Blog Post

Translating "Postscript"

It's such a thrill to be introduced to a poet you feel instantly compelled to translate. Perhaps because Gregory Jusdanis' call for more translations into English and Brian Reed's translations from Polish and Russian were in the back of my mind, I found myself having exactly this experience when I witnessed a bravura five-hour lecture by Vim Nadera (known as the father of Philippine performance poetry) on the history of poetry in Filipino yesterday at the University of the Philippines. He spoke to a group called LIRA, a poetry workshop run each year since 1985 by Virgilio Almario, long considered the leader of the modern poetry movement in Filipino.

As part of the lecture, he gave us a sheaf of poems that contained "Postscript" by Rolando Tinio, a famous poet who I nonetheless didn't know because I spent my high school and college years with no exposure to Philippine poetry. As Vim explains it, Tinio spent time in the United States and grappled with that education as he attempted to write Filipino poetry when he returned. As a result, his poems are a jumble of Filipino and English, much of which misspelled, with a smattering of Spanish thrown in for good measure. Below is the original followed by my fast and furious translation. Even if you don't know Filipino, I encourage you to at least look through the Filipino version to get a sense of the jumble of languages that is necessarily more muted in my translation:


Postscript
ni Rolando S. Tinio

Adios
Amerika
w/ all
your star-spangled ideas
Ginago mo kaming
Walang kalaban-laban
CRAZY MAN
CRAZY     CRAZY
         I get so furious
everytimeIthink
      kaming me pinag-aralan
ang lumalabas ngayong hangal
Because we’re out of touch (chua chua)
Because we’re out of touch (chua chua)
It’s all a matter of pointofview
& ar poinuview’s sulipat
MATANG—
MANOK
Think lang of all the
finals and seminars na pinagsusunugan
ng highbrow
jusso we won’t be
nakakahiya naman sa aming mga
KANONG classmates na andami
namang     ay Dios ko      tanga yata
D’ya know I wrote a heaven-knows-how-many-pages-paper-on
have y’eva he’d of some’ing entitled
Ver-gi-di-ma-rium by Marston ba or Hall?
& for 8125
na-eyestrain sa kasisilip
sa Regla ni San Beda sa microfilm
para maevalyuweyt kung Madame Ovaltine was landi o saint?
And what kind of iskolarsip daw na putangna?
Buti pang magkamot ng bayag / Bakâ nilabasan pa
I mean it’s absoluuuutely ridiculous
endeavuh so precieuse to stuff
yu’head w/ headnotes footnotes marginalnotes
until your soul’s one big fat variorum edition
of pure unmitigated pedantic nonsense
 
S* A* P* A* G* K* A* T*
 
walang  walang
kinalaman
sa sarili mong
 
UHAW ANTOK TAKOT LIBOG UTOT
 
& then you godda nerve to think
you’re shuperiah to the restadapipol
juz becuz you speak English w/the twang of angels
from Talahasee, Salinas, or Catona
Abá’y talagang anak ng garapata ng áso ni San Roque!
May talino ‘yung di marunong mag-englis akala n’yo ba
May sariling estruktura ang pangangatwirang
hango sa hinuha’t higher form of algebra
ang ma’no bang patancha-tancha’t pakarku-karkula
I mean to say
St James
St Eliot
St Warren & Wellek
St Shakespeare & Johnson
St Donne & Miltonberle
St Thomasite
St Peace Corps.
 
Pagbalikwas ninyo sa kani-kanilang libingan
ladya kami sa istetsayd na dunong-dunungan.


Postscript
by Rolando S. Tinio

Adios
Amerika
w/ all
your star-spangled ideas
Turned us into idiots
Who had no resistance
CRAZY MAN
CRAZY     CRAZY
        I get so furious
everytimeIthink
      how we who’ve been educated
are now the ones turned fools
Because we’re out of touch (chua chua)
Because we’re out of touch (chua chua)
It’s all a matter of pointofview
& ar poinuview’s cross-eyed
CHICKEN—
EYES
Think lang of all the
finals and seminars that immolated
the highbrow
jusso we won’t be
shameful naman to our own
GRINGO classmates of which so many
are     oh my God      suspected idiots
D’ya know I wrote a heaven-knows-how-many-pages-paper-on
have y’eva hea’d of some’ing entitled
Ver-gi-di-ma-rium by Marston maybe or Hall?
& for 8125
was eyestrained from peeking
at the Menstrual Blood of San Beda on microfilm
in order to evalyuweyt if Madame Ovaltine was slut or saint?
And what kind of iskolarsip daw is yourmother’sawhore?
Better to scratch your balls / Maybe he ejaculated too
I mean it’s absoluuuutely ridiculous
endeavuh so precieuse to stuff
yu’head w/ headnotes footnotes marginalnotes
until your soul’s one big fat variorum edition
of pure unmitigated pedantic nonsense
 
B* E* C* A* U* S* E*
 
nothing  nothing
to do with
your own
 
THIRST SLEEP FRIGHT LUST FART
 
& then you godda nerve to think
you’re shuperiah to the restadapipol
juz becuz you speak English w/the twang of angels
from Talahasee, Salinas, or Catona
You truly are the offspring of a flea from San Roqué’s dog!
They have inisght, those who don’t know English don’t you know
They have their own structure in argumentation
derived from inference and a higher form of algebra
that for what it’s worth is esti-estimation or carcu-carculation
I mean to say
St James
St Eliot
St Warren & Wellek
St Shakespeare & Johnson
St Donne & Miltonberle
St Thomasite
St Peace Corps.
 
When you jump on their various graves
there we are at istetsayd just intelligizing.

Graduate Student, Cornell University

Meredith Ramirez Talusan is a graduate student in the comparative literature program at Cornell University and Managing Editor of Arcade Conversations. She is also a writer, visual artist, and occasional designer.