“It feels like you have crossed a river you cannot cross back again”
Im lặng nhẫn nại của vực sâu hối thúc tôi mở mình | The patient silence of the abyss urged me to open myself
Poems and translations by Nguyễn Khánh Duy, Mai Duy Quang, Hải Anh, and Nguyễn Quang Kiếm
Tôi phải ở lại trong ngôn ngữ này, như đã trong một cơn mơ bổng, như đã trong một cú kéo chìm, một tự trói buộc, nhọc nhằn và vẫn ở đó, chút lửa nhen. | I have to reside in this language, as in a flying dream, as in a sinking down, a self-bound, burdensome and still there, little fire.
They say singing makes them recall the peaceful time in Arakan, that once upon a time, they used to sing these folksongs freely and proudly
Kutenun seikat mimpi / dari telapak pemigi | I weave a bundle of dreams / from the palm of the pemigi loom
거울로 들어가는 문을 찾지 못해 / 내게는 오늘의 밤이 계속된다 | Since I / can’t find the door, the night ceases to end
និស្វាសវាត / អស្សាសវាត / បស្សាសនៃ / ខ្យល់ចេញមិនចូល | In, out, held – / so goes the breath. / Winds leave but no longer come
Sudah hampir sepuluh tahun Ambe terbaring di sumbung | Ambe has been lying on top of the casket for almost ten years now
O ngồi đó chờ đợi một linh hồn lạ mặt vẫn còn sống/ như cánh-đồng-tử-cung của bình minh | O sits there waiting for an unknown soul that is still alive / like a uterus-meadow at dawn
They sit surrounded by items they have prepared for the ritual of Jejak Tanah: fine sand, peat soil, pea gravel, petals from seven kinds of flowers, a baby bathtub, and a large terrarium bowl
A gathering of Lullabies that swirl in various transitional spaces and threshold crossings, carried by the voices of writers and translators
But the children are frolicking inside the palace of their mother’s empty stomach. They can’t say whether it’s day or night.
My country is broken, / Mountains and rivers remain / In the city, grasses / Spread their roots
There is always a risk of misunderstanding in all kinds of conversations, but those risks are more acutely felt in translation, and even more acutely felt in translation that calls forth past and ongoing traumas.
Our five-part series comes to a close with these 33 titles.
Works of the classical period that appear in multiple translations
From visual treats to gastronomical gateways and books for young learners
We continue in our bookmarks series with works that sing, dissolve boundaries, and gather voices together
I embarked on this list with an assumption of scarcity. But I discovered an embarrassment of riches.
“Indonesian literature is gaining traction. More slowly than we might want, but it’s an upward trajectory.”
The poet and winner of the Restless Books’ New Immigrant Writing Prize on supporting DRUM and the work of Guyanese poet Martin Carter
no tiene otra ley que / su mismo cuerpo feliz || with no law other than / his own joyous body
사람들을 따라갈수록 나는 거짓말이 되어가. || The more I follow people the more I become a lie
sometimes a person’s happiness comes from not owing someone money
น้ำลายเฟ้อเต็มปากสำรากมนต์ / กลิ่นคละคลุ้งฝูงคนนะจังงัง || Spewing out its gibberish chants / Luring people into rhetorical trance
api tak sempat bertanya: apakah kata-kata bisa / terbakar? || fire didn’t have the chance to ask: can words / burn down?
It’s not the bullet that makes you bolt, / but the very words /
emerging from the muzzle’s restraint / the classroom in disguise
How does violence blossom // What’s known must be made unknown
I forced myself to tell her to accept it and think of it as entering into a new theater. Turn it into raw material and endure to write about it.
Salah satunya: mengumpulkan sandal dari seluruh Indonesia dan diberikan kepada si polisi. || One such action: collect sandals from all around Indonesia and give them to the police.
A collection of the six works of writing, translation, audio, and photography that nuzzle into different corners of this apparent insignificance
치마를 까뒤집던 꽃들이 / 태양의 먼 어깨 위로 투신한다 / 나무들이 입던 속옷을 벗어 깃발처럼 흔드는 정원에서
Bạn sẽ gọi quê hương bằng một đại từ nào? Tôi sẽ gọi đó là một ám ảnh | What pronoun would you use to call your birthsoil? I would call it a haunting
A changing consciousness within Mu Dan’s poetry stirs a listening in his translator
夜來沉醉卸妝遲 || With night you sink drunk slow to undo/ your hair
was it a gentle human hand, or black-furred / long-clawed
How the blurring of a relationship may point to a more fertile ground lying between the lines, in which multiple desires can co-exist.
This is a rectangular dream / which inevitably brings forth a rectangular waiting / a floating country can’t pillow a broken dream / and I’ve never dared say goodnight
Fatimah Asghar’s insistence on joy is a refusal of the demand that marginalized writers flatten trauma for the white gaze
Celebrate Women in Translation month by reading the work of under-translated women writers.
Mythologies have their way of explaining the basic human condition: that there will always be some where or thing you wish to get to or back to.
What gets lost in translation in the myth of American benevolence during the Korean War
The frustrations and aspirations of the most famous outlaw from Korean pre-modern literature echo a story of modern Korea.
Lost memories of India’s Olympic team, transversal writing, translation and multilingualism, the necropastoral, vampires, and more.
‘That day, I came of age / And became a child.’
“It seems that reading Kim Hyesoon in English and from the United States entails a radical re-positioning of one’s reading perspective, from imperial center to the vanishing point.”
‘For me, who grew up and became an adult during the New Order period, I was conscious of a historical and political absurdity. I began to feel that there were some Indonesians who had become invisible.’
‘Where was Mas Han? What was he running from? And why hadn’t he called or tried to get in contact with me? These were my questions, those of a wife, a woman, who had no idea how what had happened would affect the fate of the Indonesian people.’
What does it mean to be a guest of honor at the Frankfurt Book Fair? John McGlynn talks about the Lontar Foundation’s role in bringing Indonesian literature to the world and his own path from puppet maker to translator.
Poet Don Mee Choi discusses the myth of fluency and what happens when translation is allowed to be hysterical
How scared God must have been / when the woman who ate all the fruit of the tree he’d planted / was cutting out each red body from / between her legs
Upon entering a shrine, it seems to hold ghosts / The belly of an abbess suggests pregnancy / Behind a heavy curtain, the suggestion of people
I will float down the stream / until it ends. / Until it ends, the mines avoid me.
My mother left my father more than once. A favorite / family tradition observed when I was four. / Ten. Eleven. Twelve. Leaving is easier / the second time.
“In the smoke, they forget their bare feet / as they see their faces more clearly than ever… No trial can strike down / their small and fragile umbrellas.”
The National Book Award finalist and author of An Unnecessary Woman talks about mothers, thievery, and his homebody fabulousness.
Cathy Linh Che talks about her debut collection of poems, Split, and what it means to mimic flashbacks of war, immigration, and sexual violence.
I don’t teach my girls / to brave the violence of sun, sons, or stings. / When resources run out, don’t sit there and behave. / Abandon hive.
“Eyes will return tonight / with their ghosts / in the shape of tombstones.” On the 25th anniversary of June 4th, 1989.
I look up at the trees. / Like me, they have disrobed. / They have disarmed me
Qiu Miaojin—one of the first openly lesbian writers in ’90s post-martial-law Taiwan—committed suicide at the age of 26. What follows is an excerpt from her “survival manual” for a younger generation. With an introduction by translator Bonnie Huie.