Monday, January 24, 2011

Saint-Denys Garneau book coming in February

I spent much of the weekend working on a new translation of a poem by my man Hector de Saint-Denys Garneau, "Pines against the light," for posting right here. But now I've decided against that. "Pines against the light" will going into the blog, but now in February, along with the other 27 poems in Garneau's first book.

Yes, I am translating the whole of Regards et jeux dans l'espace (1937), the one Garneau book published in his lifetime, by Feb. 1. A few poems are done: "Pines," of course, but also "Bird Cage" and "River of my eyes," both posted here last March. Two others have translations I did as a youth that need some minor revisions. Still, that leaves 23 poems to translate from scratch in just one week.  So I cannot guarantee the finality of these translations. One thing that keeps me going is the knowledge that, due to the blog format, I can revise the poems even after posting them in February. Another is my conviction that these translations fill a void.

Two Canadian poets have published translations of Garneau poems into English: F.R. Scott and John Glassco. As both died in the 1980's, their works will not become public domain for over 20 more years. So while their books are out of print, you will not find many of their translations on the Web, either.

Translations by both Glassco and Scott of six Garneau poems are appended to Thomas D. Ryan's 2003 Concordia U. thesis, The Textual Presence of the Translator. PDF file:  Others have written the odd English version of a Garneau poem, most often "Bird Cage." Benjamin Vogt gives four translations of his own, plus a solid introduction to Garneau's life and work, on his web page herehtttp://  Aside from that, there is no Garneau poetry in English on the Web.

I hope my translations help the poet get the attention and respect in the English-speaking world that he merits.

UPDATE, Feb. 3: Looking and playing in space / Regards et jeux dans l'espace is being blogged here:

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