Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Day 16 ... NaPoWriMo / Poem-a-Day 2013


Day 16 of National Poetry Month. Rather than say anything cool and hip about the number 16, I'd just like to talk for a moment about the bombing at the Boston marathon yesterday. My heart goes out to the injured and to the families of those who were killed. I am sorry for your pain and for your loss. Too bad that such a normally joyous occasion has been marred by this awful act.

From Poetic Asides we have Robert Lee Brewer's "Two-for-Tuesday" prompt: "a possible poem" and/or "an impossible poem." In the NaPoWriMo site, we have Maureen Thorson's suggestion "to write a 'translation' of a poem in a language you don’t actually know. . . . use the sound and shape of the [original poem's] words and lines to guide you, without worrying too much about whether your translation makes sense. . . . Once you have your rough 'translation,' you could leave it at that, or continue to shape the poem." I have heard the products of such naive "translation" called translitic poetry.

To write a translitic, I chose the Afrikaans poem "Toemaar Die Donker Man" by Ingrid Jonker (1963) from Poetry International. In my Poetry Workshop today, we played with this text to produce translitics. Here's what I ended up with, on the right below. Kinda fun, playful.

I considered titling it "Impossible Poem" to get Robert's prompt in there, but I thought that might be in bad faith. So we're all Maureen today.

Toemaar Die Donker Man
vir Simone
Op die groen voetpad
van die horison ver
om die aarde skat,
stap 'n ou man wat
'n oop maan dra in sy hare
Nagtegaal in sy hart
jasmyn gepluk vir sy oop knoopsgat
en 'n rug gebuk aan sy jare.

Wat maak hy, mammie?

Hy roep die kriekies
Hy roep die swart
stilte wat sing
soos die biesies, my hart
en die sterre wat klop
tok-tok liefling,
soos die klein toktokkies
in hul fyn-ver kring.

Wat is sy naam, mammie?

Sy naam is Sjuut
Sy naam is Slaap
Meneer Vergeet
uit die land van Vaak
Sy naam is toe maar
hy heet, my lam
Toe maar, die donker man

Mammie . . .

Toe maar, die donker man

by Ingrid Jonker (1963)
                Tamara, the Thank-You Mom
for Simone
Over the green boat pad,
when the horizon’s pure
and the hardy skate,
stepping under the moon, white.
Knife-men drive in ice shared,
entangled in ice heart,
Just men, gay plucked, for ice in knife-gate
and rage bikes against ice jewels.

What makes you high, Mommy?

“Hey, rap the crikeys.
Hey, rap the sweet
style with song.”
says she, buzzing, my heart
in the staring white clipped
tick-tock leaf-fling,
says the clean tick-tockeys
in whole finery, crooning.

What is thy name, Mommy?

Thy name is Shoot.
Thy name is Sleep.
My near fire gate,
out the line, vain Vox.
Thy name is Tamara.
My heat, my lamb.
Tamara, the Thank-You Mom.

Mommy . . .

Tamara, the Thank-You Mom.

Naive "Translation" or
Translitic by Vince Gotera

[Do not copy or quote . . . thanks.]
Here is Ingrid Jonker's poem again with the real published English translation, once more from Poetry International. It's interesting to compare the actual translation with my translitic and how I got lucky with some words and was way off on others. It's all for fun, though, right? Ingrid Jonker, apologies for messing about with your poem. I hope, wherever you are, if you should happen to see this, that you'll agree it's all in good fun. Thanks for your lovely poem.

Toemaar Die Donker Man
vir Simone
Op die groen voetpad
van die horison ver
om die aarde skat,
stap 'n ou man wat
'n oop maan dra in sy hare
Nagtegaal in sy hart
jasmyn gepluk vir sy oop knoopsgat
en 'n rug gebuk aan sy jare.

Wat maak hy, mammie?

Hy roep die kriekies
Hy roep die swart
stilte wat sing
soos die biesies, my hart
en die sterre wat klop
tok-tok liefling,
soos die klein toktokkies
in hul fyn-ver kring.

Wat is sy naam, mammie?

Sy naam is Sjuut
Sy naam is Slaap
Meneer Vergeet
uit die land van Vaak
Sy naam is toe maar
hy heet, my lam
Toe maar, die donker man

Mammie . . .

Toe maar, die donker man

by Ingrid Jonker (1963)
                Hush Now, The Darkling Man
for Simone
On the green footpath
of the horizon far
around the earth little one,
an old man trudges who wears
an open moon in his hair
Nightingale in his heart
jasmin plucked for his buttonhole
and a back bowed down by his years.

What’s he doing, mummy?

He calls the crickets
He calls the black
silence that sings
like the rushes, my sweet
and the stars which throb
knock-knock my love,
like the tiny little beetles
in their thin far ring.

What’s his name, mummy?

His name is Hush
His name is Sleep
Mister Forget
from the Land of Dream
His name is hush
he’s called, my sweet
Hush now, the darkling man

Mummy. . .

Hush now, the darkling man

Translation by Antjie Krog &
André Brink (2007)
That's all for today, everyone. I hope you'll comment below, please. Look for a blue link that says "Post a comment"; if you don't see that, look in the red line that says "Posted by" and click on the word "comments." Ingat, friends.   ;-)



POEM-A-DAY 2013 • Pick a day in April: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30

1 comment:

jenniferbullis said...

I love how your translitic poem (thanks for that term!) makes "sense" even though it doesn't "make sense." Its absurdities give it a kinetic energy, and they aren't completely absurd after all.

Also, "What makes you high, Mommy?" just might be the funniest line in all of literature.

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