Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Translation Back in "Poetry"

Cover of Poetry (June 2011) / Image courtesy of the Poetry Foundation

Today is one of those days when I’m happy to be proven wrong: I wrote last month about the apparent demise of Poetry’s annual translation issue, but when I picked up my mail today, I found a fresh copy of the magazine with the welcome words “The Translation Issue” emblazoned on its cover.

The issue contains some familiar names and some not-so-familiar ones—both among the poets and the translators—and Flaxen readers will likely want to start with Philip Metres and Dimitri Purstsev’s translations of poems by Arseny Tarkovsky (the director’s father) and Stephanie Sandler’s translations of Elena Shvarts—the ones I’ve been waiting for. (On the Poetry website, both poems are conflated as one, and "Shvarts" is spelled "Shvartz." The second poem begins with the phrase "I was thinking.") The issue also includes translations by H.L. Hix and Jüri Talvet of Estonian poet Juhan Liiv. And to give a local plug, Olympia poet Lucia Perillo is represented here with a translation of a Rilke poem (“Song of the Dwarf”).

The editors of the magazine have moved their translation issue from April to June, but that too seems like an improvement. What better month than June to lie around reading poems in translation? For an academic like me, it’s the freest, rosiest month of the year. I look forward to spending more time not only with the poems, but with the translators’ notes, which always harbor gems of practical wisdom. Let’s hope the editors give us the same opportunity in 2012.

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