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  • Seminar
  • Online: Zoom
  • Adult (18+)

Multi-lingual Poetry and Translation

Apply for Scholarship
  • $85.00 Non-Member
  • $75.00 Member

Class Description

We tend to think that the best translations are the translations that make you forget that you're reading a translation, that makes you feel, for example, that a Rilke poem was composed in English, rather than German.

Walter Benjamin, however, says that the task of the translator is the “expansion of languages,” the demolishing of the “decayed barriers of [the translator’s] own language.” Instead of transforming Rilke's German into English, Benjamin would have us transform English into German, stretching the limits of English syntax and English word in order to create something truly strange and new.

In this class, we will attempt to take Benjamin at his word. In this three-hour seminar, we will examine multiple translations of a single poem. Then, we'll work through a series of writing exercises, inspired by Benjaminian translation, to create patterns of sound and thought that are not possible in "good" English and "good" translation.

Bi-/multilingualism is useful for this class, but not compulsory--even if you only speak English, you'll still be able to engage fruitfully with this class! Likewise, this class will be especially useful if you're an immigrant, but being an immigrant is not a requirement. Poets--and translators!--of all levels welcome.

Scholarships Format/Location

Thanks to the excellent literary citizenship of our donors, scholarships are available for all GrubStreet classes. To apply, click the gray "APPLY FOR SCHOLARSHIP" button. In order to be considered for a scholarship, you must complete your application at least one week before the start date of a class. Please await our scholarship committee's decision before registering for the class. We cannot hold spots in classes, so the sooner you apply, the better. Scholarships cannot be applied retroactively.

For more detailed information about GrubStreet scholarships, including how to contribute to scholarship funds for other students, click here.

This class will take place using Zoom videoconferencing. Please visit the Resources tab to access the video-conference link.

Zoom Participation:

Students are not required to turn their camera on, but are encouraged to participate any way they feel comfortable through functions such as the live chat, emoji reactions, and unmuting the microphone. Learn more about using Zoom here.

Zoom Accessibility:

We ask that instructors enable closed captioning and send a transcript of the session after class. You can also enable closed captioning at any time during the meeting. If your instructor forgets to send the transcript, just send ’em an email!