An Essay on Done into English: Pearse Hutchinson’s Collected Translations

An essay of mine about the translation work of Irish poet Pearse Hutchinson was published on this week, a journal dedicated to “creative non-fiction essays and scholarly articles, as well as hybrids of the same, pertaining to the trans-personal, trans-cultural, and trans-national, with an emphasis on synthesis and contemporary relevance.” (In editorial guidelines.) I could have sent the essay to a Hispanist journal, but given the fact that the essay is directly concerned with hybrid themes (Spain, Ireland, Galician, Gaelic), I’m glad it’s in good hybrid company (How many times can I say hybrid? Transport me to a postmodernist conference, oh, fly me to the moon, or a representation thereof…) I’m especially happy with it, because it brings together a few of the strands that my work is concerned with: writing, of course, travel, translation, minority languages, and various aspects of “Spanish” culture. (Quotation marks to signal that Spain is a multifarious beast, as my friends the Catalans, Basques and Galicians often say. And, they’re right.)

Pearse Hutchinson, by Michael O'Regan(An aside: by Spanish, I mean a certain section of Iberia, not East Harlem or the Lower East Side. I mention this by way of having noticed a curious phenomenon in New York whereby folk of Latin American origin say “yeah, I’m Spanish.” This of course is a red rag to my inner pedantry bull, which immediately starts charging around, even as I, on the surface, say, “oh, you are from Castile? Or perhaps from Extremadura?” All the while placidly drinking from exquisite bone china (not really). Then again, Irish Americans do it all the time. “I’m Irish, dude! Fuck yeah!” “So, you’re from Mayo, then?” “Oh, yeah, I like mayo with everything. Mix it with a little English musta’d, especially on dawgs on Saint Patty’s [sic] Day” [See a future post regarding this dreadful rending of Patrician nomenclature. See also a future post about the snobbishness of the piggies that never left home to those little piggies that did. I myself am a little piggy that did both, and thus shouldn’t be so mean to other little piggies.].

I am also chuffed with the essay because, in an age (of what Bowie calls “grand illusion”) when editors no longer seem to edit, transtudies’ editor, Michael Broek, said yes to the essay, with the proviso that some changes would need to be made. I accepted, and was happy to see that ever last one of them made the essay better, while making sure that it remained my own. No better salve to the writing ego than that.

So, here ’tis.

I am also happy to do just honour to a great poet, a good mentor, and a good man. (Pearse Hutchinson, died 14th January, 2012.)

(Photo source: Michael O’Regan. I suspect it was taken at Pearse’s home, “Findrum”, in Rathmines, Dublin.)