NaPoWriMo 2020: Poetry from the trenches, Day 21

Photo by Wendy Scofield via Unsplash


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.


Poetry from the trenches, Day 21



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
already here.



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 eile.



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.


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

Leave a Reply to clayandbranches Cancel reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: