Monkey Bicycle Interviews Me about Aase Berg, Transfer Fat

by on Apr.03, 2012

Excerpt from the interview:

MB: Transfer Fat is your third translation from Aase Berg, following Remainland (Action Books, 2005) and With Deer (Black Ocean, 2009). Can you talk to us a little about how you became connected with Berg, about how this translator / poet relationship began and has developed over time?

JG: I started reading Aase’s poetry when I was in college. I came across her work in a Swedish literary journal and immediately I got my grandma in Stockholm to go out and buy me a copy of the book (Aase’s first book, Hos Rådjur). I was really blown away: not only were the poems viscerally powerful but I also felt a deep affinity with her sensibility. It came at an important time for me: Ever since I started writing poetry and other musings in junior high, I had never really doubted my own vision until I got to college and got in contact with the official aesthetics of modernism and contemporary american poetry (whether quietist or experimental), and they had informed me that what I was doing was tasteless, “too much”, unrefined, and that there was no place for me and what I was doing. Aase’s poetry was beautiful, gothic and absolutely entrancing. There was no poetry like it in contemporary American poetry. Her poetry inspired me to be more fierce, more obsessed and possessed, more occultly glamorous without caring for the official standards of taste. I didn’t start translating the book until a couple of years later when I was in MFA school, and then it was to show her work to some of my friends who I knew would like it. When I graduated I continued to translate her work; I contacted Aase and she sent me her next couple of books – Mörk materia and Forsla fett – and I started translating them as well. Forsla fett (Transfer Fat) was the one that really forced me to develop as a translator – to be more creative in my translation practice and to theorize that practice, to think about both the translation act/crime and Aase’s poetry…

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