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Friday, December 19, 2008

STRANGER AT HOME: Poetic Sensibility Across Cultures and Languages

A poem is a personal communication in the language that is available in the space where the author currently lives, written in the language that is germane to the circumstances, landscape, and to poet's sensibilities.


A poem is a composition on a free theme. First of all, it is not culture; that is, the language is secondary (forgive me this sacrilege). Art exists first of all in the artist and only secondarily in society, not vice versa. You do not speak the words of a poem with the lines of verse, no matter how professional they could be. You speak the words of a poem with your own direct speech, which is a monologue of artist's soul, infused with your own cadence and tone.


The language itself dictates the way a poem is to be created. This is why the number of words in poems in two different languages sometimes varies, which is only natural considering the vast differences between, let's say, Russian and English, or Italian. Consequently, there are differences in the lengths of the "same" translated poem, or written in a different language.


Poetry is a form of art that remains the most closed. A poet's sensibilities respond to a new milieu or culture, to a cultural idiom; a poetic tension remains tightly linked with a poet's native language. It seems to me that the most successful poems in two languages created on the same emotional wave (topic) are best written separately as two individual poems in two different languages. A poetic translation as creative process probably works best as the re-creation of the original poem, mainly in its spirit and sound, and the one that closely reflects an author's sensibility and is expressed by the most adequate words, but in a different language. ....


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