Notes For The Translators from 142 New Zealand and Australian Poets (ASM, Macau), edited by Christopher Kit Kelen, 2013. Sydney and Newcastle launches. SYDNEY – Monday 8th July, 7pm. Upstairs Friend in Hand Hotel, 58 Cowper St Glebe. NEWCASTLE – Monday 15th July, 7.30pm. Theatre Lane Hotel 189 Hunter Street Newcastle.
On one level every reading of a poem is an act of translation. Using the written word to convey often complex and difficult meanings, imagery and emotions involves an act of ‘encoding’ by the poet and one of ‘decoding’ by the reader. A simple poem may suggest a single decoding while a more complex poem can suggest many. Of course when we refer to translation we are normally referring to the act of translating a poem from one language to another – an act which, of course, adds numerous levels of complexity to the act of ‘decoding’ the poem.
One of my favourite books poetry in translation is Moscow Trefoil: poems from the Russian of Anna Akhmatova and Osip Mandelstam by David Campbell and Rosemary Dobson (Australian National University Press, 1975). In this volume each Russian poem has three different English interpretations/translations – a version that is as close to a literal translation as possible and a version each by Dobson and Campbell which attempt to ‘rewrite’ the poem in an English version. Such an approach highlights the issues for those of use who read poetry in translation, we must always be aware that we, in fact reading a collaborative work between the writer and translator.
Kit Kelen, in his introduction to Notes For The Translators, highlights some of these issues. Notes is, he says, a practical book – it is an anthology which consists of a single poem by 142 poets from Australia and New Zealand, together with notes by the poet designed to assist a translator in translating the poem.
Poets appearing in the anthology include: Adam Aitken, Ali Alizadeh,Richard James Allen Steve Armstrong, Peter Bakowski, John Bennett, Judith Beveridge, Peter Boyle, Margaret Bradstock, Michael Brennan, David Brooks, Kevin Brophy, Hamish Danks Brown, Lachlan Brown,Pam Brown, Andrew Burke, Joanne Burns Michelle Cahill, Grant Caldwell, Coral Carter, Julie Chevalier, Eileen Chong, Jennifer Compton, Anna Couani, Alison Croggon, Jan Dean, Tricia Dearborn, Dan Disney, Lucy Dougan, Laurie Duggan,Stephen Edgar, David Eggleton, Marietta Elliott, Brook Emery, Diane Fahey, Rangi Faith, Michael Farrell, Liam Ferney, Barbara Fisher, Toby Fitch, Angela Gardner Carolyn Gerrish, Jane Gibian, David Gilbey, Vivienne Glance, Marewa Glover, Pip Griffin, Philip Hammial, Jennifer Harrison, Libby Hart, Dennis Haskell, Brian Hawkins, Susan Hawthorne, Dominique Hecq, Matt Hetherington, Paul Hetherington, Mark William Jackson, Andy Jackson, Alan Jefferies, Carol Jenkins, Murray Jennings, Judy Johnson, Jill Jones, Rae Desmond Jones, Antigone Kefala, Claine Keily Christopher (Kit) Kelen, S.K. Kelen, Jean Kent, Anna Kerdijk, John Kinsella, Peter Kirkpatrick, Andy Kissane, Yota Krili, Martin Langford, Andrew Lansdown, Rebecca Kylie, John Leonard, Miriel Lenore, Debbie Lim, Roberta Lowing, Myron Lysenko, Mark Macleod, Chris Mansell,Shane McCauley, David McCooey, Greg McLaren, Rhyll McMaster, Philip Mead, Sara Moss, Lizz Murphy, Les Murray, David Musgrave, Rosemary Nissen, James Norcliffe, Mark O’Flynn, Michael O’Leary, Ouyang Yu, Jan Owen, Geoff Page, Glen Phillips, Mark Pirie, Brian Purcell, Vaughan Rapatahana, Harry Ricketts, Reihana Robinson, Bronwyn Rodden, Mark Roberts, Gig Ryan, Tracy Ryan, Philip Salom, Andrew Sant, Jaya Savige, Michael Sharkey, Thomas Shapcott, Laura, Jan Shore, Alex Skovron, Peter Skrzynecki, Vivian Smith, Beth Spencer, Nicolette Stasko, Amanda Stewart, Billy Marshall Stoneking, James Stuart,Patricia Sykes, Niobe Syme Maria Takolander, Andrew Taylor, Sandra Thibodeaux, Richard Tipping, Barbara Temperton, Mark Tredinnick, Carolyn Van Langenberg, Corey Wakeling, Chris Wallace-Crabbe, John Watson, Alan Wearne, Mags Webster, Cecilia White,Les Wicks, Irene Wilkie, Niel Wright.