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Ann Walsh (University College, Cork)

Translation Squared (Translation2): Lowell, Goethe and "Die Gold-Orangen"

This paper offers a discussion of "Die Gold-Orangen", Robert Lowell's translation of Goethe's "Kennst Du das Land", first published in the Notebook 1967-68, and then revised by the poet for republication four years later in For Lizzie and Harriet. The creation of "Die Gold-Orangen" thus reflects a process of translation-upon-translation: an initial interlingual translation of the German source, and a subsequent intralingual rewriting (or translation) of the target poem to create the final version. Comparative readings of source, translated and revised versions will demonstrate the parallels between the American poet's approach to translation from the German and to the revision of his own previously published English poem; both in translation and revision, the rewriting process will be shown to incorporate a critique of its immediate source, exemplifying the translational impulse categorised by Pound as "translation as criticism". As manifest in this reading of "Die Gold-Orangen", Lowell's exercise of poetic metamorphosis across and within lingual boundaries will be seen to deploy a pragmatic manipulation of language and text, in an exciting dialogue of translation and poeisis.

Ann Walsh completed her PhD thesis on Lowell's translations and revisions in November 2007 and is at present working on a full-length study of the poet's work. She teaches nineteenth and twentieth century American literature at University College Cork.

Lizzie White (University of the West of England)

'A Whiff of Absinthe': poetic translation at the fin de siecle

As the nineteenth century drew to a close, a significant number of British poets turned to the continent for inspiration, producing verse translations of poems by prominent European writers such as Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Gautier and Maeterlinck. Notably, such translations were most common among the 'decadent' poets: Arthur Symons, Ernest Dowson, Lord Alfred Douglas and Theodore Wratislaw all peppered their volumes of verse with translations of poems written by their European counterparts. Carol Clark and Robert Sykes have noted that for some writers, this practice represented a deliberate challenge to convention; but for others, the inclusion of a few translations from some risque poets served only as a means of injecting a hint of danger and exoticism into an otherwise conventional collection. During the course of this paper, I will consider a selection of the poems which were chosen by the Decadents for translation and explore the rationale behind those choices. In addition, I will position the translations alongside the British poets' own output, considering the extent to which the translations conform to, or deviate from, each poet's own poetic practices, both in terms of form and content. Ultimately, I intend to explore the validity of Clark's and Sykes's assertion in relation to my chosen poets, by incorporating into my discussion of the translations a range of contextual and formal issues which are particularly relevant to a study of fin-de-siecle poetry

Lizzie White is a lecturer at the University of the West of England. She specialises in the poetry and prose of the late nineteenth century, particularly the 1890s. Recent research projects have focused on the novels of Marie Corelli, the sonnets of Lord Alfred Douglas, and representations of the devil in fin-de-siecle literature. Her PhD thesis, completed in 2007, comprised a critical edition of the complete poems of Lord Alfred Douglas, and her research is strongly influenced by the critical discourse relating to the theory and practice of editing.

Nerys Williams (University College Dublin)

"Do not steal my words for your work": Michael Palmer's Baudelaire Series and Emmanuel Hocquard's Theory of Tables

Critics are often wary of the densely referential impulse of Michael Palmer's Sun (1988). The temptation is to view Palmer's work as a poetics of citation since the volume draws self-reflexively on a history of the European lyric ranging from Charles Baudelaire to Paul Celan. I will follow the collaborative interpretation and re-inscription of the Baudelaire Series executed by both Palmer and French poet Emmanuel Hocquard. Provocatively Hocquard states that he was 'not impressed by Michael Palmer's Sun when I read it in American. In American Sun might have influenced me. Sun impressed me when I translated Baudelaire Series into French. Translating Baudelaire Series I had the feeling, dream-like, that I was writing a book I was not writing.' Following this translation in 1992 Palmer, translated Hocquard's version from French into English. Through this process of translation and reinterpretation Baudelaire Series became Theory of Tables (1994). My focus in this paper is to compare anxieties inherent in both English texts (original and the resulting re-translation) regarding collaborative processes. These anxieties include fears of erasure, textual cannibalism, plagiarism, misreading and error. I will also propose how both long poems are fascinated by the unavailability of the idealised book. The dialogue established between these two poems possibly enables us to understand Jacquard's distinction between poetic 'influence' and poetic 'impression'.

Originally from West Wales Nerys Williams lectures in American Literature at University College Dublin, Ireland. She has studied at Stirling, Sheffield and Sussex Universities. Her research interests are modern and contemporary American poetry and poetics, the collaborative relationship between poetic practice and theory and contemporary Anglo-Welsh Poetry. She has recently completed a book Reading Error: The Lyric and Contemporary Poetry (Oxford: Peter Lang, 2007). Reading Error considers the work of four American poets Charles Bernstein, Michael Palmer, Lyn Hejinian and Jennifer Moxley as a plurality of responses to the problems of situating subjectivity and public address in recent poetry. Last year she was the recipient of a Fulbright Scholar's Award held at U C Berkeley.

James Womack (University of Cambridge)

Translationese: Christopher Reid / Katerina Brac / Katerina Brac

Poets who choose to adopt another identity for particular lyric or ideological purposes are not rare: consider Fernando Pessoa's multiple heteronyms, or else Thomas Chatterton's creation Thomas Rowley. Neither is it uncommon for a poet to produce original work while pretending to translate from a foreign language: James Macpherson's Ossian hoax, for example, or Juan Gelman's Spanish 'versions' of a number of non-existent poets, from the American Sidney West to the Japanese Yamanokuchi Ando. Gelman and Macpherson are playing on ideas of 'foreignness' - what is less common with such invented foreigners is for them to be 'translated' in order to comment on the idea of translation itself. It is this concentration which makes Christopher Reid's Katerina Brac (1985) stand out. Posing as the translator of Brac, 'a generic Eastern European female poet', Reid investigates how the knowledge that one is reading a translated poem necessarily forces the reader to engage with it in a different way - to ignore for example particular effects of language and to concentrate on the transmission of (what in Brac's case is a nonexistent) political subtext. This paper will analyse Reid's method in Katerina Brac, and examine the ways in which he exploits the received idea that 'poetry is what is lost in translation' and the roughness of 'translationese' (writing which makes itself known as translation) for particular local poetic effect. It will also discuss questions of the space translationese occupies, and will examine how, in the case of Katerina Brac, Reid deliberately uses his method to upset the reader's expectations of translated poetry.

James Womack has recently completed his doctoral thesis on W.H. Auden as a translator, and is currently developing it into a book. He is the author of a number of articles on Auden's translations, as well as on a variety of topics on Russian and English poetry. He currently teaches at the University of Cambridge.