Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Capilano Review 3.23: Languages


already deep in the macchia, when you
finally edged into view.
Nevertheless, we could not
darken out to you:
ruled by


The lark-figured
stone from the fallow.
No tone, only that mortalbrightness carried

The height
whirls itself
out, more violently still
than you. (“from Schwarzmaut (Blacktoll) by Paul Celan,” Mark Goldstein)

As Jenny Penberthy writes in the “Editor’s Note” for the new issue of The Capilano Review, the “Languages” issue (May 2014) is filled with “Multilingual poetry, ‘the clockwork discourse of Doctor Who,’ the language of invertebrates, the Red River Twang, Chiac, the language of the Psalms, html, and much more. An extraordinary variety of voices and languages is embedded in these pages, each piece a response to TCR’s call for ‘translations of new or old texts, re-translations, comparative translations, experimental translation, language/s behaving in unexpected ways, multilingual writing, older Englishes, mimicry, mis-translation, fumblings between languages, faux-translation, trans-translation, the ‘languages’ of different genres and the interplay between them.’” One of the most striking sections in the issue has to be by Christian Bök, another interplay on bpNichol’s infamous Translating Translating Apollinaire as “Translating Translating Apollinaire (Gallifreyan),” raising the bar on a piece that Darren Wershler once translated into Klingon. Through his sequence of circular visuals, Bök translates bpNichol’s piece into “the clockwork discourse” of Gallifrayan, the language of the Time Lords in Doctor Who. There are some other lovely interplays throughout the issue, some by writers emerging as some of our most challenging and engaged, from Jordan Abel to Oana Avasilichioaei to Liz Howard to Sarah Dowling, as well as more established poets such as Colin Browne, Nicole Brossard, Erín Moure, George Stanley, Rachel Zolf, Peter Culley, Steve McCaffery, Ted Byrne and Stephen Collis. Collis’ contribution to the issue is a translation of Empedocles' Fragment 17. As he includes in his short piece on the translation:

I began translating Empedocles when, after publishing too many books too quickly, I didn’t know what to write, and didn’t want to write anything really. Translation, especially the slowness of translating ancient Greek, seemed the ideal stop-gap—the ideal way of feeding my compulsion, while in some sense avoiding writing. A means of resistance. A brake.        
            Empedocles had been an interest since I re-read the Presocratics while working on a book about change. That dialectic—it struck me as a dialectic—of Love and Strife, of attraction and repulsion, union and division, stuck with me. Everything now especially seems such a tug of war—the things I want to join, defend, and hold together—those things I want to resist, cut loose, disperse forever. To at once love and struggle against a humanity bent on the beauty of creation and the ugliness of destruction. To find these human attributes incommensurable and yet indissoluble. Walter Benjamin: “There is no document of civilization which is not at the same time a document of barbarism.” How to resolve this? I fear we cannot.

Part of the appeal of The Capilano Review is how each issue works to engage with the visual arts as well as writing. Allyson Clay, who provided the cover art, has a sequence of paintings reproduced in the issue, “Groundsplatpink,” which she writes of to introduce her section: “My recent body of paintings, collectively titled Groundsplatpink (2013/14), stems from my longtime fascination with how paintings, particularly abstract paintings, are written about and described. Such descriptions are ubiquitous in art history texts and catalogue essays dealing with modern and contemporary painting. Books about painting tend to concentrate on surface treatments. (Interesting writing about painting can also be found occasionally in ‘how to’ books on painting.)” Really, there’s an enormous amount of worthy material in this issue, and far too much to write about in a single posting, from the synaesthesia works by Nyla Matuk, visual works by Margeaux Williamson, Michael Turner’s essay, “Text-based Public Art Works in Vancouver,” and Colin Browne’s exploration of Apollinaire’s Vancouver. Well known as being a translator as well as one of our finest poets and thinkers, Moure, for example, includes “A tale of a translation in process: François Turcot’s Mon dinosaur,” composing an essay as a sequence of journal entries:

I’m almost halfway through a first draft of Montrealer François Turcot’s fourth book of poems, a homage to a father, his father, and a co-presence with the final days of co-being with his father. And, après, a meditation on his absence. It is a Book of Hours, lost by the father and rewritten by the son. The book accompanies me eerily in these first months that follow my own father’s finale, in Edmonton.

Here, almost halfway: what does it mean to be almost halfway? Time’s membrane?

As well as a piece by Brossard, there are three translations of her works, by Amy Butcher, Karen Ocaña and Lary Timewell, who writes:

love cobbles its unreal span, a fragile above
among animals amongst words among doves

in the present continuous we wake, are awoken
repossessed of now as our own, the body s/urges
all possible plurality, ecstatic narrative of
the continuum caresses, (each)
tendril-exfoliate, (each) root of (each)world
knows this a confoundment / an exhuberance

babies boom all day, full-bodied from the hip, become
‘boys & girls’ rolling out from (onto) flat tradition script

to be ‘just & fair’ in the ‘near & far’, lost
realms & sentiments & solitudes require
vertiginous words & animal names, energies given that
in dreams from genre & gender escape

No comments: