Translating Contemporary French Poetry

Emma Wagstaff, Nina Parish
2018 Irish Journal of French Studies  
Introduction Et sur quelques causes de l'état present [...] 1 This article considers the presence(s) of recent French poetry in English translation, examining a bilingual anthology edited by the authors and published in 2016. It argues that the process of editing an anthology of contemporary poetry with multiple translators is a form of re-writing that not only introduces new writers into the target-language poetic system, but also recasts their positions in the poetic system of the source
more » ... re. This is achieved in two ways: first, by making them accessible to an audience unfamiliar with the poetic system of the source culture, readers who will then approach them without preconceptions of where they fit into that system; and, second, by proposing new juxtapositions of poetic texts to readers who are familiar with the categories into which the poetry is usually placed. There is little critical examination of anthologizing; André Lefevere's discussion provides a solid starting point, but does not consider the effects an anthology can have on a source culture system. 2 Our article offers an important extension to the theory he proposes, at the same time as providing a new perspective on the contemporary French poetic scene. Anthologizing operates in tandem with translating in this instance, and we additionally use the notions of inference and cognitive stylistics to discuss the particular habitus of academic translators who are not poets, and the opportunities those approaches offer to produce a creative translation. Style is an appropriate lens through which to consider poems included in this anthology because it is a contested question in contemporary French poetics: some writers consider that there is no such thing as a separate poetic language. The article therefore treats the question of présence that this special issue addresses in three ways. It discusses, on the most literal level, the new or more visible presence that French poetry can acquire in the Anglophone context through translation and anthologies. Moreover, it examines the ways in which the presence of new or decontextualized voices affects poetic systems. Finally, it considers whether 1 Anne Portugal, Définitif bob (Paris: P.
doi:10.7173/164913318825258347 fatcat:kpi6sjvi4rcbtjdraazvpwgebq