Poet discusses creative, passionate elements of translating


Ishani Hariprasad

Poet Chilean Daniel Borzutzky led a poetry translation workshop Feb. 16 hosted by the Literary Translation Club and Latinos Unidos.

Light Dohrn, Reporter

In a joint collaboration, Latinos Unidos and the Literary Translation Club hosted a poetry workshop on Feb. 16 with Daniel Borzutzky, a Chilean poet and University of Illinois at Chicago professor, to discuss the creativity and passion involved in not only producing writing but also translating the writing of others. 

“We were able to not only deepen our global perspectives on writing, but also share the endless potential of poetry with peers,” said Sara Kumar, Literary Translation Club co-president, adding that a similar effect might be achieved at the workshop with Professor Borzutzky, “but through a new cultural lens.”

Mr. Borzutzky began the workshop with a simple question: “When you are writing or translating, where in your body does the writing live?”

The students’ responses ranged from fingers to bellies and from shoulders to throats. 

“I think about this all the time,” Professor Borzutzky said. “At different times, it’s in different places […] and when I read, I wonder what was going on in the person’s body while they were writing.”

Mr. Borzutzky described writing as essential to him, a type of escapism that uplifts and frees him whenever he practices it.

“We think of writing as being an act that comes out of our brain, but what I want to stress is that for me, writing often comes out of my body more,” Mr. Borzutzky said. “I felt like the act of writing was something of a release.”

Last year, the Literary Translation Club held a similar workshop with author Naoko Fujimoto. The focus of the workshop was waka, a type of poem in classical Japanese literature.