[Radical Directions in Literary Translations]

[RDLT] is the general umbrella terms of the movement/school of thought and practice dedicated to uncovering, discovering, regenerating, recreating literary translation in rigorous and novel ways. In ways that bring insight into the very nature of language, of literature, of trans-linguistic recreation and the many other thematics that have to do with literary translation.

It includes:





More on these below:


The Groundwork for an Unfolding Translatory Organon includes texts from a variety of poets and writers that have been read, published and disseminated in various places and spaces. A working title for the various translations that I undertake from time to time. These can be of living or no longer living authors, found texts, texts of various genres and different lengths, and primarily of literary works. The directions are mostly into English but also into French. The GUTO is itself, as the name makes clear, an unfolding space of practice and theory, a creative/critical engagement with the past, present and, inevitably, the future of literary translation. (See more one this site)



Translate This! is an ongoing, occasional series that brings problematics related to literary and poetic translation to the fore. Featuring adventurous and avant-garde translators, the gatherings include readings, analyses, discussion and debate in open, inclusive, rigorous and challenging spirit.

The main focus of  Translate This! series is to provide a space for reflection and action on the challenges and possibilities of poetic translation, as well as the inescapable political and social dimension of translatory practice as a whole. Innovative gestures at micro and macro levels are infused with the constant reflection on the impossibility-yet-necessity of poetic translation.

The first Translate This! Reading and panel discussion in spring 2016 with the participation of poets Per Bergström, Ida Börjel, Jennifer Hayashida, Jenny Tunedal, and Uljana Wolf.



Originally a performative lecture and gallery experience at the Queens Museum of Art in conjunction with the exhibition “Tarjamah”, “I & Translation” has become the permanent title for ongoing reflection, more intimate and personal writings and self-reflection on translation with my ‘subjectivites’ at play. An ongoing theory in essence.

The original presentation took up several threads of major importance and impact and connected them to artworks in the ‘Tarjama’ exhibition.

The threads were inspired by my earlier reflection on translation and further nourished there. In future forms, various reflections from I & Translation could be presented at conferences, or find their places in publications, or happily remain fragments in private journals! They do inevitably connect to other threads and spaces for theory/practice of translation articulated within this site.


And from the upcoming The Polyglossophilia Bacchanale (UpSet Press, 2024), the theoretical fragments that constantly guide me…

What then is there to do, plurilingual angels refusing the refusal of translation—and yet knowing full well the rather complete impossibilities?! What is there to do concretely! Arghhhh, again, shall we shout? Like, a grand aaahhhrrrrrrghhhhhhhhhh? Again?

How forgeth we forth—given our belief in the Bacchanale and our plurilingual construction? What doth we do with texts we admire or find intriguing or simply want to transcreate? Do we really think of it as a modest vocational endeavor and worry not?
Monotonous though, and banal a bit, no? To transfer only the semantic dimensions? Are there no other options? There are! There are. O Polyglossophilia Bacchanale, O Bacchanale, there are things I can do. And I can even do a little taxonomy of such possible actions. A taxonomy of alternative actions–the Translation Alternatives!

In the Bacchanale yes in the Bacchanale, I will…
Do nothing—or rather, not translate! Say that literary translation is impossible, that the translation of the literary work is impossible, and refuse to participate. Refuse to participate! Burn and destroy or tear apart any new text that purports to translate a poem! Engage vociferously and actively and aggressively in the destruction of the idea even—and the artifacts derived from the idea for sure—that poetic and literary translation is possible. Translational non-participation as an interventionist gesture! I’ve done this plenty, truth be told! Dismiss anyone’s understanding of texts if based on others’ translations!

Not reading translations! Not translating my own works—by definition untranslatable—and not really translating that many other people’s either… And suffering truly and deeply when thus engaged (I, translating) and wondering why! I! ever! agreed!—or put myself in that situation! I’ve rejected many volumes in translation whose original I knew—not that I want to reject anything! Do not accept anything called poetry in translation? That’s right. And make a scene: burn it all! Take the translations and burn them! Which you probably don’t want to do, but, okay then, back to the neutral ‘do nothing…’

In the Bacchanale, I will…
Devalue the value of the number of translation of a work! Put forth the unpopular idea where I undermine the value of translation as culturally significant for the author. Cultural devaluing of the number of translations.

Unpopular note but my actual truth: I’ve always written with the impossibility of the translation of a literary text in mind, and it’s always been difficult for me to recognize or to give whatever value to the number of translations or the number of languages in which a text has been translated. Rather than the importance of a text, for me, that has always been the sign of the ‘weakness’ of a text. I mean this: unless the translation has destroyed the original text, the translatability is a sign of a lack of engagement with the specificities of the language in which it has been written, and the literarity that comes from it.

No value then, given to the number of translations. That does not preclude us from recognizing the value of what comes with translation: focus on the work itself, friendships with living authors, connections with authors of the past, and even the publicity.

In the Bacchanale, I will…
Support an anti-avant-gardist agenda when it comes to translation! I’ll just limit myself to semantic dimensions and the apparent surface issues and forget the rest. Just roll with what is often done… Ascribe to the ideology of translation as an a-avant-gardist vocation, and remain negationist vis-à-vis innovation. This I did with Nadia Tueni’s two volumes, and the many friends’ works that I have agreed to translate for this or that conference. But… would be fun to not do… Ask them, Hey folks, are you ready to go nuts—to not go for the semantic parallel? But no, no one is truly ready for that—they want the closest semantic thing—and so you acquiesce… Argh… I shall acquiesce, yes, I will acquiesce…

In the Bacchanale, I will…
Focus on a different tactic and amplify a different characteristic of
the text! I decide upon and focus on one particular dimension (sound, rhythm, visuality) rather than the semantic, and launch only that dimension with verve and passion. Sacrifice the semantic! The alternative and disconcerting translation! Never have had the guts to do that but will with the Khayyam translatory epic I’m working on! At least in part, with the same poem, I’ll do this in multiple ways! There’s time although not that much time. That will be a place to actually put a lot of these in motion!

In the Bacchanale yes in the Bacchanale, I will…
Cultivate analogical equivalencies! While discrediting the false letter/spirit difference, I will recognize and attempt to find the best analogical equivalencies—at whatever level. That does mean I’ll be somehow passive and continue to participate. But yes, I will participate. I will participate. I will…

In the Bacchanale oh yeah in the Bacchanale, I will…
Champion the figurative dimension of poetic texts, to the detriment of the surface text! I will actually determine the dominant figures, that is, the metaphors, metonymies, or whatever else is at play and transfer only that, since it would really be possible in isolation. That is: the subject matter, the surface references etc. are all sacrificed for the semiosis only! The figurative dimension! In essence, here, the two texts may not have anything in common—except at the deeper level of the actual figurative work!

That too: I’ve never done it, and have not even seen it honestly—because it could possibly have no resemblance to the work at hand at the textual level! Nothing at all! Maybe some images and words, but really, one is ‘translating’ the figures constructed through the entire text and phrases and so one could use other words and phrases and constructions to make that happen! And what if we do go there? First interpret and dig what the ‘significance’ is (meaning the signifiance, meaning the stuff the poem is ‘really about’ after the figurative interpretation, and because a poem is ultimately about something other than what it appears to be about), identify the ‘figurative’ phenomena at play and create an entire new text in translation, with the surface resembling not at all the surface of the original text, but aligning with the figurative dimension and the deeper ‘signifiance’! That would be something! (If the author is alive and doesn’t know us, they might want to hurt us. But if the author is dead, then…) Maybe I’ll go there, again, with the ROK machine, the Rubaiyat of Omar Kayyam, relaunched…

In the Bacchanale, I will…
Impersonate!—and translate as I imagine the original author writing! I will attempt to imagine or even study what a writer would have done in the target language, while recognizing that there is really no way of knowing or verifying if the author is no longer living.

I will give myself extreme, unsettling, and expansive liberties, and then launch! It’s a rewriting, based on a sense of the translatory act operating as relational fiction and as projective and imaginary writing! (Good luck! Tried that with the Tueni texts, adding all sorts of punctuation where the text had no punctuation! My argument was that I sensed she would have, if writing in English, used the punctuation. (My own position is really an absurd one here since, if you do write in another language, you would not only write differently, but you’d be writing entirely different things, but, whatever!) Ended up re-revising and going back to punctuationless Tueni in English. Thanks, editors (wink)!)

In the Bacchanale yeah in the Bacchanale, I will…
Liberate!—and launch the unapologetic translation! I will seed and cultivate and go into randomly beautiful directions. I will work a whole new re-creation, but in still comprehensible and apparently-close-to-the-text ways. I will infuse textuality with the offerings of translation, yes, I will give myself the right. Allow myself. (And ask for the rights and let the copyright holders know of my intentions.) A liberated and creative translation.

In the Bacchanale hell yes in the Bacchanale, I will…
Monumentalize!—and make the annotated super-volume! I will make it a heavy volume, with an explanatory thesaurus all around. The totally scholarly big thick annotated work that minimizes the actual translation. We all see this at times with erudite volumes and also in certain hermeneutic traditions. But many are not playful and are just explanatory and very vertical-hierarchy-centric: the erudite scholar is explaining how to interpret and how to read and why the translation is going that way. I would trend towards a more playful big thick volume, more in the spirit of denuding the impossibility of translation and the possible gestures given the explanations and directions one could take…

In the Bacchanale, I will…
Digress!—and launch a new type of translatory compendium!
I will fashion a translation with multiple, multidirectional digressions!
I did this with the same poem of Khayyam. (That poem, believe me, is going to have quite the life!) And not only with digressions—but with lots of other textual unfoldings, i,e. a scroll, a long scroll exhibited in a gallery! Thus, the poetic translation is transformed both at the textual level—the digressions are presented as part of the translation—and the platformal level, and thus the experience level.

In the Bacchanale, and at the Bacchanale, and throughout my time with the Bacchanale oh yeah, I will cherish and honor these Translation Alternatives, I promise and pledge and swear!