THE AUTHOR Adonis Durado works as a graphic designer and is currently based in Bangkok, Thailand. He received the "Emmanuel Lacaba Prize" from the National Commission for Culture and the Arts in 2000, and "The Best New Writer" from Cebuano Studies Center and Faigao Foundation in 2001. He was a fellow of Iligan National Writers Workshop, UP National Writers Workshop, and Don Cornelio Faigao Workshop.
Merlie M. Alunan, an associate of the U.P. Institute of Creative Writing, is a professor at the U.P. College in Tacloban City, where she currently resides. She has received numerous awards for her writing, including the Lillian Jerome Thornton Award for Nonfiction, Gawad Pambansang Alagad ni Balagtas, Palanca Awards, Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Creative Work, and Likhaan Workshop Award. Her books include “Hearthstone, Sacred Tree”, “Amina Among the Angels”, and “Fern Garden: An Anthology of Women Writing in the South”.
Radel Paredes is a newspaper columnist and a fine arts professor of the University of San Carlos. He has been chosen twice as juror for China-ASEAN Youth Artwork and Creativity Contest in Guangxi, China.
Josua Cabrera is an award-winning editorial cartoonist of SunStar Daily Cebu, and is currently the president of Bathalan-ong Halad Sa Dagang. He won the Palanca Award for his short story in 2005.
ONE MINUTE INTERVIEW WITH THE POET
How many years did it take you to publish this book?
I started writing in 1993. So, it’s 15 years in the making. My friends said that this book is long overdue, but there's no regret for not publishing it earlier. Time has provided me opportunities to rework on my poems and see each poem in different light over and over. I have written a sizeable number of poems that can make up into three books. My collection of short poems (Minugbo alang sa mga Mugbo og Kalipay) is due next year. I’ll have the third one published a year after.
What makes this book special? Most of the poems that were previously published will appear quite different in this book. For example, the widely anthologized poem “Balaki Ko, Day, Samtang Gasakay Tag Habalhabal” has been pruned and tweaked. So, this book is the definitive text for my poems.
How many poems in the book, and how did you arrange them? The poems are arranged thematically. There are five chapters in the book with twelve poems each. That means there is a total of 60 poems in the book, right? Wrong. There are 61 poems that readers will find.
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"TRADUTTORE, TRADITORE": A QUICK INTERVIEW WITH THE TRANSLATOR
Being a poet yourself, what are your thoughts on translation and as a translator?
Although I am one of those who say that poetry is untranslatable, I'd also be among the first to say "Long live translation!" How many novels, poems, stories would we not have been able to read without the work of translators! Consider ages of Chinese poetry in their beautiful calligraphy rendered in English in work-a-day Romanized script, the tender delicate haiku, the works of classic masters like Dante, Cervantes, Homer, Sophocles, Aristotle, the Ramayana and the Mahabharatha. Think of the power of the Holy Bible released into hundreds of tongues all over the world. For all its much vaunted failures and inadequacies, consider the good that translation had brought about to peoples and cultures all over the world.
Is translating more difficult than writing an original poem? Every piece of writing has its own difficulty. Some poems are born whole, sliding into the world with confidence and joy, as in some human births. But as any mother knows about some births too, some poems are shy and hesitant and take too long, or sometimes die before they see the light. Every poet keeps some memory of poems lingering at the tip of the tongue but refuse to take shape in words, images, sound, metaphor-whatever it is that gives a poem existence. So every poem has its own difficulties. Translation, too, yields its own frustrations. Translating prose is probably not as difficult, but translating poetry is particularly difficult because poetry trades in attitudes more than in meanings. There are so many more things unsaid in poetry than what are actually stated in words. The true universe of poetry is the universe of feelings, silent but replete with sensations. The equivalences of word and feeling are not always the same from one language to the next. The translator traverses uncertain the uncertain pathways of language to connect these labyrinths of feelings. His or her ear for both languages must be subtle or else he or she will miss the nuances. And he or she must always remember that the humbling fact that the poem does not belong to him. He cannot take liberties with it because the original poem stands solid as a monument to chide his failure or disrespect. This is equally hard. Whether this is harder or easier than writing an original poem, I do not wish to say. What I could say is this: Whatever the difficulty might be, it is important that one enjoys the work, the writing, or the translation. Luckily for this collection of Adonis, it had been more joy than hard work.
What’s the most difficult poem you’ve translated from the book? "Suwat sa Sugarol". The reasons are easy enough to imagine. Gambling is absolutely alien to me. The idioms of gambling might as well be Greek as far as I am concerned. This is one reason. The other reason is that the idioms of gambling in English would absolutely be different from the Cebuano idioms in the same field. I wrote a note to Adonis: "The best way to translate this is to get the English gamblers' idioms. But Cebuano idioms are also culturally unique. If we Anglicize it too much, we might lose our own cultural context. This is a midway job." He had to pitch in to help me understand some words and phrases. But these difficulties, real as they are, were really more technical. The personality itself of the gambler was delightfully clear, the pathos of aging, mingling with the macho bravado, the invincible gambler's spirit winning over the odds of common sense and ordinary morality. We don't really know whether we did a good job of translation. Finally, Adonis had to settle with what he got. It must have seemed to him like a heroic effort even if it may lack the incisiveness and precision of the original.
(Read the poem and translation of "Suwat Sa Sugarol" under the Poetry Sampling or click here.)