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Translation: issue summary

May 10, 2011

by Alex Cigale

Our Voyage Around the World in 80 Days is at an end dear friends; I am a little saddened to part, but we all must rest now. If your participation in this conversation through your comments on the site is any indication, our bread cast upon the virtual waters has already come back to us one hundredfold. May it continue to increase: please come back to re-read these pages at your leisure. Poetry in its largest sense, “making,” is the real gift that keeps giving. I wish to give thanks to my co-editors, Nick Admussen, Nathalie Boisard-Beudin and Ayesha Saldanha, for their dedication to the Translation issue of Qarrstiluni, and to our managing co-captains, Dave Bonta and Beth Adams, without whose guidance, participation, production work, the trust they’ve placed in us, and belief in the value of bringing a whole world of work into English, none of this would have been possible.

And we have indeed traveled far through both space and time, bringing to you work from 3rd C. BC Tamil India, Ancient Greece, from China, Tang Dynasty (8th C. AD) through contemporary, from the Anglo-Saxon, Old French, and Old Occitan. Between our virtual covers we have brought together Greenland’s female shamans, two poets of the Russian Silver Age, such acknowledged masters as Baudelaire, Swinburne, Rilke, Cendrars, C. D. de Andrade, Renard, Dohollau, and Sutzkever (from French, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Yiddish), along with the work of leading contemporary poets of France, Greece, Iran, Mexico, Mongolia, Philippines, Romania, Sweden, and Turkey. I would also like to give thanks to all the contemporary writers and artists, too numerous to acknowledge individually, who have taken the leap with us across cultural boundaries and geographical borders.

Particular thanks is due to our translators, without whose sadly unrecognized work the world of literature would be as invisible to us, and to those many individual artists whose complex national, ethnic, and linguistic identities require them to cross these borders in their daily lives. In our age of post-colonialism and globalization, such “translators” are not merely Pound’s “antennae of the race” but in a very real sense our explorers, messengers, and representatives; they bring us the necessary news not only from abroad but from our own past. It has been my intention from the start not merely to provide a forum for translation, preaching to the converted, but to encourage all our readers to seek out this news that stays news.

As I write this, progressively more literary magazines are starting to bring attention to the importance of work in translation, and a number of new online communities such as Words Without Borders are making the presence of the rest of the world more real in our reading lives and minds. If our journey has been of value to you, both our managing editors have indicated that, in due time, another trip down this river it is impossible to step into the same way twice is possible. Please let them know of your experience with us these past 80 days, and tell us what and whom you would like to bring along the next time. I thank you, dear reader/community member, and look forward to our next occasion very much.

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  1. Roberta Burnett
    May 10, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    I’ll read these poems repeatedly this summer. Thank you for this terrific list of poems and poets!

  2. Jean
    May 10, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    This was an unprecedented journey through a range and quality of works and translations richer than I could ever have imagined. I haven’t even begun to give it the attention it deserves and will be returning to read for months to come. Thank you all so much. This has been amazing.

  3. Tony Press
    May 10, 2011 at 5:20 pm

    Simply an echo of the comments I’ve just read. It has been a good ride – remarkable words and images. Please know that those of us receiving them do appreciate your efforts.

  4. alex cigale
    May 11, 2011 at 12:00 am

    On behalf of our entire staff and our numerous contributors. I thank you, Roberta, Jean, and Tony. The explosion of information and poetry can at times feel overwhelming. My personal highlights were discovering traditions I was not previously aware about, such as Mongolia, Tamil India, and Greenland to name a few, as well as delving into the distant past. It is comforting to know that the more things change the more things that truly matter stay the same, the larger our world becomes the smaller it feels, and more like our rightful home, that poetry is a container for our shared humanity.

  5. May 12, 2011 at 5:55 pm

    It has been a terrific ride through cultures but especially listening to the exquisite sound of poetry rising from varied souls. I consider it a singular honor to have merited the inclusion of my piece in this issue. Thanks again, so much, Alex, as well as to Beth and Dave.

  6. Roberta Burnett
    June 7, 2011 at 4:15 pm

    This must have been arduous fun, to read the submissions and select. I wish I’d been in on that process.

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