Jonathan Galassi on Poetry in Translation
Throughout the month FSG publisher, poet, and translator Jonathan Galassi will be adding his thoughts on various aspects of the poetry world.
A lot of the recent poetry we've published has been about extending our range: working with some younger poets, or publishing selected poems by poets from traditions other than our own central tradition. It's fun to do those books, but it's also challenging.
I finished the Giacomo Leopardi translation, it's coming out this fall. I feel a great sense of relief because I've been working on this for ten years. It was the most difficult thing I've ever done. It has all sorts of problems, frustrations, and insoluble conundrums. But, you know, I'm excited to be finished, to be letting go of it. It was an education for me. Also this fall, we're publishing Valerio Magrelli. He's the first contemporary Italian we've translated in a long time.
There’s If I Were Another, by Mahmoud Darwish. And Durs Grünbein is a wonderful contemporary German poet. We're doing his essays The Bars of Atlantis. We can only do a few of these things. But I think it's important to seed the ground, to turn over the earth. To bring new voices into the conversation.
Mitzi Angel is doing very interesting things on the Faber list that, again, extend our range but are consistent with the Faber ethos. There’s Paul Farley’s The Atlantic Tunnel. Don Paterson’s Rain could've been either FSG or Faber, he is in many people's minds the leading younger poet in Britain today. Plus he's been published by Graywolf Press; you could say he's already in the family. I love his work.
Publishing Anglo-Irish and Australian poetry is interesting because it's our language but also represents other cultures. There's a kind of dual thing going on there. They're writing about things going on in our own language, but they also hook in other cultures' attitudes and traditions. We've always published Seamus Heaney and Derek Walcott, they're both from the "empire of English," and they're poets who've had a big impact on American writing. Internationalism is a part of the FSG poetry tradition, so we're trying to continue that in a different way.