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This article is taken from PN Review 234, Volume 43 Number 4, March - April 2017.

What’s Found in Translation Karen Van Dyck
AFTER READING AND WRITING about Greek poetry for over thirty years I was impressed by the quality and intensity of artistic output in response to the recent social and economic crisis. It was unlike anything I had seen since the poetry that came out of the Dictatorship (1967–1974). As in that period, the strong presence of women poets was palpable. There were poems I felt needed to be translated, poems that had something to say to a larger audience outside Greece. More than anything, Austerity Measures: The New Greek Poetry is an anthology of poems as translations.

The term ‘Austerity Measures’, although it has come to be used as an economic term for cutbacks, refers more generally to the sense of having less to go around, as well as to losing something – a standard of living, an idea of Europe, a glorious past. ‘Measures’, though, has another meaning in poetry and music, especially in Greek where the word μέτρα (metra) also means metre. In this capacity it suggests that restrictions can be strategically reinvented. Austerity can be the measure of the possible. The practice of translation underscores the double edge of such productive disability. While a translation never gives us back the source text intact, it can create its own kind of abundance elsewhere in another language and culture. Though I first imagined ‘Austerity Measures’ as a title in English, its appropriateness was clinched when the editor of the Greek edition Stavros Petsopoulos also saw its potential. ‘Μέτρα λιτότητας’ ( Metra litotitas) was a term embedded in the political ...
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