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An update from our sixty-seventh Writing Workshop with Conner Bassett

A summary of the workshop held on Saturday, May 13

We began the workshop by discussing the etymology of translation. Translation comes from the Latin phrase, “to be carried across.” Conner encouraged us to adopt a more “experimental view of translation.” He told us that there were many types of translation, such as ekphrasis, and that it is important to think of translation outside the boundaries of translation cliches—that things are “lost in translation” and that the translator is a traitor. We looked at some examples of translation. We read an excerpt from Dante’s Inferno in the original Italian and then three translations of it into English. The translations by John Ciardi, Robert Pinsky, and Clive James all focused on the rhyme scheme. However, Mary Jo Bang’s version had no rhyme scheme and used more colloquial language, focusing more on writing a poem that sounded just as good in English as it did in Italian rather than on literal translation. We thought about the question, “What matters most in translation?” Is it word accuracy, or conveying a feeling?

The Challenge: Write a homolinguistic translation of Tomaz Salamun’s “Ships” and a homophonic translation of “Catullus 70” by Gaius Catullus.

The Participants: Emma, Anushka, Stella, Samarina, Yueling, Philip, Catherine, Amaya, Aaron, Madeline, Seva, Nova

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