On March 21, 2022, Mark Hauber, Director of Poetry Inside Out, of the Center for the Art of Translation in San Francisco, led a workshop in Dr. Marisa Trubiano’s course titled Living In Translation, for Italian minors, majors and open to all students. They were joined by Dr. Kathleen Loysen and her Introduction to French Literature class. Together, the French and Italian students formed translation circles and, with the suggestions and materials provided by Hauber, worked on translations of an untitled poem by Gëzim Hadjari (b. 1957), an Albanian poet in exile in Italy, who writes both in Albanian and Italian. Hauber and Trubiano selected the poem because of its timely themes of loss of and nostalgia for one’s homeland, forced emigration and exile, and the negotiation of language identities. All these themes resonated with the students, as the campus and the world bear witness to the violence, destruction and forced evacuations in Ukraine in part on fabricated premises of national and linguistic affirmation. The translational approach promoted by PIO’s workshops and the course Living in Translation teaches practices that are based on the notion that all knowledge is the product of the exchange of ideas, language and culture. Translation work teaches recognition of and respect for plurilingualism and the inclusion of diverse languages and cultures – in short, global fluency via intercultural communication – which is always a crucial lesson and most especially in this dramatic moment of de-globalization.
The Center for the Art of Translation (www.catranslation.org) is a 501(c)(3) organization based in San Francisco, California, dedicated to celebrating the art of translation. The Center’s publications, events, and educational programming enrich the library of vital literary works, nurture and promote the work of translators, build audiences for literature in translation, and honor the incredible linguistic and cultural diversity of our schools and our world.
Poetry Inside Out is a program of The Center for the Art of Translation that celebrates diversity, builds literacy skills, improves critical thinking, and unlocks creativity by teaching students to translate great poetry from around the world. Poetry Inside Out embraces—and relies upon—the cultural and linguistic diversity found in today’s classrooms, schools, and communities. It treats great poets as teachers and their work as models, providing students the opportunity to find and express their unique voices. Students who participate in Poetry Inside Out come to understand how close reading heightens comprehension, precise writing enhances communication, and attentive listening builds new knowledge. By practicing the art of translation, students become familiar with the building blocks of language and the full range of expression available to them as readers, writers, speakers, poets, thinkers, and world citizens.
The students’ group translations reflected profound responses to language, society, and one another’s personal experiences. They commented on how they could appreciate considerations of language choices both in French and Italian, and that the collaborative work was both educational and enjoyable.
Untitled Poem by Gëzim Hadjari (Italian)
Abbiamo atteso a lungo per parlare,
ora non sappiamo dire nulla
sotto i nuovi alberi,
accanto ai vecchi sassi.
Ci spingono al confine di un altro esilio,
uomini e bestie stretti l’uno all’altro.
Che ne sarà delle nostre ceneri
lontano dalla prima patria?
Perderanno le voci
e i nostri nomi,
o forse ricorderemo ovunque il canto del merlo
nei sentieri pieni di spine secche di melograni
e il lutto del mare
English Translation – Elena Marcato, Maria DeLeon, Schnaïca Jean-Charles
For years we have waited to speak
now we do not know how to say anything
under new trees,
near the old stones.
They push us to the brink of another exile,
humans and beasts packed side by side.
What will become of our remains,
far from our original homeland?
They will lose the voices,
and our names,
or maybe we will remember the blackbird’s song anywhere
along the paths bursting with dried pomegranates
and the sorrow of the sea,
from the other coast.
French Translation – Spencer Ostroff
Nous avons attendu longtemps pour parler
maintenant ils ne peux rien dire
Sous avec les nouveaux arbres,
à côté des vieilles pierres.
Ils nous poussent à la frontière d’un autre exilé,
des hommes et des bêtes proches les uns des autres.
Qu’adviendra-t-il de nos cendres
loin du première patrie
Ils perdront tous les entrées
et nos noms,
ou peut-être nous souviendrons nous du chant
dans les chemins pleins si sèches les grenades
et le décès de la mer
sur l’autre côté.