Writer-translator team Ian Ferrier and Marie Frankland have a unique task, a project of double translation. Ferrier is a spoken word artist, and Frankland is working on translating Ferrier’s first manuscript of poems for a French Canadian audience. Although this is Ferrier’s first book to be published in French, he’s garnered a significant francophone fan base in Montreal, where he lives and performs regularly. “Lot’s of French people go to his shows even if they don’t understand a word, because they like the whispery feel and intimacy,” explains Frankland. Recreating the meaning of a text in a new language is one challenge, but finding a way to translate from the mouth to the page is another. “In the book its only words,” says Frankland, “so I have to find ways to make it very rhythmic and [create] a new musicality.”
Ferrier and Frankland have developed a relationship that makes them exceptionally suited for such a challenge. They often meet up in their neighbourhood in Montreal, but even when they don’t Frankland says she never hesitates to call Ferrier up with questions. “We’ve been hearing that some [translators] do not speak to their authors at all, or they prefer dead authors,” she says, “but we choose to work very closely.”
Both have been thankful for the opportunity to develop relationships and learn from the other translators they’ve been surrounded by here at the Banff International Literary Translation Centre (BILTC). “What we’re all here for is that we love what language can do – that’s what we live with, that’s what we work with,” says Ferrier.
To hear the bilingual version of Ferrier’s poem “Emma’s Country” performed by the writer and translator pair during their stay at The Banff Centre, click here:
To hear an interview with Ferrier and Frankland, and more from their performance in The Club check out The Banff Centre’s podcast.