When my books are translated into German, I can read it, I can understand it. But I don’t think I’m much of a help to the translator. He or she can ask me simple questions. If there’s something they don’t understand, then I will help them find the right word. But, if it’s like Spanish that I don’t speak for instance, I have no clue, or Russian, or Greek, or whatever. So, it has to do with what language are we talking about.


English has been — it’s been a wonderful journey working with Denise Newman on Baboon. We worked on it for many years, I mean maybe two or three years. And she would send me drafts, and I would go over them, and we would talk on the phone. And the same goes for Susanna Nied, who translated some of my poetry into English. It’s been so interesting for me, because it was also a way for me to understand English in a deeper way.1


When I first moved here six years ago, my English was — I mean I could survive, but it was not that good. I had difficulties really reading, and understanding difficult text. So, the translating process was a way for me to understand more deeply American English. You know, we’re taught British English in school, and I realized the differences a lot. And my translators would tell me — they would say, “We can’t use this or this word, because it would remind everybody of a certain children song, and we can’t have that.”


So, it was also a way of digging into American culture. I mean language, and culture is so tight connected. So, it’s been so interesting for me to get to know the language in a completely different way.

  1. Known By Others
Return to Index