Posts Tagged ‘Transfiction’

Faking it well

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Screen shot 2014-10-23 at 8.35.20 PMA long time ago, I used to know an amateur German actress in Berlin who did dubbing jobs for film. She once said that, before a certain client would give her a job, he asked her whether the subject matter was ‘too close to home’. If so, she was told, she shouldn’t take it on: emotional breakdowns cost expensive studio time.

I asked a friend of mine who does commercial voice-overs whether this anecdote rings true, and he said: ‘I should imagine, if anything, that having gone through a certain experience would help an actor. He could work it into the job somehow.’

There it is in a nutshell: a professional actor knows how to use emotional experiences in his work. For an amateur, it could lead to an emotional problem.

I have recently started thinking about the job I do and what kind of effect it has on my psyche. It started when I experienced what it was like to translate a text that was not ‘too close to home’, but too harrowing for me to sleep properly at night. Most translators from the German have had disturbing texts land on their desks in the course of time, given the nature of the past ninety years of German history and the English-speaking world’s undying fascination with it. But while many translators might take this in their stride, I began floundering with this text. It was about Auschwitz: perhaps because it was written in the present tense, perhaps because of the details of parts of the text, I found myself procrastinating for hours before I could sit down and start work. I talked about this to a translator friend, who advised me to spend 10 minutes a day before I started work, just to jot down the feelings that this text was producing. Just for my own sanity. (more…)

things I know so far #2

Thursday, October 23rd, 2014

Screen shot 2014-05-19 at 6.47.51 PMcreativity rarely occurs in a vacuum

it can be a group activity

or even just a conversation

listening to criticism is not the same

as beating yourself up

the mistakes you take great pains to avoid passing on

to your children

will be replaced by other, perhaps bigger mistakes that

sneak in where your blind spot is

nostalgia should be an alarm bell

but rituals can be comfort

trees are nearly always good news

as are many kinds of animals

and sports

and old friends

when you hear your mother or father speaking

and look around to see who said something

and discover it was you

it’s not always a bad thing

music transcends

if it doesn’t, it’s not the right music


We are live

Sunday, May 12th, 2013
"A poet looking for inspiration" Milorad Krstic

“A poet looking for inspiration” Milorad Krstic

Click here for the MadHat issue 14, cut.ting edge! Last night, if you had the stamina to make it to the finish past midnight, you would have had the chance to listen to a real cross-section of translated German language fiction, poetry, drama and non-fiction. No, we did not manage to do the Pecha Kucha style evening – the 20 slide, 15-minute Power Point karaoke when the readers are rudely cut off by the host if they run overtime – but we did have a text about it, and Helmut Kuhn, the author, sitting in the audience, visibly enjoying listening to Ruth Martin’s translation.

There were many highlights: such as Sissi Tax and Joel Scott, the Australian-Austrian axis, reading Issi’s poems in tandem. Sissi now has new fans in Berlin among the English language translation crowd. Henry Holland, reading Donal McLaughlin’s Glaswegian speech translations of Pedro Lenz’ poems:

Jist wance
in o’er nineteen year
did Toledo miss his wurk.

It wis thi day
the gaffer wis buried
in Volketswil.

He wantit tae be sure
thi cunt’s really deid, Toledo.

Henry did point out that it was only me who made the connection between him and Donal, but I was very glad I did. I also immensely enjoyed  his “song of unification for instant singing” by Peter Rühmkorf. There was a Kafkaesque rendition of “Rosa Beetle”, and a virtuoso rendition of Anna Katharina Hahn’s “Kürzere Tage”, translated by Helen Rutley and Jenny Piening respectively. Finally, we were nearly lulled to sleep by Medhi Nebbou reading “The Patient Prince” by Karen Duve from her volume Grrrim

But why don’t you just click over to the live issue and read these and many more wonderful texts in translation. A big thank you for all of you who gave your time, work and inspiration to produce this issue. We had a ball!