Wednesday, August 3, 2016

throw the bones to any dog

"How to Bone a Text"

The fish of the text (as well as the text of the fish) is consumed, after which the backbone and the bones of the consonants are removed. Note well that with small children the first fish (text) is soft and pouffy (not puffy), composed exclusively from the delicate soulflesh of the vowels. With growth, the bones rooted in this flesh will become hard, harder, always haaaarder.
I submit that the natural softness of the language can still be saved in poetry.

The words are tiny fish
with many consonant bones.
Permit me to clean them for a moment
before I melt in your mouth
- O OU A E E, EA?

This technique can successfully be applied
to prepared classic texts.
The boning process sets the flesh of the text to music
and gives it naturalness.
And so
"Who rides so late through night and wind,
it is the father with his child..."
" o i e o a e ou i a i,
i i e a e i i i ..."
Throw the extracted bones of the consonants
- Wh rds s lt thrgh nght nd wnd-
to any dog.

But listen!
Not a single bone
in a dog's voice.

"Technik zum EntgrÃĪten von Texten" by Georgi Gospodinov, translation from the German mine. No, this is not the La Regenta excerpt post I said I was going to write. I have mislaid my copy of the Alas novel.


  1. Wow! I don't know what to make of Gospodinov. I suspect I would need to be in a different, mind-altered mood. My mind is preoccupied with Shelley today (his birthday), so Gospodinov has some tough competition for my attention. Nevertheless, I am pleased to see that you have returned to blogging and posting. Welcome back!

  2. I somehow never really fell for the English Romantics, so I don't know what to make of Shelley. Gospodinov seems very straightforward to me! Playful (the idea that consonants are the bones of words, vowels the flesh), but I think his laughter is often in the spirit of Shelley's friend Byron, who said "if I laugh at any mortal thing, tis that I may not weep" or however it goes. (From Don Juan, for which Shelley's fatal boat was named. In my world, everything connects.)

    I've been busy, too busy to blog. There is no single blog the world can't do without. The same goes for artistic geniuses, as I was thinking just this morning.

  3. The world is mostly doing without me and mine. I'm a bit sick of social media and not doing a lot on line. Everything is so horrible with people arguing about two people not worth the arguments. Aaaaiee!

    But I think you should keep translating. All these interesting people I don't know: you could be their Englisher!

    1. I will be happy when the red and blue puppet show ends!

      I have actually stumbled across Gospodinov's gmail address. I am tempted to ask him if he's okay with my being his sometime Englisher on this blog. How would you feel if a Bulgarian you'd never heard of emailed with a similar question about translating your poetry?

    2. i don't think i'd give him my bank account number... interesting bones and tissue, though; actually kind of grisly, especially when contrasted with Shelley...

    3. gristly

      My favorite Shelley: Death is here and death is there, death is busy everywhere. What a card.

    4. gristly, yes... sorry i missed that...

    5. It's spelled knorpelig, but you've got the pronunciation right. Knorpelig Poesie. That's what I'm naming my next band.

    6. like it... you can publish a rock version of Danse Macabre"..

  4. You really do have a knack for this, Scott; like your previous Englishing, this one is great fun, but with a weird underlying seriousness that keeps it from being a joke. Despite coming into English indirectly, via German, it still has a very...Slavic...feel. Very cool.

    1. I think the credit for the Slavic feel must go to the three German translators, but I admit that I really enjoy working at the problems of translation. I don't credit myself for creating anything at all; my goal is to make myself as invisible as possible, to point at Gospodinov (or his German translators, maybe; that part's tricky but I'm not going to learn Bulgarian).

      I also admit that I'm not bothering with any of Gospodinov's poems that seem commonplace (a few about young love have been written already by lots of other poets, but maybe it's a required phase of poets), nor am I bothering with a couple of works that simply baffle me. Though there is poetry from every period of history that I don't understand, so that's my limitation, not Gospodinov's.

      Anyway, I'm glad a few people are enjoying these. I like doing them.