Writing it Twice Is the New Original

Will she complete a verb or a noun phrase—or go solo, a word complete on its own? لابدّ أن الغريبة تقتربُ، يقولون. They hear clinking— A bracelet? الكل منشغلٌ اليوم بكتابة الأمنيات في قصاصات ورقية سينثرونها للريح ولمّا تجدها الغريبةُ بطريقها تلملمُها وتصفّها بدائرتها. أحدهم يقول بأنها تبحث عن كلمة لتكوّن جملة خاصة، تلك هديتها ستجلبها معها إلى المدينة. في مدينة الأمنيات المربوطة الناس في ترقّب عظيم لأن الغريبة ستأتي اليوم بتائها المربوطة. Writing it Twice Is the New Original January 24, 2022January 21, 2022 by Leonie Rau This is part of a special section on self-translation. Another wonders if she seeks a verb or a noun, and offers to find her. Make sure the gate is open, they remind one another. Sometimes I find a problem in the original and the second writing (or the second language) opens my eyes to such problems, so it’s closer to editing than to regular translation. Writing these poems in two languages maybe makes a new “original.” This process somehow liberated me from having to follow the Arabic text, especially since, at times, some of the lines initially come to me in English, given the cultural connotations. التاريخ ذكر الحِكاية أنثى الحلم ذكر الأمنية أنثى. It was annoying to me in the beginning when my poem pulled me right and left, but just as people say to “follow your heart,” I always follow my poetry. But as home is flashed through exile, a poem is sometimes born on the tip of another tongue. They wonder. A third warns that the stranger may turn him, with one touch, into a flower that blooms for only an instant before it withers and dies, her circle throbbing with songs that cause sadness and elation and something so obscure no one has a name for it. شيء مرعب، كيف يختبيء القمرُ  في دائرتها الحمراء، يتعجّبُ أحدهم. A chain? When the stranger finds them on her way, she’ll collect them and adorn them to her circle, tossing off some old wishes to make space for the new. But this is not to say that I’ve achieved a linguistic utopia. الغريبة بتائها المربوطة دنيا ميخائيل لكل شيء جنس في اللغة العربية. The stranger’s lateness worries those who wait. To capture the poem in two lives is to mirror my exile, with all of its possibilities and risks. يقولون أن تلك المرميّة هي التي تتحقّق. هل ستُكملُ عبارة اسمية أم فعلية؟ أم كلمة وحيدة؟ كلمة مكتفية بذاتها؟ يتساءلون. I mean that the two texts develop together without imposing too much on each other. Everyone is busy today listing wishes on pieces of paper they’ll give to the wind. I feel that the relationship between the two texts (the Arabic and the English, in this case) is something like true love. They say the dropped ones will come true. I didn’t translate them; I wrote them twice. Photo: Nina Subin I’ve spoken about the experience of translating my poetry collection, In Her Feminine Sign. تأكّدوا من أن البوّابة مفتوحة, يذكّرُ أحدهم الآخر. يقول أحدهم بأنه رأى النقطتين تضيئان، نافياً القولَ الآخرَ بأنهما عينا قطّة في الظلام. Well, to justify my choice, I would claim that allowing such a dialogue between the two texts is democratic, and I’m even hopeful that East and West may meet in that crossing line between two languages. Writing it the second time in another language helps me understand it more and feel more confident about it. The Stranger in Her Feminine Sign Dunya Mikhail Everything has genderin Arabic:History is male.Fiction is female.Dream is male.Wish is female. Someone says she’s searching for a word to complete a special sentence, the gift she’ll bring to town. I wrote these poems from right to left and from left to right, in Arabic and in English. تراها تبحث عن اسم أم فعل؟ يتساءل آخر عارضاً الذهابَ للعثور عليها. I do faithful translation when I translate someone else, but with my own work I feel free to make changes as I see fit. شخص ثالث يحذّر بأنَّ كلَّ مَن يلمس الغريبةَ يصبحُ زهرة فيُسعدُ لحظةً ثمَّ يذبل بسرعة ويموت بينما تنبضُ دائرتُها بأغنيات تسبّبُ الحزنَ والنشوة وشيئاً آخر غامضاً لا أحد يملك له اسماً. * Also: Khalid Lyamlahy: On Self-Translating ‘A Foreign Novel’ Deena Mohamed: On Drawing Self-Translation Ali Shakir: What Is the Self in Self-Translation? دائرة فوقها نقطتان يقولون مضفورة بأمنيات لا تتحقّق إلّا لحظة نسيانها أو استبدالها بأمنيات الآخرين. سترمي بعضَ الأمنيات القديمة لتفسح مجالاً لهذهِ الجديدة. When they finally hear footsteps, They know the stranger must be near. By Dunya Mikhail Writing a poem is exploring a new world, and the first feeling that usually accompanies it is doubt. تتأخّر الغريبة وهم على قلق ينتظرون. يسمعون رنّة – سِوار أم أغلال؟ * Dunya Mikhail is an Iraqi-American poet and writer. أخيراً يسمعون وقعَ أقدام. In the town of tied wishespeople feel great anticipationbecause a stranger will arrivetoday in her feminine sign.Someone says he saw hertwo dots glittering,refuting another’s visionof a cat’s eyes hunting in darkness.So scary, he says, how the moonhides in her red circle. Moreover, it gives me a wider space to diagnose its flaws. She has worked as a journalist for the Baghdad Observer, and is currently a special lecturer of Arabic at Oakland University in Michigan. To produce a text in two languages is to always hold a mirror to the first text while the mirror behaves as if that text is actually her mirror. Feminine words are followedby a circle with two dots over it.They call this symbol the tied circle,knotted with wisheswhich come true only when forgottenor replaced by the wishes of others. The poet is at home in both texts, yet she remains a stranger. Mona Kareem: Self-Translation Never Lands Share this:TwitterFacebookEmailPrintLinkedInRedditTumblrWhatsAppPinterestTelegramPocketSkypeLike this:Like Loading…

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