Place: Venice

Translator Profile: Jennifer Scappettone

The notion of a unitary, homogenous, and monolingual “America” is as much an alternative fact as Spicer’s attendance numbers at the inauguration.

Former Asymptote blog editor Allegra Rosenbaum interviews translator and scholar Jennifer Scappettone, whose profile appeared in our Winter 2016 issue. Her translation of Italian poet Milli Graffi was featured on the Asymptote blog last week and her translation of F. T. Marinetti’s futurist poetry appeared in our Spring 2016 issue. 

Who are you? What do you translate? (This is just a preliminary question! To be taken with an existential grain of salt.)

I am a poet and scholar of American and Italian nationalities who grew up in New York, across the street from a highly toxic landfill redolent of the family’s ancestral zone outside of Naples (laced with illegal poisonous dumps). I translate Fascists and anti-Fascists; Italian feminists and a single notorious misogynist; inheritors of Futurism and the historical avant-garde; and contemporary poets who are attempting to grapple with the millennial burden of the “Italian” language by channeling or annulling voices from Saint Francis through autonomia.

READ MORE…

Don’t Trip. “Sidewalks,” by Valeria Luiselli—in Review

A look at Valeria Luiselli’s excellent essay collection Sidewalks, translated by Christine MacSweeney for Coffee House Press

Prose and I are having a moment.

I don’t mean this in the glamorously ephemeral, André-Leon-Talley sense; I mean this in the emotionally fraught, tightlipped-dinner-party sense. I just can’t seem to enjoy it as much as I have in past twenty-odd years of my life. I find myself bored by the contrivances of exposition; I roll my eyes at narrative inventiveness, and quote-unquote characters and their grievances simply exhaust me.

READ MORE…

In Divisible Cities: A Q&A with Dominic Pettman

Asymptote catches up with a past contributor whose new book was released this summer.

How is In Divisible Cities related to Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities?

I would call it a primary inter-text. For twenty years or so I have been enchanted by this kind of genre, restrained, aphoristic magical metafiction, or whatever we might call it, including Alan Lightman’s Einstein’s Dreams. But Calvino’s book really inspired me in terms of its condensed, crystalline approach, concerned with what Bachelard calls “the poetics of space.” Some critics believe that all of these different cities in Calvino’s book are in fact the author’s beloved Venice, in various imaginative iterations. Rather than celebrate one single city in various disguises, however, I wanted to trace the connections or song-lines between different ones; since no city is completely foreign in the 21st century. So the writing strategy was a series of postcards from different places, which hopefully add up to a single holographic image—like a jig saw puzzle.

READ MORE…