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"The poetry of music and
the music of the spoken word:
a poet-translator's view"

a two-hour presentation
given for the Alumni Writers's Group
at the University of Ottawa
24 April 2006

presented here in Quick Time (.mov)
video format

*          *          *

Host: Miroslava Linda Sabbath


(page updated 1 July 2010)

The presenter would like to thank his host,
Ms Miroslava Linda Sabbath,
President of the Sacred Arts Council of Canada,
for her role in facilitating this talk for the
Alumni Writers' Group at the University of Ottawa.

For the convenience of Internet users,
this two-hour presentation is divided into
four segments of less than a half-hour each
(click on image or capitalised title
to view in Quick Time [.mov] format).

(28 minutes 20 seconds)

Introduction by host

JW's poem: "A poem is a song"

.......A poem is a song...

  .....John Woodsworth 

      A poem is a song 
      That carries me along 
      The upward edge of a thought. 

      No music there, you say? 
      Just listen to it play -- 
      The poem itself is fraught 

      With harmony and melody 
      Reflecting sweetest psalmody: 
      The music's become one 

      With the poem's message, 
      And every line may presage 
      A tune in time begun 

      By the listener's own responding 
      To the poem's thought-tones sounding 
      In ever-rippling chords... 

      As thought o'ershadows ear, 
      I cannot help but hear 
      The music in the words. 

      Poem written in English 
      Inspired by my dear wife's own 
      poetry of the past year, 
      and dedicated to her, 
      Susan Keyes Woodsworth 

      Ottawa, 22 July 1990


Music = poetry = music
(Google search results)

Ludwig von Beethoven: Sonatina in G
(poetry or not?)

Martin Joos: quotation from book The five clocks

Music & Meaning

The Bible:
Genesis 32: story of Jacob at Peniel (narrative)
Psalm 23 (balance between meaning & musicality)

Poetry/music: definitions

*  *  *  *  *

(26 minutes 15 seconds)

Story by Ljubov' Romanchuk: "The cyber", published (in JW's English translation) in: Agata Schwartz & Luise von Flotow (eds.), The third shore: Women's fiction from East Central Europe (Evanston: Northwestern University Press, 2006, pp. 160-63)

     JW's conference paper:
"Meaning & musicality: striking a balance in poetry translation".  Presented at the February 2002 conference: The Eye/I in Canadian research and Canadian art -- sponsored by the Graduate Students Association of the University of Ottawa.
(Paper now posted on-line on the Academia.edu website.)

I-chart (phrases from conference-paper introduction)

Key phrases from the main part of paper:

Psycholinguistics == the relation of language to thought
(anticipation > confirmation/modification > integration of new information with old; role of cognitive context)

Book by Frank Smith: Understanding reading: a psycholinguistic analysis of reading and learning to read (New York: Holt Rinehart & Winston, 1971)

JW's conference paper: "A major deficiency in current Russian textbook programmes", revised version published in Canadian Slavonic Papers, 16:2 (June 1974), pp. 262-85 (three types of context-- verbal, situational, cognitive -- their role in oral reading)

Translating poetry (from Russian to English): conveying musicality as well as meaning

*  *  *  *  *

(28 minutes 40 seconds)

Role of variegation in facilitating comprehension of spoken poetry (analogy of cockpit controls in British military aircraft)

Sasquatch Literary & Arts Performance Series
(click here for the Sasquatch website)
Video: "A mighty dream",  celebrating the 25th anniversary of Sasquatch, presented by founding director Juan O'Neill (video no longer available)

Book by Eugene Nida: Toward a science of translation (New York, 1964) :
Four levels of translation (philological, linguistic, communicative, socio-semiotic)

Prose & poetry: a continuum, including 'poetic prose'...
Series of 9 books by Vladimir Megré: Ringing Cedars Series -- Translated from Russian by JW, edited by Dr Leonid Sharashkin (Kahului, Hawaii, USA: Ringing Cedars Press, 2004-08.  Readings today taken from: Book 1 (Anastasia): Chapter 4 and from Book 3 (The Space of Love): Chapter 24.
(click here for the publisher's website)

The poetry of music:
Frédéric Chopin:  Air: Juz miesiac zeszedl: Andantino (Fantasia on the folk song "Laura i Filon").  Pianist: Robert Stankovsky.  Naxos compact disc 8.550368 (Chopin: Piano Concerto Nº 1 et al.), Track 5.  [on a commercial disc; not recorded on the video for copyright reasons]

Musical improvisation (click here for further information and MP3 samples, including the two which follow as part of this presentation):
"Thought crevices #2".  From cassette album First steps by JW
Improvisation on "Carol melody" from JW's CD album Sacred steps: piano improvisations on Christian Science hymn tunes, Track 10 

Reaction to piano improvisations on the part of children

*  *  *  *  *

(12 minutes 40 seconds)

Poems + improvisations: from CD album Detour to Paradise.  Poems by Miroslava Linda Sabbath, read and with piano improvisations by John Woodsworth (not yet in published circulation):  Track 1: "Nostalgia for Paradise"; Track 7: "Maniwaki Magnificat"; Track 9: "An Evening with Ota-wa Taiko".  For further information and MP3 samples, including Tracks 1 & 7, click here.  To read the poems on Tracks 1 & 7, click here.

*  *  *  *  *
Also of interest along this line (click on links to open):

JW's translation of O Canada into Russian

JWs entry to competition for words to the Russian national anthem





"Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you... 
Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."

-- John 14:27

E-mail : <jw[at ]kanadacha.ca>
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