Voilà: lacks a toe. Voilà: sing this hymn.

A poem by Hugo Ball in a false translation by Melissa Grey & David Morneau

Melissa_Grey_(credit_Marc_Fiaux)When we were invited to participate in a concert celebrating the 100th anniversary of Dada, produced by Hans Tammen, we knew quickly that we wanted to incorporate an Oulipian technique in our composition process. Oulipo (short for Ouvroir de Littérature Potentielle) was founded in 1960 by the French author Raymond Queneau with a group of authors interested in exploring the potential of literature by applying constraints to the creative process, often rooted in mathematics. We are both attracted to the tight conceptual constraints of their techniques, and are deeply interested in translating their ideas to the process of music composition. This shared interest has fueled many conversations and has indelibly shaped our budding collaboration.

Gadget Berry Dimple uses the Oulipian technique of homophonic (or false) translation. The idea is to translate words from one language to another based on sound rather than meaning. For example:

Le vierge, le vivace et le bel aujourd’hui
becomes
“Levy urge, levy vassal, hale bell!” assured we.

David_Morneau_(credit_Marc_Fiaux)

We began the process by taking Hugo Ball’s Gadji beri bimba (1916) and breaking it out into an alphabetical list of every word within. Then we created false translations for each word in the list, so that affalo became “a fellow”, brussala became “bruised salad”, katalominai became “cat and lonely mice”, and so on. Once finished, we reassembled Ball’s poem using our translations. The result (which is published here) was immediately captivating. We are planning to explore it further, using it as the basis for more music by applying additional Oulipian transformations to it.

For our performance on the 100th anniversary of Dada concert, we created a live sonic texture using a Benjolin synthesizer, a vintage Merlin toy, and a drum machine. Over that we read through our list of translated words as a glossary of false translation: Melissa recited the Ball’s original words and David recited our translations. A video of this performance can be seen here: http://artisteordinaire.org/gadget-berry-dimple-a-glossary-of-false-translation/ 

– Melissa Grey & David Morneau (2016)

Sources: Oulipo Compendium (Harry Mathews & Alastair Brotchie), l’Artiste ordinaire (artisteordinaire.org)

 Photo credits: Marc Fiaux

Gadji beri bimba

by Hugo Ball

gadji beri bimba glandridi laula lonni cadori

gadjama gramma berida bimbala glandri galassassa laulitalomini

gadji beri bin blassa glassala laula lonni cadorsu sassala bim

gadjama tuffm i zimzalla binban gligla wowolimai bin beri ban

o katalominai rhinozerossola hopsamen laulitalomini hoooo

gadjama rhinozerossola hopsamen

bluku terullala blaulala loooo

 

zimzim urullala zimzim urullala zimzim zanzibar zimzalla zam

elifantolim brussala bulomen brussala bulomen tromtata

velo da bang band affalo purzamai affalo purzamai lengado tor

gadjama bimbalo glandridi glassala zingtata pimpalo ögrögöööö

viola laxato viola zimbrabim viola uli paluji malooo

 

tuffm im zimbrabim negramai bumbalo negramai bumbalo tuffm i zim

gadjama bimbala oo beri gadjama gaga di gadjama affalo pinx

gaga di bumbalo bumbalo gadjamen

gaga di bling blong

gaga blung

Gadget Berry Dimple

by Hugo Ball

Gadget berry dimple; grand treaty. Louder, lonely tandoori.

Pajama gamma, buried home, timbales, grand tree. Melis-iss-sa: “Lolita longs for me.”

Gadget berry (gin blossom glossary). Louder, lonely cats or you, sad salad? Bim:

“Pajama toughen!” I, some olive, been banned. Glee club? Wow! only me (gin berry) banned.

O cat and lonely mice. [rhinoceros solo] Hans Tammen: “Lolita longs for me.” Who?

Pajama Rhinoceros. [solo: Hans Tammen]

Blue queue tarantula; blue lager low.

 

Chin, chin, you rule a lot. Chin, chin, you rule a lot. Chin, chin, sandwich bar. (Some olive sham!) 

Elephant totem, bruised salad. Pillow men: “Bruised salad.” Pillow men: “drum louder.” 

Hell, no! Ha! Pang bland. A fellow purse of mine, a fellow purse of mine. [legato: tire]

Pajama bee’s halo. Grand treaty glossary. Zinc starter, pimp! Alone ogre grow. 

Voilà: lacks a toe. Voilà: sing this hymn. Voilà: Oulipo Fallujah Morneau. 

 

Toughen, ein sing this hymn? No, not mine. Bungalow? No, not mine. Bungalow toughen—I shim.

Pajama timbales. Oh, berry pajama. “Dada the pajama,” a fellow pins.

“Dada the bungalow, bungalow,” god of men. 

Dada the bring blonde?

Dada brung!

translated from German by Melissa Grey, David Morneau, & l’Artiste ordinaire
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we will wait there
for eternity to end

Two poems by Guido Cupani translated by Patrick Williamson

 

cupaniPW

 

 

 

 

 

In paradiso arriveremo scalzi

by Guido Cupani

passeremo il confine nella notte

verremo sbalzati dal treno in corsa

 

pagheremo sangue

per un posto su uno scafo di latta

 

Approderemo sfatti per il viaggio

ci getteranno una coperta sulle spalle

 

Ci chiederanno i documenti 

da dove veniamo, dove vogliamo andare

 

e non sapremo dire, udremo voci 

intravedremo visi stranieri

 

aldilà di una porta a vetri

di chi una volta era fuori dalla porta

 

e scuoterà per noi la testa, le carte

non sono in regola

 

sarebbe bastato un sì a suo tempo

il caso non è più di nostra competenza

 

E ci impacchetteranno, 

destineranno, recapiteranno

 

oppure passeremo per misericordia

fra le maglie della nostra stessa rete

 

troveremo un angolo di marciapiede

dove nessuno ci veda clandestini

 

attenderemo lì

che l’eternità abbia fine

We will arrive in paradise barefoot

by Guido Cupani

we will cross the border at night

we will be thrown out of the moving train

 

we will pay blood

to cram on a makeshift boat

 

We will arrive haggard from the trip

they will throw a blanket over our shoulders

 

They will ask us for documents

where we come from, where we want to go

 

and we won’t know how to say, we will hear voices

catch sight of foreign faces

 

beyond a glass door

of those once out the door

 

and they will shake their heads at us, the ID

is not in order

 

a simple yes is all that was needed

the case is not within our competence

 

And we will be packaged,

we will be addressed, delivered

 

or we will get through out of mercy

through the links of our own network

 

we will find a corner of the sidewalk

where no one sees you as clandestine

 

we will wait there

for eternity to end 

translated from Italian by Patrick Williamson
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Fotografia di Alan Kurdi, bambino

by Guido Cupani

I

 

Vieni, hai la scarpa slacciata, infilati il maglione, farà freddo,

 

che cos’hai in tasca, dove l’hai raccolto, svuota, via, come ti senti, 

 

guardami negli occhi, la mamma ti vuol bene, Galip, vieni anche tu,

 

la mamma vi vuol bene, papà è fiero di voi, solo un’ora di mare, di là conosceremo altri bambini, domani dormiremo

 

in un letto nuovo, l’Europa, il Canada, letti più grandi,

 

ma certo, un sorso d’acqua, bevi, attento a non bagnarti, sei già tutto sporco di sabbia, laviamo le manine,

 

così, perfetto, ora saliamo

 

II

 

È permessa l’immagine.

 

È permesso vedere l’immagine. È permesso non vedere l’immagine. Dire di non aver visto. Di non aver potuto. Di non aver dovuto.

 

È permesso pubblicare l’immagine. È permesso oscurare l’immagine. Condividere. Dire mi piace. Dire non mi piace.

 

È permesso parlare di inquadrature. Di discrezione e riserbo. È permesso parlare di immagini.

 

È permesso rivedere l’immagine a mente. In altri vestitini così gettati. Nella riva più fortunata di un copriletto.

 

È permesso, davanti all’immagine, dire sì, ma. Rimanere coi piedi piantati nella sabbia. Non muovere un passo. Affondare.

 

È permesso dimenticare l’immagine. Chiudere gli occhi. Negare. Mentre ancora

 

quello che nell’immagine accade

 

(è accaduto, accadrà)

 

è permesso

 

III

 

Lo stato di salute o malattia della cosiddetta fede non è tale per cui

 

un padre costretto a portare a casa in braccio i tre quarti di quella che era la sua famiglia

 

un padre precedentemente costretto a portare via da casa per mano la stessa famiglia (moglie e due figli

 

di cui resta una foto scattata sulla poltrona dei giochi al centro esatto di un doppio largo sorriso

 

nonostante la bufera (in abiti non dissimili da quelli che avrebbero presto restituito)

 

contro l’onda montante della storia) all’ultima spiaggia

 

(egli stesso accusato di aver rovesciato la barca per)

 

un padre che ancora prega mentre seppellisce sé stesso assieme a

 

dicevo, lo stato di conservazione di questa inaspettatamente tenace

 

fede che intanto a Kobanî è sull’orlo di inghiottire sé stessa una volta per tutte

 

dicevo, non è tale per cui

 

requiem aeternam dona eis

 

dicevo

 

non lo so cosa stavo dicendo

Photograph of Alan Kurdi, child

by Guido Cupani

I

 

Come on, your laces are undone, tuck your sweater in, it will be cold,

 

what’s in your pocket, where did you pick it up, chuck it, go, how do you feel

 

look into my eyes, Mum loves you, Galip, you come here too,

 

Mum loves you, Dad is proud of you, just one hour of sea, and then you will meet other children, tomorrow we will sleep

 

in a new bed, Europe, Canada, bigger beds,

 

of course, a sip of water, drink, be careful not to get wet, you’re all covered with sand, we’ll wash our hands,

 

that’s it, perfect, let’s go

 

II

 

The picture is permitted.

 

It is permitted to see the picture. Permitted not to see the picture. To say that you had not seen. That you could not. That you did not have to.

 

It is permitted to publish the picture. Permitted to blur the picture. To share. To say I like. To say I do not like.

 

It is permitted to talk of shots. Of discretion and confidentiality. It is permitted to talk of pictures.

 

It is permitted to see the picture again in your mind. In similarly-laid out clothes. On a bedspread that is a shore of better fortune.

 

It is permitted, in front of the picture, to say yes, but. Have both feet planted in the sand. Not move a step. Sink.

 

It is permitted to forget the image. To close your eyes. Deny. While still

 

what happens in the picture

 

(has happened, will happen)

 

is permitted

 

III

 

The state of health or disease of the so-called faith is not such that


a father forced to carry home three-quarters of what was his family


a father previously forced to take from home the same family by hand (wife and two sons


of whom a picture remains taken on the games chair at the exact center of a double-smile

 

despite the storm raised (in clothes not unlike those soon to be returned)


against the rising tide of history) towards the final shore


(himself accused of having overturned the boat)

 

a father who still prays while burying himself along with


I said, the state of preservation of this unexpectedly strong


faith that meanwhile in Kobanî is on the verge of swallowing itself once and for all

 

I said, it is not such that


requiem aeternam dona eis


I said


I do not know what I was saying

translated from Italian by Patrick Williamson
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you who lured me for so long

Two poems by Raoul Ponchon translated by Mark Lager

 

Raoul Ponchon (Photo)

“Then [Ponchon] went alone, along the waterfront, pondering…he stopped at booksellers’ boxes…then the Boulevard Saint-Michel…where he fashioned his absinthe…he returned home to the Hotel des Grands Hommes, near the Sorbonne. He pulled out of an old trunk a green coat of an old-fashioned cut, too big for him, and whose embroideries were tarnished…donned an old gardener’s hat…all night he drank, reading the manuscripts of his unpublished works, which so few people know. They contain masterpieces…”

—Guillame Apollinaire

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fleur de Péché

by Raoul Ponchon

Comment, c’est encore toi, chiffon?         

Petite gringalette                

Grosse comme un quart de siphon,    

Ou deux liards de galette!          

 

Pour faire un corps comme le tien,                  

Statuette fragile,         

La recette est commode: rien             

Fournit d’abord l’argile;        

 

A force de pétrir ce rien,           

On obtient quelque chose:                          

Je ne distingue pas très bien,          

Mais cela paraît rose;             

 

On le barbouille de printemps,              

De champagne qui mousse,                         

De fanfreluche, on bat longtemps,                      

Et c’est là ta frimousse.                

 

O fleur qu’un souffle peut former,         

Qu’une risette éclaire,                  

Tu peux, à défaut d’art d’aimer,            

Avoir le don de plaire !     

 

Peach Blossom

by Raoul Ponchon

Why, it’s you again pretty young woman?

little slender lady

big as a quarter of a pipe

or two pennies of pancakes!

 

To make a body like yours                  

delicate statuette

the recipe is a tall order: nothing

rendered in clay

 

Has the strength to shape this nothing,

you obtained something:         

I can’t distinguish very well

but it seems pink

 

You a painting of spring

of foaming champagne

of fancy frills you bat a long time

and it’s your sweet little face

 

O flower a breath may form

a child’s smile illuminates

you have no lack of art of love

to possess the gift to please!

translated from French by Mark Lager
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La Mort

by Raoul Ponchon

Un vieillard râlait sur sa couche          

Souffrant tous les maux d’ici-bas;  

Déjà bleuissaient sur sa bouche   

Les violettes du trépas.    

 

Cependant, d’aurore en aurore,   

Trahi par le cruel destin,      

Pour souffrir davantage encore    

Il s’éveillait chaque matin.     

 

“O mort! Abrège mon martyre,”        

– Criait l’infortuné vieillard. —       

Il ne t’importe que j’expire     

Un peu plus tôt, un peu plus tard?    

 

“Je n’ai vécu que trop d’années,       

Et j’aspire à l’éternel soir;     

Car dans mes prunelles fanées       

Le Monde se reflète en noir.        

 

“Je n’attends plus rien de la Vie.       

Compte, au lieu de me l’acquérir,               

A la Jeunesse inassouvie             

Le temps qu’il me reste à courir.”        

 

Et voilà que soudain, blafarde,         

Sous son masque de carnaval,        

Il vit l’effroyable camarde,     

Debout sur son seuil, à cheval!      

 

“Enfin! dit-il. Que tu m’es bonne,         

Toi, qui si longtemps me leurras!”       

Et tout ainsi qu’à la Madone,      

Il lui tendit ses maigres bras.     

 

Mais elle éperonna sa bête,    

Et continua son chemin,       

Sans seulement tourner la tête   

Vers ce vieillard en parchemin.     

 

Plus loin, au milieu des prairies,              

Deux amants, ceux-là bien vivants,                        

Couraient dans les herbes fleuries,    

Vous eussiez dit de deux enfants.     

 

Ils ne connaissaient de la Vie,        

Les pauvres petits! que l’Amour;     

Et leur âme était asservie      

L’une à l’autre, sans nul retour.   

 

Ils allaient, joyeux, par la plaine,         

Souriant de leurs yeux d’Avril;       

Le vent retenait son haleine        

Pour ne troubler point leur babil.         

 

Et voici que la Mort affreuse              

Rageusement fondit sur eux,          

Et d’un geste prit l’amoureuse                  

Dans les bras de son amoureux.

Death

by Raoul Ponchon

Old man throat rattling on his bed

suffering all the ills here below

already turning blue at the mouth

violets of death

 

Dawn after dawn

betrayed by cruel destiny

to suffer further anew

he awoke every morning

 

O death! cut short my martyrdom

cried the unfortunate old man

does it matter to you

if I die a little earlier, a little later?

 

I’ve lived too many years

and I long for the eternal night

for in my faded pupils

the world is reflected in black

 

I expect nothing of life

account instead of acquiring me

a youth unsatisfied

the rest of my time to run

 

And now suddenly pale

under his carnival mask

he saw the frightful snub nose

standing at his doorstep on horseback!

 

At last! he said. You’re good to me

you who lured me for so long

and so like the Madonna

he held out his thin arms

 

But he spurred his beast

and continued on his path

without even turning his head

towards this old parchment

 

Farther in the meadows

two lovers living well             

running in the flowering herbs

you would have said two children

 

They did not know life

poor children! what love

and their soul was enslaved

one to the other with no return

 

Joyously going through open country

smiling with their April eyes

the wind holding its breath

not to ruffle their babble

 

And now dreadful death

violently descended upon them

and a gesture took the lover

in the arms of her sweetheart

translated from French by Mark Lager
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sparrows and glimmers and syllables lost

Four poems by Alain Lance translated by Erika Luckert

Lance Headshot      IMG_1117(1) 

[Comme j’en ai traversé de ces villes opaques]

by Alain Lance
Comme j’en ai traversé de ces villes opaques froissant les signes inconnus des journaux il y avait des saisons des oiseaux des lueurs des paroles perdues autour des braseros

Je longeais opéras perdant peluche

 

Ah oui j’ai marché dans neige et fournaise sans désir de la fin de la parenthèse échouant vingt fois sur le delta du soir donnant à mon sang toute sa plaine

Parmi les débris la mémoire les rumeurs

 

Alors je m’endormais aux cicatrices des villes

Long sommeil d’une seule rivière

Lèvre posée à la lézarde du temps.

[As I passed through these opaque cities]

by Alain Lance

As I passed through these opaque cities crumpling the newspaper’s strange signs there were seasons and sparrows and glimmers and syllables lost all around the brazier’s coals

I wandered past opera houses losing threads

 

Ah yes I walked in snow and inferno having no need for a closing parenthesis run aground twenty times on the silt of the night delta giving my blood its plain

And in the debris the remembrance the rumours

 

So I dozed in the scars of cities

Long repose of a river alone

Lip touching the crevice of time.

translated from French by Erika Luckert
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[Sortant d’une page blanche]

by Alain Lance

Sortant d’une page blanche un faux

Marchand de poules m’offre des bocks

Des cigares quand le papier des

Figures est mâché de boulevards

Le bout de la grève vient naviguer

Entre le musée de cire et le

Festin nappé d’une crème austère

L’organiste de la transparence

Met en scène le ramage à brouiller

Goutte à goutte un géant pétrolier

Dans le noir bleuissant vers la foule

[Leaping from a blank page]

by Alain Lance

Leaping from a blank page a false

Chicken seller offers me a mug of beer

A cigar when a chain of cutout

Figures is paper-mâchéd down the boulevard

The end of the strike threads its way

Between the wax museum and the 

Feast tableclothed in an austere cream

The organist of transparency

Performs a birdsong to muddle

Drop by drop a giant oil tanker

In the blueing black toward the crowd 

translated from French by Erika Luckert
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[Nuit]

by Alain Lance

Nuit

Ruelles de rats

Rares les étoiles

 

Nuit du mal respire

Je crie je

Rêve que j’écris

Entre lointain fracas

Et l’étroite querelle

[Night]

by Alain Lance

Night

Cul-de-sacs of rats

Scattered stars

 

Night of shortened breath

I call I

Dream I scrawl

Between distant clamour

And this quarrel closer by

translated from French by Erika Luckert
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[Ma grand-mère se promenait]

by Alain Lance

Ma grand-mère se promenait dans un petit bois jaune crissant encore de je ne sais plus quel automne lorsqu’un braconnier en fuite la fit tomber au sol Quand je me penchai je ne trouvai qu’un vieux livre ouvert dont les pages ne bougeaient plus sous mon oreille appliquée J’ai pris le livre et je suis rentré au village abandonné par ses chardonnerets Un photographe sous sa cagoule pétrifiait d’un geste toute une famille de Boulanger Le ciel lui aussi était jaune et au bout de la rue il n’y avait pas encore de monument aux morts.

[My grandmother walked]

by Alain Lance


My grandmother walked in a little yellow wood crunching in an autumn I no longer recall till a poacher on the run knocked her down to the ground When I leaned in and pressed close my ear I only found an ancient book whose open pages moved no more Lifting the book I was taken back to a town abandoned by its orioles With one gesture a photographer beneath his hood turned a baker’s entire family to stone The sky itself was yellow too and the end of the road did not yet have any monument to the dead.

translated from French by Erika Luckert
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A flame of your breath rises

Three poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz translated by Umair Kazi

 Ahfaz_with_Faiz_Ahmad_FaizI can’t remember when I first encountered Faiz’s poetry, which is to say, I can’t think of a time when Faiz wasn’t a part of my world. The idiom I grew up with in Pakistan was suffused with his words. I knew them before I understood them and I’d heard the music before I could feel its pathos. Iqbal Bano’s renditions of Yaad (Memory) and Hum Dekhenge—without which no mention of Faiz’s poetry is complete—rang out unceasingly from my grandfather’s tape player; as did Begum Akhtar’s Sham-i-fiaq ab na pooch and Mehdi Hassan’s Gulon mein rang bhare, songs that immortalized Faiz’s words beyond the page.

UmairBut what is a song other than a marriage of the language of music with the music of language? If you listen closely to Iqbal Bano singing “Memory”, you’ll hear how the melody swells when she intones, uth rahi hai…(“it” rises); her voice crackles at the incidence of aanch (“it” the flame); then gets softer and scanter at mudham, mudham (“dimly, softly”) and, finally, at qatra, qatra (“drop by drop”), the barely perceptible, heavy silence between the repetition of these words brings to the listener’s mind an image of tiny plumes of dew forming on the nib of a leaf, dropping, and then forming again.

I was motivated to translate these poems because I wanted to share with my non-Urdu speaking friends and readers the vision of a poet, whose language continues to shape me. For us migrants, Faiz’s poems and songs conjure the journey that is our destination, the placeleness that is our home. None of these is a first-time translation; however I do think that they capture some nuances of Faiz’s poems that other translators have either missed or foregone in order to accommodate for other—perhaps, in their judgment more important—elements of his poetry. Faiz’s use of colloquial language, for instance, is frequently sacrificed to stronger expressions of his images. Urdu is capable of generating noun combinations through the addition of nouns with nouns and with other parts of speech—the muted genitive “-i-”, obviating prepositions and articles, allows the poet to express layered images with an economy of syllables that is irreproducible in English; consequently, translators often translate those images as elaborated phrases. I have, when I could, avoided this practice in favor of creating new words in harmony with the original image, thought, and sentiment.

— Umair Kazi

 

yaad

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

yaad

 

dasht-e-tanhā.ī meñ ai jaan-e-jahāñ larzāñ haiñ

terī āvāz ke saa.e tire hoñToñ ke sarāb

dasht-e-tanhā.ī meñ duurī ke khas o khaak tale

khil rahe haiñ tire pahlū ke saman aur gulāb

 

uTh rahī hai kahīñ qurbat se tirī saañs k aañch

apnī khushbū meñ sulagtī huī maddham maddham

duur ufuq paar chamaktī huī qatra qatra

gir rahī hai tirī dildār nazar kī shabnam

 

is qadar pyaar se ai jaan-e-jahāñ rakkhā hai

dil ke rukhsār pe is vaqt tirī yaad ne haat

yuuñ gumāñ hotā hai garche hai abhī sub.h-e-firāq

Dhal gayā hijr kā din aa bhiī ga.ī vasl kī raat

Memory

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

In the desert of solitude, my love, are tremors

the shadows of your voice, mirages of your lips

 

In the desert of solitude, beneath the ash

and dust of distance, blossom the jasmines and roses

of your touch

 

A flame of your breath rises somewhere nearby,

smoldering          softly     in its own perfume

 

far beyond the horizon       your heartening eyes

drop shimmering dew

 

How lovingly, my love, your memory visits me,

lays her hand on my heart:

I surmise—though, this is the dawn of parting

 

—that the day of migration has waned

      and the night of our union, crested

translated from Urdu by Umair Kazi
more>>

manzar

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

manzar

 

āsmāñ aaj ik bahr-e-pur-shor hai

jis meñ har-sū ravāñ bādaloñ ke jahāz

un ke arshe per kirnoñ ke mastūl haiñ

bādbānoñ kī pahne hue farġhaleñ

niil meñ gumbadoñ ke jazīre ka.ī

ek baazī meñ masrūf hai har koīī

vo abābīl koī nahātī huī

koī chiil ġhote meñ jaatī huī

koī tāqat nahīñ is meñ zor-aazmā

koī beDā nahīñ hai kisī mulk kā

is kī tah meñ koīābdozeñ nahīñ

koī rocket nahīñ koī topeñ nahīñ

yuuñ to saare anāsir haiñ yaañ zor meñ

amn kitnā hai is bahr-e-pur-shor meñ

 

 

Scene

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

The sky today is a sea-lane

busy with the ships of passing

 

clouds

 

whose decks are masted

with sunbeams draped in

diaphanous sails

 

The city’s domes are the islands

of this sea

 

where everyone is busy

risking it all:

 

see that blackbird swimming,

that eagle

    diving in…

 

There is no contest of power

here: no battleship fleets or flags;

 

no submarines creeping on the

seabed; no rockets or cannons

 

And, though, every element

here is bursting with charge—

 

just look how peaceful

these bustling waters are

 

Samarkand, 1978

translated from Urdu by Umair Kazi
more>>

kahāñ jāoge

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

kahāñ jāoge

 

aur kuch der meñ luT jā.egā har baam pe chāñd

aks kho jā.eñge ā.īne taras jā.eñge

arsh ke diida-e-namnāk se baarī-baarī

sab sitāre sar-e-khāshāk baras jā.eñge

aas ke maare thake hare shabistānoñ meñ

apnī tanhāi.ī sameTegā, bichhā.egā koī

bevafā.ī kī ghaDī, tark-e-madārāt ka vaqt

is ghaDī apne sivā yaad na aa.egā koī

tark-e-duniyā kā samāñ khatm-e-mulāqāt ka vaqt

is ghaDī ai dil-e-āvāra kahāñ jāoge

is ghaDī koī kisi kā bhi nahīñ rahne do

koī is vaqt milegā hī nahīñ rahne do

aur mile gā bhī is taur ki pachtāoge

is ghaDī ai dil-e-āvāra kahāñ jāoge

 

aur kuchh der Tahar jaao ki phir nashtar-e-sub.h

zakhm kī tarah har ik aañkh ko bedār kare

aur har kushta-e-vāmāñdgī-e-ākhir-e-shab

bhuul kar saa.at-e-darmāndagī-e-ākhir-e-shab

jaan pahchān mulāqāt pe isrār kare

 

 

Where Will You Go?

by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

In a little while,

the moon will be

robbed on every

rooftop;

 

mirrors will thirst

for vanished reflections.

 

One by one, the stars will

disintegrate—

 

exploding into

dust that will rain down

 

from heaven’s moist eyes.

 

Inside night-quarters

tired beyond hope

 

someone will gather his

loneliness, he will spread it

over;

 

at this faithless hour,

at this time of turning away—

 

when every man is only for

himself without memory

of another,

 

at this hour of severance,

at the end of our tryst

with the world:

 

wild heart, where will you go

at this hour?

 

No one will recognize you, let it go.

Who will you find now? Let it go.

 

And whoever you come across

by chance, you’ll regret seeing:

 

wild heart, where will you go

at this hour?

 

Stay a little longer—

 

wait until morning’s fleam

has roused every eye once more

              like a wound;

 

then all the helpless slain

at the end of the night—

 

forgetting the destitute hour,

the end of the night—

 

will insist on meeting,

on being called by name

translated from Urdu by Umair Kazi
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we get straight to the point, our diction impeccable

 Two poems by Dag T. Straumsvåg translated from Norwegian by Robert Hedin

UFO-Ar På dei Norske Bygdene

by Dag T. Straumsvåg

 

I motsetnad til i USA, landar det sjeldan ufo-ar på dei Norske bygdene. Men vi har huslege flygande tallerkenar, særleg ved juletider. Utan varsel stupar dei ut av himmelen og krasjar i det gule håret vårt, lagar mysticke mønster i hjernebølgjene våre. Kva vil dei med oss? Er dei fiendtlege? Vi anar ikkje.  Sjølv  konene våre snur seg bort, mållause. Vi kan høyre ei høg summing, som om ein datamaskin inne i vraket framleis verkar, som om nokon har overlevd og samtalar frenetisk på eit framandt tungemål, nokon som kan ha svar på alle spørsmåla våre. Vi meiner den vitskapelege tilnæmingsmåten er best og sikrar ulykkesstaden, granskar og katalogiserer alle vrakdelar.  Temperaturen fell snøgt under null. Vi kryp sman kring leirbålet, ein forvirra flokk primatar som plukkar lus frå håret til kvarandre i det bleike desemberljoset.

UFO's in the Norwegian Countryside

by Dag T. Straumsvåg

Unlike in the U.S., UFOs in Norway don’t often land in the countryside.  Instead we have domestic flying saucers, especially at Christmastime. With no warning, they fall out of the clear, blue sky, crashing in our blond hair, making mystical patterns in our brain waves. What do they want? Are they hostile? We don’t have a clue. Even our wives shake their heads, unable to speak. There’s a high-pitched humming sound, as if the computer inside is still working, as if someone had survived and is speaking frantically in a strange tongue, someone who has all the answers to our questions. We believe the scientific approach works best, so we secure the crash site, inspect and catalogue each piece of wreckage. The temperature is quickly falling below zero. We gather around the fireplace, a bewildered bunch of primates picking lice out of each other’s hair in the faint December light. 

translated from Norwegian by Robert Hedin
more>>

Av/På

by Dag T. Straumsvåg

Vi kjøpte ein cocker spaniel, men han var ikkje realistisk nok, så vi gav han bort. Då gullfisken døydde skifta vi til apparat. Den gamle brødristaren, komfyren med keramikktopp. Aparat er heller ikkje feilfrie, men av/på-knappane fungerer så godt at vi bestemde oss for å utvikle eit likande system for oss sjølve. I staden for av/på-knappar brukar vi klubber. Ein kakk i skallen betyr “det er din tur til å ta oppvasken,” ein rapp over skinnleggen betyr “la meg vere i fred,” eit tungt slag in solar plexus betyr “kan du gjenta det, er du snill?” Livet er mykje enklare no. Ungane steller seg i kø kvar kveld for å ta oppvasken, eg får lese avisa i fred, og når vi pratar går vi rett på sak med upåklageleg diksjon.

 

On/Off

by Dag T. Straumsvåg

We bought a cocker spaniel, but it wasn’t realistic enough, so we gave it away. When the goldfish died, we turned to appliances. Our old toaster. The glass-topped stove. Appliances are not flawless either, but the on/off buttons worked so well we decided to develop a similar system of our own.  Instead of buttons, we use baseball bats. One rap on the skull means “It’s your turn to do dishes,” one smack to the shin means “Leave me alone,” a heavy blow to the solar plexus means “Can you repeat that, please?” Life’s a lot simpler now. The kids line up every night to do the dishes, I get to read the paper in peace, and when we’re talking, we get straight to the point, our diction impeccable.

translated from Norwegian by Robert Hedin
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And we wolfed down the rocks they put on the table.

Three poems by Edwin Madrid translated by Julia Velasco

Lección de las piedras

by Edwin Madrid

Pan duro como piedra,

piedras que convirtió Dios en pan;

panes elaborados con el sudor de la frente,

frente de piedra,

pan de sudor.

Pan pan y vino vino.

Cuerpo y sangre del hambre del mundo.

Piedra hambre.

Pan remordido por el hombre,

hombre de piedra,

mujer pan,

piedra comiéndose pan.

Dios duro como piedra,

la piedra del mundo.

Lesson of Rocks

by Edwin Madrid

Bread hard as a rock,

rocks that God turned into bread;

loaves prepared with the sweat of the brow,

a brow of rock,

a bread of sweat.

Bread is bread, and wine, wine.

Body and blood of hunger in the world.

A rock of hunger.

Bread eaten away by man,

man made of rock,

bread woman,

rock eating bread.

God hard as a rock,

the rock of the world.

translated from Spanish by Julia Velasco
more>>

Cena o escena

by Edwin Madrid

Picó la ruccula y la endivia con desgano; echó sobre ellas migas de almendra y macadamia, vinagre de jerez y aguacate. Al tomar el lomo de ternera en sus manos, parecía que destajaba el corazón de su enemiga. Acomodó la mesa, sin brillo ni fragancia, y se sentó a esperar. Cuando él llegó, cenaron en silencio. El resto se publicó en el diario de la tarde.

Dinner Scene

by Edwin Madrid

She chopped with apathy the arugula and the endive; she topped it with crumbs of almond and macadamia, sherry vinegar and avocado. When she grabbed the beef sirloin in her hands, she seemed to be chopping out her worst enemy’s heart. She set the table, with no glow or fragrance, and sat to wait. When he got there, they ate in silence. The rest could be read in the afternoon’s paper.

 

translated from Spanish by Julia Velasco
more>>

Moraleja

by Edwin Madrid

Solo dijimos: a caballo regalado no se le mira los dientes. Y devoramos las piedras que colocaron sobre la mesa.

Moral

by Edwin Madrid

We just said: Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth. And we wolfed down the rocks they put on the table.

translated from Spanish by Julia Velasco
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I was perfectly calm before sinking

Two poems by Max Jacob translated by Sophia Lecker

Max-Jacob-1922

Les Régates de Concarneau

by Max Jacob

 

Les noyés ne coulent pas toujours au fond. Il suffit même à un troublé dans l’eau de se souvenir qu’il a su nager et il voit son pantalon s’agiter comme les jambes d’un pantin. Aux régates de Concarneau, c’est ce qui m’arriva. J’étais parfaitement tranquille avant de couler, ou bien ces élégants des yoles qui passent remarqueront mes efforts ou bien…bref, un certain optimisme. La rive toute proche! Avec personnages israélites grandeur nature et des plus gracieux. Ce qui me surprit au sortir de l’eau, c’est d’avoir été si peu mouillé et d’être regardé non comme un caniche, mais comme un homme.

The Concarneau Regattas

by Max Jacob

Drowning people don’t always sink to the bottom. It is even enough for someone struggling in the water to remember that he knew how to swim and then he sees his trousers flap around like the legs of a jumping jack. That’s what happened to me at the Concarneau regattas. I was perfectly calm before sinking, or well those elegant people in their skiffs passing by will notice my efforts or well…in short, a certain optimism. The shore so close! With life-sized Israelite individuals of the most gracious sort. What surprised me in getting out of the water was that I was hardly damp, and that people looked at me not as a poodle, but as a man.

translated from French by Sophia Lecker
more>>

Le Fond Du Tableau

by Max Jacob

 

C’est une petite partie de campagne! une petite partie autour d’un puits. La pauvre enfant est seule sur la plage, sur les rochers en pente de la dune et on dirait qu’il y une auréole autour de sa tête. Oh! je saurai bien la sauver! moi, le gros boursouflé je cours, j’accours. Là-bas autour du puits on joue la Marseillaise et moi j’accours pour la sauver. Je n’ai pas encore parlé de la couleur du ciel parce que je n’étais pas sûr que ce ne fût avec la mer un seul tableau lisse couleur des tableaux d’école en ardoise souillée de craie, oui, avec une trainée de craie en diagonale, comme le couteau de la guillotine.

The Depths of the Painting

by Max Jacob

It’s a little party in the countryside! A little party near a well. The poor little girl is alone on the beach, on the steep rocky slope of the dune, and you might say there is a halo around her head. Oh, I’ll know how to save her! Me, the fat puffy one, I rush I run. Down there near the well they are playing the Marseillaise and I’m rushing to save her. I haven’t mentioned yet the color of the sky because I wasn’t sure that with the sea it doesn’t make a smooth painting the color of a blackboard smeared with chalk, yes, with a diagonal trail of chalk like the blade of a guillotine.

translated from French by Sophia Lecker
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but in the morning they soberly sweep their naked rooms

Two poems by Olja Savičević Ivančević translated by Andrea Jurjević 

olja       andrea

Šegrt

by Olja Savičević Ivančević

toliko svile se odmotava

 

pod mojom kožom neprekidno

 

da su me staratelji morali skloniti

 

u hram

 

među krčmarsko svećenstvo

 

tu ćeš, rekli su, mala

 

učiti pisati nogom po vjetru

 

i vjetrom po gradskim morima

 

izučit ćeš vještinu

 

bacanja letećih olovčica

 

(da zatvorenih očiju razvežeš pupak

 

i rasiječeš bradavicu)

 

 

 

vidjela sam kako pjevaju i ljube ludi učitelji

 

kako preskaču lipu i vodotoranj

 

ponekad pripiti trče uz zidove kuća

 

ali ujutro trijezno pometu svoje gole sobe

 

nježno obuku svoje gole žene i mladiće

 

povežu ono što je ostalo od kose

 

u perčin rečenica

 

i lebde iznad svetih tastatura

 

 

 

prvu sam lekciju svladala iz domaćinstva

 

složila sam svu silu u bale

 

kao u malom dućanu metraže

 

trebalo mi je trideset godina

 

još toliko će mi trebati

 

da razvrstam dugmad riječi

 

i sve te aplikacije

 

 

 

bojim se, u međuvremenu,

 

ostarit će učitelji, popušit će svoje lule vjere

 

a s njima i hrabrost i mudrost

 

brine me što će se dogoditi s njihovim kostima po čitankama

 

tu nitko živ više neće moći

 

sastaviti pjesnika

An Apprentice

by Olja Savičević Ivančević

so much silk unrolls

 

continually under my skin

 

that the guardians had to move me

 

to the temple

 

among the clergy of the tavern

 

they said, here, little one,

 

you’ll learn how to write by throwing a leg over the wind

 

and with the wind over the city seas

 

you’ll learn the trade

 

of flinging flying pencils

 

(so with eyes closed you unknot the navel

 

and cut the nipple)

 

 

 

I saw how crazy teachers sing and kiss

 

how they jump over the linden and the water tower

 

sometimes tipsy they run along the walls of houses

 

but in the morning they soberly sweep their naked rooms

 

gently dress their naked women and young men

 

and bind what’s left of their hair

 

into bundled sentences

 

hover over holy keyboards

 

 

I first mastered homemaking

 

I folded all the silk into bales

 

like in a little fabric shop

 

it took me thirty years

 

and I’ll need that many more

 

to sort the word buttons

 

and all of their use

 

 

 

meanwhile, I’m afraid,

 

the teachers will get old, finish smoking their pipes of hope

 

and with them both courage and wisdom

 

I worry about what will happen to their bones in the books

 

not a living soul will be able

 

to assemble a poet

translated from Croatian by Andrea Jurjević
more>>

Humbert

by Olja Savičević Ivančević

Prošlo je i više vremena od onog koje je trebalo

 

Da može sjesti do tebe i potapšati ti glavu

 

S obje ruke sretna, kao bongo. Moj oče, stari ljubavniče.

 

Počinje period u kojem se u mislima spušta u luku

 

Uz bedem, ali zavoj je oštar, trga se koža sa lijeve plećke i puca karoserija

 

Ti svakih nekoliko ljeta tražiš ime za svoj brod

 

Nazoveš je i pitaš za mišljenje, govorite o roditeljima i djeci, o brakovima

 

Koji su uglavnom sretni i zdravlju, poslovima

 

Kaže ti: bio si u pravu, zaboravila sam te kao i svoje grudi prije četrnaeste

 

Na tebe pomisli kad vidi konduktera: bijele hlače, nikad suviše čiste

 

I češće se vezano uz tebe sjeti tvog malog psa koji je po dugom hodniku

 

Kuće kotrljao kosti. I vodoskoka.

 

Ali otkad se dogodila nesreća iz njenih su snova kao miševi pobjegli svi—osim tebe.

 

I eto te gdje se pokrećeš po čudnom nalogu, njenom

 

Pušiš i povlačiš klompe na krivim dlakavim nogama

 

A ona ide pored tebe u košuljici bez rukava

 

Prekratkoj da joj se ne bi vidjela stražnjica pička bedra

 

Uzalud je navlači i ti iako ravnodušan uviđaš njen problem

 

To su samo njeni snovi, ali i na javi bi joj rekao:

 

Ne brini, normalno hodaj, pa ja idem ispred tebe,

 

Uostalom, moja stara kćeri, moja mlada ljubavnice,

 

Sami smo na cesti, uostalom.  

Humbert

by Olja Savičević Ivančević

More time passed than was necessary

 

For her to sit beside you and happily with both hands

 

tap your head like a bongo. My father, old lover.

 

That time starts when she imagines going down to the harbor

 

By the rampart, but the turn is sharp, the skin from her left shoulder tears and the chassis breaks

 

Every few summers you seek names for your boat

 

You call and ask her opinion, talk about parents and kids, about marriages

 

That are mostly happy and about health, work

 

She says: you were right, I forgot you like I forgot my fourteen-year-old breasts

 

She thinks of you when she sees a bus conductor: white pants, never too clean

 

And more often she remembers your little dog that rolled bones down the long hallway

 

Of the house. And the waterfalls.

 

But since the accident everyone ran out of her dreams like mice—except you.

 

And look, you now march under a strange order, hers

 

You smoke and drag clogs on crooked hairy legs

 

And she walks beside you in a sleeveless shirt

 

Too short to cover her ass snatch thighs

 

Hopelessly she pulls it down, and you, even though indifferent, see her problem

 

These are just her dreams, but even in reality you’d say to her:

 

Don’t worry, walk naturally, I’m next to you,

 

After all, my old daughter, my young lover,

 

We’re alone on the road, after all.  

translated from Croatian by Andrea Jurjević
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I want to be awakened from our love

Two poems by Gili Haimovich translated by Dara Barnat

 Gili Haimovich      DaraB

These translations from Hebrew of “The Perfect Set” and “Too Easy” are part of an ongoing collaboration between Gili Haimovich and myself. My translations of Gili’s poetry can be found in journals including Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, International Poetry Review, Poetry International, and Blue Lyra. Gili’s translations of my poetry to Hebrew appear in Shvo, Makaf, and other Hebrew-language publications. 

“Too Easy” is from Gili’s last book Baby Girl, Emda Publishers, 2014, and “The Perfect Set” is from Lint Season, Pardes Publishers, 2011.

—Dara Barnat

 

הַסֵּט הַמֻּשְׁלָם

by Gili Haimovich

.הָאַהֲבָה שֶׁלָּנוּ יוֹתֵר מִדַּי מַתְאִימָה לָרִהוּט

 

.וְהִיא נִשְׁמַעַת בְּאֵיכוּת סְרָאוּנְד עַל רֶקַע גֵּ ‘אז מָהָגוֹנִי

 

הָאַהֲבָה שֶׁלָּנוּ לֹא קוֹרַעַת

 

,הִיא תּוֹפֶרֶת

 

 

.וְגַם בָּזֶה יֵשׁ מִנְּעִיצוֹת הַמַּחַט בַּבָּשָׂר הַחַי

 

.מְדַמָּה אוֹתָן לַצְּבִיטוֹת שֶׁמּוֹכִיחוֹת שֶׁזֶּה לֹא חֲלוֹם

 

.חֲבָל שֶׁאֲנִי לֹא יְכוֹלָה לְהָקִיץ מֵאַהֲבָתֵנוּ

 

 

הָאַהֲבָה שֶׁלָּנוּ יוֹתֵר מִדַּי מַתְאִימָה לַצַּלָּחוֹת

 

.שֶׁקָּנְתָה לָנוּ אִשְׁתּוֹ הַשְּׁלִישִׁית שֶׁל אָבִיךָ

 

אֲבָל הִיא לֹא טְעִימָה עִם מָה

 

.שֶׁמִּתְבַּשֵּׁל עַל הַכִּירַיִם

 

 

הָאַהֲבָה הַזּאֹת מַתְאִימָה לָאַגָּדָה שֶׁבְּסוֹפָהּ הָיִיתִי הַכַּלָּה הֲכִי יָפָה

 

.אֲבָל אֲנִי נְמוּכָה, כְּבֵדָה וְנַשְׁכָנִית מִדַּי

The Perfect Set

by Gili Haimovich

Our love fits the furniture too much.

 

And it’s heard in surround sound jazz that circles the mahogany.

 

Our love doesn’t rip,

 

it sews.

 

 

And in this there’s also the sense of a needle going into flesh.

 

The punctures are like pinches that prove it’s not a dream.

 

I want to be awakened from our love.

 

 

Our love fits the plates too much,

 

the ones that your father’s third wife bought us.

 

But it doesn’t taste good with what’s

 

cooking on the stove.

 

 

This love fits the end of a fairy tale in which I’m the most beautiful bride,

 

but I’m too short, heavy, and sharp.

translated from Hebrew by Dara Barnat
more>>

קלה מידיי

by Gili Haimovich

הַלַּילְָה נוֹשֵׂא אוֹתִי

,אֲבָל לֹא כְּהַבְטָחָה

,לֹא כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאֲנִי נָשָׂאתִי אוֹתָךְ

,בַּבֶּטֶן

,עַל הֶחָזֶה

,הַגַּב

,הַכְּתֵפַיִם

,עַל ראֹשׁ שִׂמְחָתִי

,עַל צַוַּאר דַּאֲגָתִי

.בְּשֶׁלֶג סוֹחֵף

הַשִּׁירִים בָּאִים

.כְּמוֹ קַלִּים מִדַּי

 

,כִּמְעַט קַל מִדַּי

,מוּבָן מִדַּי מֵאֵלָיו

,לִהְיוֹת אִמָּא שֶׁלָּךְ

.לִהְיוֹת שַׁיּכֶֶת לָךְ

Too Easy

by Gili Haimovich

The night carries me

but not like a promise,

not like how I carried you,

in the stomach,

on the chest,

the back,

the neck,

on the head of my joy,

on the shoulders of my concern.

through swirling snow.

 

The poems come

almost too easily,

it’s almost too easy,

too obvious,

being your mother,

belonging to you.

translated from Hebrew by Dara Barnat
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