First two paragraphs of the Booklet's liner notes.
Each translation is like a bridge thrown up so that some might pass over and others come to meet us. To attempt to carry a poem across is surely a little crazy - who knows if the goat under our arm will still look like a goat when it sets its feet down again? But if the leap from one language to another is an act of faith - and much labor - it is also an apprenticeship in listening. So the leap into music for a poem is to court the risks of any translation, and to pledge another faithfulness besides: simply, that the poem not be diminished, nor the music, by their encounter.
The stakes are high enough, then, in setting texts to music. The two composers on Crosswords / Mots croisés add another fold to the challenge: they set the same four poems to music, two written in English and two in French, with translations of each into the other tongue. The songs, of course, are not the same; and yet there is a family resemblance, in the paired readings, that seems unmistakable. How does that happen ? The distinctive genetics of a poem, perhaps roughed up a little, do indeed survive translation.
- Jason Weiss.
Jason Weiss is the author, most recently, of Always in Trouble: An Oral History of ESP-Disk’, the Most Outrageous Record Label in America. His translation of Argentine writer Silvina Ocampo’s selected poems is forthcoming. www.itinerariesofahummingbird.com