Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Goethe Time Shadows at Cafe Muse

So much for August being a slow month.

Cafe Muse hosted Goethe Institute's Time Shadows translation project that featured poems by by local poets Sunil Freeman, Brian Gilmore, Rod Jellema, and Fred Joiner. As Lane Jennings, the moderator for this unusual program that brings together German, Chinese, and English translators and poets, explained, all the poems selected were aired in three different languages. German poet Brigitte Struzyk and Chinese poet Yi Lei were also represented in this program. We were pleased to have the participation of Goethe Institute Director Wilfried Eckstein and Lihong Wang.

Here for example is the first stanza of Brian Gilmore's poem "Chocolate City Blues":

sugar mama i met in the wee wee hours;

was it ten years ago
or was it thirty days?

Zucker Mama traf ich in den frühen Morgenstunden

War’s vor zehn Jahren
Oder waren’s dreißig Tage?



The Goethe Institute website explains:

Here, Brian Gilmore (a native Washingtonian poet currently teaching at the University of Michigan College of Law) takes a 20th century form of song—the blues—and tells an all-too-familiar story just a little differently. In this glimpse of “love-gone wrong,” for once it is the man who is left waiting for the phone call that never comes, while the “sugar mama” he adores has gone and left him empty in every way. 

Cafe Muse Co-director Laura Golberg wanted to know how one translated such slang as "hoochie coochie man"? Read about the project and see the poems and their translations to discover how the translator handled such challenges.

The Cafe Muse program, which also included a tribute to the late Ernie Wormwood (delivered by her daughter Sydney Sgambato and poet Kathi Wolfe), played before a house of nearly 40 people. Paul Hopper, participating in the open mic, also offered a moving poem by Ernie. 

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