Fil-Am’s poetry in the time of Covid gets Thai translation

Filipino American writer Eileen Tabios. CONTRIBUTED

By mid-March, the globe was swept by the Covid-19 pandemic. Schedules had been all of a sudden in disarrays. Numerous claimed even though, that it was nature’s way of telling us to slow down. Some nations closed down their borders, flights had been canceled, toilet papers went out of stock, face masks became a element of the wardrobe, new terms had been added to the English vocabulary – Covid–19, PUI (a particular person beneath investigation), physical distancing, lockdown, PPE, operate from property, and so on.

Folks are not utilized to extended confinement. But staying at property through the lockdown created some folks productive and inventive. But not Eileen Tabios has normally been inventive, Covid or no Covid. As a result was born Inculpatory Proof.


“It took me about two months beginning in March to create these poems. They had been written concurrently with the unfolding of the Covid–19 tragedy,” Tabios says.

Eileen R Tabios’s Inculpatory Proof is a collection of ten poems translated into Thai language by Natthaya Thamdee, a expert translator and lecturer at Vongchavalitkul University in Nakhon Ratchasima Thailand. It was published by Laughing/Ouch/Cube/Productions and i.e. press, California-New York. It is also Tabios’s third bilingual edition.

The publisher describes the book as educational for presenting a discussion on translation and untranslatability, as knowledgeable with Natthaya’s Thai translations and an Oulipian “N+7” translation of one particular poem by Susan M. Schultz.

Tabios is a noted Filipino American poet described as “one of the foremost Filipino American poets of the 21st century,” by Asian Week one particular of the extra adventuresome and really inventive poets prior to the public now, by San Francisco Evaluation of Books.

“The poetry of Eileen Tabios invites us to appear at what it really implies to be element of the human race, not merely a fragment of it,” according to The Poetry Shed (U.K.).

Tabios has been translated into 11 languages. She also invented Hay(na)Ku, a 21st-century diasporic poetic type in 2003. It is described as a six-word tercet with the initially line becoming one particular word, the second line becoming two words, and the third line becoming 3 words.


From English to Thai

But this is not just about Covid–19 and poetry. Inculpatory Proof is also about translation in a language and script numerous have noticed, but do not fully grasp – the Thai script.

Sometime in May perhaps, I introduced Natthaya Thamdee, a Thai colleague to Tabios by way of e-mail. Natthaya is also my translator.


“I was interested in Thai mainly because I hadn’t been translated into this language prior to it is the 11th language into which I’ve been translated. It is a bonus that, in seeking at Thai, I occur to discover its pictures lovely—the patterning of its lines and curves are great to see,” Tabios says.

Natthaya is a freelance translator. She translated subtitles of motion pictures and Television applications from English to Thai.

In translating poetry, the feelings have to be felt by the translator.

“I study her (Tabios) sample poems sent to me. I could really feel her pieces of anger against one thing unfair and out of shape. I could really feel her insurgent and activism inside each and every single word that sincerely conveys. That is my type of style as properly. I felt like meeting a new buddy and I wouldn’t hesitate to enable my buddy sending these messages,” Natthaya explains.

Thai translator Natthaya Thamdee. CONTRIBUTED

In poetry, understanding metaphors and nuances is vital specially to a translator whose second language is not English and the script is not even Latin alphabet. The two had a number of exchanges of emails that had been incorporated in the book. This element of the book is an great supply for these who are arranging to engage in translation.

‘No two words are the same’

Are all words produced, written, or understood the very same?

In poetry? No. Natthaya and Eileen Tabios get in touch with it “cultural untranslatability.

Natthaya explains that the printed translation lasts longer.

“You have extra time in translation than interpretation to totally fully grasp each cultural denotative and connotative meanings. On the other side, interpretation, in theory, is mainly a face-to-face communication. They call for distinct communication expertise.”

For instance, when Natthaya was translating Kapwa on Covid, she asked what ‘kapwa’ implies in Filipino. Does it have a direct translation in English? How is it connected to Walmart is out of toilet paper, or eggs, sunshine?

Then there are Hay(na)ku lines:

They are We.

You are,

I –

-that is kapwa. But the Thai translation is unnatural. The word count is also a challenge, which Tabios also wrote in the book. Natthaya explains that conjugation is also distinct in Thai.

“It took me about two months to finish the Thai version as properly as creating the web page layout in Thai match. There’s normally a difficulty when you have to deal with two totally distinct alphabets arranged collectively in the very same book,” Natthaya explains.


To be a translated author is a boon to numerous authors writing in English and other languages. A National Artist for literature in the Philippines normally boasts that he is the most extensively translated author in other languages apart from his medium which is English. And his relevance ended in translation.

For Tabios, the significance of becoming translated is not just to be translated.

“There should really be some relevance. In this book’s case, mainly because Covid-19 is affecting everybody worldwide, Thai readers may perhaps be interested in the book,” Tabios says.

“My interest in becoming translated into as numerous languages as achievable relates to acquiring as numerous as properly as varied readers for my poems. I do not target certain readers but merely want the poems to be obtainable to everybody, such as globally,” Tabios concludes.

Inculpatory Proof: The Covid-19 Poems is obtainable at Laughing Ouch Cube Productions and its Lulu account. You can also send e-mail to [email protected]


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