Ivan Sokolov, University of California, Berkeley

Cult K: “Intertongue”: Contemporary Poetry and/as/across Translation

Ivan Sokolov (University of California, Berkeley)
Is every poem a kind of “writing always already written” or can it have afterlives, other lives? Is there an original or is all poetry somehow translation? In this class we will engage six crucial case-studies from postwar world poetry written in and rendered into various languages. Syllabus includes works by Paul Celan and Osip Mandelstam, Michael Palmer and Emmanuel Hocquard, Arkadii Dragomoshchenko and Lyn Hejinian, Uljana Wolf, Eugene Ostashevsky and Maria Stepanova along with their famous contemporary—Publius Ovidius Naso. We will work against the fiction of a monolingual text—poetry being the ideal medium to debunk that myth, thinking as it always does about its own precursors, its addressees and its others, few of which are limited to a single nation-state. We will also interrogate the dream of translingual poetry by considering the role of English as the present-day lingua franca and by attending to the inevitable fissures and dead ends that haunt the heteroglots at the crossing points from one language into another. Readers of Russian, French, German and Latin are especially welcome, though English translations will also be provided every step of the way.