Lit & Found: David Larsen on Translation ‘As a Constraint-based Form of Writing’

As part of a series on poetry and translation for the Poetry Foundation’s Harriet Books blog, scholar and translator of pre-modern Arabic literature David Larsen delves into the conjunction that joins translation with poetry, the and between them.

He writes:

In my view, the poetics of translation is an ethos that takes the form of a constraint. The translator is free to say anything at all, as long as it corresponds painstakingly to the source-language original. How to take those pains, and up to what threshold, and the amount of time available, and all the decisions that go into managing these questions are what make up the translator’s style. Translation is a constraint-based form of writing.

Read the whole essay at the Poetry Foundation website.