because the history of Korean-to-English translated literature is too short for us to really compare a wide variety of translations and it takes too long for a translated book (especially poetry) to be retranslated and republished and who knows if we’ll make it that far into the climate apocalypse


Before I translated any poem from Korean into English, I wrote a college paper comparing two translations of fr. 3⁠1—specifically, Anne Carson’s recreation of Sappho’s colloquial directness alongside Richard Lattimore’s devotion to Sapphic meter. It was like I was destined to translate poetry and love women. Anyway, I admired Carson’s bold style while envying her position to follow literally centuries of attempts. As in, she didn’t have to worry about misrepresenting Sappho to an Anglophone audience.  

When there’s one, it has to be everything. 

The existence of other translations can embolden us as translators, dare us to be a little cheekier. (But you should’ve used a different word…) Translating by could, not should. The more translations there are, the more room they create for play and experimentation. 

Every text about translation has a central metaphor: handshake, loss, archaeological dig, mimicry, idk. In Korean, geurida means to draw means to pine. Here is the little sketch pad where we pine for an abundance of Korean poetry in translation.