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The mysterious Char

By Harriet Staff

Poet Nancy Naomi Carlson believes in propagating the best poetry out there, be it in English or otherwise. Tupelo Press recently published Stone Lyre, her translation of the poems of late French poet René Char. Carlson says she was drawn to Char’s dark, mysterious style, and decided to undertake the tricky process of translation so others could enjoy Char as well.

Read more about her process at the Maryland Gazette:

There are three basic schools of thought about translation, according to Carlson. One believes that exact translations are paramount, and another places context as most important. Carlson is part of the third, which seeks to maintain the integrity of the poem’s sounds.
French has particular sounds that permeate the language, says Carlson, and she focused on recreating the assonance, or repetition of similar vowels in stressed syllables, in her translations. If this meant choosing a word that didn’t have the exact meaning in English, but had the correct sound, Carlson made the sacrifice.


Posted in Poetry News on Wednesday, August 25th, 2010 by Harriet Staff.