Sounding Translation


Sounding Translation is an Internet-accessible interview series that features audio interviews in which translators reflect on the experience of translating contemporary poetry. As an ongoing digitized oral history project, it traces the development of relationships of exchange and collaboration among American poet-translators and their international peers working in languages including Arabic French, German, Spanish, Italian, and Portuguese.
Interview with Éric Giraud
In this interview, Giraud discusses cipM’s “Import/Export” poetry exchange, which has brought international poets, mostly from the Maghreb and the Middle East, to Marseille to be translated by French poets, and then sends those poets to the international poets’ home countries to be translated by them there. Giraud began translating American poets while he was also beginning to write and publish his own poems. He describes his translations of poets including Gertrude Stein, Etel Adnan, Charles Reznikoff, Raymond Federman, and Stacy Doris, as well as a recent translation of an interview of Pier Paolo Pasolini by Jonas Mekas, and an ongoing translation of letters exchanged between Charles Olson, William Carlos Williams, and Robert Duncan. He notes that translation taught him the “the rhythm of the process of writing.” Above all, Giraud emphasizes the importance of taking the time to enjoy the process of translation. He also discusses how his concurrent practice of translating art criticism and draws comparisons between the work of contemporary artists and contemporary poets.This interview was recorded at cipM on 5 July 2013. The interview takes place in English, except from 22:02-27:23, in which Giraud describes and reads, in French, an excerpt from his translation of Etel Adnan’s In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country; translated as Au Cœur du cœur d’un autre pays (Beirut: Tamyras, 2010). Ambient sounds may be heard throughout the interview, including motorcycles and ambulance sirens passing on the street outside, as well as a cellphone beeping.
Interview with Guy Bennett
In this interview, Bennett describes some of the unusual translation projects he has undertaken, including his first book publication, a translation of Italian futurist Giuseppe Steiner’s Drawn States of Mind (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 1994), a work of visual poetry, and Valère Novaria’s Adramelech’s Monologue (Los Angeles: Sun and Moon, 2004). He also discusses his affinities with Francophone North African poetry, as well as his most recent translation project, Giovanni Sandri’s only fragments found: selected poems 1969-1998 (Los Angeles: Seismicity Editions, 2014).
Interview with Peter Gizzi
Peter Gizzi is an atypical – and for that all the more welcome – participant in the Sounding Translation podcast series. He is not a translator, but rather an editor who has published many contemporary French poets in translation in o·blēk magazine. During the interview, Gizzi discusses his introduction to contemporary French poetry at age 14, reading Keith Waldrop’s translation of Claude Royet-Journoud’s Reversal, while reading, at the same time, Rimbaud and Baudelaire against the Beats and Ezra Pound. He describes his ongoing involvement with French poetry through his relationships with American translators in the 1980s, including Keith and Rosmarie Waldrop, Michael Palmer, and Norma Cole, as well as friendship he developed with Emmanuel Hocquard in the mid-1980s after Gizzi was very moved by a reading of Hocquard’s Elegies in New York. Gizzi also recounts some of his experiences as a poet invited to France, including a special conference held in o·blēk’s honor at the Fondation Royaumont in 1990 under the auspices of Emmanuel Hocquard and Juliette Valéry’s Un Bureau sur L’Atlantique, and residency in the fall of 1999 at the centre international de poésie Marseille (cipM), which led to the publication of Revival, translated by Pascal Poyet (Marseille: cipM/Spectres Familiers, 2003). Gizzi also praises Stéphane Bouquet’s recent translation of The Outernational (asL’Externationale; Paris: José Corti, 2013). This interview was conducted during the Écrivains au Bord de la Mer Festival in La Baule,  France, on 18 July 2013. Ambient noises (wind, seagull cries) may be heard throughout the interview, as it was conducted out of doors.
Interview with Stéphane Bouquet
This podcast interview was recorded on 18 July, 2013 at La Baule, France, during the Écrivains au Bord de la Mer festival. Bouquet discusses his first experiences of translating poetry, including that of Robert Creeley, Paul Blackburn, and James Schuyler. He also recounts the challenges and discoveries he’s made in more recent translations, including a handful of cinema poems by Peter Gizzi (published in Action Poétique), Gizzi’s The Outernational, and a forthcoming volume of selected poems by James Schuyler. Bouquet also explains why he was fond of saying, a few years ago, that he “wanted to be an American poet in French,” describing the poetic appeal of American English and its directness. Ambient noises may be heard throughout the interview, as the first part was recorded while on the terrace of a hotel restaurant, while the rest was recorded in a slightly quieter sitting room inside one of the hotel buildings. The interview takes place in English, except for a short conversation in French from 10:45-13:00.