editor’s note 2018

editor’s note

Dear readers,

This is my final issue as editor-in-chief. The translations we have chosen for you here are ones that, as I read, I realized I needed. Education has been one of the only constants in my life, and the world outside of this cocoon is tumultuous and uncontrolled. Leaving it behind seemed foolhardy. Then, I read translations like “In the Pyre of War.” The original poet Hannah Szenes was only twenty-three when she was executed. She spoke of searching for someone, “an infinite spark,” in the middle of bloodshed and violence. I read “Motherland,” in which Shu Ting proclaimed complicated devotion to the same country that banished her from the city where she was raised. I cherished poems from Requiem, inhaling Anna Akhmatova’s images of faces, docile lips, hiding fear. I found solace in these and so many other translations in this issue. I found the drive to face my seemingly inconsequential nightmares. But, we can only experience life from our own point of view. I am exceedingly lucky not to have faced what Shu Ting and Hannah Szenes and Anna Akhmatova faced. But luck and luxury are tricky. Suffering is at once relative and universal, and it is that universality that we are all drawn to.

As I began to think about what I would say to our readers in my final letter, I couldn’t help but reflect on what is important to me. Our world is trembling. People are losing their rights, their dignity, their lives simply for daring to exist. Yet in the same moment, there are children standing up to adults, demanding that their right to an education not be bound to the risk of death. Women — and those excluded by the binary, and men — are shouting their stories of violation, learning how to collectively insist that time is up. The balance of the world seems about to tip, and we are lucky to witness it, be a part of it.

Being editor-in-chief for DoubleSpeak has been an honor. I have worked with the most incredible people to put out three issues of this magazine. Each of them, just by existing, taught me so much. They all have roots in such different parts of the world: China, Texas, Korea, Israel, India, Philadelphia, Germany. Each of them came together to realize the vision we’ve imagined — and continue to imagine — together. They put in days, evenings, dinners and coffees, and long nights of work to bring these translations to your screens, your pages. After spending many hours with this extraordinary staff and reading hundreds of beautiful translations, I have come to one conclusion: what we share, ultimately, is our vulnerability. Poets, and their translators, ache to make vulnerability tangible. Translation has shown me that suffering is inevitable and humanity is boundless.

I will leave you with the words of my dear friend and our senior editor Yehudith Dashevsky, who masterfully brought Akhmatova’s Requiem from Russian into English:

I pray not for myself alone
but everyone who stood with me;
in savage cold, in the heat of July
beside a wall, brick-red and blind.

Shailly Pandey