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Writing Poetry in a Different Language


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Hi everyone! I’ve only recently joined the site, but it’s felt so warm and welcoming that I thought it’d be interesting to share something for discussion. I write poetry in both English and Spanish and only recently have begun to blend both my languages within poems. I was having in interesting exchange with a professor at my university this year where I confessed that sometimes I felt pressured to offer translated versions of my writing, while sacrificing the value of what a Spanish word or phrase was adding to my poem in order to please non-Spanish speaking readers. I mentioned I had begun blending the two languages without offering translations and he said I shouldn’t feel obliged to offer translations. He said readers shouldn’t force a type of language or culture censorship where the value of a piece is diminished because they can’t simply put the effort to translate words and phrases themselves or research the context of a piece. I’m curious if anyone else has thought about this dilemma of culture and language in your poetry and whether you share the professors opinion or have something else regarding it. It’ll be lovely to discuss!

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On 6/16/2018 at 5:29 PM, Juan Manuel Sandoval said:

Hi everyone! I’ve only recently joined the site, but it’s felt so warm and welcoming that I thought it’d be interesting to share something for discussion. I write poetry in both English and Spanish and only recently have begun to blend both my languages within poems. I was having in interesting exchange with a professor at my university this year where I confessed that sometimes I felt pressured to offer translated versions of my writing, while sacrificing the value of what a Spanish word or phrase was adding to my poem in order to please non-Spanish speaking readers. I mentioned I had begun blending the two languages without offering translations and he said I shouldn’t feel obliged to offer translations. He said readers shouldn’t force a type of language or culture censorship where the value of a piece is diminished because they can’t simply put the effort to translate words and phrases themselves or research the context of a piece. I’m curious if anyone else has thought about this dilemma of culture and language in your poetry and whether you share the professors opinion or have something else regarding it. It’ll be lovely to discuss!

...oh. i didn't know this was here. There is already a thread discussing poetry in different languages :)

 

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On 6/16/2018 at 5:29 PM, Juan Manuel Sandoval said:

Hi everyone! I’ve only recently joined the site, but it’s felt so warm and welcoming that I thought it’d be interesting to share something for discussion. I write poetry in both English and Spanish and only recently have begun to blend both my languages within poems. I was having in interesting exchange with a professor at my university this year where I confessed that sometimes I felt pressured to offer translated versions of my writing, while sacrificing the value of what a Spanish word or phrase was adding to my poem in order to please non-Spanish speaking readers. I mentioned I had begun blending the two languages without offering translations and he said I shouldn’t feel obliged to offer translations. He said readers shouldn’t force a type of language or culture censorship where the value of a piece is diminished because they can’t simply put the effort to translate words and phrases themselves or research the context of a piece. I’m curious if anyone else has thought about this dilemma of culture and language in your poetry and whether you share the professors opinion or have something else regarding it. It’ll be lovely to discuss!

You should post this over in the other thread about poems in foreign languages because there are more people 'following' that forum. Here's the link :)

 

But to address the issue you've stated, I think posting online offers new opportunities that traditional publishing can't. Now it's very easy for a reader to look up a term or phrase, and it takes only moments. I'd encourage you or anyone to use the words that are most correct for the piece you are writing. Even similar terms are just that, approximations when viewed in one language or another. The wonderful thing about English is how elastic it is and how readily it absorbs new concepts with the words that come with them. Like boomerang and atlatl, from Australia and Mexico respectively.

 

So I'd say, don't be self-aware of using the right terms in your poems. Just use the ones that fit the best.  

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