Writing Exercise #2: Translation

Translation, they say, is a good way to improve one’s language skills. Translating poetry, specifically, forces the writer to focus on the words — on diction, essentially — because all other elements like poetic structure and literary content are already taken care of.

For this exercise I chose three poems by three different writers. I picked a César Vallejo poem because I initially wanted to see if I could translate directly from Spanish to Filipino (I couldn’t). I was also curious about how nuances get lost in multi-level translations (i.e. Spanish to English to Filipino), but obviously I would never find an answer.

Next I went with Charles Bukowski, an author known for his polarizing stream-of-consciousness verses. I have read criticisms against his prosaic style — the same disapproving remark flung against so-called Instagram poets — so I wanted to explore how I could render this cadence in Filipino. Lastly I went with Lang Leav, partly for the same reason, but mostly because I wanted to know if her poems, which I admittedly do not enjoy, would look better (or worse) in another language.

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You Alone

Gutom Lang

The poem above—assuming it is indeed a poem—is admittedly chaka and is also alternatively titled “Pizza”:

For I desire and I suffer —
                  and pizza and pizza alone
               could satisfy my hunger.

True ‘no?

But shitty poetry aside, I just got back from Panago after picking up a late-night order. It’s almost midnight and I should be sleeping but I once again skipped supper and boy am I hungry.

I have been eating only once a day. Stupid, I know. I am now 15 pounds underweight and my physique is slowly transitioning from pre boob job Kim Chiu to post heroin Kate Moss. Give me a few more days and I might just turn into the kalansay replica sulking in the corner of your science classroom.

I sure miss the karindirya. Fast food here isn’t cheap so preparing my own food is more budget-friendly. But budget isn’t even the issue; I’m just too lazy to cook. A semi-digression: my first brush with culture shock was discovering that KFC does not serve rice. Eating just two pieces of fried chicken felt like hearing half a joke, no punchline. Or reading a fragment.

Another digression (this time completely off-track): I vehemently disagree with the CA’s decision to reject Judy Taguiwalo as DSWD secretary. To borrow Sen. Ralph Recto’s words: “it is her work during the ‘unsalaried phase’ of her checkered career which is her biggest qualification in holding the DSWD portfolio.” Hay. Mabuhay ka, Ma’am Judy!

Anyways pardon the (bad) poetry, the first world problems, and the abominable attempt at coherence. Gutom na gutom na gutom lang talaga ako.