Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Murakami the Poet

Another one of the myriad Haruki Murakami books I have purchased recently is 夢で合いましょう, or, Let's Meet in a Dream, a collaborative collection of myriad belle lettres he wrote along with essayist/noted video game creator Shigesato Itoi. (You can even check out some sample translations at Yomuka!)

The most interesting thing about 夢で合いましょう, however, is the inclusion of some pieces of writing by Mr. Murakami that...well, they're poems.

They belong to what Murakami dubs the "Yakult Swallows Poetry Anthology" (the Yakult Swallows being a Japanese baseball team). Their titles imply a sense of varying topics. But they are mostly basball related. For example:



 Oil Sardine

Hey referee!
What were your eyes following,
I ate a can of sardines yesterday, but
even I was more preferable than you!

Like I said, poetry isn't really my bag, but even I know that translating poetry is an especially difficult thing to do. And the above poetry (my own) is just bad. Translation in poetry is less about the words and more about the meaning... the sound and the ideas. Poetry is about the feelings than the actual text. And language is so entwined in culture and history, going word for word is going to produce, to put it bluntly, shit poetry.  Even when trying to keep it as close to the original as possible, there are phrases that just don't translate literally.  So I say, if it's poetry, go crazy. Think outside the box. Poetry is one of the ultimate expressions of creativity. Being constrained by language goes against everything that poetry stands for.

I'm no poet, but this is what I would do.


Hey ref!
What game are you even watching?
For chrissakes, I ate a can of sardines yesterday, 
and even I could do better than you!

I am not one to judge to the quality of Murakami's poetry (I imagine anyone with a passing interest in verse would tell Murakami to stick to fiction), but at least they're pretty amusing.

1 comment:

  1. Very cool post. I'm going to look out for that book...