We’ve begun to think about translation and poetry in some pretty unfavorable terms as of late. After reading the clean shirt of it and framing ourselves, as readers, as accomplices to the poet/their speaker, I’ve began to imagine the intimacy of poetry in a different light. Poetry, as I’ve seen it, revolves around making connections between and via metaphors, images, sonic devices like rhyme or alliteration, any kind of repetition, and speaker and reader– creating an intimacy between disparate worldviews, words, things, or people.
However, in my more current (and admittedly less thought out) thoughts, I’m seeing poetry as more of an act of loyalty (as I’m reluctant to call poetry an act of faith since I think that removes some of the agency from a crafting poet and a close reader). There seems to me to be a kind of implicit contract that goes into poetry, as in the truths held within the page will not leave the confines of a speaker’s word or the infinitely varied spectrum of reader interpretation. The relationship between speaker and reader changes with whoever reads it.
Since there is this connection, but perhaps one we forge out of survival rather than desire (hence loyalty), our own version of a poem, perhaps our own translations, become acts of secrecy or selfish crimes, ones we’re getting away with. I think Britto’s/Novey’s word of accomplice fits that idea very nicely. We’re driven to act or change, even in the tiniest ways by poetry and the implicit connection between reader and speaker. In well-written poetry, I’m beginning to feel, intimacy fostered on the page can loyally extend beyond it. Loyalty is intimacy moved to action.
Thanks for reading.