International Translation Day: Saskia de Jong’s ‘pier’

at ijmuiden they’ve asphalted the sea
now the sea fingers the tar
looking for itself
just like a sniffing sow smells what
formerly was a part of herself
along the sea, they’ve built upon sand,
            constructed views
and installed loudspeakers outside too
so that music drowns out the slang of the waves
it’s understood exactly where you are
go back to the start


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Ta, Graham! It’s funny you mention that phrase – the word ‘slang’ appears in the original poem, and I initially translated it as ‘snake’ (as a snake in Dutch is a ‘slang’), so the phrase was ‘the snake of waves’ which I was kind of proud of until Saskia told me it was actually the English word ‘slang’, which, you’re right, is also cool. So, yay for poets too!

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