholeness that, the poem says, is what "one expects of a lyric poet." But Meadowlands subverts those expectations, encompassing dialogue (witty, wounding conversations between the divorcing couple); colloquialisms and references to contemporary culture (football, klezmer music); and a range of modulating tonalities - rather than nostalgic, heroic, or ironic, the volume's tone might best be called "jocoserious" (to borrow from the "Ithaca" of Joyce's Homeric adaptation Ulysses). The collision of Homer's Odyssey with post-Romantic lyric enables both lyric intensity and an ambitious reach toward the long poem's scope, as Gluck invokes Homer to expand our belated sense of what poetry can be. Her partial, provisional translation itself resists lyric nostalgia: she does not lament poetry's diminishment, but claims the poetic past as her - and her audience’s - own, building it into a new, contingent, inventive whole.


Reena Sastri taught previously at Boston University and is the author of James Merrill: Knowing Innocence (Routledge, 2007).



Selene Scarsi (University of Hull)


Tasso's Elizabethan translators: Richard Carew's and Edward Fairfax's versions of the Gerusalemme Liberata

In this paper, I intend to concentrate on the extant Elizabethan translations of Torquato Tasso's epic poem Gerusalemme Liberata (1581): Richard Carew's 1594 partial rendition of the first five cantos, and Edward Fairfax's 1600 complete version. A comparison of the two renditions is extremely interesting, as the poets adopt two extremely different translating methods: Carew's translation is an excellent specimen of what Dryden will call, a few decades later, 'metaphrase', a rendition which wishes to be so literal - semantically, syntactically, at times even terminologically, with some peculiar neologisms moulded around Italian terms - as to become almost a transliteration. Conversely, Fairfax's version, a 'paraphrase' in Dryden's terminology, is characterised by faithful looseness, being a freer rendition which, while remaining faithful to Tasso's meaning, is also flowing, despite some recurring traits. These, such as added classical allusions, proverbs and Spenserian repetitions, are peculiarly Elizabethan characteristics, and they truly make Fairfax's poem fit Brooke and Shaaber's statement that 'Elizabethan translations are always more Elizabethan than translated'. After analysing the translators' differing methods and highlighting the occasional inadequacy of Carew's rendition (in particular when his extreme literalness produces a text which is not fully intelligible), this paper concludes by positing that, in Carew's version of the Gerusalemme Liberata, the translation is not a replacement for the original but, rather, an aid in the learning or improvement of a foreign language; this interpretation is supported also by the fact that Carew's work was published side by side with the Italian text.


Selene Scarsi has recently completed a PhD on "Translating Women: Female Figures in the Elizabethan versions of Three Italian Renaissance Epic Poems". She teaches at the University of Hull and is currently working on a book on women and gender in the Elizabethan translations of Boiardo, Ariosto and Tasso to be published by Ashgate.



Gabriela Schmidt (University of Munich)


Realigning English Vernacular Poetics through Metrical Experiment: Richard Stanyhurst's Translation of Virgil (1582)

The widespread Elizabethan poetical reform movement whose express aim it was to "reforme our English verse" (Webbe) by radically imitating quantitative Classical metre in the English vernacular took its beginning from Richard Stanyhurst's translation of Virgil's Aeneid in 1582. Stanyhurst's metrical experiment is regarded by most modern critics as exceedingly pedantic and absurd, and with it, the whole quantitative movement is often considered as no more than a dead end in English literary history. However, such a wholesale dismissal would be at least reductive. This is made clear not only by the movement's long-standing popularity but also by the fact that among its supporters were such prominent literary figures as Sir Philip Sidney and Edmund Spenser. Following Derek Attridge's perceptive study of the movement as well as a number of more recent readings of Stanyhurst's translation, I would like to reassess his metrical experiments in my paper as a productive and vital step towards the development of a more consciously regularized English vernacular poetics. What is more, its close interconnectedness with the inkhorn term debate and with the respective attempts by both Catholics and Protestants to reclaim the Troy-story for their own versions of national history make Stanyhurst's Aeneid a striking example for the incisive cultural influence of translation as a literary activity during the Elizabethan period. What was at stake was no less than a redefinition of English literary and cultural identity through interlingual dialogue.


After studying Classics and English at Munich University and the University of Oxford, Gabriela Schmidt became a member of the collaborative research centre "Pluralization and Authority in the Early Modern Period" at the University of Munich (LMU). She has recently completed her PhD about humanist concepts of language and translation in the works of Thomas More and is currently working within a research project that explores the influence of translation on English literary culture during the Elizabethan Period. She has published a number of articles on early humanist poetics, education and language theory in England, as well as on reformation literature. She is coeditor of a collection of essays entitled Representing Religious Pluralization in Early Modern Europe (Muenster et al., 2007).



Roger Sedarat (City University of New York)


A Victorian Hafiz? (Re)reading the Divan in the 21st Century

This proposal considers the translation of the 14th century Persian poet Hafiz into contemporary English from the perspective of Iran, examining a preexisting translation from the 19th century as a site of profound misunderstanding. Close attention to the seminal English translation of the Divan of Hafiz by Henry Wilberforce Clarke, a member of the British Indian Corps in the nineteenth century, reveals the difficulty of appreciating the poetry of Hafiz in contemporary English. Though demonstrating a rather extensive knowledge of Persian and the literary tradition of Sufi mysticism, Clarke opting for more of an exact transliteration in the Victorian style of his time continues to present cultural and linguistic confusion. Using Clarke’s text, I discuss my work - as an Iranian-American poet and scholar - of co-translating key ghazals of Hafiz with Alireza Behnami, an Iranian doctor with a vast knowledge of ancient Persian literature. A handout of certain lines from the poetry exemplifies the Iranian sensibility's resistance to eschewing more modern diction and brevity of expression that very much defines the verse of English in the 21st century. By highlighting certain patterns of stylistic contention encountered with my co-translator - such as the difference between calling a woman "of a cedar stature" as opposed to simply "tall" - I show how the most popular translation of Hafiz's poetry into English (still sold in Tehran bookstores) contributes to an important miscommunication between native readers of English and Persian.


Roger Sedarat teaches American and Middle Eastern literature, creative writing, and translation at the City University of New York. In addition to translations as well as scholarly articles on Iranian and American poetry, he has published much of his own verse in various literary journals. His collection of poetry, Dear Regime: Letters to the Islamic Republic, recently won Ohio University Press' Hollis Summers Prize.



Janna Serniak (University of Michigan)


The Means of Meaning: Translating Sounds and Signs in Guillaume Apollinaire and Gerard Manley Hopkins

My paper will consider the issue of translation as it vexes questions of poetry's 'means of meaning,' using G.M. Hopkins' English poetry (and my own French translations of it) and either Nerval's or Appolinaire's French poetry (and English translations) to consider whether a poetry (especially a translated poetry) that "doesn't mean, but does," a poetry imbued with what Barthes calls the "rustle of language" - the organic or celestial hum that language emits as it traverses between selves -is possible. Theorists whom I find particularly salient to this issue include Barthes, Heiddeger, Giorgio Agamben, Riffaterre, and Derrida.


Janna Serniak is a Doctoral student in the English Department at Michigan State University and a secondary-level English teacher at Grand Haven High School in Michigan, USA. Her dissertation focuses on inter-related issues of affective emotion, subjectivity, and linguistics in Trans-Atlantic poetry of the long 19th century.



John Shafer (Durham University)


"Argan kalla": Translating a Sexually, Socio-politically Loaded Term in Thrymskvitha

The Old Norse word argr is a sexually and socio-politically loaded term, it being not only an adjective encompassing the meanings of the English words "womanish," "cowardly" and "passively homosexual" but also a serious insult whose use in medieval Iceland was an offense punishable by outlawry. In the Eddic poem Thrymskvitha, the word is used by the AEsir-god Thorr to lament his certain loss of status within the family of gods should he disguise himself as a woman to journey safely to the giant-world to retrieve his hammer. This paper contextualises Thorr's use of the word here within the culture in which the poem was composed as well as in the narrative of the poem itself, and it examines the difficulties of approximating the phrase adequately in an English translation. Finally, the author's translation of the relevant stanza is presented for consideration, along with the published translations of other Norse scholars.


Attended the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, earning in 2004 a B.Sc. in Mathematics and a B.A. in English literature and German. While there, published a single poem in the uni literary-arts magazine. Received a Master's degree in medieval English and Norse literature from Durham University in 2006. Now working towards a PhD in Old Norse literature.



Zoe Skoulding (Bangor University)


Geraldine Monk's Escafeld/Sheffield: city between languages

This paper explores translation as an influence on the poetics of Geraldine Monk, and as a trope within her work. The city of Sheffield in her 2005 collection 'Escafeld Hangings' emerges from the intersection between languages that may be shifts in register between the inhabitants of the present-day city or fluctuations between the languages of different periods, particularly the sixteenth century and the present.  The character of Mary Queen of Scots, whose imprisonment in Sheffield provides a focus for several of the poems, speaks a language that fuses Lancastrian dialect, Latin and French as well as various other inflections. In this paper I will explore the variants of translation, parody and allusion that occur in the poems and explore the movement between languages as a performance that destabilizes the social space of the city. In one of the poems, the city is presented as 'mythically riddled' with 'Subterranean tunnels': so, too, language, which becomes a haunted, porous structure, open to otherness. I will contextualise Monk's work within translation practices that use foreignizing methods to bring changes to bear on the cultural values of the target language, and consider the political implications of these approaches in her representation of the city.


Zoe Skoulding's collection of poems Remains of a Future City is published by Seren in July 2008. She holds an AHRC Fellowship in the Creative and Performing Arts at Bangor University, where she is researching poetry, gender and city space. She is the new editor of Poetry Wales.



Simon Smith (London South Bank University)


The Roman Flaneur: Catullus, Martial and Contemporary Poetries

Since 2000 Simon Smith has been translating the poetry of Catullus into English, and this paper will be a reflection on that process. Taking Lorna Hardwick's model for translation as its immediate touchstone in Translating Words, Translating Cultures (Duckworth, 2000)), he will go on to look at Walter Benjamin's ideas on the flaneur from The Arcades Project, to explore notions of equivalence and difference as they might be applied to Catullus and Martial in terms of their translation as texts, and in terms of understanding the Roman world for contemporary poets and contemporary culture. He will consider the development of the poet in the city from Baudelaire via American poet Frank O'Hara (Catullus, Allen Ginsberg), to the early Twenty-first Century, revealing the relevance of Catullus and Martial (where the urban and their urbanity meet) for contemporary city poets. He will look closely at the process of translation of Catullus's poem 10, and Martial's V.20, their Epicurean philosophy and values, and their resonance with Benjamin's work on leisure, the activities of walking and browsing, the place of the poet in society, objects and commodities. He will further explore how these equivalent and different values for contemporary translators and audiences can unlock the poetry and ideas of a culture distant in time, one which appears simultaneously alien to our own.


Simon Smith lectures in Creative Writing at London South Bank University. He is a poet, essayist and reviewer, and his translations of Catullus and Martial have appeared in Poetry Review and PN Review, among other places. He is presently working on a complete translation of Catullus as a PhD with Professor Michael Schmidt at Glasgow University, for publication in the Fyfield Carcanet series. He has also translated poems by Pierre Reverdy from the French, which were published in Poetry Review.



Michael Somniso (Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University)


Intertextuality Shapes the Work of Xhosa Poets

Praises among the amaXhosa today are not only performed in traditional gatherings. These praises are also performed in many places such as schools, churches and during funerals. The question is whether the praises performed in other places rather than traditional gatherings still possess the characteristics of traditional praises. This also suggests that Xhosa poets draw terminology from biblical texts. This strategy can be seen as an attempt to break the boundaries between Christianity and Xhosa poetry. Having said that, the aim of this paper is to uncover the interplay between Xhosa traditional poems and Christianity. To do that, this paper discusses the interplay between Christianity and look at the translated poetry from Xhosa intop English.. It also discusses new trends of intertextuality in Xhosa poetry. The intertextual theory insists that a text cannot exist as a hermetic or self-sufficient whole and does not function as a closed system. Still and Worton (1991:1) believe that the writer is a reader of the text before s/he is a creator of texts and therefore the work of art is inevitably shot through with references, quotations and influence of every kind. In this article, interdisciplinary variety is notable in Xhosa poetry.


'Enter Bio here'



Ernesto Suarez-Toste (University of Castilla-La Mancha)


Verbal/Visual Chaos in Poems for Joseph Cornell.

"Joseph Cornell: inside your boxes / my words became visible for a moment" is Elizabeth Bishop's closing line in "Objects and Apparitions"-her translation of Octavio Paz's homage-poem to Cornell "Objetos y Apariciones." Homages to Cornell also include John Ashbery's "Pantoum," Stanley Kunitz's "The Crystal Cage" and Richard Howard's "Closet Drama." All these poems emphasize the visual impact of Cornell's chaotic (poetically chaotic, that is) encasement of foreign objects in wooden boxes with glass fronts. The poems, however, do a great deal more than just that: their recreation of the uncanny potential of these boxes is particularly successful at the verbal level as well. While chaotic enumeration was a celebrated resource in modernist poetry (think of the Spanish Generacion del 27, for example), the poets here go beyond the mere exploitation of this technique, and present, like Cornell, these boxes as Hotels, stage-sets, and of course the inside of their/our minds. In this paper I analyze these poets' (very revealing) choice of objects, the relationships established (implied, really) among them, and the resulting poems in the light of the visual/verbal displacement necessary for these exercises.


Ernesto Suarez-Toste teaches English at the University of Castilla-La Mancha in Spain. He obtained his PhD in American poetry with a dissertation on Elizabeth Bishop, Surrealism, and the Visual Arts. His publications include articles on Elizabeth Bishop, John Ashbery, and William Carlos Williams. Other poets of interest are Charles Simic, Nancy Willard, and almost anyone with eyes as well as ears.