Lost in Translation &Feeling Like Love

Lost in Translation?

I was surprised to read the rumor that assumes translators are either lazy, or are writers who don’t wish to be noticed! I have no idea as to where that notion came from. The difference between a well translated text and an appalling one are so vast. Having seen this from both sides, while working for a Russian magazine, I would like to add my own insights to the discussion.

Late one night the deputy editor of the magazine, Status, which I work for, emailed in a state of advanced anxiety and frustration. The magazine had decided to try some new translators (Russian to English), and some of the pieces were so badly done, they were unreadable. The editor had done her best to restore some of the English, but as it was not her first language, she was struggling to make progress and the deadlines were imminent. Normally I would need to adapt the texts only slightly to make them more readable in English, and the Russian journalists were happy for me to do this; but this time they were so badly done they had to be carefully reconstructed as the quality of these excellent writers’ work had been ruined.

I felt really bad for my Russian colleagues, as no writer should have to cope with a situation like that, on a professional, glossy magazine. What I learnt from this experience was the amazing difference a good translator can make. Their work is largely unseen and unappreciated, and yet the better the job is done, the less you realize they have done it.

I  also understood form this experience that to respect someone else’s voice in a piece of writing, while translating, means that the translator must put their own ego on the shelf; in order to showcase someone else’s work. I have to ask in all honestly, how many writers’ would actually capable of doing this, without leaving behind traces of themselves and their own style? I doubt any of the writers I know personally, could resist the temptation to try and ‘improve’ the work. I must therefore conclude that translation is a highly specialised job carried out by very special people.

From a writer’s point of view, my concerns about translation are issues of trust and control. Having obsessed about the words, you wonder how, in another language, they will adapt and be perceived. And you will never know. It is impossible to predict reader reaction in your own language, so how much more risky that seems in someone else’s! My deepest concern is that, I write about different types of relationships in my poetry. My worst case scenario would be for a poem which is romantic or mildly erotic in English to seem slightly sleazy in another language – because I don’t the words or understand the cultural connotations that go with them.

My other concern is of rhythm; I have no idea if it gets lost once a piece has been translated. Some of my poems, such as ‘Feeling Like Love’ rely quite heavily on rhythm to give meaning, and I will never know if a poem like that, would give the same reading experience in another language; therefore translation involves an element of mystery and magic!

Feeling Like Love

She remembers the sheets,

That wrapped and entrapped them,

Coiled and curled,

Swathed across wet skin;

Drenched hot and cold,

In love and lust;

In strength and weakness,

In giving and receiving,

Hot, hard and needing,

Like nothing else exists –

Like everything;

Desperate,

Endless,

Inescapable,

Feeling; like, love.

First published in Contemporary Literary Horizon 2014

Mediterranean’s New Energy Hub

The second of my features for Life & Luxury magazine is beautifully illustrated!

Attracting major foreign investment into Cyprus in a time of global recession was never going to be easy, so when Netherlands based VTTI B.V., a major player in oil and fuel storage, announced their interest in building a state of the art storage facility with a brand new deep water marine jetty at Vasiliko, many wondered how and when this project would reach fruition. The project itself was not without initial delays and setbacks, but since November 2014 phase1 is now fully operational.

Read more

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Themes of Time and Memory

I have always been fascinated with relationship time and memory. Memories seem suggestible, subjective and are colored by emotion. Can we ever fully trust them? Are they able to persist in their own reality?

What if memories could be record by the state for monitoring and social control? What if you were offered the possibility of reliving your most precious memory – would you take it? And at what price? These are some of the questions I am attempting to answer as I write my new Sci-Fi novella, Memory Stalker…

The original idea for this came from my poem Pure Perfection:

Pure Perfection

It happens without warning,

The perfect moment, second, instant,

Fleetingly before it vanishes;

Grasping at its shadow,

Feeling its tenuous texture,

Luxuriating in the surreal essence,

Of past experience.

If only you could preserve it;

Then revive its sleeping princess,

With a stealthy lover’s kiss,

Back into your consciousness,

As if it were never lost,

Abandoned or forgotten,

Only, waiting to be recaptured.

In times of deep distress,

Of disinterest and disaffection;

Relive those precious moments.

Awaken the taste of madeleine cake,

And resuscitate your past,

Time remembered, time forgotten,

Memories intricately reconstructed.

Remembrance of lives once lived,

Of innocent, childhood tales,

And seductive lovers past,

Both saved and savored,

Sweet and persuasive.

Time can captivate and fascinate,

In its pure perfection.

First published in the Screcch Owl 2015

Life at the Museum

Our origins; who we believe we are, where we come from, the struggles and triumphs of our ancestors; these are the threads that weave the stories of our collective family histories. In some families, as in mine, this information is treasured by one member, the family storyteller, and in my own family this was my mother, Dorothy.

I was born in Hartlepool, a seaport and village which grew into a town, on a cold northerly coast of England. The town has a rich cultural heritage, an excellent maritime museum and a wonderful new art gallery (formerly Christ Church, where I was christened). This is where my own personal story began, but not relatives, whose origins, on my mother’s side, where from across the stormy seas of Europe.

My grandmother’s family where originally from the South of France; although not the glamorous palm tree-lined promenades of Cannes and Nice, they came from one of rural villages and were probably poor, although I don’t know the exact location, as facts always seemed to be in very short supply in these family tales: the story itself was the thing! I was told that my original family left France and moved to the Cornish coast in southern England, then later migrating further north to Nottingham and the North East. But time has not completely lost its Mediterranean legacy, as on a trip to France as a teenager, after an annoying mechanical breakdown in Reims, a young couple came to the rescue, speaking in French, far too fast for me to understand, and the girl looked bemused at my sad incomprehension and said, “But you look like you come from the south!”

My grandfather‘s family were originally from Denmark. I can see him clearly in the photograph my mother gave me, of this distinguished looking man, smoking a pipe. My granddad was a sailor in the merchant navy, who contracted a deadly strain of malaria while docked in Africa, which troubled him for the rest of his life. Unfortunately, this terrible disease eventually killed him; only a couple of months before I was born.

My mother never really got over his death, and I remember one day when I was small, she took me to a magical place, in order to share her memories of him, with me. We arrived at a very grand house; the former home of Gray Art Gallery and Museum in Hartlepool. My mother explained her special reason for the visit – after leaving the merchant navy, my grandfather Granville, who preferred to be called George, became the caretaker of the museum. His love of this amazing place, and depth of his knowledge of the artworks and exhibits, ensured that against latter-day expectations, he became the museum’s curator.

Gray Art Gallery and Museum was a beautiful place, in its day, resplendent with a stunning stained glass window, a large fish pond in its perfectly kept gardens, and a huge, flower-filled conservatory.  The house and original collection of paintings were given by Captain W. Gray, as an offering of thanks for the safe return of his son from the First World War. Since its opening in 1920, new collections in social and maritime history, have been added and also collections of Asian art, natural history and decorative arts. The maritime collection, which my own children loved, includes: fishing cobles, a merman, an exhibit which allows you to identify different bird cries, and a lighthouse! In the art gallery, there is an impressive fine art collection including works by James Carmichael, Lucien Freud, Basil Beattie, James Clarke and Frank Henry Mason, and these new collections, no doubt, would have delighted my grandfather.

For my mother, the visit brought memories of her childhood, flooding back, as my mother’s family lived in the museum; inhabiting the former servant’s quarters on the first floor. Life at the museum was never dull, she once told me; and also how lucky she was to have lived in such a magical place! I envied her childhood spent in such idyllic surroundings,  and have always felt the loss of the grandfather , whom  I was never able  to meet:  what  I do understand about him, although it’s not that much, is that he was very cultured, appreciated art, and that there was a great deal that he could have taught me.  Sometimes, I have this strange, fleeting feeling, that, as if by some inexplicable magic, he is still close to me; and I breathe in the scent of a newly smoked pipe, which seems to linger, long after there is no one around…

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First published in English and Romanian at Contemporary Literary Horizon   2015

Back to Business

This is my first experience of writing for an online publication of this type – and it has been really positive! I am so pleased with the quality of the layout and design. I don’t think my writing has ever been displayed so finely!

The Life & Luxury magazine is a beautifully designed reading experience, which is part of a design and marketing site, offering a selection of design, video and marketing services to business clients.

I have really enjoyed writing the articles for the Autumn issue of the magazine – the first of which:

Is This Our New Reality? Sustainable Luxury:

The idea of new products being designed to be both luxurious and sustainable maybe seem to be  antithetical in nature and the yet the concept of ‘positive luxury’ is rapidly  becoming the newest marketing strategy in the luxury products industry. So is this new development a real phenomenon or merely a cynical manipulation of the modern market? Perhaps it is an attempt to make the consumers of luxury goods feel less guilty about their conspicuous consumption during the current global economic down turn; or could this new trend actually be more about values, respect and brand image? Read more

First Eve

First Eve

♥ 

I adored it

When called me

Your very first Eve,

Entering your

Mystical kingdom,

Where I imagined

I would reign supreme!

Relying on my sensuality

To enchant and seduce you,

Imagining my poor,

Pawned innocence,

Could keep you content.

But deep in the burning heart

Of your abandoned desires,

You had already lost,

The love of your life;

It was never me, whom

You craved in your darkest dreams-

Your vanquished heart,

Having already been stolen

By a deceiving demoness,

Who had disappeared

From your enchanted life,

In a tornado of torturous abuse.

I can no longer believe,

That I was ever truly yours;

I suspect that you lied and deceived me:

I could never be, your very first Eve,

When your disintegrating heart,

Had already dissolved,

After losing your demonic lover, Lilith:

If I were, somehow, able to decipher your pain,

Must you mourn her for all of eternity?

First published at The Screech Owl 2015