Yes. My 27 years as a full-time free-lance translator of Russian books and journals -- scientific, engineering, and business -- showed me the importance of finding the precise word or phrase to convey the exact meaning of the text. (And in poetry, the esthetics and emotion as well.) As a hobby, I read Russian poetry and attempted to translate it into English. Reproducing the Russian rhyme and meter was a real challenge, and my twenty-year output consisted of one satisfactory translation.
On Saturday, Aug. 6, at Alamosa Books, Bob Johnston will be reading from his first published collection of poems, At the Rim: Selected Poems (Sunstone Press.) No other than Valerie Martinez had this to say about his poetry:
“Bob Johnston is a poet of incredible range, whether narrating the rural lands of 'dry lightning,' invoking Rambo in a sonnet, dreaming 'drowned corpses' in a lyric, or voicing the dark monologues of deadly sinners. There is poignancy, humor, regret, and acute insight in At the Rim, everything at the heart of the human condition, and it is a pleasure to read a book of poems that allows us the breadth of what it means to be to be alive in this world.''
1. Per you bio note, I read that you have translated books written in Russian. Do you think your skills as a translator have helped you in any way when writing poetry?
2. Are there any themes in particular that run throughout your work?Loss, love, gratitude, and a dim view of the world we live in.
3. What drew you to poetry? And who are your favorite poets?It all started with a chance encounter in a psych ward. Too long a story to tell here.
4. Considering the state of poetry in the U.S. today, what do you consider to be the most positive and the most negative about it?
Positive: The pendulum has swung partway back to rhyme and meter, which used to be pretty much sneered at. Negative: The cult of obscurity in academic circles -- if you can understand it, it ain't really poetry.
Alamosa Books ◊ 8810 Holly Ave. NE, Suite D ◊ Albuquerque, NM 87122 ◊
(505) 797-7101 / www.alamosabooks.com
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