Friday, February 5, 2010

Poetic Potpourri

Poetic potpourri today. Last week for Poetry Friday, Diane Mayr had Erasure Poetry, inspired by the Poetry Foundation podcast about it. Erasure poetry is when you take a work (of fiction or poetry or something else) and remove parts of it to create something new. I remember doing that with Beloved by Toni Morrison when I was in school. Consider giving it a try -- it's fun!

Here is a video that does something similar, taking bits and pieces of dialogue to make a song:


Next, Jan Haag -- wow. His goal was to write a poem in all the different forms used in English (and some used in other languages) and, as far as I can tell, he got at least as far as 326! Impressive. Here's his Sicilian Sestet I:


The roads run straight into the lake. Down deep,
five feet or more beneath the water, salt
shifts, filling its subtle grades, blue-green. Leap
away, avoid the coming tide, foam, malt,
the doom that inch by inch, silent, will seep
through any fissure, shatter each small fault.


Lastly, I like Robert Bly's poetry translations. I have his Winged Energy of Delight, which contains this:

You Are The Wind
by Olav Hauge
translated by Robert Bly

I am a boat
without wind.
You were the wind.
Was that the direction I wanted to go?
Who cares about directions
with a wind like that!


Another great poem translated by Robert Bly is Rumi's Eating Poetry (it's the third one down).

Update: I learned after I posted this about some controversies regarding Bly and his translations, so I thought I would post a few links. I didn't find a good explanation of the problem with Bly (I heard that Dana Gioia wrote about him, but I didn't find it.) The problems I heard about were that Bly didn't speak the languages he was translating and that he wasn't good at translating anyway. The examples that I saw did make a good case for other translators doing a more evocative and precise job, but I just saw a few samples and it doesn't seem fair to write off his entire body of work from those.

At any rate, here are a couple of links:
Robert Bly's 8 stages for translations.
Robert Bly translates Peer Gynt

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