(Self)Translation and the Poetry of the ‘In-between’

By | 1 February 2016

La bicicletta / The bicycle

In the northern Veneto there is the tradition of a late morning tipple known as a bicicletta (a bicycle). The ingredients for the drink are gathered and mixed in one receptacle and then poured out into two separate glasses: two wheels of one bicycle, as it were. Whenever I watch this drink being prepared I have had cause to think of the splitting, doubling and mixing in my own life, characterised by my relationships with Australia and Italy. In particular I am reminded of the movement I have made between and across these two fields of existence, always aware of and engaging with two places, histories and cultures. I am one person and yet my life, and my writing, is ‘poured out’ from a mixture of various linguistic and cultural affiliations.

The movement between texts that translation requires is representative of the linguistic movement I make between and across English and Italian, but is also a signifier of the various poetic journeys that I make around the territories and archipelagos that I inhabit. As I have argued above, the self-translation of poetry is indeed an activity that goes beyond the crossing of words from one language to another, for it is also about the crossing of the self into various physical, cultural and historical territories. Translation is therefore a means through which to test and explore my relationship not only to language, but also to culture and place – it is thus a means through which to explore myself.

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