Tin Fish Net 3

The translation of poetry from one to another language is at once necessary (especially in an era of political and military misunderstanding) and politically and culturally fraught (when poets from Hawaiʻi and Guam, to name only two places, work to recover languages and cultures nearly destroyed by empire). With these opportunities and potential crises in mind, Professors S. Shankar, Cristina Bacchilega and Susan M. Schultz, organized this past January's Translation Symposium at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa.

Among the speakers then were some writers you find here now: Professors John Zuern, Reina Whaitiri, Joel Cohn of UHM. To this mix of scholars and translators we've added Linh Dinh, Craig Perez and Goro Takano, all of them adept in more than one language, all attuned to the sometimes deadly serious, sometimes comedic difficulties of translation.

This feature begins with questions of fidelity: how close should the poet remain to his or her source text? What does it matter? Other contributors ask more technical questions, how to translate names, what to make of computer-generated translations, how to translate treaties between states and peoples of unequal power, how to read translations from the Japanese? The feature concludes with acts of practice, namely Craig Perez's provocative translations of the Bible from Chamorro back into English, with a keen eye to recognizing colonial transgressions on language.