2016 National Poetry Month Experience

1fb940bbcd5a963eda05f3ec271c2cecLast year my poetry project was to write an english poem a day and this year I decided to step it a bit and did two projects in two languages.

One was to write an english poem every day for 30 days just like last year and the second was to take a poem by an international poet that is already translated to English and translate that to Malayalam.

Like all projects it starts with so much enthusiasm and you have no dearth of ideas during the first week and then slowly it gets tougher and tougher and you even pass the days when you wished it was April 30th. Days spend with a blank mind with no words coming up. When every word and sentence seems a monotonous repetition. I know that this is not the best way to write poetry, and one should not force them into it. But then when April 30th comes and you know you have completed, that feeling is good. How ever crap some of them would feel when your re-read them, its worth because you feel so lighter.

On the English side I wrote on various things from abstract poems to some on issues that matter to totally meaningless murmurs which were more finger prints on the keyboard than poetry. Some of them were also apparently negative in theme and composition of words and made some of my friends even ping me and ask if everything is ok 🙂 Well the indulgence in negativity was probably a way to write down the worst so you can think positive. Not sure if that makes sense. And to all who felt concerned, my apologies and FYI ‘All is Well’ and it was a pressured mind forced to try being creative taking its toll on paper 🙂

On the Malayalam translation, I started with Miguel Pinero’s poem and then travelled across many countries connecting with Cesar vallejo in Peru, Edith Sodergran in Sweden, Osip Mandelstam in Russia, Gabriela Mistral in chile, Guillaume Apollinaire in Poland, Max Jacob in France, Ruben Dario in Nicaragua, Jorge carrera Andrade in Ecuador and Konstantinos P. Kavafis in Greece and Mitsuharu Kaneko in Japan and so on…. It was such an enlightening experience to be seeing the world through the eyes of amazing poets.

Umberto Eco the Italian novelist and critic has said that ‘Negotiation is the key to good translation’ but I am not sure how successful my negotiation has been. Umberto has also said that translation is not about comparing two languages, but about the interpretation of a text in two different languages, thus involving a shift between cultures. While I am happy to have translated them I have to honestly acknowledge Robert Frost’s often quoted statement that “Poetry is what gets lost in translation”

Finally Umberto says ‘Translation is the Art of Failure’ and so I failed 30 times trying to translate world poetry, but a failure I will proudly wear around 🙂

And again so happy the project is done. Sometime you need to push to a limit and fail so you can start all over again…….. See you around……

-Vinod Narayan-

Categories: National Poetry Month, Poetry


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