John Latta, poet and proprietor of the apparently now shuttered Hotel Point, has moved to Rue Hazard, where he has been doing some “rough translating” of Emmanuel Hocquard’s Ma Haie: Un privé à Tanger 2. He interrupts the numbered paragraphs of Englished Hocquard to say:
Stray notes, translating. Th’impulse is mostly to avoid the literal: disappointment with the loss of exoticism of the French results in a certain tendency to gussy up th’English. Tant mieux. I’m trying to make a device as thrilling to the tactile tongue of the ear in English as I find even the most maladroit or mundane French original. La camionette est en panne, il me faut marcher. It is an unutterly untenable comme but. I cannot decide if my meretricious English combined with my slaughterhouse French is “up” to the task. That is, if th’execrable is of service.
It is preposterously slow work, even done “messily.” Am I entering into Hocquard’s head? No. I am riffing, rambunctious, one way to begin. Le Commanditaire, and Battman: completely unbeknownst and mystifying. The Pound lines: wolfishly aping filler for Loup qui fait sa cour pour de la nourriture. The Hammett via Marcus: “somebody ought to check that.” Don’t ask, as Philip Levine’d say.
(The “Pound lines” are in paragraph 10: “Then when the grey wolves everychone / Drink of the winds their chill small-beer / And lap o’ the snows food’s gueredon”; they’re from “Villonaud for This Yule.”)
I like his style. And currently at the bottom of the Rue is a quote that speaks to me and shames me:
Melville, in Pierre or The Ambiguites: “Now he began to curse anew his fate, for now he began to see that after all he had been finely juggling with himself, and postponing with himself, and in meditative sentimentalities wasting the moments consecrated to instant action.”
Like the man says: To work.
(Via, as so often, wood s lot.)