My summer reading list: Chris Galvan


Chris Galvan
Poetry, 2nd year

I’m spending most of my summer with different approaches to translation. The ability to preserve and convey meaning across time and space, between different languages and cultures, truly fascinates me.

Collected Haiku of Yosa Buson, translated by W.S. Merwin and Takako Lento — I’ve always been fascinated by Buson’s approach to writing several haikus in context with each other, and while I’ve read his work in anthologized collections, I’ve finally managed to get my hands on a larger book of just his work. He has become a model for much of my current poetic aesthetic.

The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan, translated by Jane Hirshfield with Mariko Aratani — This is something that has been on my list for a long time, as I’m interested in expressions of sentimentality from the past. Many of the poems seem to be written in tanka form, which is a form that I don’t get to read much of, as it doesn’t have the fame of the haiku in the West.

The Flowers of Evil by Charles Baudelaire — Specifically, the Mathews version. I’ve thumbed through several translations of this book, but I’ve never sat down and read one version cover to cover. I am always interested in books that society has sought to ban at one point or another.

19 Ways of Looking at Wang Wei by Eliot Weinberger — A novella length essay on different ways to approach translation, using the works of 8th century Chinese poet Wang Wei as an example. It seems to highlight a lot of the difficulty that goes into preserving the meaning of translated poetry across language and time.

The Rim of Morning by William Milligan Sloane — A collection of two cosmic horror novels, titled To Walk the Night and The Edge of Running Water. While nowhere near as famous as H.P. Lovecraft, Sloane is another staple of a cosmic horror writer from the 1930s, and I’ve had my eye on these works for a few years. More of a bit of pleasure reading.

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