This disparity is particularly striking in light of the traditional understanding of translation itself as feminine. As Lori Chamberlain so famously explained it in her 1988 essay, “Gender and the Metaphorics of Translation”:
The opposition between productive and reproductive work organizes the way a culture's values work: this paradigm depicts originality or creativity in terms of paternity and authority, relegating the figure of the female to a variety of secondary roles. I am interested in this opposition specifically as it is used to mark the distinction between writing and translating – marking, that is, the one to be original and 'masculine,' the other to be derivative and 'feminine.'
And unsurprisingly, given the gross and persistent inequities of the global publishing trade, even when translators reinterpret our role as co-creators instead of midwives, and even as we increasingly seek out female authors, the resulting texts are still starkly under-published, under-reviewed, and under-recognized.
Experimental, critically minded, and feminist translators like Chamberlain have exploded the paradigm of translation as derivative in favor of understanding translation as revision, mutation, subversion, correspondence. As we saw in Lily Robert-Foley's "Keepin' It Queer" in DB 22, there is much to learn from approaches to queering translation, and we at Drunken Boat continue to strive for an intersectionally critical perspective on the many power differentials at play when texts are moved between languages, countries, and artists.
So, in this issue of Drunken Boat, we are publishing and celebrating eight works authored by women, translated by women. And they are stunning.
A brief introduction to each, from Assistant Editor María José Gimenéz:
What does it mean to say “I am from [this place]”? Adriana X. Jacobs’ selection from Vaan Nguyen’s The Truffle Eye opens this star-studded issue with two slides from an archeological dig of sorts into the experience of displacement and belonging.
Then, in a musical collaboration with the author, Greek-American writer Maria Nazos gets lost and finds her way back home in her adaptation/adoption of Dimitra Kotoula’s work. Andrea Rosenberg follows with her own masterful journey through translatable and untranslatable (re)turns in Lina Meruane’s interrogation of language, memory, home, and identity, Volverse Palestina/Becoming Palestine.
Next, Rachilde’s lavish, late-nineteenth-century French seems to “move on drifts of down” in Rachel’s Tapley sumptuous rendition of “The Panther.” And Lizzie Davis carries us through a selection of post-Franco poet Pilar Fraile Amador’s “unflinchingly non-linear, multi-vocal, disjunctive poetry.”
The female body is “some kind of travel map” in Olja Savičević Ivančević's prose poems, and Andrea Jurjević guides us through its fragility and strength—“sinewy existence, thin vigor.”
Those deeply embodied travels continue with Tedi López Mills's crossings through “imagined and actual locations,” which demand that translator Cheryl Clark Vermeulen parallel the poet's mappings of inner and outer worlds, making painstaking choices between vernacular and learned voice.
Finally, Michelle Gil-Montero's re-creation of three “extraordinary letters” by María Negroni sets us on one last, marvelously “dangerous” incursion into losing/finding oneself.
María José Giménez
Assistant Translation Editor