Wednesday, February 22, 2006

The Daily Poetry Show: Our Trespasses

The Dissident Student by Fawzi Karim, Translated by Saadi Simawe and Melissa Brown
Translations are tricky things to assess since one never knows where the poet ends and the translator(s) begins. But the poem that stands before me goes awry somewhere in the first stanza. I like the seasons and the fountains well enough, but “Dictating into my tired mouth” is something that completely loses me. The best thing in the second stanza is the “blue diamond” and that doesn’t glitter for long. And I just think the rest is rather pedestrian, without any attempt to turn its vernacular into something plain but uncommon. [That was my initial 1 1/2 snap judgement. But on re-reading, the ending has broken through this dense skull of mine. And suddenly I see this with a different more open sight. It is more uncommon than I originally thought.]


Dear Jim by Matthew Langley
Look, I just don’t know. I thought this began with some promise in a nebulous way. But it disappeared in the pond. There’s no doubt that the language is evocative, but is the sin of Sinchon really earned?


If You Cannot Be True by Hayden Draper
The middle section moves with dark grace. Otherwise, there’s nothing wrong, but, for me, there’s something missing.

5 comments:

JWG said...

fyi
sinchon is a place in seoul korea

Greg said...

JWG
I understand Sinchon is a place in S. Korea. More importantly than that mere geographical fact though, it's where a massacre took place in the early 50s. That's the sin of which I speak. And of which I think this poem refers to, but too cavalierly in my opinion.

JWG said...

cool greg. You were picking up on more than i thought. By the way, thanks for looking at all this work.

JWG said...

sorry for two in a row. I didnt remember a massacre in Shinchon (sinchon), knew of a few, one in South Korea and one in the North (sure there are more). are you thinking of sinchun? the names are all so close. Dont know if it makes a difference on the reading of the poem though. To me when the poem says "I’m going back to Sinchon" it reminds more of an actual place the poet is returning to, like New York, and not to a massacre in the past

JWG said...

greg
Just wanted to let you know that we are talking over at can of corn. welcome to come over and chat