Friday, March 28, 2014

Did the earth move for you too?

Sorry, I was going to post more about the writers' conference, but we just had a 5.4 earthquake, a long rolling one, which means that you sway around as though you were 20 stories up while you are sitting on the couch. My heart is still beating hard and I jump every time my husband sneezes, and it was two hours ago. We had some creaking and some rattling, but no damage, only a phone jolted out of its cradle. The bookcases held, thank heavens. We remember the 1990 earthquake. That one broke a lot of dishes:  they had all slid against the cabinet doors, and when we opened the doors, the dishes made a break for freedom (as you might say). Half the water in the aquarium sloshed out, though no fish. I was in a second-story office with a patient. The acoustic ceiling tiles flapped up and down for nearly a minute. I definitely screamed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

AWP Seattle 2104, part 3: These 'translators' are traitors


One of the panel discussions I attended was given by people with university teaching jobs, presumably tenure-track, also terminal degrees, who asserted (aided by PowerPoint--I hate PowerPoint) that you did not need strong knowledge of the source language of a work to make a translation of it. While I was struggling with that one, asking myself how you would know if the trot you had started with had correctly dealt with the faux amis, someone else on the panel asserted that you could use the text as a starting point and perform erasures or riffs, and still call your result a translation.

This is waaay too po-mo for me. My big ethical dilemma with translating was more on the order of "should I re-write it so that it's better in English than it was in the original, or just let the author's clumsiness shine on its own?" This is of course regarding translations of technical articles, not poetry or plays. But, not even to know the source language well enough to work through it on your own--! and still to call it a translation--!! I mean, if you don't love the original enough to want to bring it across into another language, why even bother to call it a translation? Why not 'inspired by' or 'suggested by' or even 'provoked by'? It reminds me of a guy I met in my callow youth in the
Sixties, who maintained that it was wrongly narrow to insist that a sonnet have 14 lines and a given rhyme scheme. You could, he proclaimed, have a perfectly good two-line sonnet. No, you can't.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

AWP Seattle part two: I'm more Zen than you are, nyah nyah nyah


Tiny teapot in millefiore glass, seen through glass, next to glass, reflected in glass. In the lobby of the Seattle Sheraton, host to the AWP convention.

 More adventures with writers:  I learned that the gym on the 35th floor had floor-to-ceiling windows, perfect for checking out views and photo-ops. I hopped in the elevator and brightly shared my plan with my fellow traveler. Remote and controlled, he replied that he preferred to experience the moment unmediated, the better to note the experience and use it later in his writing. Pompous jack-ass, I thought, and replied that I liked to do both things. He looked away, smiled faintly.

Friday, March 14, 2014

3-14: Today is pi-day!

forever      and ever       and ever     and ever...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

AWP Seattle 2014, Part One: How to Tell a Writer

First time I've attended this convention. 12,000 writers in a relatively small space. At least 3,000 poets!! How can you tell the writers out on the street, aside from the convention's tote bags? It seemed to me that writers don't necessarily dress fancy or even cool (it's cooler not to be too cool), until they get to the shoes. Women and men sported truly eye-catching footwear. Many boots, of course--Seattle in February--although the weather was spookily warm and dry, boots with buttons and straps and HEELS, shoes in the latest neon pastels and with more subtle design. I dared take photos only of people with their backs to me, which ruled out most of my shoe-lurkation shots. Still, a person can gawk and nudge her companion and point.