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August 27, 2008

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Moira, my dear, you are amazing.

How i wish i could read Italian to truly appreciate the brilliance of the translation.

In terms of the differing translations, had a conversation today with a colleague about using music to discuss “translation” of poetry. The song we spoke of was "Hurt." This song, originally sung by Nine Inch Nails is, now, truly three songs in one: the lyrics by itself; the song sung by NIN; the song sung by Cash. Translation makes all the difference, and is what makes writing/poetry so worthwhile and amazing.

Congratulations on the selection of Ashbery's poems you and Damiano have published in Italian. What an accomplishment! If I am not mistaken, the book's title, retranslated into English, is "A World That Could Not Be Better," adapted from a phrase in JA's "Definition of Blue." A perfect choice: the idiomatic meaning of "couldn't be better" is the exact antithesis of the literal meaning of the words.

David, many many thanks for your kind words about the Ashbery book, and yes, you are (no surprise) spot on about the title. Let me take this opportunity to say what a remarkable collaboration it was that led to this book: a careful selection of the poems by JA himself, Damiano, and Joseph Harrison (who also wrote the excellent introduction); Damiano's decade+ of work on the poems; and my own fortunate happenstance of falling/marrying into this labor of love, frustration, and fun.

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