Alcalay & Hollander at Bard College!

AA Hollander



Monday, November 18, 2013
Olin 115, 11:50am-1:10pm

Ammiel Alcalay and Benjamin Hollander will address how translation as act and idea has shaped their practices and poetic identities.

Hollander, who grew up between German and Hebrew before coming to the English he now writes in, will speak to how this linguistic and cultural journey has been translated into the un-Americanness of his American language and philosophy. His new book, In The House Un-American (Clockroot Books), is partly guided by the metaphor of translation as transport, as the perpetual crossing and metamorphosis of an immigrant’s language, identity, and culture. David Shapiro has called it “so America, so like an inner emigration, as if we had all changed names.” Hollander will address how the foreignness of his writing can inform the singularity of poetic thinking: how, in terms of syntax and fluency and perception, he wants, as the poet and translator Murat Nemet-Nejat writes,  “to help English  [and American identity] grow a limb it does not have.”

Alcalay has been publishing translations from a number of languages for over thirty years, and will speak to how these experiences inform poetic thinking and knowledge. As an advocate of writing from various parts of the world—particularly the Middle East and the Balkans—he has been instrumental in forging a space for engaged political encounters with other cultures and languages. He will address how his immersion in projects, centered in and on other regions and languages, have evolved into comprehending the context of how one uses American English and what that might mean for a reconfiguration of post Second World War American culture, as well as what that might mean for exploring new approaches to North American political, cultural, and literary history and identity. Taking, on the one hand, Meso-American scholar Gordon Brotherston’s crucial idea that “the prime function of classical texts is to construct political space and anchor historical continuity,” and poet Charles Olson’s idea that the history of these States remains “unrelieved” as starting points, Alcalay will address how his experiences as a translator and writer have taken him into realms that have little to do with the prevailing discourse in which literary translation has become embedded.

Please also join our guests in Olin 115, 7-9pm for Special Views of History:  Benjamin Hollander and Ammiel Alcalay read from their work.

Olin Language Center, Room 115
Sponsored by: Division of Languages and Literature; Translation Project.
For more information, call 845-758-7203, or e-mail



Monday, November 18, 2013
Olin 115, 7-9pm

Continuing from their afternoon practicum, and in the spirit of Charles Olson’sSpecial View of History, Hollander and Alcalay will read from their poetry and prose. Their reading will play off Hericalitus’s maxim which begins Olson’s Special View: “Man is estranged from that which is closest to him.”

For Alcalay, this means tracing event to memory to create another kind of consciousness in the present, a third eye on a distant landscape coming into zoom focus, or, like Jack Spicer’s poet as radio, radiating poems as messages coming in at different frequencies, frequenting multiple dimensions:  writing which, in Robert Duncan’s view, works toward immediacy as it seeks after origins.

For Hollander, this means a writing which reshapes and brings to focus our historical Imagination, where facts on the ground can be transformed into fables in the air: writing which aspires to conditions articulated by the biographer and translator Robert Payne, that “America was [and could be again] fable before it became fact.

Please also join our guests in Olin 115, 11:50am-1:10pm  for our practicum, Ammiel Alcalay and Benjamin Hollander:  on Translation and Poetic Identity in the Age of Identity Politics

Olin Language Center, Room 115
Sponsored by: Division of Languages and Literature; Translation Project.
For more information, call 845-758-7203, or e-mail

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