We celebrated the launch of this website on Friday, May 18th, 2012, with a reading and celebration at A Public Space’s office in Brooklyn. It was a pleasure to share in the warmth and friendship that Circumference has gathered over the years, and to meet so many friends of the magazine, both old and new.
We were honored to have Idra Novey, Matthew Rohrer, Eliot Weinberger and Stefania Heim, a founding co-editor of Circumference, reading poems in translation. Among the poets represented in the reading were Brazilian poet Manoel de Barros, translated by Novey; the late Virgil Banescu, translated from Romanian by Rohrer; and Mexico’s Xavier Villarutia, translated by Weinberger.
We’ll be posting videos from these inspiring readings here on our website in the next few weeks. First up is Stefania, who read one poem from each of the first seven issues of the magazine:
The poems Stefania read in order were:
Issue 1: Talk of Horses by Takarabe Toriko translated from Japanese by Hiroaki Sato
Issue 2: [For the singings that unwound in the air I rhymed] by Amelia Rosselli translated from Italian by Jennifer Scappettone
Issue 3: [If you're not too lazy, go ahead and cite] by Sergey Gandlevsky translated from Russian by Philip Metres
Issue 4: Ask Socrates Marily Said by Ersi Sotiropoulos translated from Greek by Paul Vangelisti & the author
Issue 5: [Excellent language, excellent] by Eduardo Milán translated from Spanish by Patrick Madden & Steven J. Stewart
Issue 6: the following by Ulf Stolterfoht translated from German by Rosmarie Waldrop
Issue 7: The sky, Swiss air space, December 30 by Anni Sumari translated from the Finnish by David McDuff
“The way I’ve put it to my friends is that working on [the translation] was like being made to vomit up my first two books, eat the vomit, vomit again, etc., then pour the mess into ice trays and freeze it, and then pour liquor over the cubes … I don’t know why I’ve been hesitant to say this publicly.”
While on a Fulbright grant to Berlin, Germany, poet and translator Sharmila Cohen is experimenting with various approaches to collaborative translation of contemporary German poets. Here she shares the result of one of those projects.
This series is part of a project that investigates poetry translation as a correspondence or communication between author and translator. For this translation, the basic outline was that Ann would send me a poem to interpret and respond to, and then she would respond to my response—this is a way of addressing the fact that responding to poetry is a type of translation in and of itself. To my surprise, after her first poem, Ann switched languages and wrote her responses in English; thus, I was translating from English into English and she was translating me in the same way. As we got further into our exchange, I started getting the feeling that we were playing into the responsive nature of the project; we were writing poetry letters; we were creating texts that invited a reaction from the other writer, while bringing some of each other’s voice into our own text. I think that in most forms of collaboration, we are in some respects translating one another—you must for the project to continue.
In this series Montana Ray talks with translators about their process and poetics. Ray will explore and challenge our understanding of the craft and its role in contemporary literature.
In this episode Mónica de la Torre discusses her path to translation, how translations are packaged, how translation has influenced her writing process, the mix of high and low-brow culture in her work, her refusal to give in to domestic expectations of global culture, and how her bilingualism affects her process. She also reads from her own work and the work she has translated.
Mónica de la Torre’s poetry collections include two in English, Talk Shows (Switchback Books, 2006) and Public Domain (Roof Books, 2008), and two in Spanish, Acúfenos (Taller Ditoria, 2006) and Sociedad Anónima (UNAM/ Bonobos, 2010). She is the editor, with Michael Weigers, of the bilingual anthology Reverisible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon, 2002). Her translations from Spanish include Lila Zemborain’s Mauve Sea-Orchids (co-translated with Rosa Alcalá) and Poems by Gerardo Deniz, which she also edited. A recent collaborative book project, Taller de Mecanografía, was published in 2011 in Mexico City by Tumbona Ediciones. Four, a group of four new chapbooks, is just out from Switchback Books. She lives in Brooklyn and is senior editor at BOMB Magazine.
Founded in 2003 by Stefania Heim & Jennifer Kronovet, Circumference has built a strong reputation for publishing important new literature in translation, with a focus on poetry. For almost ten years, the magazine has been an invaluable source for teachers, students, poets, translators, and editors alike.
A new beginning
Now, after a two-year hiatus, Circumference is back. We have a new editorial team, as well as updated tools and resources for continuing our mission to support poetry in translation. The magazine will be presented annually in print, while the expanded website will give us another platform to present new work and focus on the possibilities online publishing allows.
“I don’t just ‘like’ it, I love it.”
–Pierre Joris commenting on Circumference on Facebook.
Along with the opportunity to participate in ongoing global dialogues around literary translation, the website will allow us to share audio, video, and other media that lends itself particularly well to the digital format. We will feature a monthly podcast curated by Montana Ray, interviews with poets and translators, reviews of new work in translation and, of course, new material from around the world.
The website will reopen the conversation begun by Circumference ten years ago, and will be an ideal place to facilitate real-time conversations about poetry in translation. This, we hope, will only expand the audience for the kind of work Circumference has always been interested in: translation projects that enliven our sense of what it means to bring new work into English, the re-imagining of old work, and the rethinking of existing approaches to translation.
We plan to expand our capacity to serve the translation community by providing a searchable archive of poems from the pages of Circumference, bringing together work from past issues with new work we publish online.
The work in this archive will be an important resource for students, translators, editors, and researchers. In its first seven issues alone, Circumference published many of the major poets and translators of our time, including translators such as: Forrest Gander, Marilyn Hacker, Caroline Knox, Donald Revell, Pierre Joris, Mónica de la Torre, Zachary Schomburg, Billy Collins, Sawako Nakayasu, Matthew Zapruder, Jeffrey Yang, Jen Hofer, and Rosemarie Waldrop, and authors such as: Roberto Bolaño, Jorge Luis Borges, Catallus, Polina Barskova, Paul Celan, Gennady Aygi, Freidrich Hölderlin, Tomaž Šalamun, Stephané Mallarmé, Takashi Hiraide, and Aase Berg.
Those already familiar with Circumference will be pleased to know that it will continue to be produced annually in print, with an updated design and new features that reflect the new editorial leadership of the magazine. Readers will enjoy poems in English “en-face” with the original languages, as well as essays, interviews, and hybrid works that address the ever-evolving state of translation today. Subscriptions are ten dollars per year; a limited number of back issues of the magazine are also available from our website.
Our goal is to make Circumference a frequent destination for scholars, readers, and lovers of poetry and international literature. Come and visit us often.