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Andrei Codrescu


one syllable

the translation machine on mount athos
has multiple portals for mortals and one for eternity
who comes and goes as it travels on its self devouring path
leaving behind critical self-sufficiency to dooms posterity
I won't be doomed boom boom can you believe
just how much work it is to deconstruct a world
that was read by everybody in their own language
though there are many languages and not one for you

ubu dada yahoo bing google wiki

in the kingdom of the one syllable
check the weather it comes from the outside



                   —for calin-andrei mihailescu


Exile is the most radical form of translation
writes Călin-Andrei Mihăilescu in “Happy New Fear”
an English-titled book in Romanian
that will never be translated into English
excepting the above line because Călin
writes in rhapsodic idiomatic punning lingo
in a Romanian resembling a wolf with seven teats
from which hang the other seven languages he is
Romulus and Remus-type pups ready to build cities
I mean essays about time-travel in the tunnel
between languages that I have traveled myself
a few times but didn’t really frequent like Călin
who has a sleeping bag there and knows all the bums
some of whom are fashion models he writes odes to
many of them Czech who have read Hrabal and Kundera
and can sleep anywhere if the stories are funny
and so yes translation is just how one lives with oneself
from minute to minute from home to street from street
to office from office to the bar and to bed and in dreams
and each moment has its own language that puts it in the next
moment in another language made complicated by style
which is the design of alienation residing in orthography
or hesitant speech while translating oneself or others
thus to write on translation is to translate and to write
in language that cannot be translated is to be totally great
a state only Czech girls in sleeping bags can and do love





Andrei Codrescu born in Sibiu, Transylvania, Romania, emigrated to the U.S in 1966. His first poetry book, License to Carry a Gun, won the 1970 Big Table Poetry award. He founded Exquisite Corpse: a Journal of Books & Ideas (corpse.org) in 1983, taught literature and poetry at Johns Hopkins University, University of Baltimore, and Louisiana State University where he was MacCurdy Distinguished Professor of English. He’a been a regular commentator on NPR’s All Things Considered since 1983, and received a Peabody Award for writing and starring in the film Road Scholar. In 1989 he returned to his native Romania to cover the fall of the Ceausescu regime for NPR and ABC News, and wrote The Hole in the Flag: an Exile’s Story of Return and Revolution. He is the author of books of poetry, novels, essays; the most recent are whatever gets you through the night: a story of sheherezade and the arabian entertainments (2011), The Posthuman Dada Guide: Tzara and Lenin Play Chess, (2009) The Poetry Lesson (2010), all published by Princeton University Press. Contact author.

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