Archive for September, 2016

Let’s say the lyric poet, among many definitions, is also a kind of translator, at least that she faces a similar challenge: the task of rendering in one tongue some experience beforehand first articulated, first heard, in another. But where the translator pivots between at least two culturally recognized languages, the lyric poet moves no less complexly between, say, interior and exterior idioms, between the image and the imagination, or between the just-at-first private articulations of her intellectual and emotional self, for which no perfect language exists, and into this thing called “English,” called “grammar,” or a “poem.” Who knows? Though we do know that any such crossings as I’ve described must probably reveal, unless we labor not to see it, the gaps between, the imprecisions, the failures and silences, and thus also makes apparent the very real difficulty involved in such a project. The trick, though, is to make that difficulty sing. I’d say Camille Rankine, in Incorrect Merciful Impulses, her debut collection, sings the point succinctly and, for that, most profoundly when she writes: “I am trying to tell you / something but my mouth / won’t move” (from “On the Motion of Animals”). (more…)

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