Becoming the Conduit:
Translating Poetry

Poems are more than just information, they are language come alive. How do we facilitate the transference of a poem from one language to another? How do we ensure that the poem arrives alive and well into English and sings and dances in the same ways as the original? A translation is not a carbon copy, it’s a transmutation—a poem existing in a new medium (language is the medium we work in, right? Right).

In this five-week online workshop we’ll look at various craft essays on literary translation by Kate Briggs, Esther Allen, Walter Benjamin and others as we read pairings of multiple translations of the same poem each week by poets like Pablo Neruda, Basho and Sarah Kirach, among others. Using the Wet Ink discussion feature, we’ll talk about how the translations differ, which we find most effective and why, and how/why the translators made different decisions. We’ll use these discussions to fuel our weekly translation assignments. Participants will be asked to submit one translation per week with a brief description (100 words) of why they made certain decisions, what they found most challenging and how they approached those challenges. Weekly work for the course will be done asynchronously on Wet Ink, and the professor will provide video introductions to material and a one-on-one video conference with each student.

Workshop Details


Ariel Francisco is the author of A Sinking Ship is Still a Ship (Burrow Press, 2020), All My Heroes Are Broke (C&R Press, 2017) and Before Snowfall, After Rain (Glass Poetry Press, 2016). His work has been published by the New Yorker, American Poetry Review, Academy of American Poets, New York City Ballet and many other venues. A poet and translator born in the Bronx to Dominican and Guatemalan parents and raised in Miami, he earned his MFA at Florida International University and is a visiting professor in the MFA in Writing & Publishing program at the Vermont College of Fine Arts.