Voicing a Voice: A Translation and an Essay at Kenyon Review

Check out the latest issue of Kenyon Review Online for my essay in questions, “Voicing a Voice,” which explores ideas of power, originality, performance, and what we mean when we talk about the translator’s voice in the translated text. Eternal gratitude and admiration to Translations Editor Katherine Hedeen for featuring it, along with my translation of Tomasz Różycki’s poem “Third Planet.”

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A Conversation with Tomasz Różycki

Screenshot 2019-06-26 10.56.45I’ve been translating the poetry of Polish author Tomasz Różycki for over a decade now. We first met in 2004—an auspicious year for both of us. I was on a creative writing Fulbright Fellowship in Kraków, an experience that would solidify my interest in Polish literature and send me headlong into the language. That same year, Tomasz’s fifth and most ambitious book in subject matter and form, Twelve Stations, became a true literary phenomenon, winning the prestigious Kościelski Award and quickly finding its way onto the stage and into the classroom. I was just as smitten as so many Polish readers by his unique voice. But even more so I was taken by the musicality of his other lyric poetry, with its seamless mix of deadpan humor, historical awareness, and existential longing. Since then, I’ve translated a book of selected poetry entitled The Forgotten Keys as well as his collection Colonies; I’m currently translating his most recent volume, Litery, selections of which have appeared or are forthcoming in Guernica, Kenyon Review, The High Window, Michigan Quarterly Review, Two Lines, Epiphany, and elsewhere.

In the midst of our current correspondence over minutiae of the translations, we wove in a conversation about life, writing, and the state of poetry in the world. Thanks to the wonderful editors at Music & Literature for publishing it.

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Two Sonnets in Faultline

IMG_2603I’m so pleased to have two new sonnets in the latest issue of FaultlineThanks to the editors for including them! One recalls the victory garden at Civic Center in San Francisco, circa 2008. The other ruminates on the history of SF’s Sutro Baths—one of my all-time favorite ruins to explore. My love letters to the city as it used to be.

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Pleasure or Business?

And I answer, “No. I’m in Poland for the poetry.”
But over beers in a basement filled with blue
shadows caught on the crumbling brick baleen
of the wall, strangers keep claiming, “I’m related to you.” […]

You can read the full sonnet, “Pleasure or Business?”—which relates my first time traveling to Poland and coming into contact my Jewish name in a whole different way—in the latest issue of Zyzzyva. I’m thrilled to have a poem appear in this venerable Bay Area journal. Growing up, it meant so much to me to know that it was being produced right where I lived; reading it inspired me in countless ways. And this issue continues to fulfill that role, with a wonderful essay by Paisley Rekdal and compelling poems by Rusty Morrison, Dean Rader, Alexandra Teague, and others.

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Contemporary Polish Poets: Portraits and Places

The High Window has just published an excellent portfolio of contemporary Polish poetry called “Portraits and Places,” which includes my translations of work by Krystyna Dąbrowska and Tomasz Różycki. Here’s the fabulous full lineup:

Justyna BargielskaWojciech BonowiczKrystyna DąbrowskaJacek DehnelJacek Gutorow Łukasz Jarosz •  Marzanna Bogumiła KielarJulian KornhauserEwa Lipska   Artur Nowaczewski  • Tomasz Różycki


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“Immigrant Alembic” in North American Review

Vintage chemistry, double distillation equipment

It seems only fitting that my poem about the “American norm” would be published by the North American Review, the oldest literary magazine in the United States. Along with my sonnet “Immigrant Alembic,” which thinks about American identity as a process of distillation in an alembic, you can also read great work by Marsha de la O, Allison Adair, Lauren Camp and others.


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“Phantom” in Guernica

Many thanks to the editors at Guernica for publishing my translation of Tomasz Różycki’s poem “Phantom” from his most recent collection, Letter by Letter. Now to translate the other 98 poems!

Screenshot 2019-03-13 14.24.28 

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A Poem and an Interview

I’m so happy to have my poem “Sublet, Pay-Later System,” which touches on issue of housing and identity theft, in the latest issue of SubtropicsThank you to Ange Mlinko for publishing it and to Stephanie Maniaci for the wonderful conversation that we had about the poem… and about many other things, besides!


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“For the self / needs to be taken to the core now / and then…”

…needs the world to be a little dirty
and dark, below the surface, steeped
in cheap vodka, breath reeking, voice
slurring names over a broken intercom
that garbles human speech, reducing to hum
places you could go but don’t.

You can read the rest of my ode to the underground, “Subway Theory,” in the latest issue of Crazyhorsealong with my poem “Memory My Leaf.” Thanks so much to editor Emily Rosko—whose own poetry I admire so much—for including my work in the issue.


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New Poem in Poetry Magazine

I’m absolutely thrilled to have my poem “The Invention of the Interstate System” in the January issue of Poetry magazine. It’s a dream come true! And check out their new design, including a fold-out page featuring the work of none other than Jorie Graham, along with full-color reproductions of several pages from Frank O’Hara’s notebooks and poems by James Tate, Khaled Mattawa, Carl Phillips, Reginald Gibbons, Ken Chen, Claudine Toutoungi, and others. I’m particularly smitten with Willie Perdomo’s poem “That’s My Heart Right There.”

poetry magazine

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