13 Nov 2017 5:00pm - 7:00pm Seminar room SG1, Alison Richard Building


Viviane Carvalho da Annunciação (CLAS, Cambridge)
Jennifer Harris (Fac English, Cambridge) 

Moderator: Monica Boria

Within the domain of literary translation, poetry has traditionally attracted a great deal of scholarly attention (Holmes 1970, 1988; Lefevere 1975, 1992; Bassnett 1980; Hermans 1985; Eco 2003; Robinson 2010; Jones 2011; Reynolds 2011, Drury 2015). The constraints offered by rhyme and meter may sometimes appear to justify the statement (often attributed to Robert Frost) that ‘poetry is that which is lost in translation’. The notion of translatability frequently seems to defy the very essence of poetry since it is a literary medium in which meaning and structural form seem to be inextricably linked. Even proponents of strikingly different approaches to poetry translation usually agree that any expectation of absolute ‘fidelity’ (whatever that is) must necessarily be qualified or compromised in one way or another. But which aspects of a given poem can be safely jettisoned, and which must be doggedly preserved? Nabokov’s literal approach contrasts with Ezra Pound’s ‘remakes’, and the ongoing debate sparked by Paul Celan’s work offers numerous challenging and conflicting insights. From crib translation to ‘versioning’, from tribute to parody, from Bringhurst’s ‘re-elicitings’ to Queneau’s exercises in style – translation has been an important aspect of creative practice for many influential poets.  

This Workshop will focus on practical aspects of poetry translation in the 20th century, especially the role of the avant-guarde, concrete poetry, and French poetry. 

Concrete Poetry and Scientific Exchanges

This talk is divided into two parts: the first will trace the use of scientific discourse in the creative exchange between Scottish and Brazilian concrete poets; and second is going to invite members of the audience to creatively engage with the poems by re-translating and re-interpreting some of the concepts the poets developed in their work. My hypothesis is that the concrete poets create this interdisciplinary dialogue as a metaphor for modernity and avant-gardism. The audience, though, is invited to reflect upon how science can be translated into art and how this creative exchange is able to renew both fields of research and knowledge. As for Concrete poetry, it is a term generally applied to a variety of artistic movements that followed the post-war frustration with traditional forms of art. Part of a collective search for new artistic materials, concrete poetry is the product of two traditions that emerged in the fifties, one of the Bolivian-born Swiss writer, Eugene Gomringer, and the other the Brazilian Noigandres group formed by Haroldo de Campos, Augusto de Campos and Décio Pignatari (Bann 7). Through a productive dialogue, Gomringer and Noigandres brought together these two distinctive artistic projects and disseminated the movement worldwide. Through this presentation, I wish to argue that their involvement with science is simultaneously, an attempt to update avant-garde discourses and enhance the interdisciplinary and creative possibilities of poetic discourse.

Dr Viviane Carvalho da Annunciação is a Teaching Associate at the Centre for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and a Senior Member at Robinson College (Cambridge). She holds a PhD in Literary Studies from the University of São Paulo, where she also received a joint degree in Portuguese and English Studies. She is the author of a book on Northern Irish poetry, Exile, Home and City: The Poetic Architecture of Belfast (Humanitas, USP). It was during her lectureship in English Language and Cultural Studies at the Federal University of Bahia (Brazil) that she started to examine more closely the portrayal of Brazil and Latin America in English-language poetry. As a visiting scholar at CLAS in 2014 she helped to organize the exhibition ‘a token of concrete affection’ at St. Catharine’s College (Cambridge), which celebrated the fifty-year anniversary of the first concrete poetry exhibition. This featured the Brazilian Noigandres group that was responsible for disseminating the movement in both the United Kingdom and Latin America. Her current research interests also include Brazilian and Latin American avant-garde, poetry and politics and new methodologies in language learning.


Translation and Metaphor

Metaphors are an integral part of what it means to talk about translation, from the ‘belles infidèles’ of the 18th Century to pastoral ideas of grafting or transplanting, the ‘afterlife of the text’ or images of transportation or bridging different cultures. Indeed, the words ‘translation’ and ‘metaphor’ share a common image of carrying something across a boundary, and as according to Aristotle metaphor proceeds by means of analogy or similarity, the same concept of similarity or resemblance is also at stake in translation. My research looks at American translations of 20th Century French poetry, reading originals and translations alongside theory to explore ways in which a series of metaphors can be brought out through them. These metaphors, of mirroring, or fragmentation and of repetition, combine to construct a thesis on the relationship between similarity and translation. In this talk I will specifically discuss the metaphor of repetition, because it has very much the same thing at stake as both translation and metaphor itself, ie the question of similarity. I will talk about Jennifer Moxley’s translation of Jacqueline Risset’s collection of poems entitled The Translation Begins, in the context of Deleuze’s writing on repetition as difference. After this I intend to open it up to the audience to discuss their own favourite metaphors for translation, and what information we can glean from these metaphors about how we view the original, the translated text, the reader, and the translation process. Finally I hope to bring in some pieces of poetry which I will ask people to have a go at translating through the lenses of specific metaphors, so that we can discuss how this exercise affects the finished product.

Jenny Harris is a fourth-year PhD student in the English department at the University of Cambridge. She studied for her BA in French also in Cambridge, with a year abroad at the ENS in Lyon, where she took courses in comparative literature, theatre and creative writing. After her BA, she moved into Translation Studies and into the English department, where she has since completed an MPhil in Criticism and Culture, with a dissertation on John Ashbery’s French translations. Her PhD is on the concept of similarity in translation, and the metaphors used to describe translation, focusing on twentieth-century French poetry translated in America, among them Guillaume Apollinaire, Edmond Jabès and Jacqueline Risset, alongside the theoretical work of Walter Benjamin, Gilles Deleuze, Michael Cronin and Jacques Derrida. Jenny has presented her work internationally, including at the meeting of the International Comparative Literature Association in Vienna in summer 2016, and at Princeton University as part of a graduate conference on Modernist Fragmentation. Alongside her research, she is currently an Associate Lecturer for a course on World Literature at Anglia Ruskin University.



Open to all.  No registration required
Part of Cambridge Conversations in Translation Research Group Seminar Series

Administrative assistance: gradfac@crassh.cam.ac.uk

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