The Great Poetry Translation Project

My friend Tamara Don is living in Paris, where she is working as, among other things, a translator. And on my recent visit to the City of Light, she and I discussed the idea of translating some of my poems from English into French. Needless to say, I was excited by this prospect and thus we agreed to begin working on series of such translations together.

It is coming along nicely and I find the results very interesting … I’d never really thought about how hard translating poetry might be, the need to balance the correct intended nuance with the nuance of another language, plus trying to convey the rhythm of the sentences etcetera.

Anyway, as I said, it is coming along, and Tamara is doing a great job. So great in fact, there are plans to translate some of my poems into a third language. I shall leave that undisclosed for now, but for the moment, here are a couple of the initial translations.

First in English

Hall Street                                                    by Adam Gibson ©
Killing time on Hall Street
the lost heart of Bondi
the commercial strip of
things getting done
and backpackers
expert on everything
after just one week
in town
(of course)

And then in French

Hall Street                                                    by Adam Gibson ©

Tuer le temps à Hall Street
le centre oublié de Bondi
la zone commerciale où
les tâches sont accomplies
et les routards
sont experts en toutes choses
après une petite semaine
en ville
(bien sûr).

And another one…

Beware                                                    by Adam Gibson ©

beware of cars with hats behind the back seat
beware of girls with hip-length hair
beware of days with still still mornings
beware of funk bands
beware of those who are silent on politics
beware of journalists
beware of ‘team players’
beware of the westerly
beware of nylon shower curtains that stick to your shins
beware of those who don’t leave messages on answering machines
beware of moths
beware of “Ciao”
beware of endings
beware of full stops (.)

And then in French…

Prenez garde                                                    by Adam Gibson ©

gare aux voitures qui cachent des chapeaux à l’arrière
gare aux filles dont les cheveux tombent jusqu’à la taille
gare aux journées qui commencent par des matinées trop tranquilles
gare aux groupes de funk
gare aux politiquement silencieux
gare aux journalistes
gare à ceux qui ont ‘l’esprit d’équipe’
gare aux vents de l’ouest
gare aux rideaux de douche en nylon qui collent aux jambes
gare à ceux qui ne laissent jamais de messages sur les répondeurs
gare aux mites
gare aux « Ciao »
gare aux fins
gare aux points (.)


That is it for now, but stay tuned for more updates soon.

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