After a guest post by Elisa Bonora on Marian Dougan's award winning blog - Words to Good Effect - a Twitter conversation ensued about how we move away from the source text. Here's my method in a little poem:
The (very) creative text
The text is creative, it looks like fun,
I’m used to doing them, just another one.
I know the client, the brochure too,
but this time the author seems to be new.
“What can be different?” I ask myself,
placing my other work back on the shelf.
This one’s urgent, but aren’t they all?
Normally I don’t really mind at all.
I read the first section and scratch my head.
What exactly is being said?
I know it’s poetic and the French reads well,
but what is meant I really can’t tell.
I stare at the screen but words don’t come,
my mind is blank, my brain is numb.
Time for action, I know of course,
I just need to move away from the source.
Moving away doesn’t just mean distraction,
it really is time to spring into action,
to leave my desk, shut the office door,
clean the kitchen or wash the floor.
But all the time the text stays in my head,
going round and round as I look for the thread.
One word comes but there’s many to go,
I need to keep going, it’s starting to flow.
A change of tack, what will I do next?
It’s a little too early to return to the text.
Some gentle stretches that will keep me fit,
warm up my limbs, help me chill a bit.
I lie on the floor, lift one-two-three,
and all of a sudden it comes to me.
The words are clear, it all unravels,
it’s what he encountered on his travels.
The setting sun, the bright blue sea,
the verdant hills, the sway of the tree.
The words are different the concept’s the same,
to confuse the translator was not his aim.
This new author was out to impress,
to please the editor, his path to success.
Simple description won’t get him far,
when using poetry can raise the bar.
But the poor translator, did he think of me?
Certainly not, it’s plain to see.
But that’s my job, my true vocation,
turning 'gobbledegook' into a good translation.
I like a challenge so I’m not complaining,
the whole process is quite entertaining.
It keeps me fit as through the house I roam,
though it’s just as well I work from home.
© Alison Hughes 13.6.14