Thursday, August 8, 2013

Loose Translations

Our Wordsmith Studio friend Khara House has started a new challenge on her website, Our Lost Jungle. The 2013 Our Lost Jungle Poetry Form Challenge is going to make us "go boldly into the next frontier."
This year, Khara has put together forms that call for experimentation and play. The first form is the Loose Translation. The challenge is to find a poem in another language, one which you do not understand, and write a poem from it. How? Use whatever is suggested to you by the letters, words, rhythm, etc.
My parent poem is "Cartao-postal sem folago" by Armando Freitas Filho. Following is my loose translation:
Post Cards and Some Foliage
A natural now cues nothing
Normal parties
Pair of radios and pair of raisins
To do's with words never end
Enter the paradigm
and tacos are passed.
No religions relented.
Petals generally are trimmed.
A beat
Beers are replaced rapidly.
Arrangements raise our life.
A line of tired feet
Paddling in the sea
Mountains all high.
Full house regattas dive and hover.
Equal sadness.
I took the approach of looking at letter combinations and saying the words out loud, obviously Anglicizing the pronunciation. At first, I tried to keep a 1:1 ratio of words. I let that go pretty quickly.
I also decided to leave what I came up with unpolished. I suggest you go to the above link to the challenge post and read the works in the comments. There are some beautiful poems and/or lines.
Without even trying, I ended up using alliteration in the first line. I like to use alliteration so that didn't surprise me.
My favorite line is "to do's with words never end." Isn't that the truth?
My poem mentions food, beverages, music and nature. All things I write about.
At this point,  I would use this form again as a warm-up exercise. I really did have to let go and just write down what came to mind. If I tried to control things, I got no where. I also had a few laughs along the way and that is always a good thing.
I think the form also is a good self-prompt because you may get a line or lines that you save or turn into a finished piece.
Thanks, Khara, for putting together another challenge. I can't wait to see what's on tap for week no. 2.
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  1. That's pretty cool. I tried this exercise, but I couldn't stop translating (or attempting to, anyway). It seems like it would be a great warm up to get the creative juices flowing. I just can't turn off my inner editor! Ugh!

    1. I struggled with it and still have a sense that what I did was wrong because its nothing like the real poem. I did start to let go a little as I worked through it and that's why I plan to continue to work with the form.

  2. Hey Michelle, I liked the line you mentioned and this one: A line of tired feet - Paddling in the sea. I had never done a "loose translation" before. Heck, I'd never even heard of one before : )but I really enjoyed it after I got over the fear of doing it "wrong". I'm looking forward to whatever is next!

  3. Thanks, Debi. I'd never heard of it either. I just know Khara has lots of good things cooked up for us!