Today, poet Michael Leong talks about various ways of translation and the use of found text to create something new, perhaps homophonic translation, taking a piece in another language and translating based on English words that would sound similar to that word. (Or you might do a sight translation, choosing English words that look rather like the foreign ones.)
He has a few different ideas on how to approach new ways to translate which he discusses on the Found Poetry Review blog.
Michael doesn’t give any direct prompt or instruction, but suggests devising a translation method of your own, or using one already known. For this prompt, then, I selected a poem from Czechoslovakian poet Miroslav Holub, The Fly, which I encountered in Ten Windows, by Jane Hirshfield. I could not find it in its original language, so I decided to go back to an earlier prompt and run the poem through a variety of translations on Google Translate.
This time I used French, Hungarian, Irish, Esperanto, Latin and back to English. Once I had the translation done, I also translated the title. My favourite was the Esperanto, which gave me Dumfluge, which sounds very Germanic. I was also left with a strange new word, carthilagineus, which I decided to leave in because I liked the sound of it!
Unfortunately during the translations the sex of the fly changed, the number fourteen somehow morphed into sixteen, and grammar was rather dumfluge too. Only fierce cutting would give me something I could work with. You can read the original poem here
This is my edited poem:
Fleeing brown eyes and spread legs together
the immortal bluetongue
Fly was sitting on the horse. She eviscerated
the body, ate part of the eye quickly,
the arms and legs, the veins.
Silence of whisper and destruction
under the trees, she started
to lay eggs on the trunk of the willow
Carol A. Stephen
April 19, 2016