Saturday, November 17, 2007

Writing Exercise: The Mis-Translation

This is a really fun exercise if you give yourself permission to go there. We used poems written in the original Swedish by Tomas Transtromer (there should be an umlaut in over the "o" in his last name.. but...). Transtromer is one of Sweden's greatest poets, who writes (I've read) with interesting metaphors.

The exercise is to read the words, then imagine you are translating word-for-word. Don't edit, don't complain about non-sequitors. Just see what happens.

I'll admit it. Some of the Swedish reminded me of my high school/college German classes, so I went there. I also went back and neatened the draft up a bit. I can tell you that translating a poem from an unknown language into a known language? Interesting:

The MisTranslation:

Along the main street stand a variety of very high doorways that mingle noise and light,
most of it echoed,

some of it lost by the entryways.
We have all things but peace.

Stranded at the intersection stand I with the bread for supper.
Day old in the blink of an eye.

A bus stops and I continue
Transported in an instant to that doorway call HOME.
It is so unlike anything I normally write, I can't tell what's good, bad or indifferent about it. But at least it's interesting! I haven't found any of his poems online untranslated or I'd share a couple with you to play with yourself.

I also blog at: Deb's Daily Distractions and BlogHer on Mondays and Saturdays.

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