editor’s note 2017

editor’s note

Dear readers,

Translation involves finding chaos within chaos. Multitudes of letters pile up line after line, hoping to mean something. We designate squiggles to signify sound, which then string together to form words and then phrases and then poetry. Those of us who translate take one set of squiggles and turn it into another. We translate the squiggles themselves, but our efforts lie in trying to preserve the meaning behind them.

Each of the twenty translations in this magazine was wrought out of its original language and crafted into something meaningful in English. Perhaps they are meaningful in ways different from their original counterparts, but each one has moved me in a way that I can only hope to share with you. I hope you feel the helpless loss of Nazim Hikmet’s “STORY OF A SEPARATION” and the honey-laced tenderness of Dora Gabe’s “Silence.” I hope that Mahmoud Darwish’s “Identity Card” will remind you of all those who continue to be persecuted in our world.

Deliberately or not, meaning is constantly evading us as we chase after it. It’s not always visible, but it is there. Just because I can’t understand the first set of squiggles doesn’t mean it’s any less valid than the second. Just because I don’t understand doesn’t make it wrong.

I hope you find meaning in our magazine. This issue of DoubleSpeak attempts to bring together poets from every corner of the world and translators from beyond the scope of Penn. These translations are meant to transport you to another place. They are meant to be savored, devoured, digested. I am reminded of our senior editor and my dear friend Michaela Kotziers’ translations of “The Ruin” from Old English, as her speaker holds an ancient city in memory:

my mouth fills with the earth of that place, where
wine-flushed skin and floods that gleamed, where
those twin pearls might be slipped beneath
stony shadows shading over hot streams.

I hope these translations fill your mouths with earth. I hope they fulfill you and privde moments of relief from the chaos.

Shailly Pandey