29 may. 2003

My aunt Lenore Mayhew sent me a copy of the Atlanta Review. She has a poem in there, and there is also a desultory selection of poetry from contemporary Spain. Imagine if someone purported to represent American poetry, in a foreign language, with a few poems by Daniel Hoffman or Maxine Kumin, John Ashbery's one-hundredth best poem, and one poem by an American professor of English living in Spain who is unknown in the U.S. Accompany it with an essay evoking a few common stereotypes about the United States. Don't include any of the original English either; the translation is sufficient.

I can't imagine what anybody could get out of such a meager and arbitrary selection. It just increases my annoyance at translators in general. Jen Hofer at least writes an introduction (to her book "Sin puertas visibles") in which no generalizations are proffered: she doesn't offer any claims that can be questioned, she simply leaves room for the poetry to do its work. I also like the fact she gives the Spanish text priority, reversing the usual arrangement in bilingual editions.