Panel 1: Collaboration and Community

This panel will take place in JRL 122, Joseph Regenstein Library (1100 E 57th St).

12:30-1:10     Itō Hiromi & Jeffrey Angles


1:10-1:30     Q&A

1:30-2:10     Ye Mimi, Steve Bradbury & Silvia Marijnissen

“Translating Ye Mimi”

In a lively and informal exchange, Taiwanese poet Ye Mimi and her American translator Steve Bradbury will talk about the peculiarities of her poetry and the challenges that presents to the English translator, who will demonstrate his equally peculiar approach to rendering her work in English with specific examples from their chapbook, ‘His Days Go by the Way Her Years’.

Focusing on a few examples, Dutch translator, Silvia Marijnissen will explain why it’s so much fun to translate Ye Mimi’s work into Dutch.

2:10-2:30     Q&A


Panel 2: On the Outside Looking In

This panel will take place in JRL 122, Joseph Regenstein Library (1100 E 57th St).

2:40-3:20     Peter Robinson

“An Attempt to Translate ‘Daigaku wo deta okusan’ by Ibaragi Noriko”

It is doubtless Quixotic to attempt translations of poems in languages that you do not understand – though not necessarily like the great Spanish hidalgo, perhaps, for it is also perfectly possible to act clear-sightedly in relation to a text in such a language, by acknowledging from the start how little you know, and approaching it with more caution than a tilter at windmills. To be tempted to do such a thing might also be no more than a limit case for what engages a poet translating from a language in which he or she has more competence. After all, the urge to translate a poem almost always involves the experience of not fully understanding how it performs its sound-sense amalgam, a combination of sonic and semantic possibilities only achieved once and in that language by that poet at that time. To give a sense of outsider-hood, and tune in to the theme of this panel, I explore an attempt made, finding myself unexpectedly in Japan almost thirty years ago, to translated some poems by the classic post-war poet Ibaragi Noriko (1926-2006), helped by a student at Kyoto University called Fumiko Horikawa. The presentation includes evidence of a distant approach to the Japanese original, to sensing its nature and structure, and finding an idiom that negotiates conflicted fidelities to both departure and arrival languages. The paper is contextualized in the lives of the English poet and native-speaker collaborator, and illustrates how these translations came to be published in a now unavailable small press edition in 1992.

3:20-4:00     Brother Anthony & Eun-Gwi Chung

“The Troublesome Case of the Korean Voice or: Can there be translation without cultural appropriation?”

All Korean poets share a common cultural identity, which can be termed “Korean-ness.” Yet it seems difficult to defines it, and equally difficult to translate it. In this presentation, an attempt will be made to explore the extent to which expressions of a specific national identity in that culture’s language can survive translation into another, very different, international language. Korea has undergone a great variety of dramatic changes in its national and cultural identity in the course of its recent history. Using quotations from a small number of poems the presentation aims to explore the extent to which qualities of “Korean-ness” can survive the process of translation.

4:00-4:30     Q&A


Panel 3: Contemporary Interventions

This panel will take place in Classics 110 (1010 E 59th St).

9:00-9:40     Young-mee Yu Cho

“Language Unleashed in K Hip-Hop: A New Poetic Intervention”

With the advent of “the online era” in the late 1990s, the texture and the sound of contemporary Korean language have undergone an irreversible change. Korean Hip-Hop was born from one such linguistic revolution. We will explore how Korean rap artists have been able to build a creative space to experiment with this new American import and to find ways to subvert censorship and finally to give birth to Korean rap. Whether underground or mainstream, there were hardly any non-accidental rhymes until 1997 (Seotaji & Boys (1992-1996), GOD), due to the unique challenges of adapting Korean syntax and prosody to a typical 4-beat hip-hop track. After two decades of negotiating linguistic and cultural tensions, successful rappers have seamlessly created internal and multi-word rhymes, flow and storytelling that flaunt an identity of “self-conscious” artists in the world of musical sell-outs (Cho PD, Verbal Jint, p-Type, Rhyme-A- , DJ DOC, MINO, GAEKO, etc.) In the presentation, we will examine DJ DOC’s 2016 “Suchwiin Pulmyŏng” (“Recipient Unknown”) as a protest poem par excellence in the contemporary South Korean political scene.

9:40-10:20     Jennifer Feeley

“Translating Musicality and Wordplay in Xi Xi’s Poetry”

This presentation explores the challenges and possibilities in translating musicality and wordplay in the poetry of contemporary Hong Kong author Xi Xi 西西, focusing on her poems “Ichirō” and “Crab Canon.” “Ichirō” is a macaronic poem that plays with the relationship between Japanese kanji and Chinese hanzi and incorporates Japanese syntax and transliterations into what otherwise primarily is a “Chinese” poem where certain lines only rhyme if they are read in Japanese. Meanwhile, based on the musical arrangement that is made up of two complementary, reversed musical lines, “Crab Canon” is a palindrome line poem that can be read both forward and backward and is rich in rhymes and language games. I discuss strategies used to recreate the rhymes, rhythm, and puns in translating these poems, detailing how I take advantage of English’s polysemy, homonymy, and various sound devices to render Xi Xi’s wordplay and musicality.

10:20-11:00     Marianne Tarcov

“Abdicating Idols: Singing the End of the Heisei Era with SMAP and Shiina Ringo”

The dissolution of the Japanese male idol pop group SMAP, a long, controversial breakup that began with a public apology by the group in January 2016 and drew out until their official breakup on December 31, 2017, prompted such an outpouring of national mourning that many compared it to the emperor’s recently expressed desire to abdicate the throne. Like the emperor’s abdication, the end of SMAP has caused a period of introspection with regard to the end of the Heisei era as it draws to a close.

Once untouchable national institutions, such as SMAP itself and the once-hegemonic Japanese idol system to which the group belonged, now seem to be thrown into question, as their decline is poised to become a reality. This paper explores the song “Seishun no Mabataki,” (“Flicker of Youth”), the last song SMAP performed together on their variety show, in a collaboration with fellow ‘90s megastar, the pop songstress Shiina Ringo. Even as this performance offers a mournful goodbye to the Heisei era, it also acts to shore up notions of Japanese uniqueness and cool-ness, offering a critique of a shifting cultural landscape, and a gesture of consolation or reassurance that existing institutions will prevail.

11:00-11:30     Q&A