L’americà D. Sam Abrams és professor de literatura a la UOC, poeta, crític literari, i traductor. Ha traduït 20 llibres de poesia catalana moderna a l’anglès. Adjuntem un petit fragment d’una entrevista publicada al Barcelona INK, revista publicada aquí a Catalunya amb històries curtes, poesies, i pensaments, tots relacionat amb Barcelona.
We include an extract from a fascinating interview with D. Sam Abrams, professor at the Open University of Catalonia, literary critic, poet and translator. The full interview was published in issue no.2 of Barcelona INK, a relatively new magazine featuring English writing on, about, or from Barcelona.
Question: Just how difficult is it to translate poetry?
Abrams: Translating poetry is a wonderful experience. There’s no experience that compares to it in terms of using your reading skills. It’s when you translate that you realize just how little attention we actually pay to those little black marks on the page. All of a sudden you are in the driving seat and you have to say whatever it is the person you are translating is trying to say. You are responsible for that. You have to understand every inch of what he says. So first of all, it’s a very intense reading experience.
Second, it’s a very intense cultural and linguistic experience. Because you have to understand what that person is saying and you have to know the language very very well. I really don’t believe this distance between people saying “well, I really didn’t know that much English when I translated Walt Whitman into Hebrew ... .” If your personality as a translator is that important, then, yes, but if you are actually trying to translate, transfer a poet from one language to another, you need to be standing behind the poet to grasp the poet.
In that place it’s intense working within your own language. You learn a lot about your craft as a poet.