Monday, April 29, 2013

National Poetry Month: Guest blogger Suzanne Zweizig

Following Friday's post about Poet Lore by Genevieve DeLeon, today Suzanne Zweizig focuses on translation and her recent experience as translation editor at Poet Lore. Suzanne's poetry has appeared in such publications as 32 Poems, Beloit Poetry Journal, Subtropics, Poet Lore, Waccamaw Review and featured in Verse Daily. She has received fellowships from the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and the Washington D.C. Arts Commission and was a semi-finalist for The Nation/Discovery prize in 2003. She holds an M.F.A. in poetry from the University of Florida and a Ph.D. in Literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and lived for seven years in Europe and Israel before returning to the U.S. She now lives in Washington, D.C.

Turkish Delights

Despite the fact that I’ve devoted years of my life to learning foreign languages, one of my biggest regrets is that there is not more time to learn more languages. I dream of being able to read more of my favorite poets (Szymborska in Polish for example, or Blok in Russian) without that somewhat despairing, suspicious feeling of being excluded from something beautiful—no matter how much I revel in the poet-translator’s work.  

My favorite writers tend to be foreign. Reading them enlarges my world. It introduces me to new ways of thinking and to unconventional relationships with metaphor. And, although I sometimes wish I could do without translations, the best translators also give me fresh possibilities for English: As the poets are pushing their original language, the translator is challenged to push English to that experimentation, so, the innovation can be more than what you get from native English writers—in the double-bonus rounds!

About a year ago, my love of foreign writers developed a new avenue for expression when I got the amazing opportunity to become the translation editor for Poet Lore magazine, the oldest continuously published poetry journal in the United States. Founded in 1884, Poet Lore was in the foreground of introducing Americans to early 20th-century European writers that are now firmly part of our consciousness—Rilke, Chekhov, Tagore, to name just a few.

In its new translation feature “World Poets in Translation,” Poet Lore calls back this tradition, presenting annually a 10–12-page portfolio of a renowned poet rendered into English. This spring, I had the immeasurable honor of curating a portfolio of poems by Turkish poet Melih Cevdet Anday—widely recognized as one of the most influential modernist poets not just in Turkey, but in the world—translated into English by Sidney Wade and Efe Murad.

I honestly don’t think there is anything I am prouder of in my literary career than providing a venue for Anday’s poems to be more widely read in English. The translations bring to life a poet who moves deeply: “Nothing comes or goes. This is just quivering” begins one of my favorite poems.  Anday’s style, his gravity, the weight of his lines and thought, the sense of time and history and the simple lucid, profound, but almost surreal, metaphors take readers to a world at once  familiar but yet unsettling, as Sidney Wade, his translator writes in her introduction.

Anday’s work is not yet available in English book form (Wade and Murad have a manuscript prepared, but not yet published), but I encourage you not to wait to read this amazing writer.  Copies and subscriptions to Poet Lore are available at its website.  I trust you won’t be disappointed!

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