Journal of Romance Studies

Diary of a translator: a personal account of translating a poem ‘Arpa’, by Amelia Biagioni (1916–2000)

Journal of Romance Studies (2009), 9, (1), 99–112.

Abstract

This article reveals my own diary-keeping as I translated one poem by the Argentine poet Amelia Biagioni (1916–2000) between May 2007 and February 2008. I find myself drawn to ‘Arpa’, the third poem in Biagioni’s last collection of 1995, Región de fugas. In this diary I have made something of the process of translation transparent. I make my intertextual associations conscious: among them John Donne, Leonard Cohen and, perhaps less surprisingly, Borges, who all find their way into my translation. I also narrate the interactions with the native readers I consulted as I worked, which helped to shape my reading of the poem. In this way I take the definition of a diary as a description of a subjective encounter. Through this process I come to realize I have been holding this poem safely at ‘arm’s length’. The brief comments of two native readers I consulted force me to engage with the bleak, dark nature of the poem I had not wanted to face before, and ultimately lead me closer to the heart of the poem, and towards a stronger translation.

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Borges, Jorge Luis (1999) Selected Poems, ed. Alexander Coleman, trans. Willis Barnstone, Alexander Coleman, Stephen Kessler, Kenneth Krabbenhoft, Eric McHenry, W. S. Merwin, Alastair Reid, Hoyt Rogers, Charles Tomlinson, Alan S. Trueblood, John Updike (London: Penguin). Selected Poems Google Scholar

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García Lorca, Federico (1996) [1933] Bodas de sangre, in a version by Ted Hughes (London: Faber & Faber). Bodas de sangre Google Scholar

García Lorca, Federico (1998) Obras completas (Barcelona: Galaxia Gutenberg). Obras completas Google Scholar

Keats, John (1988) [1973] The Complete Poems (London: Penguin). The Complete Poems Google Scholar

Melchiore, Valeria (2003) ‘Amelia Biagioni: Una identidad en fuga por el lenguaje errante’, Espéculo (Universidad Complutense de Madrid), http://www.ucm.es/info/especulo/numero23/biagioni.html [accessed 23 February 2008]. Google Scholar

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Piglia, Ricardo (1980) Respiración artificial (Buenos Aires: Editorial Pomaire). Respiración artificial Google Scholar

Piglia, Ricardo (1994) Artificial Respiration, trans. Daniel Balderston (London: Duke University Press). Artificial Respiration Google Scholar

Piña, Cristina and Cecelia Moure (2005) Poéticas de lo incesante: Sujeto, materialidad y escritura en Amelia Biagioni y Néstor Perlongher (Buenos Aires: Botella al Mar). Poéticas de lo incesante: Sujeto, materialidad y escritura en Amelia Biagioni y Néstor Perlongher Google Scholar

Pizarnik, Alejandra (2000) Obra completa (Medellín, Colombia: Editorial Árbol de Diana). Obra completa Google Scholar

Redgrove, Peter (1998) ‘The moon as hearing trumpet’, Ambit 154, 22. The moon as hearing trumpet Ambit 154 22 Google Scholar

Redgrove, Peter (2006) The Colour of Radio (London: Stride). The Colour of Radio Google Scholar

Rimbaud, Arthur (1986) [1962] Collected Poems, ed. Oliver Bernard (London: Penguin). Collected Poems Google Scholar

 Google Scholar

Venuti, Lawrence (1992) Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology (London: Routledge). Rethinking Translation: Discourse, Subjectivity, Ideology Google Scholar

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Current English (1991), 8th edn, ed. R. E. Allen; 1st edn, ed. H. W. Fowler and F. G. Fowler (Oxford: Oxford University Press). Google Scholar

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Author details

MacKeith, Gwendolen