Translation Is Art (excerpt)
By Sawako Nakayasu
Say not this.
Say it again.
Say it again say whatever it takes, whatever it brings, say this.
Say translation as open art practice as open as matter and anti-matter.
Say anti-translation as refusing, or not, to translate altogether, say not this.
Say anti-translation as not refusing to translate, just refusing to translate. Refusing to translate, like
this. Say it again.
Say I’ve never heard someone divulge so much of their personal intimate life only to claim that their
politics are private, say coded language, say language is code.
Say translation of private space.
Say public translation.
Say I share this shape with you, say your shape is your shape, like this.
Say nonbinary stance toward texts and translations.
Say who, you.
Say who, I.
Say translating in the dark. Say smuggled translation, illegitimate translation, illegal translation,
undefinitive translation, unauthorized translation. Screw and unscrew the hegemony cap translation.
Say feral translation.
Say eros in translation, say I want to be translated by you, say but not you, say I want, I want, I want,
Say translation oceanic as desire.
Say wild caged animal longing to be free translation.
Say I choose, say I choose this, translation a series of choices like any other moment of agency, say
choose to luxuriate in the micro-erotics of choosing this word over that word, of choosing this word
and that word, of breathing heavily into a space that may or may not have been there all along.
Say I tend, I incline, I lie down at your feet.
Say I bend, I love, I stretch, I break.
Say I bend language translation, I love language translation, I stretch language translation, I break
Say I am busy making.
Say I am busy loving translation.
Say I am busy code-switching translation, I am busy cross-dressing translation, I wear it with
Say what is the smallest unit of translation, say word, say syllable, say phoneme, say orthography, say
handwriting, say breath, say the particle of thought preceding articulation.
Say what is the largest unit of translation, say poem, say book, say all the books, say everything they
ever wrote, say everything they never wrote, have yet to write, say the transit between everything
they ever wrote and everyone who ever reads anything they ever wrote, or say something larger
Say what does queer liberation look like if it chooses not gay marriage but alternative structures of
human relationships, say instead of book into translated book, say book into alternative structures of
literature via translation, alternative structures of literature via translation.
Say that other thing, say ineffable, say possum, say tiger, say intergalactic creatures all afloat in the
pre-choate digitas, say this is how they translate, say I you you me, I risk you me, say this and
Say white feminism grows up and out of itself into the fecund intersection translation.
Say to translate the thick river is only one choice out of many.
Say translation in lively defiance of the social desire to translate like everyone else.
Poet and translator Sawako Nakayasu was born in Japan and moved to the United States at the age of six. She is the author of several poetry collections, including Some Girls Walk Into The Country They Are From (2020) The Ants (2014), Texture Notes (2010), Hurry Home Honey (2009), and So We Have Been Given Time Or (2004)
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