Playing Telephone with Poetry


It was inevitable, in our day and age, we guess, that the world of classical translation would look over at the world of the colloquial, bite-sized, social network-friendly format and go, “hm…”

Over at The Millions, Magdalena Edwards braves Brooklyn, a game of Telephone (sort of) and Paul Legault’s translation of Emily Dickinson’s poetry in order to analyze such a clash of worlds:

Whether his exuberant game should be called a triumph that reignites our Dickinsonian fires, as the reviews thus far have concluded, or whether one should call Legault’s Dickinson Reader a joke he might have taken more seriously is a question best answered, I think, with another question: Are these among Legault’s strongest poems? I am not sure, though I find the project as a whole admirable and exciting. And I suspect that Legault, as a poet-translator and editor of ambitious translation projects, would want the answer to be an unequivocal yes.



Nikita Schoen is an intern at The Rumpus, and a Writing & Literature student at California College of the Arts. She lives in San Francisco. More from this author →