Translation

Occasionally, really not very often, a translation makes something like a jagged hole in the even surface of literary reception, out of which emerge half-familiar figures, dazzling in their new accessibility. Most translations fail at some point because of the twin principles of fidelity and compromise; too often, especially if they are translations of poems, they are not enough like original writing to carry the conviction they need to embody if they are to come anywhere near the force of the work itself. You can’t just carry over the words of a poem into a different language, across that space Anne Carson describes as ‘like no other’, nor can you just re-create the thinking or the experience in the poem. Both Proust and Valéry described writing itself as an act of translation: translation, equally, is an act of writing, and at its best can make the same kind of impression.

— Ian Patterson

Grounding

Language is not an abstract construction of the learned, or of dictionary-makers, but is something arising out of the work, needs, ties, joys, affections, tastes, of long generations of humanity, and has its bases broad and low, close to the ground.

— Walt Whitman

Existing

"There is a Haitian saying that might upset the aesthetic sensibilities of some women. ‘Nou lèd, nou la,’ it says. ‘We are ugly, but we are here.’ Like the modesty that is common in rural Haitian culture, this saying makes a deeper claim for poor Haitian women than maintaining beauty, be it skin-deep or otherwise. For women like my grandmother, what is worth celebrating is the fact that we are here, that against all odds, we exist."


Edwidge Danticat, “We Are Ugly, but We Are Here,” Women Writing Resistance: Essays on Latin America and the Caribbean