Graphic Translation of Experimental Verse as a Strategy of Poetic Text’s Transcreation


  • Vladimir Feshchenko The Institute of Linguistics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Bolshoi Kislovsky pereulok, Moscow 125009



experimental poetry, spatial design, graphic translation, autographic/allographic text


The article examines the problem of translating experimental poetic texts into other languages. The focus is on the transfer of verse’s spatial design between the source and the target languages. We analyze some cases of unconventional poetry translation with particular attention to verbal/visual properties of avant-garde poems. Stéphane Mallarmé’s, Guillaume Apollinaire’s, Augusto de Campos’ and Dmitry A. Prigov’s visual poetry provides examples of autographic (hand-written or hand-drawn) and allographic (typewritten or typeset) texts. The former, as we argue, are problematic for translation, just like pictures in painting, whereas the latter may be rendered in another language. The analysis of E. E. Cummings’ allographic experimental verse allows to propose a special strategy for translating this kind of texts. By analogy with ‘phonetic translation’, this strategy can be called ‘graphic translation’. This type of translation preserves the visual and metagraphemic forms of the original text, rearranging its lexical elements in translation. It specifically applies to visually-oriented avant-garde and experimental texts. Graphic translation ‘transcreates’ the text to a certain degree and this contributes to preserve and reinforce the experimental nature of avant-garde verse in languages other than its own.


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