"Brain, shake out thy water, dog-like." -- Ron Padgett

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Class 8: Radical Translations and Variation

Throughout the ages, men have attempted to foretell the future by casting stones, or coins, or dice, or sticks. By observing the effects of decisions made by an extra human agency, that force which determined the fall of the dice, chance, fate, karma, the Tao, it was felt that the workings of the universe itself could be observed. The invisible could be inferred by its effects upon the visible, a feather launched into the wind, a stick cast into a river. Although the results of these fortune-telling experiments can be fascinating and even educational, especially when applied to the arts, their true importance lies in the attempt by the experimenter to understand the universe, its purpose and his own relation to it.
—Blaine Reininger: lecture to the Futureplaces Festival, Portugal October 2010

“Any English professor will tell you the distinguishing feature between poetry and prose is a constraint, a self-imposed rule, whether it be a rhyme scheme or a prescribed number of lines.”
University Affairs, Dec 2013.

Here's a page with all the links to interesting online text transmogrifies, generators, morphemes, and more.


1. Erasure

Jen Bervin: Nets (erasures from Shakespeare's Sonnets)

Jordan Abel
Jordan Abel's erasures of Western Anthropologist's take on Indigenous work.

Jordan Abel's Injun. Erasure and reassembly 

NourbeSe Philip: Zong!https://bagelabyss.files.wordpress.com/2012/02/zong1.pdf

Mary Ruefle: Melody, the Story of a Child 

Tom Phillips: A Humument  

Gregory Betts: The Others Raisd in Me (an entire book based on one Shakespeare Sonnet)

See  http://thedeletionist.com/

Article on the "boom in erasure poetry in the Trump era. https://newrepublic.com/article/145396/trump-era-boom-erasure-poetry

2. S+7 or N+7 translations: change all the nouns or verbs or both of a given text.
an online tool is here.

Hamlet: every consonant replaced by an H

Starlings Are Not Wanted: Put Them Out

he was my nosebag, my sou'wester, my eater and whacking
my workout weevil and my sunny rest-room
my no-one, my midwife, my tack, my songbird

he was my nostrum, my light to land on, my rat jelly and wheel
my weird worm and my Sunday result
my unexpormidable caribou, my talc, my sorceress

he was my elegy, my short haul, my ecclesiastic and wheelbarrow
my worrying weirdo and my sundial bloom
my calm honey, my midpoint, my talk, my Bloor

he was my oak hunch, my spade, my ecologist and wheelwright
my wound welt and my someday retard
my window and stone, my militia, my tick, my soufflé

I was wrong
I was wrong
I was wrong

Based on Auden's Stop the Clocks...:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

3. Homophonic translations:  translations through ‘sound’ not meaning.

A schoolboy example from Latin to English:

Caesar adsum jam forte.       Caesar had some jam for tea.
Brutus aderat.                       Brutus 'ad a rat.
Caesar sic in omnibus.         Caesar sick in omnibus.
Brutus sic enat.                     Brutus sick in 'at.

4. Antonymic (write the ‘opposite of each line’)
What is the opposite of potato?

Example: based on Old Lang Syne: (one side antonymic, first two stanzas of other side, homophonic.

Old Lab Signtranny (homophonic translation)

shtetled, a quaint aunt’s beef forked hot
and naïve fever tomb-mined
shit, hold our queen tense beefier caught
handhold long sign
for owled long sighs mightier
Thorold lanks I’m
wheel talk a couple kind less yet
furrowed links nine

Cutting up, gender switching, etc.

6. Mesostic Generator. Mesostics were used by John Cage. He would use as the spinal text (the text running down the middle of the poem) a name of a particular person (usually a writer) and then sample from their text or a related text to generate mesostic poems. The link is to an automatic generator. You give it a 'spine' text and feed in some source text, and voila!, you have a poem. You can take the poem 'as is' or revise it.


a. Take source text. Perform an erasure, either mining it for words, or redacting or covering over the text on the source page.

b. Perform a homophonic translation of a source text in a different language (see some below)

c. Translate a poem into its opposite.

d. Substitute using word list.

e. Use either the N+7 Generator, the Mesostic Generator, or the Cut-up Machine to create an alternate version of a text. Revise to make it maximally effective. (If you have no access to a computer, you can take a word list—or the word list in the dictionary of your own head—and substitute words in the poem.

f.  Perform one of the above by setting it for multiple voices. Divide lines for performance in duos, trios, etc.



Sheeps Vigil by a Fervent Person
(a transelation by Eirin Moure)


I'm a shepherd
My sheep are my thoughts,
And my thoughts are all sensations.
I think with my eyes and ears
And with my hands and feet
And with my nose and mouth.

To think of a flower is to see it and smell it.
And to eat a fruit is to taste its meaning.
- Caeiro


In the new poem, Moure's sheep are stray cats:

I've got an entire flock of cats out my door now.
The flock is my thoughts
And my thoughts, all of them, are sensations.
I think with my eyes, with my ears too,
And with my hands and feet
And with my mouth and nose.
To think of a flower is to see it and smell it.
There might never be another day like this one.
I eat fruit with respect; it teaches meaning.
- Moure


My glance is as clear as a sunflower
I usually take to the roads
Looking to my right and to my left,
And now and then looking behind me . . .
And what I see each moment
Is something I've never seen before
And I know very well how to give myself up to it . . .
I know how to feel the same essential wonder
That an infant feels on being born
Supposing he could know he was being born . . .
I feel that I am being born each moment
Into the eternal newness of the world . . .
- Caeiro


My sight's sharp as a sunflower.
I walk up Winnett to Vaughan Road all the time
Looking left and right
And sometimes looking over my shoulder . . .
And what I see every moment
Is what no one's seen before me,
And, as such, I just let myself go . . .
I feel like a child in a T-shirt
Amazed by just being born
and realizing "hey, I'm born" . . .
I feel myself born at every moment
Into the World's eternity of the New
- Moure


Sein Blick ist vom Vorübergehen der Stäbe
so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
sich lautlos auf -. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
geht durch der Glieder angespannter Stille -
und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.

Dödssynder åtrår ni mig ännu?
Vrede vill du blomma i mig?
Vill du driva blodet till mina kinder
och få mitt hjärta att accelerera.
Avundets korta sting,
vill du träffa mig,
låta mig fåfängt få rasa
efter ett annat liv.
Jag vill känna högmodet och gå
med högmodets vadderade ncacke,
jag vill känna den beska älskogens söta sting i min kropp,
och vila en stund på smickrarnas ockersålda mattor.
Jag vill känna hur slugheten får min hjärna att arbeta
och hur omåttligheten griper tag i mig i ett vällustigt begär.
Dödssynder åtrår ni mig?
Kan ni ännu verka i mig?

Mapuputing kamay, malasutla’t lambot,
kung hinahawi mo itong aking buhok,
ang lahat ng aking dalita sa loob
ay nalilimot ko nang lubos na lubos.

At parang bulaklak na nangakabuka
ang iyong daliring talulot ng ganda,
kung nasasalat ko, O butihing sinta,
parang ang bulakiak kahalikan ko na.

Kamay na mabait, may bulak sa lambot,
may puyo sa gitna paglikom sa loob;
magagandang kamay na parang may gamot,
isang daang sugat nabura sa haplos.

No comments:

Post a Comment