Category Archives: Literary Translation

Emerging Writers’ Festival 2018

On a cold, bright Melbourne morning, a motley crew of logophiles and poetry buffs gathered at the State Library Victoria to translate a 900-year-old Chinese ci. 

The sold-out workshop, organised in concert with the Emerging Writers’ Festival and Monash University, saw participants collaborating in small groups to tackle the translation of a ci-poem by Song-dynasty poet Li Qingzhao, one of the greatest female poets in Chinese history.

The 3-hour workshop began with a series of short introductions by the event organisers, each of whom provided insight and context on a particular aspect of the collaborative translation process.

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Literary translator, Cordite editor and Monash University lecturer Alice Whitmore kicked things off with an overview of some of the most significant theoretical approaches to poetry translation, drawing on the creative, symphonic philosophies espoused by great twentieth century poet-translators like Octavio Paz and Ezra Pound.

Poetry translator Julia Min gave an enthralling explanation of the historical context, exquisite form and symbolic complexity of ci poetry, and shed some light on the collective translation process that yielded her 1989 translations of Li Qingzhao’s poems. Julia read three carefully selected ci-poems, spanning the breath of Li Qingzhao’s life, and groups were asked to choose one for translation.

Finally, Transcollaborate President Jessica Griffiths outlined how the morning would unfold: working at tables of 3 to 4, and armed with a colourful pile of art supplies, groups would have 2 hours to come up with a collaborative translation of one of Li Qingzhao’s poems. The final draft would be presented on a single sheet of A5 paper for later compilation into a Transcollaborate zine.

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The workshop yielded five fantastic and remarkably original poems—experimental forms, concept poetry, illustration and back-translation all featured in the final products, making for a truly diverse collection of collaboratively-crafted masterpieces.

All in all, a fun and creative morning. Stay tuned for more events like this! And click here to see more photos from this event.

 

Melbourne Emerging Writer’s Festival free event: Collaborative Translation and Poetry Workshop.

21 Jun 10:00 AM. At State Library Victoria, Experimedia 

Curious about translation, but don’t know where to start? Poetry translation is often thought of as an impossibly specialised craft, but approach it creatively and it becomes an inclusive and inspiring practice.

In this collaborative, hands-on workshop you will be teamed up with writers, visual artists and poetry lovers of various language abilities to tackle the translation of an ancient Chinese cí. The Transcollaborate team will walk you through the endless creative and linguistic possibilities for your translation project, and your masterpieces will be published in a zine.

Explore language, challenge your preconceptions, and be prepared to get creative! Open to visual artists, poets, linguists, and avid readers of all linguistic backgrounds.

Bookings essential: click here to book!

With Jessica Griffiths, Julia Min and Alice Whitmore

Literary context: Shakespeare and translation research

Italian Shakespeares

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Early in 2016, Prof. Angela Tiziana Tarantini (Monash University) and Chris Griffiths completed an analysis of a 1924 Italian translation of Coriolanus and Julius Caesar. Their analysis addressed how the depiction of Rome in the translation of Shakespeare was used in support of fascist ideology in the early 1920s. The translation features a critical introduction by scholar Giuseppe de Lorenzo, which outlines a intriguing argument in which the Senecan ideal that Shakespeare found in the heroes of the Plutarch and Livy is held to be synonymous with the emerging fascist ideals of the period.

Their English translation of de Lorenzo’s essay is currently under consideration and will be published in the near future.

Literary Context: Julia Min and the poetry of Su Dongpo and Li Quinzhao

Special thanks to Julia (Xiaohong) Min (Monash University), who has shared and commented on her experience of translating poems by Su Dong-po & Li Quinzhao. Her responses will be valuable in developing our research further, and we look forward to her participation the future.

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This collaborative project was undertaken with a multi-lingual, multi-disciplinary team in the 1980s. The work still fires Julia’s imagination, and she is keen to continue this type of translation project in the future.