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Selina Tusitala Marsh

Tusitala Translations: Telling the Story by Hand, Ear, and Eye

Translational Checkpoints: Fairs and Festivals
, Centre for European Research, the Department for Languages and Literatures and the Department of Literature, History of ideas, and Religion, Gothenburg University, Sweden, 28-30 September 2015.

In ‘Unfaithful but Ethical Verse: Context-dependency and Literary translation’, Brian Reed noted two broad models in translation theory.[1] The first one he called the ‘UN model’. Here, the translator is invisible, a bridge of pure communication enabling an external politics to take place in the hub of national diversity through acts of simultaneous translation. The translation is wholly dependent and does not exist without its source text.

The second model is described as a “vexed” translation where information is not completely transferred and where politics is internal to the translation. In this second model of creative, more literary translation, the translation is its own creative text. These ‘unfaithful’ translations have found favour across the U.S. avante-garde poetry scene, particularly amongst white middle class experimental poets. Reed is particularly interested in the collapsing of the concepts of translation and appropriation. Are imperialist domination tactics masking as avante-garde? Is this another vehicle for the colonial ego, dipping into others’ cultural texts without responsibility or accountability? What are the ethics involved in such ‘vampiric’ forms of poetry? What is the intent here? Can acts of homage, play, and creative freedom also be, at the same time, imperialist?

If we think of translation as a bridge, carrying over meaning, connecting people and their worlds, their work, and their words, and language is its foundation, its pillars, what happens when language is not there? How are people, their worlds, work, and works carried over to us? If you’re a story teller, without recourse to language, conventional translational checkpoints will not let you pass.

But it will, I submit, let you play.

In this keynote, we’re going to play and ask:

What does the act of translation through the hand, ear, and eye entail? And are such ‘unfaithful’ translations, ethical?

Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland where she teaches Postcolonial, New Zealand and Pacific Literature and Creative Writing. Her critical and creative work focuses on giving voice to Pacific communities. She was a Poet Olympiad for the 2012 London Olympics, and her award-winning poetry collection, Fast Talking PI (Auckland University Press, 2009), featured at the 2012 Frankfurt Book Fair and has been translated into Ukraine and Spanish. Her second poetry collection, Dark Sparring was also published by Auckland University Press (2013). Her chapter on Pasifika Literature in New Zealand is forthcoming in A History of New Zealand Literature (Cambridge University Press, Ed Mark Williams), and she is currently co-editing an anthology of Pasifika Literature with Albert Wendt. She is due to complete her own critical book on first wave Pacific women poets (1974-2008) with the University of Hawai'i Press. She recently returned from London, having won the 2015 London Literary Death Match and was Judge for the 2015 Tusitala Pacific Short Story Competition.

Keynote speaker

Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh is a Senior Lecturer at the University of Auckland where she teaches Postcolonial, New Zealand and Pacific Literature and Creative Writing.

Sidansvarig: Fredrik Fällman|Sidan uppdaterades: 2015-09-18

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