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Everett, Simon P.

Tamám : trace, reinterpretation and the periphery of poetic translation. Simon P. Everett. Colchester, Essex University, 2019. Thesis (Ph.D).

This thesis consists of two parts: my main creative project, Tamám; four translations of the Chinese T’ang poet Yu Xuanji; and an accompanying critical commentary. Tamám is a present-day reimagining of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám consisting of one-hundred-and-one quatrains. It frames translation as a creative process informed by philosopher Jacques Derrida’s la trace (trace): that source texts and other sources defer their meaning to one another, simultaneously absent and present in the genesis of new writing. These sources tangentially influence and “mark” the content and meaning of a new text. The main translational elements of Tamám are the Persian source text of The Rubáiyát; Edward FitzGerald’s 19th century translation of The Rubáiyát; the case of the Somerton Man; the sociopolitical climate of 21st century south-east England; translation theory and deconstruction theory. The critical element of this thesis is split into three chapters, led by images from Tamám that focus on different aspects of trace in relation to creative writing and translation. Case studies include poets not traditionally considered translators (Ed Dorn and Tom Raworth), and contemporary poet-translators (Tim Atkins and Anne Carson) to suggest that trace is a peripheral element of writing processes. The commentary for Tamám follows these analyses and foregrounds the issues I encountered in the writing process, solutions to them, and justification of my creative response to aspects of trace and translation discussed in the theory. This is held against translations of Chinese poetry to demonstrate how the strict form, regulated verse, provides new creativity with absent-present trace of the form in its native language. In doing so, I argue that for the poet’s practice translation is an act of creative (re)interpretation that informs and supplements the composition of new poetry by way of trace.