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Poll: Have you ever translated poetry?
Thread poster: ProZ.com Staff

ProZ.com Staff
Local time: 17:44
SITE STAFF
Mar 6, 2012

This forum topic is for the discussion of the poll question "Have you ever translated poetry?".

This poll was originally submitted by Monika Jakacka. View the poll results »



 

David Wright  Identity Verified
Austria
Local time: 02:44
German to English
+ ...
Yes if Mar 6, 2012

if you class the texts of flanders and swan as poetry (they rhyme, so they must be poetry) I translated teh chorus of Mud Mud Glorious Mud into German for my kids and friends to sing one merry afternoon.

 

Mary Worby  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:44
Member
German to English
+ ...
Kind of Mar 6, 2012

I've translated the odd poem which has been embedded into a longer text, but with the caveat to my customer that I am no poet!

 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Yes Mar 6, 2012

Yes, it was published, but I must confess I really did not enjoy doing it, as I found it much more difficult and time-consuming than the kind of less artistic texts I usually work with. I only did it as a favour for a friend.

PS: Slightly off topic, if anybody is interested in this, there are still a couple of days left to submit an entry:
2012 Susan Sontag Prize for Translation
$5,000 grant for a literary translation from Portuguese
PLEASE NOTE: The deadline is March 9, 2012.

http://www.susansontag.com/prize/index.shtml

[Edited at 2012-03-06 11:43 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Nothing quite like it Mar 6, 2012

David Wright wrote:

if you class the texts of flanders and swan as poetry (they rhyme, so they must be poetry) I translated teh chorus of Mud Mud Glorious Mud into German for my kids and friends to sing one merry afternoon.


Brings back dim memories of Childrens Favourites on the BBC... classic stuff!


 

Interlangue (X)
Angola
Local time: 02:44
English to French
+ ...
Yes Mar 6, 2012

Many many years ago, and it was published. It was actually team work - with a writer (also a translator) and a (monolingual) poet.

 

John Cutler  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
No Mar 6, 2012

I tend to specialize in more scientific and straightforward type texts, which can have their moments of creativity (trying to figure out the gobbledygook of poor, lazy writing in the original), but generally I shy away from poetry and narrative literature.

 

Jack Doughty  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 01:44
Member (2000)
Russian to English
+ ...
Yes - and song lyrics Mar 6, 2012

I have translated several poems and lyrics, including some by Vladimir Vysotsky, which were published, but only in a small-circulation magazine called Rhyme Arrival, which no longer exists.
They are also on the web:
http://www.kulichki.com/vv/eng/songs/doughty.html
I also translated some lyrics as paid jobs, which have been published (if that's the right word) in the form of a CD.
I've also translated several others for my own amusement, which have never seen the light of day!


 

Tina Colquhoun  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:44
Member (2005)
Danish to English
+ ...
Trick question Mar 6, 2012

Poetry is untranslatable.

 

Els Hoefman  Identity Verified
Local time: 02:44
English to Dutch
+ ...
No, but I have translated song lyrics Mar 6, 2012

I have translated song lyrics which were performed. I love that type of job, it is like doing a puzzle. It helps that I sing myself - I don't know if it could be done by someone who does not have any experience singing. Not only is it necessary that the number of syllables match and that it rhymes, you also have to keep into account that the letters - the sounds - you use must be suitable in that particular place, e.g. for singing many syllables quickly or for singing long notes.
I was not paid for those jobs, they were for amateur choirs and musical theatre companies. I don't know if it would be feasible to translate song lyrics, inspiration comes and goes and it can take a long time to find a suitable translation for even a short fragment.


 

Emin Arı  Identity Verified
Turkey
Local time: 03:44
Member
English to Turkish
+ ...
poetry translation or rewriting a poetry? Mar 6, 2012

Once I translated one of Rilke's poem from German to Turkish, Der Panther. In fact I agree with Tina that a poem cannot be translated. Though all the best efforts and will, you cannot give its original tone and sound by definition.

 

Rosa Grau (X)
Spain
Local time: 02:44
English to Catalan
+ ...
Poetry Mar 6, 2012

may be untranslatable, but it is recreatable.

Apart from that, I did translate a lot of poetry when I was young, and studied German and Italian just to be able to read the originals.

[Edited at 2012-03-06 10:01 GMT]


 

neilmac  Identity Verified
Spain
Local time: 02:44
Spanish to English
+ ...
Me too Mar 6, 2012

Jack Doughty wrote:

I have translated several poems and lyrics, including some by Vladimir Vysotsky, which were published, but only in a small-circulation magazine called Rhyme Arrival, which no longer exists.
They are also on the web:
http://www.kulichki.com/vv/eng/songs/doughty.html
I also translated some lyrics as paid jobs, which have been published (if that's the right word) in the form of a CD.
I've also translated several others for my own amusement, which have never seen the light of day!


I'd forgotten about song lyrics. I recently had to translate some from Catalan which were mostly unintelligible to outsiders due to the references to political figures largely unknown outside Catalonia or Spain. I had to provide some explanantory notes otherwise the thrust of the message would have been lost.


 

Helen Hagon  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:44
Member (2011)
Russian to English
+ ...
Sometimes Mar 6, 2012

I try my hand at it from time to time, sometimes just for fun and sometimes, like Mary, when it is part of a larger text. It can be fun, but it is also very hard and time-consuming and you really need to be a poet yourself (which I am not!) to make a good job of it. I turned down a poetry translation job once as the customer wanted a very rapid turnaround and didn't appreciate that translating poetry takes much longer than translating prose.

 

Mario Chavez (X)  Identity Verified
Local time: 20:44
English to Spanish
+ ...
Yes, a couple of times Mar 6, 2012

Helen Hagon wrote:

I try my hand at it from time to time, sometimes just for fun and sometimes, like Mary, when it is part of a larger text. It can be fun, but it is also very hard and time-consuming and you really need to be a poet yourself (which I am not!) to make a good job of it. I turned down a poetry translation job once as the customer wanted a very rapid turnaround and didn't appreciate that translating poetry takes much longer than translating prose.


Answering this poll made me think of two principles. Number one, some of us translate poetry not because it's a project and not because it's fun...Some of us translate poetry for love. And the ladies appreciate a good Pablo Neruda poem in English, ahem.

Number two, Helen's comment about the customer who didn't appreciate that it takes longer to translate (or transcreate?) poetry than prose makes me wonder if the business of translation shouldn't solely be in the hands of businesspeople who know a thing or two about writing.

Unfortunately, it's a free world and people will keep on trying to make a buck out of an activity they know absolutely nothing about.


 
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