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Sawako Nakayasu is an artist working with language, performance, and translation—separately and in various combinations. She has lived mostly in the US and Japan, briefly in France and China, and translates from Japanese. Her books include The Ants (Les Figues Press), Texture Notes (Letter Machine Editions), the translation of Tatsumi Hijikata’s Costume en Face: A Primer of Darkness for Young Boys and Girls (UDP), The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa (Canarium Books), and Mouth: Eats Color – Sagawa Chika Translations, Anti-translations, & Originals (Rogue Factorial), a multilingual work of both original and translated poetry. She is co-editor of A Transpacific Poetics (Litmus Press), a gathering of poetry and poetics engaging transpacific imaginaries, as well as of a forthcoming anthology of 20th Century Japanese Poetry, co-edited with Eric Selland (New Directions). She teaches at Brown University.
Mónica de la Torre’s books include Repetition Nineteen (Nightboat) and The Happy End/All Welcome (UDP), as well as Public Domain, Talk Shows, and two books in Spanish, Acúfenos and Sociedad Anónima. She is the translator of Defense of the Idol (UDP) by Chilean modernist Omar Cáceres, and co-editor of Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon Press), and is a member of the editorial board of the Señal series at Ugly Duckling Presse. Born and raised in Mexico City, she has lived in New York City since the 1990s. She is a contributing editor to BOMB Magazine where she previously worked as a Senior Editor, and teaches poetry at Brooklyn College.
Mirene Arsanios is the author of the short story collection, The City Outside the Sentence (Ashkal Alwan). She has contributed essays and short stories to e-flux journal, Vida, The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, and Guernica, among others. Arsanios co-founded the collective 98weeks Research Project in Beirut and is the founding editor of Makhzin, a bilingual English/Arabic magazine for innovative writing. She teaches at Pratt Institute and holds an MFA in Writing from the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College. Arsanios currently lives in New York where she was a 2016 LMCC Workspace fellow, and an ART OMI resident in fall 2017. With Rachel Valinsky, she coordinated the Friday night reading series at the Poetry Project from 2017-19. Her book, The Autobiography of a Language, is forthcoming from Futurepoem.
Translator
Esther Allen co-curated, with Allison Markin Powell, Translating the Future, the 2020 online conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the U.S.'s first international literary translation conference. She teaches at Baruch College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, where she is working on the 2022 relaunch of the Translation Track of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. Her translation of Zama, by Antonio Di Benedetto, won the 2017 National Translation Award. Her essays, interviews and translations have appeared in the New York Review of Books, Words Without Borders, LitHub, The Paris Review, Bomb, Poetryfoundation.org and other publications.
April 12, 2021 | 4:30pm

Translation is a Mode = Translation is an Anti-neocolonial Mode: Readings and Roundtable Discussion

Virtual Event

4:30 pm PT | 5:30 pm MT | 6:30 pm CT | 7:30 pm ET

This event has already taken place.

In Translation is a Mode = Translation is an Anti-neocolonial Mode, Don Mee Choi writes,

Since the end of the Korean War, the US and South Korea have carried out joint military exercises. The names of these joint exercises are worthy of our attention as translators: Counterblow, Strong Shield, Focus Lens, Team Spirit, RSO&I (Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration), Key Resolve, Foal Eagle. These are neocolonial joints, hybrids, spirits—these are “orderwords” to use Deleuze and Guattari’s term. I traverse such order-words and map them, and superimpose another kind of map—the map of my dislocation, including my translations of Kim Hyesoon’s poetry. For me, Benjamin’s “Translation is a mode” must be jointed with “Translation is an anti-neocolonial mode.” I must speak as a twin.

For Deleuze and Guattari “language is a map, not a tracing,” because they say, “language is not content to go from a first party to a second party, from one who has seen to one who has not, but necessarily goes from a second party to a third party, neither of whom has seen.” Translation is a map, a mode that can trigger endless crossings from one party to another, “neither of whom has seen.” So when Benjamin points out that “translation which intends to perform a transmitting function cannot transmit anything but information—hence, something inessential,” I believe, like Deleuze and Guattari, he is also pointing to the mapping aspect of language and translation, beyond the tracing. In a little translation manifesto called Deformation Zone by Joyelle McSweeney and Johannes Göransson, translation is already a mode, a map, a work of art, a radical “regime” that “transforms” and “conforms.” Translation is “both a thing, a substance, a material, and a conveyance, a way that one material is converted to another form.” In the deformation zone, translation is “a wound that makes impossible connections between languages, unsettling stable ideas of language, productive ideas of literature.” I am not content to just go from Korean to English. I am not content to uphold the notion of national literature—the notion that literature outside of the Western canon is always bound to national borders.

What this implies is that the so-called national literature simply needs to cross linguistic and national borders, as if such borders are entirely ahistorical and apolitical. Whenever poet Kim Hyesoon is asked whether her poetry represents her country—a question that is rarely asked of a poet whose work is perceived to be rooted in the Western canon—she never fails to answer that her poetry comes from the Republic of Kim Hyesoon. I want to make impossible connections between the Korean and the English, for they are misaligned by neocolonial war, militarism, and neoliberal economy. The two languages have very little in common linguistically, yet they are of one tongue, almost. Because in a neocolonial zone, as Deleuze and Guattari have already noted, “there is no mother tongue, only a power takeover by a dominant language.”

Mirene Arsanios, Sawako Nakayasu, and Mónica de la Torre will join in a roundtable discussion on Choi’s essay and its relation to their own approaches to expanded translation practice and complex linguistic-cultural identity. The roundtable will be moderated by Esther Allen. Co-presented by Ugly Duckling Presse and CUNY Center for the Humanities.

Register for the event on Eventbrite.

Contact:
Leslie-Ann Woofter
415.512.8812
Sawako Nakayasu is an artist working with language, performance, and translation—separately and in various combinations. She has lived mostly in the US and Japan, briefly in France and China, and translates from Japanese. Her books include The Ants (Les Figues Press), Texture Notes (Letter Machine Editions), the translation of Tatsumi Hijikata’s Costume en Face: A Primer of Darkness for Young Boys and Girls (UDP), The Collected Poems of Chika Sagawa (Canarium Books), and Mouth: Eats Color – Sagawa Chika Translations, Anti-translations, & Originals (Rogue Factorial), a multilingual work of both original and translated poetry. She is co-editor of A Transpacific Poetics (Litmus Press), a gathering of poetry and poetics engaging transpacific imaginaries, as well as of a forthcoming anthology of 20th Century Japanese Poetry, co-edited with Eric Selland (New Directions). She teaches at Brown University.
Mónica de la Torre’s books include Repetition Nineteen (Nightboat) and The Happy End/All Welcome (UDP), as well as Public Domain, Talk Shows, and two books in Spanish, Acúfenos and Sociedad Anónima. She is the translator of Defense of the Idol (UDP) by Chilean modernist Omar Cáceres, and co-editor of Reversible Monuments: Contemporary Mexican Poetry (Copper Canyon Press), and is a member of the editorial board of the Señal series at Ugly Duckling Presse. Born and raised in Mexico City, she has lived in New York City since the 1990s. She is a contributing editor to BOMB Magazine where she previously worked as a Senior Editor, and teaches poetry at Brooklyn College.
Mirene Arsanios is the author of the short story collection, The City Outside the Sentence (Ashkal Alwan). She has contributed essays and short stories to e-flux journal, Vida, The Brooklyn Rail, The Rumpus, and Guernica, among others. Arsanios co-founded the collective 98weeks Research Project in Beirut and is the founding editor of Makhzin, a bilingual English/Arabic magazine for innovative writing. She teaches at Pratt Institute and holds an MFA in Writing from the Milton Avery Graduate School for the Arts at Bard College. Arsanios currently lives in New York where she was a 2016 LMCC Workspace fellow, and an ART OMI resident in fall 2017. With Rachel Valinsky, she coordinated the Friday night reading series at the Poetry Project from 2017-19. Her book, The Autobiography of a Language, is forthcoming from Futurepoem.
Translator
Esther Allen co-curated, with Allison Markin Powell, Translating the Future, the 2020 online conference commemorating the 50th anniversary of the U.S.'s first international literary translation conference. She teaches at Baruch College and the City University of New York Graduate Center, where she is working on the 2022 relaunch of the Translation Track of the Master of Arts in Liberal Studies. Her translation of Zama, by Antonio Di Benedetto, won the 2017 National Translation Award. Her essays, interviews and translations have appeared in the New York Review of Books, Words Without Borders, LitHub, The Paris Review, Bomb, Poetryfoundation.org and other publications.