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Julie Steiner 03-18-2022 03:26 PM

Rattle Translation Issue deadline April 15
I posted this a few months ago, too.

Note in the fine print that the original won't be printed with the translation, and they emphasize that they don't particularly want to see it included in the submission. So faithfulness is not really a critierion here--what matters to them is whether the English version sounds good.


Tribute to Translation
Deadline: April 15th

The Fall 2022 issue will feature a tribute to translation. The "impertinent duet," as Art Beck calls it, between a translator and the original text, is such a valuable contribution to literature but doesn't seem to be much appreciated lately—at least judging by our submission rates. As such, we're dedicating an issue to poems translated into English from other languages, whether by a translator or by the poets themselves.

Click to Submit

Roger Slater 03-18-2022 04:51 PM

Thanks, Julie. I'll send something, but without much hope. A year ago I offered them my translation that won the Barnstone prize, and they promptly turned it down with a standard form letter. I know I can't generalize from that, but I got the feeling that their hunger for translations wasn't as great as they now would have us believe. (Yes, I know they also might have not been as impressed with the translation as Mr. Barnstone was, but the poem itself, in the German, was so powerful and different that I thought they'd bite).

This is the only call for translations that I have ever seen that didn't ask for a copy of the original as well.

John Isbell 03-18-2022 07:59 PM

I get a daily poem emailed to me from Rattle. Some are good, some less good IMO. I guess that's only natural.


Susan McLean 03-18-2022 09:01 PM

I don't plan to submit a translation to Rattle. Not wanting to see the original is a red flag to me. It suggests that the editors don't care about accuracy, which seems to open "translation" up to lots of fashionable contemporary abuses of the practice. What I assume is an unspoken subtext of the call for submissions, too, is that most poetry journals are really looking for translations of other contemporary poets from around the world, and not translations of poets from earlier times. I find that the only reliable indicator of what journals are really looking for is the kind of poems they have published in the past (no matter what they claim).


Roger Slater 03-19-2022 08:18 AM

You're probably right, Susan, but why not submit anyway? Just because they don't care about accuracy doesn't mean they won't like your translations. They might merely assume that you've taken more liberties than you've actually taken.

I agree that they are generally more likely to be looking for conteporary poets rather than big names from the past. Still, since this is an entire issue devoted to translation, perhaps they'll make a little bit of room for that kind of thing.

Rattle is a top credit, and they even pay well, so it's worth a shot.

Julie Steiner 03-19-2022 09:32 AM

To me, Rattle's lack of curiosity about seeing the originals says more about how the venue feels re: form than re: translations' accuracy of meaning.

I don't know any Russian or German, so seeing the original of a Russian or German poem won't tell me much about the English translator's accuracy (unless I laboriously copy and paste individual words into an online dictionary and hope that things like plural endings don't trip me up). But I can cast a casual glance at an original and instantly judge whether there's a rhyme scheme, and whether the English translator made any effort to preserve it. Clearly, this venue isn't interested in that.

Rattle's editor has repeatedly said that the only reason he doesn't publish more poems in form is that, "for some reason--I don't know why," he doesn't receive many submissions in form. Since he presents it as purely a pipeline problem, for a long time I looked at my Rattle rejection rate and thought, "Wow, Tim Green keeps saying he wants to see formal submissions. I guess he just doesn't want to see mine."

But over the years since, he has repeatedly indicated (for example, in his interview with A.E. Stallings) that he is really out of his comfort zone when evaluating formal poems.

Not being openly hostile to form isn't the same thing as being able to appreciate it.

I might go ahead and submit a formal translation, if I have time, but I won't be at all surprised if it doesn't float his boat. And if it does, I'm pretty sure it will be in spite of, not because of, my efforts to give readers a sense of the original rhyme scheme.

Like Susan and Roger, I'm also pretty sure that anything old enough to be in the public domain is going to be of less interest to Mr. Green than the work of living poets. [Edited to add: Not that there's anything wrong with that, per se, but it would be worth keeping in mind before picking source material that doesn't have a distinctly modern vibe.]

Roger Slater 03-19-2022 02:13 PM

It's one thing not to publish the original alongside the translation. After all, space is limited and the magazine is aimed at English speakers. But it's another thing for the editors not to want to even have a look at the original to help them assess whether the translation is at least somewhere in the ballpark. If you don't mind being dishonest, perhaps you could submit one of your original poems and just make up a poet who wrote the original.

Roger Slater 03-19-2022 02:15 PM

Oh, and speaking of Rattle, I've always been curious where they get their money. Clearly they are operating on a far bigger budget than just about any literary journal out there, with loads of generous prizes and payment for every poem they publish, but does anyone know where the money comes from?

Julie Steiner 03-19-2022 03:14 PM

The IRS database is way behind on publishing charitable organizations' submitted 990 forms, but I found these for the Rattle Foundation. They're pretty detailed.

2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019

The Rattle Foundation seems to have lots of investment income from a large endowment fund, in addition to significant annual subscription income. Not a lot of contributed income (grants and gifts) was reported in these four years, though. Alan Fox's company contributed $28K+ in 2016.

For the record, I enjoy Rattle and usually pay for a three-year subscription whenever it's renewal time again. I also commend Tim Green for his many projects to promote poetry, including a strenuous schedule of Zoom programs and an in-person weekend poetry retreat that I might get around to attending one of these years.

Roger Slater 03-20-2022 08:00 PM

Thanks, Julie. That's very interesting. But I wonder where the endowment comes from. None of my business, I'll grant you, but there's no law against wondering.

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