Subhash Jaireth has published poetry in Hindi, English and Russian. His published works include three collections of poetry and five books of prose fiction and nonfiction. He considers translation as an important part of his creative practice. He has conducted translation workshops (Russian to English) and has published English translations of Russian, Japanese and Persian poetry. He has also translated poems of indigenous Australian poets into Hindi. His book Spinoza’s overcoat and other essays will be published by Transit Lounge in May 2020. He is an adjunct professor at the Centre of Creative and Cultural Research, University of Canberra.


An essay in four maps

‘Space and place’, notes Yi-fu Tuan, the Chinese-US geographer and philosopher, ‘are basic components of the lived world. What begins as an undifferentiated space becomes place as we get to know it better and endow it with value’ (Tuan 1977: 6). Uluru represents such a place, its placeness constructed by the living and knowledge practices of Anangu people and their ancestors, displaced and erased by European colonisers and settlers who imposed their ways of living and knowledge practices on the land. As a geologist I have been trained to look at Uluru from within European post-seventeenth century paradigm of modern science. However, in this essay I challenge what I have learnt as a geologist about Uluru by introducing Tjukurpa of Anangu into the story of my learning and un-learning. I tell the story with the help of four real and metaphoric maps: a geological map of the Rock; Rockholes near the Olgas by Bill Whiskey Tjapaltjari; Untitled (Uluru with shadows) by Long Tom Tjapanangka; and the installation Unfolding Memories by Rosario Lopez.

Keywords: Art, science, knowledge, map, tjukurpa

Remembering and mourning

Paul Celan’s house for Osip Mandelshtam’s Russian poem

If language is the house of being of a poem, what is the house in which a translated poem comes to reside? Following Paul Ricoeur, I call that metaphoric house the house of remembering and mourning. This is because translation, Ricoeur suggests, involves both the ‘work of remembering’ and the ‘work of mourning’. The work of a translator advances the original piece by ‘salvaging’ it but is also accompanied with ‘some acceptance of loss’. This loss he notes is where the seeds of mourning begin to sprout.

In this essay I discuss translation of Osip Mandelshtam’s Russian poems into German by Paul Celan. In 1958 Celan experienced a close encounter with Mandelshtam’s poetry, an encounter he began to describe as Begegnung (encounter). Celan began working with the poems in 1958 and, in less than one and a half years, translated 45 poems by the Russian poet.

In an essay, ‘The meridian’, Celan describes poetry as Gespräch, ‘a conversation or dialogue and often a despairing dialogue.’ I can spot traces of despair in Celan’s translation of Mandelshtam and this despair, I argue, is the source of mourning translators more often than not experience.

Keywords: Translation – Paul Celan – Osip Mandelshtam – Paul Ricoeur – Walter Benjamin