For those of you who live in the immediate area of Washington, D.C. (motto: Visit Washington! It’s a *Capitol* offense!), Kay Ryan will be kicking off her second term as Poet Laureate with a reading at the Library of Congress on October 21, 2009.
I encourage you to attend this reading if you have a chance, whether you are a writer or not, and, if you are a writer, whether you find Ryan’s poems congenial or not.
As it happens, the online journal, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, has just put up an issue on the U. S. Poets Laureate, aka The Consultant in Poetry aka Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry, that last being the current official title, courtesy of, no doubt, The Department of Redundancy Department.
Upcoming (imminent!) Vrzhu author Carol Guess, who we are just crazy about, is a featured writer over at the Genpop Books, where you can read four of her wonderful prose poems, a form of which she is a master.
Cavalieri: How much are we missing? We see and hear English translations of your poems and some are called brilliant in any language.
Brodsky: You can’t say you are missing much. You can’t say you are missing the prosody of another language. You can’t miss the acoustics of another language. The original is rooted in the euphony of the Russian language. That of course you can’t have and you’re not missing it. You can’t miss something that you don’t know.
Cavalieri: We can get a good lyrical poem anyway that is matchless.
Brodsky: That’s what it is if it works in English. You have to be a judge of solely how it is in English.
Cavalieri: We shouldn’t feel we’re getting only ninety percent of something which is absolute.
Brodsky: You get a poem in English, good or bad. You can’t fantasize about what it’d be like in the original.
That seems like one of the more reasonable remarks about the fraught issue of translating poetry.
Also I suggest giving serious consideration to Brodsky's advice to write your Nobel Prize acceptance speech NOW, "just in case."