Professor translates poetry from Romanian to Spanish

Gabriella Căprăroiu, professor of Spanish, talks about her new book, “Semillas de Piedra: Poesía Rumana Contemporánea,” a collection of translated Romanian language poems, at the weekly faculty lecture Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. Her book also serves as a history of how Romanian language and culture have evolved since the 19th century. / photo by William Zeus Hardy
Gabriella Căprăroiu, professor of Spanish, talks about her new book, “Semillas de piedra. Poesía rumana contemporánea,” a collection of translated Romanian language poems, at the weekly faculty lecture Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Board Room. Her book also serves as a history of how Romanian language and culture have evolved since the 19th Century./ photo by William Zeus Hardy

Vincent M. Franco
Staff Writer

Professor of Spanish Gabriela Căprăroiu presented her new book “Semillas de piedra. Poesía rumana contemporánea,” containing poems in the Romanian language translated into Spanish by Căprăroiu.

The talk took place at noon Tuesday in the Quay Davis Executive Boardroom. 

Roughly 21 community members attended the lecture and several others tuned in on Zoom, though the Zoom was shut down early in the event due to technical difficulties.

The book, whose title translates to “Seeds of Stone. Contemporary Romanian Poetry,” includes 26 poets spanning throughout a large timeline, from today all the way back to the 1960s.

Căprăroiu began her lecture by reading the introduction of her new book, which served primarily as a detailed history of Romanian poetry and all the changes it has gone through since the 19th Century. 

It also dives into the connection between the two different languages and their cultures.  

“I thought it was relevant or important to us to see how a panoramic view of contemporary poetry is introduced to the Spanish readership,” Căprăroiu said.

Căprăroiu, who is fluent in Romanian and Spanish, then went on to read three poems from the book. On a screen she showed three different versions of the poems – one in Romanian, the original text – the Spanish translation, and a translation into English rendered by a different person.

“Personally I’m a poet,” said Monica Cruz, a junior child development major. “So it’s nice to hear translations … And we were discussing in our bigger group, it’s kind of nice to hear more of a gory story just because we are so used to having sweet poems that are very metaphorical.”

Căprăroiu did not read the English versions because she wanted the audience to listen to the poems read in Romanian and Spanish,  to give the poems the authenticity they deserve, but also share her work as a translator and read the Spanish versions. 

“It was quite interesting to see the Romanian original next to her Spanish translation, and in some cases, an English translation that I could understand easily enough,” said Al Clark, professor of humanities. “And clearly, she had done a tremendous amount of work and had done it very skillfully and that was impressive.” 

The poems read were filled with metaphorical meanings.

The first poem was “Pasărea tăiata,” or in Spanish “La gallina degollada,”  “The headless chicken” in English, by Ileana Mălăncioiu. After that she read “În frescă,” which translates to “Fresco” in Spanish, meaning  “In the frescos”, by Ana Blandiana. Lastly there was “Animal Planet,” the only poem brought up with an English name. 

Căprăroiu said translating poetry can be especially difficult because of the phonetic differences between Romanian and Spanish and in some cases the rhyme schemes. 

Vincent M. Franco can be reached at vincent.franco@laverne.edu.

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Vincent M. Franco, a senior visual journalism major, is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

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William Zeus Hardy, a senior photography major, is a staff photographer for the Campus Times. His work can also be found at williamhardy.mypixieset.com.

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