Saturday, January 01, 2011

Episode 831: Winter Drei/Winters Three/Hivers Trois

Finished reading Kevin Keane's trilingual debut, Winter Drei/Winters Three/Hivers Trois. The use of rhyme throughout is impressive, and it doesn't sound clunky or gimmicky. Each poem is subdivided into three sections, and the order is switched depending on whether one is reading the German, English or French version. As far as I can tell from reading the English and French poems (since I don't understand German at all), the poems are direct translations, although it's interesting to ponder exactly which language they're being translated from and into as a result of that fact. This is exactly the sort of linguistic game that I find incredibly fascinating, and the shuffling of the sections reminds me of the work of Raymond Queneau and the members of Oulipo, in particular, Queneau's Cent Mille Milliards De Poèmes. The permutations contained within that work are truly mind-boggling, and here's an English translation to give you a taste. One day, in the distant future, after I've brushed up on my Chinese, I might attempt something along the lines of what Keane has done. The greatest stumbling block would be the paucity of my vocabulary in Chinese and French, including a dismal grasp of the sort of idiomatic expressions that allow me to express myself more fluently in English. Still, this would be something truly ambitious to work towards, wouldn't it?

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