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The Interview with Sarah Ruden
by A. M. Juster
Sarah Ruden, a Quaker with a PhD in classical philology from Harvard and an MA from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars, is a distinguished poet, translator, essayist, and popularizer of Biblical linguistics. She is perhaps best known for being the first woman to translate Vergil’s Aeneid into English, She has also translated Augustine, Aristophanes, and other canonical authors. She is now translating the Gospels.
Editor’s Choice - Formal Poetry
The bus screamed, you could hear it breaking. But
Dan couldn’t find a single yellow piece,
and no one else was worried. So maybe
you have to figure out what people mean;
sometimes they just break inside. And Dan thinks
that school-busses are foolhardy like that,
because they don’t give up on people. They
are sturdier than human beings seem,
and careful with the children, even when
they know it’s going to hurt; that’s why they hiss,
anticipating. Then the long slow squeal
of sliding into base on scabby knees
and it’s as bad as you expected but
at least it’s over. So when busses break
you have to figure out what people mean;
they’re sturdier than human beings seem.
Kathryn Jacobs is a poet, professor, and editor of The Road Not Taken. Her fifth book, Wedged Elephant, was published by Kelsay Press.
AMJ: Last year Emily Wilson seemed to catch less flak for translating Homer’s Odyssey into blank verse than you did when you translated the Aeneid into blank verse a decade ago. In fact, I vividly recall two senior Ivy League classicists trying to shout you down when you were defending your use of iambic pentameter at Boston University.
What has changed and what hasn’t changed from 2008 to 2019?
Are younger classicists less doctrinaire about translation and prosody than those who came of age in the sixties?
SR: Let me start from the last of these questions. If we’re talking about actual classicists of that generation (or earlier) as translators, there’s practically no one to cite. A qualified contempt for translation and a certain obtuseness were the norm. I wouldn’t say that these people were real translators, as poets like Robert Fitzgerald were.
I was lucky enough to study for a while with D.R. Shackleton Bailey, then the greatest living Latin scholar. He was, unusually, a prolific and well-reputed translator too. But I remember buying a book of his when I was (I think) twenty — a big deal for me, as I was poor. The book was an annotated selection from Cicero’s letters in the original Latin. In one letter, Cicero reports the birth of a son, salva Terentia, a phrase Professor Bailey rendered in an endnote as “Terentia being (doing) well.” The doubt and disapproval I wasn’t supposed to feel and never expressed until this moment bothered me a great deal.
Editor’s Choice - African Poetry
As I watch the sky
Darken, it becomes cloudy
With the windy wind blowing
Furiously, and what next??
Pitta, patta, pitta, pitta
On my roof as it rains
Beautiful tears of the sky
Washing away the dusts,
Washing away sorrows
Cooling off the day,
Putting smiles on the crops
Yes the rain is here.
It is for our joy.
Adaobi Chilekezi is the 14-year-old daughter of the Nigerian poet Obinna Chilekezi. An aspiring writer, she presently attends the high school in Lagos, Nigeria.
Publisher’s Choice - Experimental Poetry
jp pantyhose pics
or we could move to Kyoto and teach english
and climb Mt. Fuji like little snails
that is to say—slowly, slowly
or go farther north and soak in hot springs
w/the monkeys who know how to use coins
to buy bags of edamame chips
the point being being anywhere but here
where we have nothing but each other
and endless student loans to pay off
because college was so important
because they told us the average college graduate
makes an extra million dollars over her lifetime
than someone who just works at WalMart
but at least the person at WalMart doesn’t owe 50,000 dollars
because we studied humanities
and what being human means
which is to live poor and die if ethically
or live rich and die and screw everyone else
including your children on anti-depressants
the point being being dead eventually and soon
tho wouldn’t having a satisfying sexual life be interesting?
if we could afford all the sex toys we really wanted?
or even a ticket to Japan?
Born in Puerto Rico, John Yohe grew up in Michigan and lives in Oregon. He has worked as a wildland firefighter, deckhand/oiler, bike messenger, wilderness ranger and fire lookout. He is fiction editor for Deep Wild Journal. His website is www.johnyohe.com.
Editor's Choice - Poetry Translations
The Beggar’s Song
Rainer Maria Rilke translated by Michael Burch
I live outside your gates,
exposed to the rain, exposed to the sun;
sometimes I’ll cradle my right ear
in my right palm;
then when I speak my voice sounds strange,
alien . . .
I’m unsure whose voice I’m hearing:
mine or yours.
I implore a trifle;
the poets cry for more.
Sometimes I cover both eyes
and my face disappears;
there it lies heavy in my hands
looking peaceful, unafraid,
so that no one would ever think
I have no place to lay my head.
Michael R. Burch’s poems and translations have appeared in hundreds of literary journals. He also edits www.thehypertexts.com and has served as guest editor of international poetry and translations for Better Than Starbucks.
original and more in Poetry Translations
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