A Hall of Poetic Mirrors
Written by Babel Festival
Considering that Swiss poets from the country’s different linguistic regions don’t really know each other’s work, in 2016 Babel Festival got the project Poethreesome under way, by inviting Odile Cornuz, Laura Accerboni and Ulrike Ulrich to translate each other’s work. To take part in the Poethreesome project, poets do not necessarily need to know the other poets’ language: they can work with an interlinear translation that combines a literal translation (mot-à-mot) with a series of notes about the form, tone, style, cultural references and so on, or through the medium of a third language known by both poet and translator. Whatever the case, the source poet and the translator poet always share a language: the language of poetry.
The poets for 2017 were Michael Fehr, Andrea Bianchetti and Gaia Grandin, whose poems and translations will be published in Specimen. For the 2018 edition, Babel Festival has invited Prisca Agustoni, Marina Skalova and Gianna Olinda Cadonau. All of them are multilingual poets who write original work in more than one language: Agustoni in Italian, French and Portuguese, Skalova in French and German, Cadonau in Romansh and German. If there is one thing we are not scared of at Babel, apparently, is complication.
Cadonau and Agustoni worked very close to the source texts, Skalova went for a recreation of the original poems, as Fehr at times did the previous year, taking assonances and sound patterns as possible points of departure from literal meanings. Here are their poems and translations, a hall of poetic mirrors you can lose yourself into.
This year our Poethreesome will read at Internationales Literaturfestival Leukerbad (June 30), Babel Festival (Bellinzona, Sept. 14), Poésie en Ville (Geneva, Sept. 28), Dis da Litteratura (Domat/Ems, Nov. 2-4) BuchBasel (Basel. Nov. 11), and Zürich Literaturhaus (Zürich, Nov. 21).