Poetry in translation: Re: how are you

after Dorien de Wit

in the beginning there were days
your emails I saved unread in the junk folder
between Mr Bill Gates says Hello,
Michael Kors Handbags,
Hot Girls, Hello

on Google Maps I’ve found the secret
an island called Mainland

for weeks in my purse I’ve been carrying a book about the man
who thought up cloud classification
I was so happy that clouds fit into a structure

what should I say when I see you?
the most important thing is
to jump in at the right moment
like back in the day in the schoolyard
when I still collected pencil shavings and discovered
that popcorn is corn kernels turned inside out

explosions are beautiful but their shape is unpredictable

through this country there runs a growing fault line
you said with a distant gaze
in your eyes I saw myself and the landscape mirrored
searching where the tearing began.

Tom Cruise has decreed in a contract
that one can’t look straight at him
there’s something in his eyes

or is it because looking
is a kind of touching


Another poem by Dutch poet Dorien de Wit. I like translating her work. I haven’t figured out her thought process yet, but I like her imagery and currentness. The original poem can be found here.


10 thoughts on “Poetry in translation: Re: how are you

  1. What an absorbing poem! Translating it had to be a delightful challenge. I love the line “explosions are beautiful but their shape is unpredictable.”

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    • That’s my favourite line as well. And I love that it comes after the pop corn line. It’s the jump from something ordinary to something metaphysical that makes that line stand out even more!

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    • Yes! I think it’s the combination of ordinary observations, pop culture, science and emotional imagery that makes this poem so unique and effective.

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