Letter from the Editor

Dear Readers,

There is a conventional way to write this letter: charming, urbane, and well-mannered. In many ways that letter was easier, dictated by a series of expectations. But that draft felt too polished. It kept sliding away from the work.

A word I’ve learned to sit with in the past year is “irreducible.” Maybe this is a word you have navigated, too, this past year in our chaotic landscape. It is very obvious, from San Diego (one half of a marvelous and uneasy international conurbation), that translation sits here in the irreducible as well. I do not want to be an ungracious host to any of you.

And our writers and translators have imagined so many “yous” in this issue: loved yous, strange yous, dead yous, absent-but-present yous, ancient yous, invisible yous. No single you is reducible to any other; you/I/we are nonetheless invited into the intimate space left in the roundness of the word. The fundamental reaching-out of the translational act is so evident in all of these works––between emotion and language, between writer and work, between translator and writer.

It is good to remember that connection and community can be irreducible!

Many of our translators submitted several pieces that demanded to be seen together. Ethan Chua’s translations of five Abner Dormiendo poems build a dreamily melancholy narrative worth lingering in; David Allen Sullivan’s co-translations with several authors launch a poetic investigation into the costs of war; Yasmín Rojas’s translations of three Ángel José Fernández poems superimpose the emotional body and an imagined geography; Arshiya Seen’s translations of Sara Shagufta contrast registers of language to evoke a bodily response in the reader; Elijah Armstrong manages to encompass a new approach to 18th century English translation and 12th century Chinese balladry; and Nolan Dannels similarly crosses time in his high-register translation of Gérard de Nerval.

Thank you for being with us.

See you elsewhere in the irreducible spaces,
Iliria Osum