Poetry Translation Masterclass is an online course offering an introduction to the art of translating poetry from a practitioner’s perspective. It is designed for poetry lovers and translators of all backgrounds—ranging from those who have never translated before but are interested in understanding what it is all about, to those who have been translating for decades and are eager to reflect on their craft in a group setting, to poets seeking to hone their craft by closely reading poetry in translation. All poems (by Persian poets Hafez and Bijan Elahi, Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva, and others) will be read in English. Alongside focusing on the craft of poetry translation, students will expand their awareness of world poetry.
Drawing on poems in translation by Ilya Kaminsky, Jean Valentine, and Geoffrey Squires, as well as the theoretical reflections of Willis Barnstone and other poet-translators, we will explore the craft and theory of poetry translation. Each of the course’s four sessions will be oriented towards a different aspect of poetry translation. In the first session, students will ask what makes some words, motifs, and images more translatable than others. In the second session, participants will consider issues in the translation of cultural difference by examining selected translations of ghazals (lyric poems) of the fourteenth-century Iranian poet Hafez. The third session will consider the problem of translating syntax and word order by closely examining two American poets’ English renderings of Marina Tsvetaeva’s Russian poems. The final session will examine the challenges of translating line breaks in modernist translation, through the example of selected modernist poems from Latin America and Iran. Students will also have the chance to share a translation of their own if they wish in the final session. While all discussion will focus on the poems in translation, the instructor will refer to the original versions where relevant.
No application required. Open to all adults. Enrollment capped at the first 20 students. For friends of the ALTA, use code ALTA for 20% off enrollment. Click here to learn more and enroll.
This course is hosted by Borderlines Open School, a new non-profit that offers seminar-style courses to the general public, students, teachers, and professors alike. These courses are designed to be affordable opportunities for engaging with and developing advanced and creative scholarship outside of the usual university system. Borderlines recognizes the value of intellectual and pedagogical labor, and is committed to ethical pay and support for all their instructors.