I presented a translation of a comic by Japanese manga artist Kiriko Nananan at Poetry Plurilingual, an event run by my friend where people read out non-English poems in both the original language and in translation.
I did this some time ago (24 June).
I love Kiriko Nananan. She’s absolutely incredible…what a drawer…and such a writer/storyteller! I just finished reading Strawberry Shortcakes and it was a staggering work of heart-rending genius too.
The one that I translated is sort of a manga-poem. An illustrated poem or something…William Blake-esque. It’s one of my absolute favourite things. I am totally not qualified to translate Japanese (I can barely string simple sentences together [AS OF NOW!]) but this poem moved me so much that I just felt the meaning (not really – I just spent a lot of time working out the meaning and even had a native speaker check it).
Here it is (you can also download the full transcript of my presentation here):
Translated by Jack Breukelaar
I will come to dislike myself completely.
Did you come to hate the nothingness in me?
that’s right you, in such a “now” style,
were enviably cool
compared to that I
Only wore Doc Martens in imitation of you.
Only listened to the music that you played when I was right next to you.
Only dilettantishly memorised the titles in film theory explained by you.
I am shamefully empty, aren’t I?
But what is the purpose of that something?
The flicker of a muted television.
The tick of an old clock.
An upsurged cluster of egoism.
A clustered upsurge of egoism.
well, that’s what I just what I think when I ponder it…
And yet, assuredly, I am here and I am no one else but me!