Thursday, 2 April 2020

Madeleine Stratford : part five

What other poetry books have you been reading lately?

My current pet project is Mestizo Skies, an English translation of Ciels métissés, by Quebecois writer Louise Desjardins (Écrits des Forges, 2014). A few of my translations came out in TransLit, a journal of the Association of Translators and Interpreters of Alberta and in carte blanche, literary e-journal of the Quebec Writers’ Federation. Some new excerpts are upcoming in Inventory, translation journal based in Princeton University’s Department of Comparative Literature.

One thing that makes Ciels métissés particularly interesting to me is that many poems contain English and Spanish words, as well as Quebec French, a language close to my heart that is quite difficult to transpose into English. The poems speak about the endless, lonely, wintry landscape of Northern Quebec, where Louise is from, but they also speak of her travels to Europe and to Latin America, where I too have travelled countless times.

Something in Louise’s work speaks to me on an intimate level. It’s as though she were writing things that I already had in my head or in my heart. It’s like an intense déjà-vu feeling that makes you wonder if you haven’t already written this poem yourself. Because as you translate it, it still belongs to the author, but it feels like it could have been your own. This kind of communion with the authors I choose to translate (whatever the genre) is important to my creative process, but it is essential when I translate poetry.

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