Letter From The Editor


i don’t know if it is possible to save the abyss between two
between two bodies


and i don’t know if it is possible to save the abyss
between two eyes that confront each other

            -Claudia González Capparós, tr. Daniel Runnels


What holds us together across vast distances and irreconcilable differences?  This is the question at the heart of this issue, which emerges in a time when many of us find ourselves isolated in space while experiencing the pandemic collectively, living at once in the present and our memory of the past.

The act of bringing together disparate worlds is not unfamiliar to translators.  In this issue, Robin Munby translates a poem by Ekaterina Simonova which begins, “I only think in Russian”.  In his translator’s note, Munby admits that translating the poem at all might seem like a contradiction in terms, but in bringing the poem into a new language world, Munby reveals the space between and beyond the Russian and English.  The translation delivers the Russian in relief, or to put it in Munby’s words, "We may think of ourselves as walled in (or out) by our language(s), as the poem’s first line seems to suggest, but ultimately, even for those of us who live, or imagine we live, within one language alone, this is never the extent of our world, or our self.  In fact, the poem suggests, there is always something outwith."

Language is always already multiple - assemblage, rhizome, amalgamation, as Deleuze and Guattari offer[1] - and in producing an iteration of a work in another language, translation reveals the contours of that multiplicity, dissolving the illusion of a language’s boundedness.

The capacity of language to bring together the disparate is evidenced in Jacob Riyeff’s translation of Old Norse kennings.  With a hyphen like an incantation, the impossible “ghost-house” enters this our realm; “dream-thing” is neither and both, same and other.

Translation is the auto-antonym all at once, necessarily carrying intentions toward both sameness and difference.  Daniel Behar quotes Saleh Diab in his translator’s note, calling translation “…a form of willful transmigration, causing poems to live in other bodies.”  For Diab, it is not only poetry which may be made to inhabit another body, for he himself dreams he “…could become all the poets [he] translate[s].”  Perhaps the act of translation allows us to live our own multiplicities, holding them together in a great act of empathy, or as Diab suggests, love.


—Kaylee Lockett, Managing Editor






[1] Deleuze, Gilles, et al. “Rhizome.” A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia, Continuum, 1987.