Two Words: The Blog of the Center for the Art of Translation

June 2013 TWO LINES Online

Posted on June 11, 2013, 11:59:00 AM by Scott Esposito

We have just published the June 2013 edition of TWO LINES Online, with two heavy hitters of world literature: the Argentine novelist Juan José Saer and the Japanese poet Kazuko Shiraishi.

First up, we offer an excerpt from the forthcoming novel La Grande, to be published by Open Letter Books in Steve Dolph's excellent translation. La Grande was Saer's final book, which he had almost completed at the time of his death in 2005. It delves, in Saer's characteristic manner, into the Argentine Dirty War and military junta:

Now, the operatives, as they were called, were much more discreet. One morning, someone had watched from their balcony as they kidnapped a young man who was walking calmly down the sidewalk, not far from the center: a car had pulled up to the curb with the engine still running and three hooded men jumped out onto the sidewalk, pushing and hitting him, and shoved him into back seat, on the floor; two got in the back with him and the third got in the front, next to the driver. The car accelerated, pulled away quickly, and after few meters turned at the first corner and disappeared forever. Because there was no one in the street, the witness thinks that if he hadn’t been on his balcony, no one would have seen what had happened. Of course this witness wouldn’t be crazy enough to report it to the police: just as the kidnapped boy (who was a more or less familiar face in the neighborhood) was never heard from again, no one would ever again see the witness were he to report the kidnapping.

For fans of Saer, keep an eye out. We will be publishing more of him (from a different book) in the next volume of TWO LINES, due out thie fall.

For our second piece this month, we offer "A Requiem for the Earth," a poem from the internationally acclaimed Japanese poet Kazuko Shiraishi, translated by Yumiko Tsumura. Shiraishi has received just about every Japanese literary prize worth having, and she was also, for a time, recognized as Japan’s leading Beat poet. New Directions has published three of her books, and will be publishing another one in 2014. Here's how it starts:

one who dies does not return to life
so we make a memorial day call to the dead person
Issui Yoshida, Samantha and Teruo's father
all have died
riding on a swan      on a drug      on a glow in the morning sky
each had a different style
but set out on a journey
“write down the memorial day, your own memorial day”
even though you are not yet dead
even though you are still alive

More Praise for Marie NDiaye’s All My Friends

Posted on June 11, 2013, 11:47:00 AM by Scott Esposito

It's been a busy couple of weeks for Two Lines Press author Marie NDiaye. First she was in London to read from her book Three Strong Women at the awards ceremony of the International Booker Prize (see the video below). While Stateside her latest book, our very own All My Friends, has been garnering some rave reviews. Here's Michelle Bailat-Jones at The Rumpus:

Marie NDiaye has a significant publishing history. Her work has also stimulated a good-sized body of critical writing in France. Hers is a unique voice among other contemporary French writers, and her fictional vision both intricate and distinctive. She is an example of exactly the kind of non-Anglophone writer who should have already been translated in full. Hopefully, this new translation will renew interest in her work, prompt further translations and give English readers the chance to experience her entire contribution to world letters.

And here's an excellent discussion of the book at Mookse and Gripes:

All My Friends is a collection of five stories, each featuring characters and situations grotesque and unconventional, yet fully realized. Each is narrated by or closely follows characters fighting — foolishly fighting – their situation in a world that, in more cases than not, despises them.

Indeed, NDiaye is the real deal, and this book is as good as they say it is. Through June 15, you can enter to win a free copy through Goodreads, or just go ahead and buy your own.




High Expectations Help Students Succeed

Posted on June 10, 2013, 04:33:00 PM by Marty Rutherford

This post comes to us from Marty Rutherford, the Research & Curriculum Director for the Center’s Poetry Inside Out program. Here, she talks about how Poetry Inside Out subverts traditional classroom expectations—to the benefit of students.

Nowadays there is a lot of pessimism surrounding our national education system, and it’s often regarded as naïve to think that all students can succeed if they are simply exposed to challenging, engaging material and offered sufficient support. And yet, time and time again, research and experience have shown that a focus on offering students challenging, creative content (regardless of discipline) keeps kids engaged and learning.

For instance, here’s one hopeful recent news story about a school in Roxbury, Massachusetts—the principal there fired his security staff and invested those funds in art teachers. The result? The school atmosphere has improved dramatically, as has student engagement and achievement rates.

But it’s not essential to go to such extremes to transform a school. A recently published book I contributed a chapter to, High-Expectation Curricula: Helping All Students Succeed with Powerful Learning, highlights many successful approaches and programs. My chapter details Poetry Inside Out’s unique literacy curriculum.

The book intends to prove the point that I’ve asserted above: “given the right sort of opportunities, all children will confirm our belief that they are competent thinkers, speakers, readers, and writers. Put another way, under the right circumstances, ordinary people . . . are capable of extraordinary things.”

Last month I was on a panel at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) annual meeting in San Francisco with other representatives from programs included in the book. I talked about what I have learned from Poetry Inside Out students, and the warm response from the audience was very, very encouraging.

One of the best things about being involved with Poetry Inside Out is that it’s given me a context for re-thinking questions about who we are as teachers and learners. We are all very complex individuals comprised of many, many ways of relating to the world around us. When we look at ways of learning—examining talk and text, designing schools and classrooms—it‘s essential that we take into account this complexity—the very essence of who we are and how we operate.

Poetry Inside Out blends the wisdom of students with the building of new knowledge, and in the process provides ample opportunity for all of us involved—adults and children, teachers and students—to learn that meaning is not found in the dictionary but is found in context, as language itself is the vehicle for learning.

Poetry Inside Out is in classrooms in San Diego, New York City, and Boston, as well as the Bay Area, and has reached almost 10,000 kids since 2000. Our hope is to continue to bring inspiration and creativity to students and classrooms around the country.

Want to read more about arts education? Check out the Arts Education Partnership website.