Testing the waters with poetry translation
Posted on November 30, 2014, by joom, in: turkish, poetry, translation

I guess I’ll start with an unnecessary rationale.

I haven’t been able to write a piece of my own for some time. I used to be better at writing, but I guess I’m just not that creative when it comes to writing. After starting to live in an English speaking environment, I also noticed that I was much less expressive in my daily life. I was just not witty anymore. Culturally, I didn’t have much in common with the people around me, so I could hardly make any political or cultural joke references.

In the middle of my second year in the US, I can say I have made a lot of progress about this problem. But when I couldn’t say this, I needed a way to convey who I am, and I have always loved Turkish music and poetry, so why not try one of those? Singing is also fun, but after meeting amazingly talented people, I don’t think I should try that. Translation, on the other hand, is something I think I do okay.

Of course, poetry translation has a lot of issues. One has to work on how to keep the poet’s tone, rhythm and structure. One can try to recreate the rhythm in the target language, but I usually feel like I have to give up too much meaning when I do that. I prefer to preserve the word choices of the poet, even though they can become very tricky sometimes. Also, sometimes the sentence just grammatically doesn’t make sense. Even in that case, I translated it into a grammatically correct English sentence. This is a loss of meaning and I can certainly work more on trying to keep the intended ambiguity in the target language. I’m an amateur, after all. So, I know that translated poems lose some meaning, there’s not much I can do about that, other than trying to keep as much meaning as possible. If the objective is to reflect the poet’s tone, there’s no way for me to succeed.

The List

After some long blabbering, here are my translations:

I’ll edit this list if I ever translate more poems.

Enjoy, and please let me know what you think about them. I’m open to any kind of suggestions. (word choice, grammar, punctuation, etc.)