Priscilla Gac-Artigas, Ph.D., translator and professor of Spanish and Latin American literature in the Department of World Languages and Cultures, participated in a cultural event organized by the Center “Jour et Nuit Culture” in the center of Paris on May 7. Gac-Artigas served as the translator of the French portion of the trilingual poetry collection “deseos/longings/j’aimerias tant” authored by the Chilean poet Gustavo Gac-Artigas and published in 2020. The reading accompanied the vernissage of the exhibit “Les arbres noirs” by Chilean painter Alejandro Saga. The poet read poems in Spanish from this collection and two other collections, “hombre de américa” and “i confess that i write,” and Dr. Gac-Artigas read the poems in French.
“Translating poetry is a challenging task. You need to be faithful to the poet’s words and style, but most importantly to the feelings he wants to convey. Neruda used to say that poetry is not to be analyzed, but to be felt, and as a translator, I can immediately feel a well-written poem,” Gac-Artigas said of her experience reading in two different languages for an audience of some people speaking only Spanish, others only French, and others speaking both Spanish and French.
“There’s no doubt that translations carry the translator’s signature because a new text emerges in a different language through the filter of the experiences, the feelings, and the cultural background of its translator. Having been an actress has helped me as a translator by providing me with the tools to read the texts I am translating as a theater play and explore different perspectives before crafting the final translation: what the poet says, what the poem conveys to me as a reader, what I need to pass on to the reader in the translated text.
“Reading along with the author in different languages also represents a signature task for the translator. Poems will have a different cadence innate to the language in which they are written. Still, when audiences of one language can feel the same emotions as audiences of the other, that is proof that the language barriers have been overcome,” she concluded.
Gac-Artigas is a Fulbright Scholar, a full member of the North American Academy of the Spanish Language (ANLE for its Spanish acronym), and a correspondent member of the RAE (Royal Academy of Spanish). She is presently developing her ideas on translation in an academic article where she also describes her collaborative translation experience with American translator Andrea G. Labinger.
A video of the reading, by Jorge Orellana Benado, is available online.