Thursday, 9 April 2020

Madeleine Stratford : coda

Every single poet I translated throughout the years has changed the way I think about writing. In a way, both writing and translating poetry is about stretching the limits of the medium, but also the limits of my world. As a poetry translator, I must jump head first into the cracks of my poet’s language, sometimes completely blind. And I am always taking a big risk: that of not being able to crawl back out of a poem’s cracks or, worse still, that of filling the cracks. Alejandra Pizarnik declared once that writing a poem was about perpetually trying to heal a fundamental wound. For me, you have a great poetry translation when the wound and the balm coexist, because the translator penetrated the poet’s language, understood it from the inside, but did not try to explain it: poetry translation is about letting the poem speak for itself. But that process always changes you as a writer, or indeed as a person. You cannot dig that deep into someone else’s intimate relationship with language and remain untouched.

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