(Versión inglesa. La española está una entrada más arriba)
Interview with Óttar M. Norðfjörð!!
¡Lo prometido es deuda, señores y señoras!
Aquí dejo la entrevista que Óttar M. Norðfjörð me ha concedido. Habla sobre su libro intraducible (A-Ö), la traducción en Islandia y muchas más cosas interesantes... ¡Allá va!
- First of all... Have these poems been translated to any language? (If yes--> who's the wizard?!) = No, not that I know of. I assume it would be quite hard, and probably to the point of impossible.
- In your website you say that “A-Ö” is “influenced by both sound poetry and concrete poetry”. Could you explain that a little further? = A couple of years before I wrote A-Ö, I got to know the poetry of Christian Bök, especially his price-winning poetry book Eunoia, which consists of ‘univocalics’ (only one vowel is used in each of its five chapters). The book blew my mind and opened new ways for me in my approach to poetry, for example in terms of creating strict rules when it comes to writing poetry (having the whole book in alphabetical order in the case of A-Ö). When A-Ö is read out load, it sounds very funny, since all the words in each poem start with the same letter, and the poems also have a peculiar look (again, because of their alphabetic nature).
- How is this book supposed to be read? How are the chapters related? = Each page consists of a short ‘story’, usually a comic one, but some are also quite dramatic. The reason why I don’t refer to the book as a short story collection is the poetic nature of each story (because of the weird language they’re written in), as well as the fact that they are very far from normal ‘short ‘stories’, and more related to poems in that sense.
- Icelandic people are very creative and open to artistic expression, so, how did Icelandic public react to this work? Did it have a favorable reception? = Well, in fact it got few official critiques, and usually a negative one. So although my friends liked it, it was considered too ‘weird’ or ‘surreal’ by most critiques. Icelanders are very conservative when it comes to poetry and are not keen on poets bringing new styles to the genre. However, I was part of a poetry group called Nýhil at the time of the publication of A-Ö, and it consisted of young poets who wanted to bring fresh and new thought to Icelandic poetry.
- Would you have been able to write the same book in English? (If not → What elements does Icelandic language have (that English doesn't) which allowed you to write this work?) = Yes, in English or Spanish or any other language. If you’ve got access to all of the words (or most of them, at least) in any given language, and have them in an alphabetical order (like I had in the case of Icelandic, when I wrote A-Ö, because of an Icelandic web page that had collected most words in Icelandic), you can start writing!
- In Iceland it is estimated that around 95% of the population speaks and writes perfect English. What does it lead you to write either in Icelandic or in English? = Although I know how to read, speak and write English, I still prefer to write in my native language, because I have a certain understanding of Icelandic, which I lack in English. Perhaps I could write lyrics or short poems in English, but not a longer text, let alone a whole novel.
- Have you ever translated your own works or you prefer a “real” translator to do it? (Why/Why not). = I prefer a ‘real’ translator to translate my work, mainly because I don’t feel I speak any other language well enough to translate my work from Icelandic to that language. However, I have translated a few chapters from my novels into English, but only for introduction purposes and always with the help of a ‘real’ English translator.
- As a poet, do you think the most important aspect when translating poetry is to preserve the words, or maybe change the words in order to keep the feelings they produce? = It probably depends on the poem – one poem may require that the exact words are preserved. Another poem that its context is preserved. The work of a translator is finding the balance between these two factors.
- (If you have ever translated (literature in general) → what do you find the most challenging task? = I haven’t translated much, only some Czech poems, but the most challenge I encountered was the thin line between preserving the context of the poem and its exact words, as I mentioned above.
- ((How is translators' work considered in Iceland?)) (Only answer this if you know it. I think it would be interesting for my readers but maybe you are not familiar with this specific topic, hehe). = Being an Icelandic translator is not a well paid job, and not as respected as it should be, because it’s very important for a nation with such a small language (only 320.000 people speak Icelandic!) to have foreign books in our own language. Having said that, people who truly enjoy books have much respect for translators, especially the ones who translate the classics into Icelandic.
- When I lived in Reykjavík I felt that Icelandic people are very aware of how unique their language is and, understandably, they try to protect it as much as they can. As a writer, what is your vision? What is your way of protecting it? = By being a writer and publishing books in Icelandic, I consider myself protecting it in a way, or at least sustaining it. When a small country stops publishing books in their own language, I’m afraid that the language will go extinct in a few generations.
- The only work that has been translated into Spanish is Sólkross (La Cruz Solar). Having your works translated into a language spoken by 440 millions of people is a great boost for your career... Did you like that or are you not interested in spreading? = Yes, I liked it a lot when La Cruz Solar was published in Spanish. As a writer, I want to reach as many readers a possible. I also think that it’s good for Iceland, Icelandic culture and even the Icelandic language that my novels – or novels by other Icelandic writers – get translated into other languages, cause that’s an introduction to our small country and hopefully generates further interest in it._________________________________________________________________________Además, ha tenido la amabilidad de enviarme (siempre a través de Elo Vázquez, su novia y gracias a la cual he entrado en contacto con él) dos poemas que forman parte de su obra, para que veáis el estilo del libro:Two poems from A-Ö by Óttar M. Norðfjörð:SSannanirnar sannarlega sannfærandi, sannfærðu sanntrúaða sauðamanninn. Sauðkindirnar saurgaðar, sá sáðfrumurnar seigar, seigfljóta seinlega. Seinþroska Selfyssingurinn sennilegasti serðirinn. Séríslenskt sérkenni, sérstaklega siðblint. Siðferðisbrot siðleysingjans síendurtekið – sjokkerandi, sjúklegt. Sjötugur skaðvaldurinn skalf, skammarlegt, skandall.TTíminn tístir, tjáir togstreituna, torræðnina, tómið. Tómleikatilfinning tónanna tragísk – tregafull tregða trilljón trillukarla, tristra trompeta, truflana tryllingslegs tröllahláturs. Tröllin tuggðu tunglin, tunglskinin tuttugu, tuttuguþúsund túlípana tveggjamanna, tvíbura. Tvíeggja tvífararnir tvístruðust tvítugir, týndust, tækifærin töpuðust.____________________________Aprovecho para dejar por aquí un PPT que he creado sobre el idioma islandés