NaPoWriMo 2020: Poetry from the trenches, Day 21

Photo by Wendy Scofield via Unsplash

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Our daily prompt asks us to “make use of today’s resource. Find a poem in a language that you don’t know, and perform a “homophonic translation” on it. What does that mean? Well, it means to try to translate the poem simply based on how it sounds. You may not wind up with a credible poem at the end, but this can be a fun way to step outside of your own mind for a bit, and develop a poem that speaks in a distinctive voice. ” ~ NaPoWriMo, Day 21

This prompt is an old friend of mine. My advisor in graduate school introduced it to our class and I used it with my students for many years after. I find that it frees me of logic and grammar constraints. It also manages to shut up the judges sitting on my shoulders, who usually roll their eyes at every word I write down. I worked on a homophonic translation from Irish today and will paste it below, followed by the original poem by Doireann Ní Ghríofa and its proper English translation.

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Poetry from the trenches, Day 21

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VOICE

No shutting
.                          of vocal cords,
of shrieking telephones, will undo absence.
I resign myself to red eyes,
        to thoughts on a loom
that focus my gaze on random things.
Can’t hide from it, you’re not. Again, the line lags
        between us and sleep severs
this timid fever
.                          as stupor
        arises
.                         
is
       
already here.

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GLAOCH

Ní cheanglaíonn
.                          aon chorda caol,
aon sreang theileafóin sinn níos mó.
I réimse na ríomhairí,
        ní thig liom
do ghuth a bhrú níos gaire do mo chluas.
Ní chloisim tú ag análú. Anois, ’sé an líne lag seo
        an t-aon cheangal amháin atá eadrainn
agus titimid
.                         
as a chéile
        arís
.                         
is
       
arís eile.

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CALL

No slender thread,
.                                        no telephone cord
binds us anymore.
Now that our computers call each other,
.                          I can’t
press your voice to my ear.
No longer can I hear you breathe. Now, we are bound only
by a weak connection
and we break                up
.              and break up
.                          and break up.

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7 thoughts on “NaPoWriMo 2020: Poetry from the trenches, Day 21

Add yours

  1. It’s really amazing how you sensed the voice of this poem, the pain of absence. “No shutting/of shrieking telephones, will undo absence.” Truly spectacular, Romana! Love you surioara ❤️🐝🙏

    Liked by 1 person

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