What is Team Louhi? i.e. Notes on Not-Translating

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Team Louhi is a poetry experiment. It involves me  occasionally rewriting a poem of the Finnish epic Kalevala, in English.  I am writing in the original Kalevala meter, trochaic tetrameter (DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da-DUM-da), with an emphasis on capturing the rough narrative arc of each poem, prioritising the Kalevala’s characteristic alliteration and just a hint of its repetition.

I normally write free verse, which makes sticking to a meter a challenge, and because recalcitrance is such an important part of my personal brand Team Louhi has minimal capitalisation and punctuation. I also try to pair each poem with a visual representation that sits somewhere outside the canonical national romantic responses to the epic.

Team Louhi is not, strictly speaking, a translation. I am not a translator; I am a bilingual poet with a dark past in cultural studies/history. Translating (and interpreting) are really, really demanding professional skills and if you are ever in a position to need something translated, get a professional in instead of a mate who’s “good at languages” (or worse, an algorithm). I may well devote some time to translation disasters some point in the year.

If you’re curious about my other poetry,  you can have a look at this YouTube playlist“Freeway” in Cordite 54:0, “local” in this free special issue of Westerly. With a bit more effort you can get your hands on The Visible Ink 28 (Breach), Recoil 8, Westerly 62:2 and the 2017 Poetry D’Amour Anthology. If you’re within poking distance of me you may even be able to cast your peepers on Informalities, a poetry collection in which I dissect the sonnet.

Get started with Team Louhi: Poem 1 (The Creation of the World)

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