Getting Judith Wright right

by
September 1994, no. 164

Getting Judith Wright right

by
September 1994, no. 164

Co-translating the poems of Judith Wright into Japanese has been, writes Meredith McKinney, an intense experience, heightened by her very particular relationship with Australia’s most respected poet.

Anyone who has had the experience of trying to translate a poem across even a fairly low-density language barrier (say German or French into English) will have tasted the near despair of finding oneself in danger of killing that in the creature that one most wanted to save. Sometimes it feels like cutting down the tree and whittling from the wood a mere mock replica of it  – the sap goes, the leaves in all their lively beauty disappear, and at best there’s an artifact which cleverly reproduces the mere outlines of what was once brimming with life.

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