Tu/Th 12:30-2 4104 Dwinelle Instructor: Anne-Lise Francois

It’s been said that poetry is what is untranslatable, yet one poem often translates another, and many of us only read one another’s languages in translation. As a catch-all concept for whatever “out there” can’t quite be captured in human terms, “Nature” can also be thought of as a language only ever encountered in translation. In this senior seminar we will explore the complex relationships between these three shape-shifting terms–“poetry,” “nature,” “translation”–as we read together poems and essays from various linguistic traditions, including Arabic, Chinese, English, French, German, Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, and Spanish. Each of you will be responsible for a poet in the language in which you are working. All readings will be provided in English, with bilingual editions used wherever possible.

As we track poetry’s investment in metamorphosis and movement between organic and inorganic states, and as we consider the relation between the emergent fields of ecopoetics and world literature, other questions will include:

What happens when we conceive of “world literature,” not in terms of national linguistic traditions and political territories, but in terms of the elements traditionally understood to compose the material world (water, wood, metal, fire, & earth in the Chinese tradition; earth, water, air, and fire in the Greek tradition)?

If in many traditions poetry is intimately bound up with the notation of seasonal change, circadian rhythms, and other temporal cycles, what becomes of poetry in a time of accelerating global climate change, accelerating species extinction and habitat-loss, and 24/7 round-the-clock modes of production and consumption?

Possible book list:

Carson/Sappho, If not, Winter

Weinberger/Paz, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei

Hirshfield/Aratani, The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Onono Komachi and Izumi Shikibu

Robert Hass, The Essential Haiku (Bashō, Buson, Issa)

Miller, Emily Dickinson’s Poems, As She Preserved Them

Zurita/Gander, Pinholes in the Night: Essential Poems from Latin America

Alfred Corn, The Poem’s Heartbeat

A reader including works by Ovid, Petrarch, Shakespeare, Goethe, Wordsworth, Keats, Clare, Baudelaire, Rilke, Celan, Stevens, Snyder, Niedecker, Darwish and Glissant