brown film spiral

Transmedia Storytelling: How to Promote Your Poetry or Experimental Film (Part II)

brown film spiral
Last month, I introduced you to my experimental film Palpitations of Dust (https://vimeo.com/180268104), which has won recognition at film festivals. When you’re ready to release your film, it isn’t enough to premier it in a theater if you want it to draw attention. You must take steps to promote it and make it appealing to your audience. Therefore, what you do after completing an experimental film is just as important as the film itself. By knowing marketing basics, you can turn your passion into a profitable venture.

Marketing Your Experimental Film

If you are serious about filmmaking, you must treat your craft like a business. You cannot make a film and hope that it will do well in the theater and make sales online. You must take steps to showcase your unique vision and create a buzz. Those steps depend on information, such as your audience’s:

  • Age
  • Geographic location
  • Preferred movie genres
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Gender
  • How they consume information
  • Preferred social media platforms

In today’s technological age, you will find that your audience consumes information from a number of sources because they also want to feel as if they have a role in what you offer. This is where transmedia storytelling comes into play. The marketing technique helps set your film apart from the other noise on the Internet by using multiple media platforms to transport your message into your audience’s daily life. By using transmedia storytelling, you transition from telling a story to making one with your audience.

With Palpitations of Dust, I used poems that I wrote in the past, film festivals, video-on-demand and social media to make the story come together. Ideas that others use to market their own films include:

  • Creating a film festival strategy
  • Entering a film for an award
  • Showing teasers and trailers on social media platforms just prior to releasing the film to create a sense of excitement
  • Hanging posters and handing out fliers in the community where you plan to premier the film
  • Creating a website and social media pages dedicated to the film
  • Using social media before and after a screening to connect with your audience and keep the conversation going
  • Submitting the film to VOD services and television networks
  • Hosting special screening events
  • Email marketing and flyer for promotion purposes
  • Submitting press releases to local newspapers and news websites, such this one (http://www.prweb.com/releases/2016/11/prweb13821729.htm) for Palpitations of Dust

Do You Need an Agent or Publicist?

The answer to this question depends on your needs. An agent is an individual who takes care of the business aspects of your endeavor so you can focus on the creative aspects. These professionals negotiate contracts, give guidance, and provide creative feedback. They learn about your goals and devise a plan to help you meet them. They can also connect you to other professionals that you might need for a film, such as producers. If filmmaking is a hobby, you might not need an agent. If it is a serious career, an agent can prove invaluable.

Hiring a publicist is a good idea if a major film festival screens your experimental film. This individual can help you develop strong publicity materials, get you in touch with the right press contacts, manage festival publicity and marketing campaigns, raise your film’s media profile, arrange interviews, and maximize the exposure your film receives.

The only thing more exciting than writing poetry or making a film is sharing your talents with others. Strategic transmedia storytelling will help get the ball rolling by expanding the narrative that you create into the lives of your audience, making your fans your greatest evangelists and assets.

spiral film strip from movie

Where to Promote Your Poetry or Experimental Film (Part I)

spiral film strip from movieTransmedia storytelling is a popular trend that you may have experienced without knowing it. It encompasses dispersing a work or parts of a work across multiple platforms to provide an audience with a unified, coordinated experience. The Hunger Games is a great example in which Lionsgate and Campfire used billboards, social media, videos, fan challenges, websites and cinemas to tell the complete story about the universe in which the movie characters live. If you are a writer or filmmaker, you don’t need to collaborate with a major film studio to promote your own work. In 2016, I released the experimental film Palpitations of Dust (https://vimeo.com/180268104). By using outlets available to the public, I successfully promoted my film and engaged its audience.

Transmedia Storytelling Basics

In transmedia storytelling, the platforms used to promote your works contribute to its unfolding story. In Palpitations of Dust, I narrated poems that I published in the past to give viewers an enhanced and more immersive experience. Because I used different platforms to promote the film, I gave my audience different points of entry to experience it, as well as an invitation and incentive to immerse themselves in the world that I created.

The Best Poets to Pitch Your Experimental Film

Many experimental films combine different types of art in a manner that might seem unconventional. Along with using actors and paintings in Palpitations of Dust, I narrated poems that I wrote. Many filmmakers use poems written by other artists. Often, the best poets or poetry laureates to pitch your film to are individuals you know. The poet laureate I worked with was Jean Valentine who has been my mentor in New York, and Ralph Angel who has been my teacher for the last two years, based in Los Angeles.

Promoting Your Experimental Film

Theaters

Good theaters to premier your films in are those that routinely show experimental films, such as community theaters and art houses, because they already have an audience that’s interested in your genre. Some of these theaters are part of or have a relationship with college campuses with active film programs.

Film Festivals

Film festivals are great for showing your work to the world because they have an audience that wants to see it. Festival screenings are also ideal because they naturally create buzz about films and the talents behind them. Below are some of the popular festivals for short films in the United States and around the world:

I recently had the honor of winning the Best Experimental Film award at the 2016 Los Angeles Film and Script Festival for Palpitations of Dust, as well as an Award of Recognition in the experimental film category at IndieFEST. The film is also nominated for Official Selection: Best Mini Film or Documentary at the TASTE AWARDS, which will announce the winner in February 2017.

Palpitations of Dust is pre-selected for the first annual Pacific Coast Premier and the Near Nazareth Festival. I also screened the film at the Oasis Short Film Festival, which showcases the emerging talent of the next generation filmmakers who don’t necessarily have big budgets or industry-filmmaker connections to be recognized.

Raindance, iFilmfest and the Underground Film Journal are great resources that list several festivals for screening experimental films.

Online Streaming Video Services

Video-on-demand, or VOD, services are great ways to give your audience a way to view a film from any device with an Internet connection. The most popular platforms include:

Sonnyboo lists media outlets that seek short films. PBS also lists popular digital self-distribution options that do not have a curation process.

Visit my blog next month to learn more about transmedia storytelling and how to promote your experimental film.

Screenshot from Ann Huang's film, Palpitations of Dust

Ann Huang’s “Palpitations of Dust” Receives Best Experimental Film Award

Contact

Ann Huang

Independent Filmmaker

Phone: (949) 280-5290

huang.yuwei.ann@gmail.com

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Ann Huang’s “Palpitations of Dust” Receives Best Experimental Film Award

 

November 2016: Ann Huang’s film “Palpitations of Dust” has received the Best Experimental Film Award at the Los Angeles Film and Script Festival.

The film will be screened at The Complex Theater in Hollywood California at the Fall 2016 Los Angeles Film and Script Festival on November 5th 2016. Tickets are available for purchase online at http://www.lafilmtickets.info/Tickets.html.

Written and adapted by Ann Huang, the five surrealist poems in one presentation represents the continuous and infinite patterns of a life in dreams and the dreams demanding synchronicity from it.

In the film, three friends’ lives become complicated when facing choices of love, friendship, need and reciprocity. Everything is hung on a thin string– from desire to love, to dream, to face life’s disarrays, and then to settle on an unexpected destiny.

Eric Stoner co-produced, served as the art director, locations manager, and was a lead actor in the production. Tatiana Rozo acted and served as an assistant editor. Dean Nathan served as the cinematographer/DP, editor, sound editor, and did the digital effects.

About Ann Huang

Ann Huang was born and raised in Mainland China and her passion for words dates back to her childhood. World literature and theatrical performances became dominating forces during her linguistic training at various educational institutions. As a first generation Chinese American, Huang possesses a unique global perspective on the past, present and future of Latin America, the United States and China. She is an MFA candidate from the Vermont College of Fine Arts and has authored two poetry collections. For more information, visit http://annhuang.com.

Are There Any Rules for Translating Poetry?

Poetry writing and translation rulesAs an art form, poetry doesn’t have hard and fast rules. While there are elements that make up certain types of poems, such as rhyme and meter, there is no “wrong” way to write poetry. The same, however, is not necessarily true for poetry translations. Translations can be a beautiful way to share a poet’s works with the world. Without them, people around the globe would not have been exposed to the masterful works of William Shakespeare, Federico García Lorca, Rumi and many others. The problem with translations, however, is that they become the translator’s work, a work based on the original poet’s ideas. To prevent misrepresenting an original poem’s spirit, there are guidelines that translators follow to keep their words as intimately related to the work in question.

Guidelines for Translating Poetry

Be fluent in the languages with which you work.

If you Google Translate to have a conversation with an individual who speaks a different language than you, you’ll quickly find that phrases don’t always translate well. Sayings that make perfect sense in U.S. English could be nonsensical in other languages, and vice versa. Having intimate knowledge of the poet’s language and the target language will bring you a step closer to staying true to the original text.

Understand the poet’s culture and history.

Having a rudimentary understanding of a language is not enough. You must also be familiar with a poet’s culture and life in his or her point in history. An understanding of a poet’s culture allows you to recognize when a direct translation of a phrase will not work well. A translator who understands the Latvian language and culture, for instance, will see the phrase, “Ej bekot,” and know that a poet doesn’t necessarily mean, “Go pick mushrooms,” which is the literal translation. He or she will know that this phrase means, “Leave me alone,” or “Go away.”

In addition to understanding colloquialisms, a translator should be aware of the respective language’s evolution. An individual translating Shakespeare into another language, for example, should know that phrases like, “Well met,” and, “Good morrow,” as seen in Henry V, are greetings that people during the poet’s era often said.

Stay as true to the original poem as closely as possible.

When translating a poem, you must stay as close to the original meaning as possible in a manner that mimics its original essence and structure. Doing this not only requires a deep understanding of the respective languages, but also the poem itself. For instance, an individual who doesn’t know that Walt Whitman’s “O Captain! My Captain!” is about Abraham Lincoln’s death will not capture the work’s true meaning in a translation.

Staying close and true to the poem also means feeling and reflecting a poem’s rhythm, pauses, beats, grammatical structure and swirls. If a poet intentionally used words to give a work a specific meter or sound, or places stress on key words, a good translation will replicate these characteristics.

Translating a poem is far from a simple process. It’s often messy and requires deconstruction, erasing, rewriting and starting over. It is this process, however, that brings the gift of literature to others, making your efforts worthwhile and invaluable.

Below are some examples of Ann Huang’s translated poems from Classical Chinese to English. They were published on the National Translation Month website in September 2016.

Ann Huang is a marketing manager based in Newport Beach, California. She grew up in China, moved to Mexico when she was a teen, and is an MFA candidate from the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Huang has authored two poetry collections. Her poem, “Night Lullaby,” was a Ruth Stone Poetry Prize finalist. She is at work translating Tang dynasty poet Li Shang-Yin 李商隐.

Poem 1

Untitled

When we meet,

we don’t want to leave each other,

The east wind can’t help

blowing the petals, can’t

bring them back.

Silk worms stop giving

silk till he dies, and my

tears won’t dry until

the candle light fades out.

I look at the mirror and see

my dark hair grow gray,

I drink at night alongside frail

moonlight.

Once you climb onto the mountain roads

to the monastery,

there will be few ways out.

Perhaps there will

only be blue birds that

expect you to come back.

 

Poem 2

Untitled (2)

At eight you found yourself gazing

into the mirror discreetly, and drew

your long eyebrows.

At ten you journeyed out, and

adorned your skirt shorts

with hibiscus.

At twelve you learned to

play the flute, and never lost

your affection.

At fourteen, you hid from ancient

customs and distant relatives,

avoided arranged marriages.

At fifteen you wept in the spring air,

turned your back facing down

just like a swinger.

 

Poem 3

Untitled (3)

Last night’s stars twinkled in the

damp cool winds, from

painted floors like western meadows

held the party in the east.

Without the pair of Phoenix’s wings,

we cannot fly together, our souls

touching, our spirits connected

through a thread of harmony.

Across the table, we diverted and converted

our drinks into warm streams. There,

we unveiled the mystery and discovered the

true hearts in the heated crowd.

Sighing– when the drum struck

to usher me back to work. A horse

ride turned my disillusion to

the orchids, where my empty future stands.

Translations That Get Adopted as Originals in Their Target Culture

dictionary for poetry translation

Neruda once declared, “Nothing remains except that which was written with blood to be listened to by blood.” Neruda trusts and celebrates his senses and inextricably links his experiences, quite specifically, to the natural world he loves: to the damp forests of southern Chile; to the thick, gnarled roots of the pines deeply penetrating the earth; to the lonely rains that occluded the sun and cast the world through its fine veils; to the roiling rivers and seas that brought renewal and hope and, sometimes, destruction. For Neruda, this tightly woven web of nature symbolism became a grid through which he could begin to make sense of his life, to explore both the spiritual and physical worlds. For him, it was a continuous geography.

He spoke to the Chilean people of their mountains and trees, of their rivers and nocturnal flowers, of their dreams. Neruda held up a mirror in which Chileans could view themselves and be pleased. Reading Neruda, they could feel a common identity beyond their separate lives, landmarks, and scents they could call their own.

Several artistic and literary movements emerged that reflected the social and philosophical crises of the times: cubism, futurism, Dadaism, ultraism, creationism, modernism, and in the same year that Neruda published Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair, the explosion of surrealism.

With their gorgeous sweep and intimacy, their sensuality and rhapsody, and their “secret revelations of nature,” Neruda’s poems also made me want to reclaim Spanish, the language of my teenage years. It is not an exaggeration to say that they helped me to discover who I was what I was meant to do. How I sang these poems aloud, again and again, in Spanish and in English, for the pure joy of hearing them on my tongue, for the imagery they conjured up and the longings they roused.

Neruda’s poetry challenged readers to less static lives, lives susceptible to transformation, like nature itself. He talks about Chilean earth, the country, more so in a subconscious state to illustrate to his countrymen the country’s beauty as opposed to the physical beauty of a woman. There is this raw sense of patriotism, natural, imperative and inherent. It shows the political climate at the time in Chile, whilst the people in Chile despise their government in comparison to the sense of darkness of the night. Neruda’s poetics are more indirect in showing the pain and they are whimsical and charming combined with melancholy.

Merwin’s translation evokes more the inclusive experience of an individual, more on a conscious level (of choices and of knowing), a man’s perception on his woman’s physical and spiritual beauty. His translation of Neruda’s poems is solemn and straightforward.

Below are four Spanish-English original translation comparison examples of Pablo Neruda’s poems, translated by W.S Merwin.

SIEMPRE

Antes de mí
no tengo celos.

Ven con un hombre
a la espalda,
ven con cien hombres en tu cabellera,
ven con mil hombres entre tu pecho y tus pies,
ven como un río lleno de ahogados
que encuentra el mar furioso,
la espuma eterna, el tiempo.

Tráelos todos
adonde yo te espero:
siempre estaremos solos,
siempre estaremos tú y yo
solos sobre la tierra
para comenzar la vida.

Pablo Neruda.

ALWAYS

I am not jealous
of what came before me. [1]

Come with a man
on your shoulders,
come with a hundred men in your hair,
come with a thousand men between your breasts and your feet,

come like a river
full of drowned men
which flows down to the wild sea,
to the eternal surf, to Time!
Bring them all
to where I am waiting for you;
we shall always be alone,
we shall always be you and I
alone on earth,
to start our life!

[1] I always understood before as a true temporal adverb but curiously there are other English translations appear to be “…facing you, I’m not jealous..”. I’m not saying that they are not consistent texts, only wonder about the accuracy of the temporary nature of the word before as the potential meaning for the poet.

CUERPO DE MUJER

Cuerpo de mujer, blancas colinas, muslos blancos,

te pareces al mundo en tu actitud de entrega.
Mi cuerpo de labriego salvaje te socava
y hace saltar el hijo del fondo de la tierra.

Fui solo como un túnel. De mí huían los pájaros
y en mí la noche entraba su invasión poderosa.
Para sobrevivirme te forjé como un arma,
como una flecha en mi arco, como una piedra en mi honda.

Pero cae la hora de la venganza, y te amo.
Cuerpo de piel, de musgo, de leche ávida y firme.
Ah los vasos del pecho! Ah los ojos de ausencia!
Ah las rosas del pubis! Ah tu voz lenta y triste!

Cuerpo de mujer mía, persistiré en tu gracia.
Mi sed, mi ansia sin límite, mi camino indeciso!
Oscuros cauces donde la sed eterna sigue,
y la fatiga sigue, y el dolor infinito.

Pablo Neruda.

 

BODY OF A WOMAN

Body of a woman, white hills, white thighs,

you look like a world, lying in surrender.[2]
My rough peasant’s body digs in you
and makes the son leap from the depth of the earth.

I was alone like a tunnel. The birds fled from me,
and night swamped me with its crushing invasion.[3]
To survive myself I forged you like a weapon,
like an arrow in my bow, a stone in my sling.

But the hour of vengeance falls, and I love you.
Body of skin, of moss, of eager and firm milk.
Oh the goblets of the breast! Oh the eyes of absence!
Oh the roses of the pubis! Oh your voice, slow and sad!

Body of my woman, I will persist in your grace.
My thirst, my boundless desire, my shifting road![4]
Dark river-beds where the eternal thirst flows
and weariness follows, and the infinite ache.

[2] Merwin’s translation is quite powerful and literary, compared to other popular versions that are more conscious-driven and literal in your attitude of giving.

[3] Here Merwin’s translation exceeds again over other popular translations by focusing on “… en mi…” hence, the night became an active role. The other popular translation would be “I was invaded by the power of the night.”

[4] Shifting road on top of boundless desire is complementing, much stronger than “my infinite anguish, my indecisive path…”even though this is less close as a translation version, it is closer to what Neruda meant originally.

INCLINADO EN LAS TARDES

Inclinado en las tardes tiro mis tristes redes
a tus ojos oceánicos.

Allí se estira y arde en la mas alta hoguera
mi soledad que da vueltas los brazos como un naufrago.

Hago rojas señales sobre tus ojos ausentes
que olean como el mar a la orilla de un faro.

Solo guardas tinieblas, hembra distante y mía,
de tu mirada emerge a veces la costa del espanto.

Inclinado en las tardes echo mis tristes redes
a ese mar que sacude tus ojos oceánicos.

Los pájaros nocturnos picotean las primeras estrellas
que centellean como mi alma cuando te amo.

Galopa la noche en su yegua sombría
desparramando espigas azules sobre el campo.

Pablo Neruda.

LEANING INTO THE AFTERNOONS

Leaning into the afternoons I cast my sad nets
towards your oceanic eyes.

There in the highest blaze my solitude lengthens  and flames,
its arms turning like a drowning man’s.

I send out red signals across your absent eyes[5]
that move like the sea near a lighthouse.[6]

You keep only darkness, my distant female,
from your regard sometimes the coast of dread emerges.

Leaning into the afternoons I fling my sad nets
to that sea that is thrashed by your oceanic eyes.

The birds of night peck at the first stars
that flash like my soul when I love you.

The night gallops on its shadowy mare[7]
shedding blue tassels over the land.

[5] Other popular translations use the word “over” to hinder “sobre” instead of “across.” It’s interesting to see the different perspective from Merwin’s translation, so the protagonist is sending red signals TO her instead of ABOVE her, which connects well to Neruda’s political inferences the next line.

[6] “Smell” would be a typical choice for “olean.” However, “move” is the more sensible option. This way, the protagonist becomes the sea or the people of Chile, and the lighthouse has transformed to be the government that needed enlightenment. Here, Merwin’s translation makes a big leap from personal yearnings to state-level affairs.

[7] The choice “its” for “su” instead of “her” does reinforce the political interpretative layer linking to [6].

ME GUSTAS CUANDO CALLAS

Me gustas cuando callas porque estas como ausente,
y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te toca.
Parece que los ojos se te hubieran volado
y parece que un beso te cerrara la boca.

Como todas las cosas estan llenas de mi alma
emerges de las cosas, llena del alma mia.
Mariposa de sueno, te pareces a mi alma,
y te pareces a la palabra melancolia.

Me gustas cuando callas y estas como distante.
Y estas como quejandote, mariposa en arrullo.
Y me oyes desde lejos, y mi voz no te alcanza:
dejame que me calle con el silencio tuyo.

Dejame que te hable tambien con tu silencio
claro como una lampara, simple como un anillo.
Eres como la noche, callada y constelada.
Tu silencio es de estrella, tan lejano y sencillo.

Me gustas cuando callas porque estas como ausente.
Distante y dolorosa como si hubieras muerto.
Una palabra entonces, una sonrisa bastan.
Y estoy alegre, alegre de que no sea cierto.

Pablo Neruda.

I LIKE FOR YOU TO BE STILL

I like for you to be still: because it is as though you were absent, [8]
and you hear me from far away and my voice does not touch you.
It seems as though your eyes had flown away
and it seems that a kiss had sealed your mouth.

As all things are filled with my soul
you emerge from the things, filled with my soul.
You are like my soul, a butterfly of dream,
and you are like the word Melancholy.

I like for you to be still, and you seem far away.
It sounds as though you were lamenting, a butterfly cooing like a dove. [9]
And you hear me from far away, and my voice does not reach you:
Let me come to be still in your silence.

And let me talk to you with your silence
that is bright as a lamp, simple as a ring. [10]
You are like the night, with its stillness and constellations.
Your silence is that of a star, as remote and candid.

I like for you to be still: it is as though you were absent,
distant and full of sorrow as though you had died.
One word then, one smile, is enough.
And I am happy, happy that it’s not true.

 

[8] A better translation for this line should be “I like you when you are quiet,” in the sense that stillness is not enough, quietness on both physical movement and speaking terms would be.

[9] Here I’d translate to “a butterfly in lullaby” for “mariposa en arrullo.”

[10] I’d like the word “clear” for “claro” here because of the narrator’s unblemished reasons, not in reference to the light intensity.

Crossing the Line: When a Translated Poem Becomes an Original Work

 

poetry book

Language is a barrier in more than one respect. If you’re in a foreign country and can’t speak the native language, you might find it difficult to communicate. These barriers sometimes form when words are translated from one language into another. You can find extreme examples of this on some imported products, like a warning label for plum jelly that states, “1. Please do not attract one grain by to swallow. 2. Below five years old, please not edible.” These phrases might make perfect sense in the original language, but the literal translation ends up being a source of confusion and amusement. The same happens with varying degrees with translated poems. As a result, scholars often debate the effectiveness of translations.

Blurred Lines

When done correctly, translations are wonder devices that open doors to new worlds. They are essential to introducing readers to new cultures and ideas. Without them, you might not be exposed great works, like Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote, Candide by Voltaire, or Laozi’s Tao Te Ching. Poet Haroldo de Campos was celebrated for his masterful translations of some of the Western world’s most important works into Portuguese, such as those by Mallarmé, Dante, Homer and James Joyce.

The problem with translations generally stems from the fact that you are dependent upon a translator’s subjective interpretation. You rely on this individual’s understanding of the poet’s language, dialect, culture, life, target audience, historical period and more. You trust that the translator fully understood the original work and remained faithful to its essence and voice. You have faith that the translator is on par with the poet’s artistic abilities and has a good understanding of the new target readers and their culture.

When a translator fails to be faithful to the original work, it becomes the translator’s poem—a completely new work. When this occurs, interesting things happen. For example, a culture might adopt the translated piece as an original work. An example of this is John Dryden’s version of the epic Aeneid by Virgil. In the preface, Dryden stated that he tried to make Virgil sound English, as if he were from Great Britain. He turned the original unrhymed verses into couplets while using lines from Sir John Denham’s translation. Dryden rewrote Virgil’s work to appeal to an audience in a different period that had a different language and culture. He made the audience the priority. The losses in translation remain invisible to those who don’t take it upon themselves to do a careful comparison.

When an original poem and its translation clash, there is often a failure on the translator’s part to read for meaning and the language. This ultimately hurts the audience, but creates opportunities for additional translations. While a translator cannot change a poet’s original work, the individual can present his or her own interpretation.

Translations are like artistic mimicry. While it is possible to translate poetry, it is important to keep in mind that no translation will ever be the original work. Therefore, there is always room for reexamination and improvement. Rather than give up on reading translations, get your hand on as many as you can find. Read the introductory essays written by the translators to learn what guided their work and made it unique. Soak in the words and draw your own conclusions about original poet’s words.

Examples of Translated Poems

“The Song of Despair”

By Pablo Neruda, translated by W.S. Merwin

The memory of you emerges from the night around me.

The river mingles its stubborn lament with the sea.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.

It is the hour of departure, oh deserted one!

Cold flower heads are raining over my heart.

Oh pit of debris, fierce cave of the shipwrecked.

In you the wars and the flights accumulated.

From you the wings of the song birds rose.

You swallowed everything, like distance.

Like the sea, like time. In you everything sank!

It was the happy hour of assault and the kiss.

The hour of the spell that blazed like a lighthouse.

Pilot’s dread, fury of a blind diver,

turbulent drunkenness of love, in you everything sank!

In the childhood of mist my soul, winged and wounded.

Lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

You girdled sorrow, you clung to desire,

sadness stunned you, in you everything sank!

I made the wall of shadow draw back,

beyond desire and act, I walked on.

Oh flesh, my own flesh, woman whom I loved and lost,

I summon you in the moist hour, I raise my song to you.

Like a jar you housed the infinite tenderness,

and the infinite oblivion shattered you like a jar.

There was the black solitude of the islands,

and there, woman of love, your arms took me in.

There were thirst and hunger, and you were the fruit.

There were grief and the ruins, and you were the miracle.

Ah woman, I do not know how you could contain me

in the earth of your soul, in the cross of your arms!

How terrible and brief was my desire of you!

How difficult and drunken, how tensed and avid.

Cemetery of kisses, there is still fire in your tombs,

still the fruited boughs burn, pecked at by birds.

Oh the bitten mouth, oh the kissed limbs,

oh the hungering teeth, oh the entwined bodies.

Oh the mad coupling of hope and force

in which we merged and despaired.

And the tenderness, light as water and as flour.

And the word scarcely begun on the lips.

This was my destiny and in it was the voyage of my longing,

and in it my longing fell, in you everything sank!

Oh pit of debris, everything fell into you,

what sorrow did you not express, in what sorrow are you not drowned!

From billow to billow you still called and sang.

Standing like a sailor in the prow of a vessel.

You still flowered in songs, you still broke in currents.

Oh pit of debris, open and bitter well.

Pale blind diver, luckless slinger,

lost discoverer, in you everything sank!

It is the hour of departure, the hard cold hour

which the night fastens to all the timetables.

The rustling belt of the sea girdles the shore.

Cold stars heave up, black birds migrate.

Deserted like the wharves at dawn.

Only the tremulous shadow twists in my hands.

Oh farther than everything. Oh farther than everything.

It is the hour of departure. Oh abandoned one.

 

“Tonight I Can Write the Saddest Lines”
By Pablo Neruda, translated by W.S. Merwin

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

Write, for example, ‘The night is starry

and the stars are blue and shiver in the distance.’

The night wind revolves in the sky and sings.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

Through nights like this one I held her in my arms.

I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her too.

How could one not have loved her great still eyes.

Tonight I can write the saddest lines.

To think that I do not have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, still more immense without her.

And the verse falls to the soul like dew to the pasture.

What does it matter that my love could not keep her.

The night is starry and she is not with me.

This is all. In the distance someone is singing. In the distance.

My soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

My sight tries to find her as though to bring her closer.

My heart looks for her, and she is not with me.

The same night whitening the same trees.

We, of that time, are no longer the same.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but how I loved her.

My voice tried to find the wind to touch her hearing.

Another’s. She will be another’s. As she was before my kisses.

Her voice, her bright body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her.

Love is so short, forgetting is so long.

Because through nights like this one I held her in my arms

my soul is not satisfied that it has lost her.

Though this be the last pain that she makes me suffer

and these the last verses that I write for her.

 

“The Shape of Your Eyes”
By Paul Eluard, translated by Mary Ann Caws

 The shape of your eyes goes round my heart,

A round of dance and sweetness.

Halo of time, cradle nightly and sure

No longer do I know what I’ve lived,

Your eyes have not always seen me.

Leaves of day and moss of dew,

Reeds of wind and scented smiles,

Wings lighting up the world,

Boats laden with sky and sea,

Hunters of sound and sources of colour,

Scents the echoes of a covey of dawns

Recumbent on the straw of stars,

As the day depends on innocence

The world relies on your pure sight

All my blood courses in its glance.

 

“I Love”
By Jacques-Bernard Brunius, translated by Mary Ann Caws

I love sliding I love upsetting everything

I love coming in I love sighing

I love taming the furtive manes of hair

I love hot I love tenuous

I love supple I love infernal

I love sugared but elastic the curtain of springs turning to glass

I love pearl I love skin

I love tempest I love pupil

I love benevolent seal long-distance swimmer

I love oval I love struggling

I love shining I love breaking

I love the smoking spark silk vanilla mouth to mouth

I love blue I love known—knowing

I love lazy I love spherical

I love liquid beating drum sun if it wavers

I love to the left I love in the fire

I love because I love at the edges

I love forever many times Just one

I love freely I love especially

I love separately I love scandalously

I love similarly obscurely uniquely

HOPINGLY

I love           I shall love

What Happens When a Poem is Translated from the Original Language?

poetry translation

Languages are wonderful devices that have their own nuances that add to a poem’s depth. Rather than learn several different languages to enjoy the works of international poets, professionals translate them. While translations allow you get a general idea of what a poet communicates, they often don’t capture a poem’s true essence. By being aware of how translations change a work, as well as cultural considerations, you can derive a deeper meaning from the words on the page.

How Translations Change Poems

Missing Linguistic Equivalents

Every culture uses phrases that don’t make sense when directly translated into another language. In Spanish, for example, the phrase, “Nada que ver,” directly translates to, “Nothing to see.” In reality, the phrase means that one idea or circumstance has nothing to do with another (e.g., Missing lunch had nothing to do with getting a flat tire). If a translator is not aware of the linguistic nuances and its equivalents, a reader will not grasp the full meaning of a poem.

Linguistic Evolution

All languages evolve. This evolution gives birth to new languages. It sparks cultural revolutions and introduces one society to another.

When speaking English, individuals no longer say “thy,” “where for art thou,” and other phrases unless they’re intentionally using old English. If you don’t know what these phrases mean, it might be hard to understand Shakespearean works. Similarly, when modern interpreters translate ancient works and fail to account for the historical context of a poet’s words, the true meaning of the words might get lost.

Translator Inference

When translators interpret poetry, they change the words into something that they’re not so another audience can appreciate them. This makes the audience dependent on the translator’s understanding and knowledge of the poem, the poem’s original language, and the target language. If a translator lacks in any of these areas, the interpretation will not be as exact or faithful to original work. It becomes the translator’s poem, not what you necessarily intended to read.

Voice

A good translation maintains the original poet’s voice. Translators must choose words wisely to interpret and shape the text, and remain true to its rhythm, tone, logic, imagery and aesthetics. In this respect, a good translator must be as equally artistic as the poet is.

Cultural Considerations When Reading Translated Poems

Poets reference the world around them, making poems a means of cultural enrichment. A reader might not understand the significance of tin flatware or plain chipware in Gwendolyn Brooks’ The Bean Eaters, for instance, if they’re not familiar with household items that lower class Americans used in the 1960s.

Translating poetry is a subjective activity in which the professional is restrained by cultural and social factors. Professionals must understand the values, rules, attitudes, history and beliefs of the poet’s culture. They must understand how the poet felt and how the new audience will feel, as well as identify common cultural experiences and functional equivalents.

Culture-specific references in poetry include those about the names of places, foods, drinks, national pastimes, education, politics, art, history, legal systems, institutions, animals and religions. A translator must understand their significance when examining metaphors and allusions.

Grammar, gender and syntax are other important considerations when interpreting poetry. English is a gender-neutral language, while many other languages identify words as masculine or feminine. It also uses pronouns and punctuation marks differently than other languages. A translator must understand how the different grammatical elements in a work apply to a poem to provide an effective translation.

Examples of Famous Translated Works

Always

By Pablo Neruda

 

I am not jealous

of what came before me.

 

Come with a man on your shoulders,

come with a hundred men in your hair,

come with a thousand men

between your breasts and your feet.

Come like a river full of drowned men

which flows down to the wild sea,

to the eternal surf, to Time!

 

Bring them all to where I am waiting for you;

We shall always be alone,

we shall always be you and I,

alone on earth to start our life!

 

Dance

By Rumi

 

Dance when you’re broken open.

Dance when you’ve torn the bandage off.

Dance in the middle of fighting.

Dance in your blood.

Dance when you’re perfectly free.

 

To a Creole Lady

By Charles Baudelaire

 

Translation I:

In scented countries by the sun caressed

I’ve known, beneath a tent of purple boughs,

and palm trees shedding slumber as they drowse,

a creole lady with a charm unguessed.

 

She’s pale, and warm, and duskily beguiling;

Nobility is moulded in her neck;

Slender and tall she holds herself in check,

an huntress born, sure-eyed, and quiet-smiling.

 

Should you go, Madam, to the land of glory

along the Seine or Loire, where you would merit

to ornament some mansion famed in story,

 

Your eyes would bum in those deep-shaded parts,

and breed a thousand rhymes in poets’ hearts,

tamed like the negro slaves that you inherit.

 

Translation II:

I met, among the amber tamarinds

and lotus leaves, blue seas and empty space,

down on a sun-touched island’s scented sands,

a lady whose great charm seemed out of place.

 

Black hair, enchanting eyes and olive skin,

a bearing of aristocratic grace –

the long-limbed, slim young huntress, wild Diane,

with quiet self-assurance on her face.

 

Madam, if you should visit Glory’s land,

along the Seine, beside the green Loire’s strand,

our noblemen would beg you for your hand,

 

A thousand new love songs would germinate

in budding groves where poets meditate,

more docile than those slaves you now command.

 

Translating poetry is a difficult task. Rather than forego the works of international writers, immerse yourself in different translations to derive the poet’s original meaning for yourself.

What is Experimental Poetry & What Does It Mean?

rae armantrout

Like language, poetry is fluid and alive. It evolves, breaks the rules and turns into something new. Just as scientists have thought experiments (Albert Einstein often did this), writers participate in experimental literature. Experimental poetry is a product of modernist and postmodernist poetry. It explores and emphasizes innovation. Individuals who write experimental poetry don’t always write with a conscious awareness of where a work fits into an aesthetic range. The words follow their own form rather than a standard, and sometimes disregard rules related to language and function.

Experimental Poetry Explained

The best way to understand experimental poetry is to see and read it. In “Advent,” Rae Armantrout writes:

In front of the craft shop,
a small nativity,
mother, baby, sheep
made of white
and blue balloons.

*

Sky

god

girl.

Pick out the one
that doesn’t belong.

*

Some thing
close to nothing

flat

from which,
fatherless,
everything has come.

An example of experimental poetry at its finest, Armantrout takes the notion of stanzaic lyrics, and dismantles and reassembles them. She turns them inside out to create productive arrangements from small groups of phrases.

Reading experimental poetry is like listening to impromptu freestyle jazz—the good kind that you only hear late at night at jazz clubs or during a musician’s private practice sessions. The words are original, daring and sometimes stunning. The forms are more organic, loose and spontaneous, as the words are a product of the subject and the poet’s feelings as she writes. The words are often the first thoughts, the best thoughts.

History of Experimental Poetry

Compared to sonnets and lyrical poems—classical forms—experimental poetry and literature is a relatively new, evolving genre. Its earliest form dates back to Laurence Sterne’s The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentlemen in 1759. About a century-and-a-half later, in the 1910s, artistic experimentation blew into full force. Often inspired by jazz and abstract expressionist painting, American and European writers began experimenting with poetic forms as they ushered in the modernist movement. Avant-garde movements also largely contributed to evolution of experimental poetry, including Dadaism, futurism and surrealism.

After the 1930s, experimental literature faded from public view until the 1950s and -60s, when uncensored freedom became more appreciated. This is around the same time that Charles Olson, who is associated with the Black Mountain School in North Carolina, developed his theory of projective verse,—an open form of poetry based on the spontaneity of breath pauses and typewriter lines. On the West Coast, the San Franciscan School’s nature-focused poems and anti-establishment yet patriotic beat poetry gained national recognition.

Experimental poetry that came out of the New York School demonstrated the most formal education of any group, as New York City was the birthplace of Abstract Expressionism, which largely inspired experimental poetry. One such writer includes Jean Valentine, whose lyrical poems are both personal and political as she tries to make sense of the unconscious and invisible. Valentine states that as she writes, she pays attention to the sounds of her words. If they don’t sound alive in a draft, she takes them out.

Today’s contemporary experimental writers demonstrate many of the qualities seen in works from the 1960s. Their works, however, tend to have more irony and humor. They tend to be more accessible and are sometimes more emotionally deflating. Elaine Equi is a masterful contemporary experimental poet who writes for literary and non-literary audiences. Much of her inspiration comes from her observations of others, her life and pop culture.

Experimental poetry isn’t necessarily poetry that breaks the rules. It’s poetry with its own borders and boundaries. Rather than haven an antagonistic engagement with literature, as some view it, experimental poetry has an alternative engagement with convention. There’s nothing wrong with a little experimentation. Grab a pen and see what words flow from your fingers.