“Do you know what / you are when your eyes are shut”
“I arrive again at this place, but am no longer / of that time”
A little later she and I are alone in the room, / nearly ourselves again, together gathering the meager fruits / and meditating on the empty party
On September 13th, the APRIL book club gathered at Little Oddfellows in the Elliott Bay Book Company to discuss The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa.
One person’s “Documentary Poetics” may overlap, to a large degree, with another person’s “Poetry of Witness.” Does it matter why? Does it matter how they differ?
Poetry Northwest‘s monthly podcast series, The Subvocal Zoo, features editors and friends of the magazine interviewing poets. Episode 6 features Timothy Donnelly in conversation with Justin Boening.
Her work is agile and present, never miserable, lonely, oracular, or visionary, but even in her essay-precise oratory she acknowledges the counter-poetry, listens to it (albeit with a coldness, a Chekhovian coldness that brings me closer as a reader).
It is not that Bang rejects the challenges and responsibilities typically associated with translation, for even as she radically questions and suspends many long-held assumptions about how Dante should read in English, she does so ultimately in the hope of creating a more truthful rendering of the text. Bang discussed in her lecture how many translations of the Inferno are written in elevated, renaissance-style English—a trend she speculates stems from translators’ desire to acknowledge the poem’s age and the disparities between modern English and fourteenth-century Italian. Yet Bang argued that such piously old-fashioned renderings of the Inferno were flawed from the start, since the fourteenth-century English of Dante’s contemporaries differed drastically from the seventeenth-century Elizabethan variety favored by these translators. A truly historically accurate translation of the Inferno in this sense would have to sound a lot less like Milton or Shakespeare and a lot more like the Middle English of Chaucer.
It’s nostalgia for the future that exhausts me.
Translate: To convey to heaven without death