this weekend was very much filled with happy news. just found out that a poem (from my new manuscript) was accepted at PARTHENON WEST REVIEW and a new review at THE COLORADO REVIEW. i’ll tell you more about the review later.
for now, wanted to point to this column by Joseph Bednarik titled “The Law of Diminishing Readership” (linked to from ron silliman). yes, that’s the same Bednarik that wrote the initial letter to the editor describing Marilyn Chin’s translation as “noodling around in the margins of someone else’s book.”
in his column, he talks about how “we’re faced with a bloated ‘writership’ vying for the attention of an anemic readership.” one wonders if Bednarik’s letter about Chin was partially fueled by an anxiety that Chin might, in the words of Mitsuye Yamada, “come out with a book that is better than theirs,” thus competing with John Balaban’s Copper Canyon book Spring Essence for the “attention of an anemic readership.” oh, did i mention that Bednarik is Copper Canyon’s Marketing Director?
two posts down, bill knott makes a similar point by pointing out the marketing strategies of works in translation (that the new one is always better, more nuanced and concise, etc). he asks: “Copper Canyon wants to claim priority for Balaban’s book so they can sell more copies of it, no?”
i def agree with knott and would add (after reading Bednarik’s column) that they want to be the sole proprietor of Ho Xuan Huong‘s work into english. they want their translation to be definitive.
with that said, we must also deal with the racialized and racist / sexualized and sexist elements of the exchange. this is not simply about selling books and claiming authority.
we must also ask: how has the fear of an expanding ‘translatorship’ (especially that of a non-white ‘translatorship’) inflected this exchange?
more soon, and your comments are most welcome 😉