New Issue of eXchanges
Although I can’t say that I love the edgy capitalization in the journal’s name, I can say that I am a big fan of eXchanges and all of the super-brilliant people who work on this. For those not familiar, eXchanges (OK, last time I’m typing that) is the online journal of literary translation that comes out of the University of Iowa. Iowa’s program and all who are in it are fantastic (tomorrow I promise to get back to the Making the Translator Visible posts, starting with Erica Mena, who is at Iowa . . .), and it’s exciting to see what happens when you give people like this a space to create.
Anyway, the winter issue (“Exocity” or “eXocity”) just went online last week and is worth checking out. There’s a very playful and interesting set of letters to and from the editors, some interesting poetry selections (including Ewa Chruscial & Elzbieta Kotkowska’s translations from the Polish of six poems by Agniewszka Kuciak), and a great interview with translator/poet/publisher Johannes Goransson. Here’s a fun clip from the interview:
eX: Do you feel like when you set out translating, that the work points you in a direction as far as how it should be translated? Or do you think you approach things more or less consistently?
JG: No, no . . . I totally approach things based on the way the work is. Like I said, in Aase’s case the writing encourages you to move toward excess and sort of deforming the language, but I also did the book Ideals Clearance by Henry Parland. That’s also about translation but a different kind of translation. The book—it’s a Dadaist collection and it has this idea that everything is already translatable—that everything is very translatable— it’s so simple. And so it seems like it has something to do with capitalism, mass culture, and the general equivalences between words.
So, they’re two models of translation. In Parland’s work, I absolutely was not going for noise or anything like that. They’re very, very simple translations. I was actually at a conference about his work where a person talked about my translations—which was really weird to have somebody give a paper and a 45-minute talk about my translations. He had read Lawrence Venuti—he was a Finnish scholar—and he thought I could have translated it, there’s a way…what is Lawrence Venuti’s term for what translation does? Estranging?
eX: Oh gosh . . . I should know this. Domesticizing?
JG: Yeah, the opposite of domesticizing.
[Blank silence on our part. Can’t believe we didn’t remember this. –ed.]
JG: Well, whatever . . .
eX: We can put it in, we can write it in later.
[The word is “foreignizing.” –ed.]
JG: Let’s call it estranging. Well, the Finnish scholar said you could have estranged it, you know, like Lawrence Venuti says, and then he showed an example of how it could look in English. And it was a very strange poem. But it was a strange poem that, one, really seemed to me to have nothing to do with Parland’s work. And, second of all, it was a very strange poem in a way that was very domesticated. To an American it would have been a translatese text, and the reader would be like, oh wow, this is a really foreign text. So actually to me, it seemed like the weirder move was to do this very simple language. Parland was weirder to a contemporary American obviously than contemporary American poetry—which was what the “Venutian” translation made it into.
So, I would say I take very different attitudes. But, you know, I have reading habits that influence all my translations. It’s not like I erase myself. I can’t do it.