Interview with Dr. Aprilia Zank
Theoretician of poetry, translator, poet
Theoretician of poetry, translator, poet
by Anca M. Bruma
I know that you yourself have done interviews with various well-known people. What is, in your opinion, the 'must' for an interview?
Yes, I have had the chance to meet and interview some renowned personalities such as the poet George Szirtes, winner of the T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize, David Amram, the multi-talented Beat Generation artist, Jennifer Phillips, artist and visual poet from New Zealand, just to name a few. One of the first things to keep in mind should be that each person is a unique personality, so you have to be well acquainted with his/her profile, background, formation and more, and ask the questions which are relevant for both the person interviewed and the target audience of the interview. Thus, you will be able to avoid boring, too conventional or even trivial questions.
You are a theoretician of poetry, a translator and a poet yourself. Which advice would you give to young poets, and... not only?
The first thing to tell them would be, “You are not the centre of the Universe.” – which means that they should avoid to concentrate on their own feelings, emotions and experiences alone, but should as well open their eyes to the world around them, with its beauty and glory, but also with its problems, traumas, threats and more. Only so will they be able to access universality as poets and creators.
Your poetry is experienced by some readers as highly metaphorical, sometimes even difficult to 'decipher'. Do you agree to this?
Yes and no! I deal with language in both my scholarly and poetic realms. Unlike other forms of arts, which have specific means of expressions (colours, musical notes, etc.), poetry uses the daily language to transmit the artistic message. In order to acquire an artistic potential, this language must be 'purified' from the 'daily routine' and chiselled into something new, something unique, which challenges us, mesmerises us, touches unknown chords in our souls, and delights us with exquisite aesthetic experiences. This is not possible unless language is stylistically moulded into new syntagmata by means of metaphors, similes and the many other figures of speech. It is my endeavour and concern to refine my poetic message in the same way in which a goldsmith polishes his jewels. That is why poets are also called wordsmiths.
You are a poet but also a translator of poetry. Poetry translation is a wide topic, of course, but if you were to select the most important statement about poetic translation, which would this be?
You are right, one cannot deal with translation of poetry in just a few words, but I will try. Basically, when you translate poetry, and literature in general, you do not translate single words, you transfer feelings, states of mind, aesthetic experiences not only from a language into another, but from a certain unique artist to an audience of many individuals. So it should be the aspiration of each and every translator to recreate the resonance, the impact, the poetic message carried by the original work.
Translation has many 'faces'. One of them is translation by visual means, more specifically photography. You are a passionate photographer – do you see any or many touchpoints between poetry and photography?
Certainly! Like poetry, photography is, in my opinion, also an attempt at getting to the hidden core of things, to their mysteries or even essence. Talking in practical terms, there are workshops of creating poetry by using photographic images as prompts, or vice versa, photography contests in which photographers are expected to illustrate fragments of poetry or other literary genres with their images.
What is your experience with poetry festivals?
I have both organised and attended literary festivals, so I am privileged to have a double perspective. I organised the Literary Festival W-ORTE at the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, with many guests from abroad as well, and it was a lot of work, but also a very enriching experience. We had lectures, workshops, poetry readings and free time encounters, in an intensive interaction between poets, translators, students and teachers. We also launched a bilingual anthology of parallel translations of poetry. It was not only instructive and enjoyable, but also the starting point of true friendships and further encounters in London and other places. As an participant in literary festivals in Munich and London, I tutored and took part in workshops, readings and other activities which, again, were very enriching for all those involved.
What do you know about KIBATEK in general? Have you heard about this Literary Foundation before or just recently?
I was aware of the existence of KIBATEK, but not acquainted with it in detail. At present, the more I get involved with it, the more fascinating it appears to me. It has a great programme of activities and most creditable objectives – a great platform for the promotion not only of literary excellence, but also of spiritual and humane values.
What are your expectations from the KIBATEK 40 Global Poetry Festival?
I look upon this festival as an excellent opportunity of exchange at many levels: scholarly, poetic, cultural and more. It is also a great chance to meet people from various countries and cultural communities, to share my own professional and poetic experience, and to learn new things from the other participants.
Dr. Aprilia Zank Books
Note: Dr. Aprilia Zank has gained several awards for cover books. She has designed for the KIBATEK 40, the Global Poetry Festival in Dubai, the cover book.
Other examples of her gained awards for cover books are illustrated here: