My essay on the affinity between sestinas and literary translation was published in Words Without Borders yesterday! You can read it here:
I’ve been mulling over this idea for quite some time, ever since I translated a sestina by Chung Kwok-keung back in 2018. In 2019, I translated another—”Fish Tree.” Last year, I translated the final one, “Gecko,” which I presented at the ALTA conference. After ALTA, I started writing this piece, reading more sestinas, and delving into the literary theory on the form. Now, this essay is out in the world!
It’s been heartening to see folks share and resonate with the piece on social media. LitHub even gave me a shout-out in today’s LitHub Daily, which kinda feels like a mile stone!
Here is one of my favorite pull quotes from the piece—
If the sestina is a form that adds depth to words through iteration and replication, does it not also engage in a form of translation? When translating a sestina, translators keenly experience the tensions and reverberations at the heart of literary translation.
After translating Chung’s poems, I now wonder: what’s next for the sestina? Translating Chinese sestinas allowed me to see the possibilities that the form has outside of Western literature