Things Are Completely Simple examines poetry and translation from an accomplished poet-translator's perspective. The book's polyphonic structure puts different translators, writers, and theorists in conversation with each other. Things Are Completely Simple adopts a collage approach, combining various reflections on the translation process, critical and theoretical observations about translation, and excerpts from correspondence with poets that Brian Henry has translated. Henry's arguments are advanced both in individual passages and via juxtaposition. But they also are subsumed by other voices, to avoid presenting a monolithic voice when speaking of translation. The book includes extended considerations of Nathaniel Tarn's translation of Pablo Neruda's The Heights of Macchu Picchu, Christian Hawkey's Ventrakl, and W.S. Merwin's translations; detailed commentary on Henry's translations of Tomaz Salamun, Ales Debeljak, and Ales Steger; and correspondence between Salamun and Henry about translation. The book is ultimately concerned with what translation makes possible for poetry.
BRIAN HENRY is the author of twelve books of poetry, most recently Permanent State (Threadsuns, 2020). A former Fulbright Scholar, he co-edited the international magazine Verse from 1995 to 2018 and established the Tomaz Salamun Prize in 2015. He has translated Tomaz Salamun's Woods and Chalices (Harcourt, 2008), Ales Debeljak's Smugglers (BOA, 2015), and several books by Ales Steger. His translation of Steger's The Book of Things (BOA Editions, 2010) won the Best Translated Book Award and the Best Literary Translation into English Award. His translations have appeared in numerous places, including The New Yorker, New York Times Magazine, The Paris Review, and The New Republic. His poetry and translations have received numerous honors, including two NEA fellowships, a Howard Foundation grant, the Cecil B. Hemley Memorial Award, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, the George Bogin Memorial Award, and a Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences grant. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.
About the Author
Brian Henry is the translator of Tomaz Salamun's Selected Poems and Woods and Chalices, as well as Ales Debeljak's Smugglers and six books by Ales Steger, most recently Burning Tongues: New and Selected Poems. Henry is also the author of Permanent State, ten other books of poetry, and the collection of essays, Things Are Completely Simple: Poetry and Translation. His work has received numerous honors, including two NEA fellowships, the Alice Fay di Castagnola Award, a Howard Foundation fellowship, and the Best Translated Book Award. He lives in Richmond, Virginia.