Thanks to @ALTA_USA for pointing the way toward an interview with Syrian poet Golan Haji (جولان حاجي), published last month on Prairie Schooner:

A verse from the poem “8th Son” by Syrian poet Golan Haji is written once in the Diwani Jali Arabic calligraphy script to create the image of a human skull in profile. More: http://everitte.org/2012/01/13/8th-son-the-skull-of-my-father/
“A verse from the poem “8th Son” by Syrian poet Golan Haji is written once in the Diwani Jali Arabic calligraphy script to create the image of a human skull in profile.” More here. From: Everitte.Org

Haji, a Syrian poet-translator-pathologist, fled Damascus in 2011. His mother tongue is Kurdish, but he composes his poetry in Arabic (and sometimes translates himself into English). As others have said, he notes that all poetry is translation (a search for words to convey an image, an impression, a sound), and:

Translation is a process of changing places while you are in the same place. It’s not reincarnation, or just to imitate the others. It’s the stranger who comes to your house, is welcomed, is invited, and you know that he will change you in a very secret way, even through silence. And this deep, slow change that translation gives is very important. I think that writing, through the history of literature, was always influenced by translations. I cannot see the modern poetry of any place in the world [without] translations;  that’s impossible. Modern Arab poetry is influenced by English, American, French, Japanese, and German poetry, and I think in Germany and England it’s the same. This translation makes poetry more precise to work with.

What does it take to translate well?

To translate poetry well, you need to know what’s going on in the world, and that your roots are everywhere, in all continents. Translation is not just moving the words from language to language; it’s also the movement of the shadow of meaning, how you must be precise to capture the sensations, the images. You are unaware when you have changed, and you don’t know how.

He also talks about the relationship between poetry and politics and his feelings about Syria. You can read the whole interview on PS

More Haji:

Four poems on Jadaliyya

WWB: “Autumn Here is Magical and Vast

Golan Haji podcast

Everitte.Org: 8th Son: Skull of My Father

The Wolf: Soldiers”

ArabLit: From the event ‘Syria Speaks

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