Against Translation

Alan Shapiro

£14.00

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The University of Chicago Press
8 March 2019
ISBN: 9780226613505
Paperback

From the publisher

We often ask ourselves what gets lost in translation--not just between languages, but in the everyday trade-offs between what we experience and what we are able to say about it. But the visionary poems of this collection invite us to consider: what is loss, in translation? Writing at the limits of language--where "the signs loosen, fray, and drift"--Alan Shapiro probes the startling complexity of how we confront absence and the ephemeral, the heartbreak of what once wasn't yet and now is no longer, of what (like racial prejudice and historical atrocity) is omnipresent and elusive. Through poems that are fine-grained and often quiet, Shapiro tells of subtle bereavements: a young boy is shamed for the first time for looking "girly"; an ailing old man struggles to visit his wife in a nursing home; or a woman dying of cancer watches her friends enjoy themselves in her absence. Throughout, this collection traverses rather than condemns the imperfect language of loss--moving against the current in the direction of the utterly ineffable.