After the enthusiastic response to last year’s “violence” issue of kadar koli—featuring contributions from Joyelle McSweeney, Richard Owens, Rob Halpern, Julie Carr, josé felipe alvergue, Maggie Nelson, Diane di Prima, Emily Critchley, Justin Katko, Shin Yu Pai, Gloria Frym, Daniel C. Remein, Dale Smith, Jared Schickling, and Laura Kilbride—the theme of this issue of kadar koli is “dystranslation.” This is our term for translation that presents some kind of difficulty or aporia that forces the translator (or editor, etc.) to make choices—gaps, smudges, mistakes that require interpretation. These translations might demand emendatio, the correction of an unlikely word or phrase in a text, or even divinatio, an extreme form of emendatio, where the editor relies on special insight into what the author really intended, even if the text is more or less legible as presented.
For example, editors and translators over the years have troubled the reading of “pluma” in Horace’s Carmen 4.10, rendering wildly divergent interpretations of the line. The opening of the poem reads:
O crudelis adhuc et Veneris muneribus potens,
inseperata tuae cum veniet pluma superbiae,
Oh you—cruel and, for now, quite well endowed, flush with the gifts of Love—
once that ‘pluma’ that you—you in your pride—didn’t foresee arrives,
As Chris Piuma notes, to read it as “pluma” offers the following sense: “once that fledgling mustache you in your pride didn’t foresee arrives… ” But the following alternatives have been suggested as well:
bruma: once those wintery hairs you in your pride didn’t foresee arrives
ruga: once those wrinkles that you—you in your pride—didn’t foresee arrive
poena: once the suffering that you—you in your pride—didn’t foresee arrives
plaga: once the welting that you—you in your pride—didn’t foresee arrives
multa: once the manifold things you in your pride didn’t foresee arrive
palma: once the victory prize you in your pride didn’t foresee arrives
This issue of kadar koli invites contributors to think through moments of dystranslation, either those they’ve encountered in reading and research, such as that noted above, or in their own translation work. We are interested in examples from poetry and prose, from whatever time period, language, or location. We will publish a selection of translation examples (with original language specimens, if possible), essays on translation practice, and translations of essays related to this topic. Potential contributors should feel free to interpret dystranslation broadly; any translation or engagement with translation that deviates from normative expectations will be considered (where “normative” is understood as linear, literal, unproblematic, etc.). Dystranslation, by contrast, is creative, experimental, controversial. Instead of eliding difficulties, it highlights and engages with them, blurring (intentionally or not) the lines between poet/writer and translator/editor. We are especially interested in work that pushes at such boundaries, and—while we are not interested in “fake” translation per se, we are intrigued by the question of what constitutes “real” v. “fake” translation—is a translation inherently less worthwhile if it doesn’t adhere to some measure of fidelity? What constitutes the difference, and is it possible or desirable to blur that line as well?
Please send inquiries to co-editors David Hadbawnik (dhadbawnik at gmail.com) and Chris Piuma (chrispiuma at gmail.com) immediately; deadline for contributions is February 15th, 2013.