Last night we played in workshop. I was remembering an occasion when I was in graduate school at Hollins, in the MA program, and went to my teacher Richard Dillard's house. For some reason, as I recall, there were several of us. Perhaps it was the final meeting of a class, like mine last night, or maybe just a lark. But all we did was pull up markers and coloring books--the sophisticated kind, I think, of modern art or birds or something of that sort--and color for a few hours. We chatted while we did that, and I tried to stay within the lines (never easy for me). It was such a treat. Just pure relaxation, and so unexpected.
So in this class, I created the equivalent. I showed the students a document I had downloaded and put onto Blackboard for them. It was 11 pages of suggested poetry assignments so they could continue working on their own. Among the assignments were found poetry samples--"translations" from languages they did not know, where they tried to reproduce the sounds of the poems, not the meaning. We worked on Portugese, Swedish, and Rumanian poems and were rolling on the floor laughing at some of the results. It was very hard not to succumb to "real" translation when we thought we knew the meaning of words, and there were words we knew or thought we did. Sometimes we did succumb to this, but all the same, some hilarious wonderful lines came out. Here was one I did from Portuguese:
Save some pie!
Oh catch Benji, our burrows full of fuzz.
Cobras in armoires, come stoke the bellows, the vents.
Oh blue bones! Marinate our lurid cabbages,
so sure of frozen penguins in the silent water.
Oh two sorrel towels, left eternally roasting,
so like eyes, the nasty cables of the sun.
Junior barks in cold Chicago, in the brief air.
Junk in the castle haunts our passive Amos.
I didn't finish it, but you get the idea.