Paul Celan was a Romanian poet who wrote mainly in German, whose work I am reading now in English. Here, I consider the politics of language proliferation and language loss. Romanian is not the language to use if you want to reach a large market, so Celan wrote in German. I lost my own Romanian language in favor for the more useful English.

I produce reductive re-writes of Celan's poetry, copying out the words I cannot translate back into Romanian. The books are displayed in a room without artificial light with a livestream projection of the window in my grandparents' bedroom in Oradea, Romania. 

Words travel; two time zones can exist in the same place. 

On Translation: reductive re-write of translators' introduction to Glottal Stop.  

Nikolai Popov & Heather McHugh, ed. Ioana Dragomir.

No matter how plausible a poem may sound in its target language, it remains a poem in translation, an encounter marked by surprise, ambiguity, affection, and violence.

 

The glottis is not a thing but an interstice: the space between vocal chords. A glottal stop is, in Webster’s words, “the speech sound produced by momentary complete closure of the glottis, followed by explosive release.”

 

“The glottal stop is breaking into song.”

 

If utterances issue from a gaping hole, so too does blood: the place of vulnerability is also the place of poetry.

 

Words may be “dirty” precisely because of the mud in man’s mouth.

1/7

As if words were gagging here, 2019, digital prints, chair, table, livestream projection. Dimensions variable.

© 2019 by IOANA DRAGOMIR.

  • Grey Instagram Icon