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Widening the Field: On Contemporary Poetry Translation

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Organizer: Gregory Dunne

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This seminar aims to explore the contemporary world of poetry translation and the specific and invigorating challenges that translators are encountering as they work to translate poetries coming from diverse cultural contexts and languages, each with their own aesthetic concerns. How does a translator, for example, approach translating the Korean poet Ko Un and his project to write a poem about every person he has ever known? How does a translator approach translating the innovative Japanese poet Gozo Yoshimasu, who the American poet Forrest Gander, in commenting on Yoshimasu’s poetry, noted is a poetry that contains nothing “that resembles conventional poetry.” It is a poetry that “sprawls,” across the page, “expanding and contracting like the universe.” This seminar will examine the specific challenges that translators have encountered and how those challenges in the language, culture, and poetics may have expanded their own understanding of the potential of poetry today and the relevance of the work of translation. Papers that discuss general topics of translation as related to poetry are invited. Papers that deal with concerns and challenges related to the translation of poetry, poetics and aesthetics, are also welcomed.

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