How did you come to translate Šalamun’s work?
Tomaž was a visiting professor at my
school, The University of Pittsburgh, in 2006 when I was still an
undergrad. I took his class. He'd already been working with another
poet, also his student, Thomas Kane. It all unfurled from there. It has
been Tomaz's ambition always to fold the latest generations into the
translation of his still growing oeuvre. The thing of main importance
is that we began to trust each other's instincts and judgments. So I
came to co-translating his work because we began to trust one another.
Now, as I approach my third decade, I expect anytime to be sent to sea
on a burning raft. I equate this to the apotheosis that marriage is.
What relationships do you see between Šalamun’s work and your own?
A tendency to disguise, via squalls of passion, impotence and
stupidity, our deeply bred sense of entitlement to liberty, gratitude,
disdain and love.
The voice of this poem pushes toward honesty through wild abandon, but
the coda collapses that energy into a ridiculously measured bit of
self-awareness. How do you find where to land when balancing the
explosive and cohesive forces in your poems?
As I become fatigued, the poem acquires cohesion. "Wild abandon" but
oppositely founded. The fatigue doesn't express from wildness, it
expresses from the attempt to abandon wildness, on the scale of
letters. This poem is more like a successful abortion, that is, the
foetus (chaos, failure) is successfully dead, no matter how many parts
now exist to prove what was its now bygone wholeness and mechanical
splendor. Also, because the end is much more uncomfortable than the
Sample Translations: Chapbook: Curtis Harnack Wrapped Me in a Shawl