Letter from the Editors Issue Two

In his poem, “Bone to Bone,” Serbian poet Vasko Popa, as translated by Katherine Klaric, asks, ” What’s the matter with you / You swallowed me /… Now it’s no longer known / Neither who is where nor who is who.” In fact, the selections presented in this second issue of Canon Translation Review seem to cluster around the questions of intimacy and dissolution of the self evidenced in that excerpt. These intersecting themes, however, coincide with widely varying source materials and formal choices; the works translated range from those entrenched in the traditional literary canon to works just gaining recognition, from flash fiction to rhymed and metered verse.

In these pages, Ana Maria Guay brings us the death of Sarpedon in Homer’s Iliad, a moment in which Zeus’ affection for his mortal son undoes his divine self-possession bringing him down into the grief-stricken world of human agents. Meg Berkobien’s translation from Peruvian writer Iwasaki’s collection Grave Goods further explores selves that are precariously placed, in danger of being consumed by some stronger force. Baudelaire’s poem, “The Dancing Snake” as translated by Spencer Hawkins, reveals both impulse of a lover to analyze and determine, and that the beloved still evades this form of possessiveness, slipping away into the motion of an autumn wave, or a snake on a branch.

It is particularly appropriate that these translations present explorations of intimacy and the loss of the self, since intimacy and appropriation are, for better or for worse, inherent in enterprise of translation. Such an image is evocative of the translator as a cannibal—a metaphor advanced by Haroldo de Campos—who, in selecting those targets whose strength he or she wants to absorb, both kills, and in a sense, resurrects the translated work. We hope that our readers, in turn, find something sustaining in the translations presented here, dismantling and incorporating them into their own bodies of thought and text.

Sarah Kunjummen & Meg Berkobien
October 2012

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