“All art, all artistic production, entails the base of this word translation, a carrying over…”
In this latest edition of the Asymptote Podcast, we sit down with translator and writer John Keene on the heels of the tremendous news of his MacArthur Genius Award. Author of Annotations and Counternarratives, Keene was longlisted for the 2015 Best Translated Book Award for his translation from the Portuguese of Hilda Hilst’s Letters from a Seducer. But it was his essay Translating Poetry, Translating Blackness which inspired a panel at the most recent AWP Conference as well as our June podcast, so we wanted to get insight straight from the source. Join us as we talk about how translation carries over into a writer’s creative life, how English still holds powerful sway over writers working in other languages, and much much more! Listen to our latest podcast now!
John Keene is a writer and translator who currently teaches at Rutgers University–Newark. He graduated from the St. Louis Priory School, Harvard College, and New York University, where he was a New York Times Fellow. Keene joined the Dark Room Collective in 1989, and is a Graduate Fellow of the Cave Canem writer’s workshop. He is the author of Annotations and Counternarratives, both published by New Directions, as well as several other works, including the poetry collection Seismosis, coauthored with artist Christopher Stackhouse, and a translation of Brazilian author Hilda Hilst’s novel Letters from a Seducer. Keene is the recipient of many awards and fellowships—including a MacArthur Genius Award, the Windham-Campbell Prize, and the Whiting Foundation Prize for fiction.
Layla Benitez-James is an Asymptote Podcast Editor, poet, translator, and artist living in Alicante, Spain. Translations can be found in Waxwing and Anomaly. She currently works with the Unamuno Author Series in Madrid as Director of Literary Outreach. Her first chapbook, God Suspected My Heart Was a Geode But He Had to Make Sure, was selected by Major Jackson for the 2017 Toi Derricotte & Cornelius Eady Chapbook Prize and published by Jai-Alai Books in Miami, April 2018.
Produced by: Layla Benitez-James
Featuring: John Keene
Music: “Been Awhile,” Yung Kartz. Creative Commons licenses can be found at http://freemusicarchive.org/. Some changes were made to the track.