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Lately, I’ve been thinking about translation.
This is a somewhat disingenuous sentence. I am always thinking about translation. It is one of those subjects, like telepathic dragons or reality television, that has so thoroughly colonized my subconscious I cannot now not think about translation. However, recently, suddenly, through some abrupt convergence of the internet universe, I find that Crashtest has become an international presence and the idea of translation is now present, tangible, front-and-center in my mind. Young writers from India, from Indonesia, from Mozambique, Japan, the Ukraine and Canada have not only read us, but have found within our last two issues something universal enough to transcend the American idiom and make them want to join in. “Well, that’s cool,” we said, leaning back in our chairs and flipping our pencils into the air in a totally insouciant, we-recognize-but-are-able-to-easily-assimilate-our-great-good-fortune-with-the-ongoing-business-of-being-ordinary-folk sort of way. Inside, however, we are dancing the very specific jig of recognized lingua franca. Which is to say: there is a bridge language in the world that transcends the words you or I use to say what we mean; that transcends even the untranslatable idioms—the axiomatic American cheeseburger childhood, the domed Russian winters, the Frenchness of the French, the Japanesness of the Japanese—and means something beyond meaning; means what it feels like to be a human being, here for a short time, looking around, noticing beauty and beyond that something more, something stirring and terrifying, intangible, impermanent, but here perhaps even more that we are here, human perhaps even more than we are human: which is to say Art (Poetry! Stories! The unspeakable I speaking and speaking!) Which is to say, translations so that I (editor or author) can say to you (dear Reader sitting before your computer in whatever city, suburb, jungle, houseboat, moon colony, desert, alpine mountain aerie) what it means to be a self amid so much that is not me. What I make of it. How I will go on from here.
Translation, in other words, that goes beyond words on paper becoming other words on the screen. How fortunate we at Crashtest feel to be able to facilitate that kind of communication. What an incredible age we live in that this can happen so fast, so specifically, so often.
Inside this issue, dear Reader, you will find a poem by Sid Peery that translates from the earthy, stolid point of view of a potato, (“did it move?” the potato asks. “no?”) to the humming hive mind of an ant; a piece by Talitha McGuire that delves into the distinctly psychedelic imagination of a kitten and one by Elizabeth Ballou that opens the artificially limited world view of her narrator by translating her ambitions through her sense of smell. You’ll read a realm by Claire Bateman which imagines a world in which children are able to choose whether or not to translate themselves into adulthood, and, of course, a poem by Joao Felipe Novela, translated into English by Alice Pettaway, that asks ‘what is identity,’ and finds that it is language as well as place and culture, concludes that, finally, it is through education that life becomes, “voluminous as a whale,” and we are congratulated for our happiness, for knowing where we have come from and thus, who we are.