The most exciting item to report from the 2014 American
Literary Translators Association conference is that a translation from the
Vvedensky’s An Invitation for Me to
Think, translated by Eugene
Ostashevsky and Matvei
Yankelevich, and published by New York Review Books—won the National Translation Award (NTA).
Yankelevich accepted the award, saying he and Ostashevsky were “grateful on our
authors’ behalf.” Yankelevich read several poems from the book as well as a
statement from Ostashevsky, who selected poems for the collection and wrote its
introduction but couldn’t come to Milwaukee. NYRB sent me a copy of An Invitation for Me to Think when the
book was released last year, I’ve
heard Yankelevich read from it twice now, and I’ve picked up the book several
times to read poems, Ostashevsky’s introduction, and even the notes in the back.
But I seem to lack the vocabulary to write about my thoughts and/or feelings
about the poems—not surprising, perhaps, since the topics of бессмыслица
(meaninglessness/absurdity/nonsense to borrow from Ostashevsky’s introduction)
and “How do you write in a language that is false?” came up in Yankelevich and
Ostashevsky’s comments at ALTA—so will simply recommend them (the poems, that
is, not my thoughts and/or feelings) and, of course, this compactly complete
book, by saying that these translations are starkly and strangely beautiful and
Hydrangea,” which Yankelevich translated, particularly gets me. The Lucien
Stryk Prize, which recognizes translations of Asian poetry or Zen Buddhism into
English, went to Jonathan Chaves for Every Rock a Universe—The Yellow
Mountains and Chinese Travel Writing, (Floating
World Editions, 2013), which features works by Wang Hongdu.
|The Annunciation, c. 1490-95|
Sandro Botticelli (with assistance?)
P.P.S. I spent this afternoon at my local library for a screening of the documentary Russia’s Open Book: Writing in the Age of Putin, with the film’s co-directors, Sarah Wallis and Paul Mitchell. You can watch it, too, on YouTube. Even if you won’t be able to ask the directors questions, you’ll still get Stephen Fry’s readings of excerpts from several novels—set to wonderful animated segments—as well as interviews with writers including Zakhar Prilepin and Lyudmila Ulitskaya. The very last minute or two, with Vladimir Sorokin, jolted me yet again, even on my third or fourth viewing.
Other pieces about the conference:
Tanya Paperny about Politics and Transaltion, on Words Without Borders
Susan Bernofsky/Translationista on What I Learned at ALTA 2014