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Self-Misunderstood! by Gaarriye

Featuring: Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye’, W N Herbert, Martin Orwin

What a poet looks for in the act of translating from a language he or she doesn't understand differs slightly from what is sought by the creative translator of verse, working with a culture they know intimately, whether on a linguistic, literary or socio-political level. The difference, essentially, is that the didactic intention of the translator - their passion that others should know this poet, this form, this culture - is, for the poet, a self-directed and self-metamorphosing part of the process. That is, they wish to be changed by what they learn as technicians, as workers in the medium of verse. They want the new perspectives, the different handlings of tone and imagery, the shifts of emphasis in the metrical system, to affect and develop them as writers, not just as readers.

This learning-through-practice is, naturally, part of the translator's experience too, but poets are perhaps greedier, more selfish - a bit vampiric - and confined to fewer encounters, more prescribed contact. They can only discover what they need through interaction with an element the translator is well-versed in, which the reader encounters only by inference, and they themselves are generally ignorant of: the language. Through what they can be told about the host language, they begin to seek possibilities to address those issues - audience, symbol, metre - embedded within it.

Read more of Some Thoughts on Co-Translating Gaarriye by W N Herbert

You can now buy Gaarriye's beautiful rejacketed chapbook here.

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