Welcome to full-time translating: Fall 2011 reading list

Readings, Poets

Amichai, Yehuda, Selected Poetry of YA, tr. Bloch & Mitchell
The Defiant Muse: Hebrew Feminist Poems from Antiquity: A Bilingual Anthology ed. Kaufman, Hasan-Roken, Hess
Women Poets of the World, ed Bankier
Ecco Anthology of International Poetry
Hovering at a Low Altitude: The Collected Poetry of Dahlia Ravikovitch , Chana Bloch and Chana Kronfeld, translators
Yona Wallach Wild Light, Let the Words trans. by Zisquit
Linda Zisquit Ritual Bath, The Face in the Window
Hebrew Writers on Writing (The Writer’s World) ed Peter Cole
Gay, Ross Bringing Down the Shovel

Readings, Craft

Weinberger, Eliot, Nineteen Way of Looking at Wang Wei: How a Chinese
Poem Is Translated

Steiner, George, After Babel: Aspects of Language and Translation
Biguenet, John & Shulte, Rainer, The Craft of Translation
Honig, Edwin, The Poet’s Other Voice
Lefevre, Andre, Translating Poetry: Seven Strategies and a Blueprint
Bly, Robert, The Eight Stages of Translation
Felstiner, John, Translating Neruda: The Way to Macchu Picchu

Hirshfield, Jane, “The World is Full of Noises- Thoughts on Translation,” Nine Gates

Books from Drew Library I got to cruise casually:

Leighton, Two Worlds, One Art
Rabassa If This Be Treason
Barnstone The Poetics of Translation


on making a manuscript

Here’s a great post from my friend and co-student Michelle Ovalle on creating her manuscript. She’s inspired me to try to describe what I’ve been up to, so look for a new post on that soon. Right now, I’m still recovering from the process and waiting to hear back from my mentor so I can send the manuscript to my second reader.

More opinions that one can shake a stick at, and a big part of the MFA process is learning how to build and trust your own opinion….

ecstasy remains as much a birthright

from Larry Levis The Gazer Within:

Gazing within, and trying to assess what all this represents, I find I’ve been speaking, all along, about nature, about the attempt of the imagination to inhabit nature and by that act preserve itself for as long as it possibly can against “the pressure of reality.” And by “nature” I mean any wilderness, inner or outer. The moment of writing is not an escape, however: it is only an insistence, through the imagination, upon human ecstasy, and a reminder that such ecstasy remains as much a birthright in this world as misery remains a condition of it.

Back at Drew, June 2010

I’m back at Drew for my 4th residency. Well, I’ve been back since last Monday, but have been having the experience more and blogging about it less. It’s so deep but also so familiar, now, to be here, to know where everything is, to know the faculty (mainly, always someone new, in this case Jane Mead), to know how to match the poem I want to discuss to the poet leading the workshop, and to know what to NEVER touch in the dining hall.

Information is coming fast and furious, as always, and I’ll post more of it after I get home and the intensity fades a bit. Today, a Sunday, we had a lecture/panel scheduled from 3:30 to 4:30 about language, art, and politics in the life and work of June Jordan. 4:30 passed. 5pm passed, and we were creeping up on 5:30 when the conversation had to end because one of the three panelists had to go. I was with a group of people who chose to stay an extra hour because talking about Jordan’s work was too good to give up. I am SO in paradise here.

I’m heading into my 4th semester, which means I have to produce a manuscript of at least 48 pages of well-crafted, fully alive, breathing fighting kicking screaming singing loving wanting speaking crying poetry. No explication, remediation, hesitation or too-easy-affirmation allowed. Wow. Luckily, my mentor is Anne Marie Macari, who gives astounding support and won’t let anything slide past. The semester pretty much starts when I head home on Friday, so look out world. For something. I’ll be in my office writing, so don’t be looking out for me.

3rd Semester Reading List

I’m working with Joan Larkin this semester, and am so excited to be doing so. I have to write a long critical essay, in my case looking at 2 or 3 sonnet sequences. I’ll be studying scansion and meter (which I will learn, yes I will!) and reading Dickinson and May Swenson.

Spring 2010 Study Plan

Packet One

Reading to narrow down which poems to explore in critical essay paper on poems within a sequence:

“21 Love Poems” Adrienne Rich
Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons Marilyn Hacker
The Sonnets, Ted Berrigan
She Heads into the Wilderness Macari
Eye of the Blackbird McFadden
American Sonnets Stern
Blackbird and Wolf Cole
Holy Sonnets Donne

Begin scansion study using Ciardi How Does A Poem Mean, Stravinsky “The Phenomenon of Music”, Langston Hughes The Book of Rhythms

Packet Two

Read: Dickinson, especially the 1862 poems, Rich “Vesuvius at Home,” and selections from either/or:
White Heat by Brenda Wineapple
Emily Dickinson: My Wars are Laid Away in Books by Alfred Habegger
Maid as Muse: How Servants Changed Emily Dickinson’s Life by Aife Murray

For Critical Essay: readings from Penguin Book of the Sonnet, essays on the sonnet from Finch Exaltation of Form or other craft essays to be determined

Packet Three

Read: May Swenson, from New & Selected Things Taking Place and The Complete Love Poems.
Sue Russell “A Mysterious and Lavish Power” from The Kenyon Review
Alicia Ostriker essay from Body My House

Packet Four

Read: selected sequences from packet one not used in the critical essay, titles to be determined

The first time

I read this at the final student reading at my third Drew residency. It felt so good to speak it, to inhabit it, that I know the poem is done, after many many drafts and re-visions.

The first time,

in the Rittenhouse Radisson, was to
be crazy hot, me and her and her girl-
friend who even then was hiding the blood
she coughed up. I kissed one and then the other,
the first time, when we still worried about
jealousy. The first time she hid her blood-
stained panties in the tangled sheets for the
first time. She howled and whooped, each hand deep in
a competing cunt, the first time, three days
after the report said melanoma.
We were innocent, the first time. We had
more hands than Kali but not enough to
shield liver and lungs and spine. The first time
we had a great time, time we would not have.

New Work Workshop #2

Assignment – imagine walking through a beautiful wood and coming upon a cabin. In the cabin is a chest, and in it a single piece of clothing, clearly there just for you. What is it? What does it feel like to wear it?

Sky Skin

Everything. Shirt, robe, cloak, sari,
warm wool socks, lightest linen shroud, the sky skin
is every kind of cloth worn in every era.

Sky over trees, sky over seas,
sky over skyscraper, sky over desolation—
these are the same sky
the skin of the earth.

In my sky skin my veins
become rivers
my breasts mountains
my eyes clouds
my mind opening to the universe itself.


Sky Skin

Everything. Robe, cloak, shroud, vestment, habit,
gown, cape, kimono, burqa, shawl, mantle, peignoir—
sky skin is every kind of cloth
ever wrapped, molded, to a body.
And more. But less.

Not light enough
for how I slide it on
and become boundaryless

but bound to the earth.
The gravity in this situation.

Sky shaping trees, sky stirring seas,
sky scraped, sky gauzed over desolations—
the dermis of the earth, its hide. Space restrained.
Oceans contained.

Slipped into my sky skin my veins
become rivers
my breasts mountains
my eyes clouds
my scalp, stretching, bares my mind
to the universe itself.

New Work – 10 Commands

our charge – write 10 commands, pretty much as fast as we could write them down. These, or variations of them, will keep popping up in the various new work workshop poems. And they were fun to write!

10 Commands

Love your neighbor as yourself.

Love yourself as you could love another.

You are obligated and you damn well know it.

Love me damn you.

Fix it. Just shut up and fucking fix it.

Do everything, anything, everything to find an answer, and then act on it already.

Stop searching and start seeing.

Make it so!

Act as if women mattered.

Get out of the middle of your life.