Translations from French to English
–Marie Borel, Wolftrot, Fence Books/La Presse, 2006 (translation by Omar Berrada and Sarah Riggs) from Trompe-Loup, Le bleu du ciel éditions, 2003
–Isabelle Garron, Face Before Against, Litmus Press, 2008, from the French Face devant contre (Flammarion, 2002)
–Ryoko Sekiguchi, Two Markets, Once Again, The Post-Apollo Press, 2008 from Deux marchés, de nouveau, Editions P.O.L., 2005 the French
–Oscarine Bosquet, Present Participle, 2012 (translation by Ellen LeBlond-Schrader and Sarah Riggs) from Participe Présent, Le bleu du ciel éditions, 2009
–Etel Adnan, October 27, 2003 translated from Le 27 Octobre 2003, Editions Tawbaad, editor Khaled Najar
the autumn garden isn’t enough
for our impatience. I am exiled
from my inner land since
a lost love left me
I live in an invisible that has neither
bathroom nor entryway.
the invisible has no owner.
the dream never has walls,
and it is never cold there
I am not a phantom along
the foreign river. neither leopard nor
owl. I am a current of air
come on! jasmine behind the ear
belongs to a fallen dusk.
we would no longer speak of
human things, but stones
are no better
as for me, I belong to the stones
thrown for lack of helicopters,
to the women locked up,
to the political prisoners;
sometimes I regret my love of
don’t leave your childhood, and its
sorrows. the first desire will
accompany you to the last
breath. streets lead to
illuminations, but never to peace
of the heart
–Stéphane Bouquet, A People (forthcoming) translated by Sarah Riggs and Cole Swensen from Un Peuple, Editions Champ Vallon, 2007
excerpt below from READ 2009 (http://tamaas.org/news/read-a-journal-of-inter-translation-2009/)
Virginia Woolf: in one of the French translations of Mrs. Dalloway, toward the end of the party, Clarissa is off in another room, by herself. The bells of Big Ben ring, resounding in ever more fragile waves, dissolving in the air, becoming invisible filaments. Clarissa is alone, thinking of Septimus, perhaps sensing him in those filaments, perhaps breathing him in. She says to herself: “Death is an embrace.” (An intensely moving phrase, and for me it’s because it says that death also is an instance of materiality.) This phrase doesn’t exist in the English, nor in any other French translation. It’s this sort of thing that gives rise to all the pseudo-theories that claim that translation is a loss, an error, a betrayal, etc. Quite the opposite, translation is literally an augmentation, an offered addition. Translation multiplies the possibilities of emotion, and neither diminishes nor suppresses them. And what exactly is there to betray anyway? I can’t imagine. Texts are not the relics of saints. They’re not vehicles of sacred meaning. And writers are nothing other than, all literature is nothing other than, a pledge to materiality, to a production of excess. A eulogy for the world that’s always beginning again. I could suggest a metaphor: texts are the maid’s clothes. She envelopes herself, alluring and affected, but actually only waiting for her skirt to be lifted, to be naked to the world. As does literature; it’s waiting for the world to finally strip it of language.
Poems from the 1001 Nights,
translations from the Arabic by Omar Berrada & Sarah Riggs (ongoing)
Come here—for a tiny moment
The time—to fry an egg or milk a ewe
Taste a little bread
Take a little silver
Help yourself—unrestrained–to what you like
A great span, a small span, a handful
She appears—a moon, she sways—a willow branch
Her scent—ambergris, her gaze—a gazelle’s
Sorrow it seems adores my heart
The moment she leaves, it loves to return
Her gazing the moon recalled
To me our nights in al Raqmatain
Each of us beholds a moon
I with her eyes and she with mine
Your figure—bewildering, your gaze—blackest black,
Your face—a glimmering stream,
A heavenly image imprinted on my eye:
One half hyacinth, a third gemstone,
One-fifth musk, a sixth ambergris;
You—a pearl—yet more luminous.
Eve never conceived one so beautiful,
You’ve no equal in the gardens above.
Torment me, it’s passion’s rule—
Or forgive me, it’s your choice.
You’re longed for—the world’s ornament.
Who could not desire—your face?
© 2019 Sarah Riggs