Rest in peace, Sam Hamill. And thanks to Grant Clauser for getting all this!
Once a month I meet with a group of other poets at a local restaurant to talk about poetry and to workshop some poems. At a recent meeting we were looking over translations of Japanese poems by Sam Hamill, and we began discussing the subject of translations and the challenges they create for the translator and the reader.
To help answer a few of the questions, I decided to go to the source himself.
Hamill has published at least 14 volumes of his own poetry and about two dozen collections of translations from Chinese, Japanese, ancient Greek and Latin and more. He co-founded Copper Canyon Press and created Poets Against War.
How important is it that the translating poet be fluent in the language? Many people doing translations today work with someone who is fluent to get a literal translation, then the poet-translator steps in to take over.
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