Or: On the Issues of Translating Poetry from Macedonian to German
The job of the translator is not easy at all, and of course it should not be underestimated. He is entrusted not only with the transfer of the contents, style and art of a piece of art from one language to another, but also with the presentation of a culture into another language environment. By all means the translator has the goal to transfer the picturesqueness, power of the word, symbolism, and especially in poetry rhythm and sonority by all means. The one who achieves this, and on top of it creates a readable text is good in his profession.
Unfortunately there are not many translations from Macedonian to German, to pay them regular attention, to stress their quality, make an analysis of the translatability or – simply – to convey the German critique of the work. One of the reasons for this is of course the lack of translators from Macedonian to German. Lately there has been an increased interest in the Macedonian language and literature, which on one hand is very important for the presentation of our literature in the German language area, but on the other hand it might have a negative effect. The reason for this is that the need for translators from Macedonian is used as a challenge for some amateurs and untalented lovers of the beautiful words to start practicing this work. There are more and more Slavists who try via crash courses of Macedonian or by knowing Bulgarian to penetrate into the “core” of the Macedonian language and crown themselves with their first literary translations. The results of these attempts would be defeating for the authors who could not even imagine the way and form that their work undertook to communicate with the German readership via the translation.
Except the selection of the works, quality translation is also of crucial importance for the good presentation of a country and culture. Since, as I already mentioned, there are not many translations which could be reviewed, I will stick to the translations of poetry by Macedonian poets on the poetry portal lyrikline.org.
The list of poets is not long, but the selection of poets and their lyrics is excellent. I hope that the selection will be extended in the future, since Macedonia has traditionally quality poets and poetesses, who deserve to be added and presented in this as well as other portals of the German language area.
All poems have been translated into German. The translations of Bogomil Gjuzel’s poetry by Kerstin Hansel are especially distinguishable; their poetic tone and contents are transferred in a high literary level, fully corresponding with the original. They depict a spotless and fluid poetic expression, a one that should be found in every translated poetry, The same level is found in the translation of Mateja Matevski’s poem “Zvona” (Bells) by Ina Jun Broda, which is unfortunately the only translation by this translator. Translations that truthfully transfer the poetic word are the translations of Vlada Urošević’s poetry by Holger Siegel and Ranka Grčeva.
The translations of Mateja Matevski’s poetry by Mathias Bronisch at moments show the insecurity of the selection of appropriate words; however, the translation does not lose its flow or expression, although the contents of the original is at times less truthfully transferred (for example Pelin – Apsint, although these two words have completely different connotation in the two cultures). The same problems appear in the translation of Katica Kulavkova’s poetry by Michaël Pfister, where the contents, and with Pfister partially the stylistic flow of the poetic tone at moments drifts away from the original. Despite this, these are good translations. The translation of Eftim Kletnikov’s poetry by Norbert Randov and Maja Gulevska could improve its flow and closeness of the poetic expression with some stylistic interventions of some German expressions, as the former at times sounds distant and cold compared to the original.
Unlike all of the above, the translation of Katica Kulavkova’a poetry by Ulrike Ulrike Draesner sounds amateurish, crude, and unfortunately, it does not keep the poetic expression of the original. The translation is something completely different than the original and at moments it sounds like a completely free translation, which is far from the level of the original poetry. In order to discuss the issues of translation, which are general for the translation of contemporary poetry, I will focus on the translation of several poems and verses; analyzing them I will give examples and possible solutions on how it should look.