Just as summer is winding down, things are getting busy here! I’ve had a few interesting projects on the go these past few weeks, and while unrelated, they will all culminate in an exciting trip to Bloomington, Indiana, where I’ll be attending the ALTA (American Literary Translators Association) Annual Conference from Oct. 16-19. These three days will be full – practically from sun up to sun down – with workshops and talks on all number of issues, problems, and joys of literary translation. I am admittedly nervous, the sort of pressure you feel at a high-quality all you can eat buffet, with a limited time period. I will not, alas, be able to attend all the workshops that I’d like to, and indeed, I will be well advised to study the program diligently.
I am new to literary translation and it will be an honour to learn from those more experienced than me. With any luck, I might make some lasting professional connections in the process. In any event, expect an update when I get back telling all about my experiences and what I’ve learned!
This talk of literary translation brings me to the next update: one of my projects this past while has been to work on a translation of a poem by Federico Garcia Lorca (1898-1936), a famous and highly influential Spanish poet, who was murdered in 1936 by Franco’s forces for his being homosexual and for his supposed, but unconfirmed, political affiliations.
Because of their year of publication, all of Lorca’s poems are in the public domain, so I did not need to secure rights (as I did for my previous publication on Diálogos forum). I ended up choosing “Tu infancia en Mentón” which appeared in Lorca’s Poeta en Nueva York, published posthumously in 1942.
Martin Boyd, of Diálogos Intercultural Services, kindly agreed to publish my translation in his literary forum. After four drafts and countless emails, we have arrived at a version that we are both happy with. Translating something that has already been translated (in this case many times), has its difficulties. As the most recent translator, it is not recommended that you look at previous translations, so as not to taint your own interpretation/voice. Several theories exist on this, and I won’t get into it, but suffice it to say that at some point in the process it is good to look at other versions. I did so after my second draft. Are some parts of my translation identical to older versions? Of course! The contrary would be impossible as there are only so many ways to say any one thing. But it’s also amazing to see the differences in tone, style, word choice, and the more risky juggling of lines, between the various versions.
I am very happy to announce that this weekend “Your childhood in Menton” will appear on Dialogos online forum.
Keep your eyes open for it, and for more updates on my trip to Bloomington next month!