Interliminal Tongues: Self-Translation in Contemporary Transatlantic Bilingual Poetry
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In this dissertation, I argue that self-translators embody a borderline sense of hybridity, both linguistically and culturally, and that the act of translation, along with its innate in-betweenness, is the context in which self-translators negotiate their fragmented identities and cultures. I use the poetry of Urayoán Noel, Juan Gelman, and Yolanda Castaño to demonstrate that they each uniquely use the process of self-translation, in conjunction with a bilingual presentation, to articulate their modern, hybrid identities. In addition, I argue that as a result, the act of self-translation establishes an interliminal space of enunciation that not only reflects an intercultural exchange consistent with hybridity, but fosters further cultural and linguistic interaction. As a manifestation of their hybrid sensibilities, each of these three poets employs the process of self-translation as an extension of their poetic themes, including a critique and parody of postmodern globalization, reappropriation of language to combat forces of oppression and deterritorialization, or a socio-linguistic representation of bilingual life in a stateless nation from the perspective of a minority language. Self-translation highlights the interliminality between languages, establishing a “third space” of communication that transcends the incomplete communicative ability of each of the two languages. When presented bilingually, self-translation foregrounds the act of translation; the presence of both languages not only encourages interaction between the two languages, but also draws attention to the act of translation, instead of obscuring it in a layer of transparency. This brings the reader to ponder the act of translation and the relationship between languages, ultimately enabling the reader to more fully appreciate the generative qualities of translation.