Translating Poetry — 2018
12 months, 33 pieces
It was not until January of 2018 that I began translating poetry from my native Hungarian into English, starting with children’s songs that I sang to my kids.
Below are all the translated pieces that I finished this year, arranged by original poet. In the process I developed the following approach to literary translation:
- Above all else, to produce a beautiful standalone composition in the target language;
- To convey the mood, and to do justice to each unique phrase and each distinct thought;
- If the original has a rhyming pattern, or strict syllabic structure, to be faithful to these constraints;
- Regarding meter — the sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables, iambs, dactyls and such — to trust my ears for aesthetics, and not bend over backwards trying to do the impossible, especially if it is to the detriment of principles 1 through 3.
Much thanks to Stephen M. Tomic, whose The Junction became the home of 11 of my 33 translations this year. Further gratitude to DiAmaya, A Maguire, Pat and Tom whose Lit Up graciously hosted another five.
If I had to pick a favorite …
Ágnes Nemes Nagy
The pair of poems below is a collaboration with one of the most popular living children’s author-poets, whom I had the pleasure of meeting earlier in the year.
Both cover photos feature our twins Abi and Áron.
This next one is special as it was the first translation I ever published …
Bródy is a living legend — member of Hungary’s preeminent classic rock band Illés in the 60s and 70s, and lyricist to rock operas and countless other collaborations. He is our Paul McCartney and Tim Rice rolled into one.
At Night — The Junction — Medium
a mini-bio and verse translation by Joe Váradi Among the greatest Hungarian poets despite a tragically short life…
Lajos is a buddy of mine, a poet and rock musician living in England.
See inside for a brief biography of this remarkable young woman.