Carrying Across: The Work of Translation
A Translation Workshop with Poet, Translator, and Essayist Claudia Keelan
This workshop is open to all, regardless of experience with translation.
About the workshop:
“The original is unfaithful to the translation." — Jorge Luis Borges
“Translator, traitor.” — Italian Proverb
The English word "translation" comes from the Latin word translatio, which is derived from ferre ("to carry" or "to bring") and trans which means “across.” Translation then is literally to “carry across" the meaning of words from one language to another. “Wow, did you carry that all the way here?” we might ask Mary Jo Bang, the most recent translator of Dante’s Inferno… “Wasn’t it heavy?”
In this workshop led by poet-translator Claudia Keelan, participants will be introduced to ideas about translation from Jerome to Louis Zukofsky, while also discussing versions of existing translations, in order to better understand how successful translation can bring to life the meaning of the original in a new language. Keelan will lead the workshop through a series of exercises designed to encourage the beginning translator. For those whose first language isn’t English and who may have some experience in translating, Keelan will encourage them to consider, as Anthony Burgess suggests, that “translation is not a matter of words only: it is a matter of making intelligible a whole culture.” She’ll ask participants to put insecurity aside when considering how well or little they know the language from which they'll be translating, and to instead push forward their best knowledge of English to “carry across” the threshold the meaning of the original text. Keelan will also share from her own translation work of women troubadours in Truth of My Songs: Poems of the Trobairitz and describe the process by which she found her way into these poems, which were written by adolescent girls in the 11th and 12th centuries. Participants will leave the workshop with some new ideas, writing prompts, a translation of their own, and a supplemental reading list for those interested in studying translation further.