Translating Anne Sexton to Brazilian Portuguese: regarding questions of gender
Beatriz Regina Guimarães Barboza
Federal University of Santa Catarina, Brazil
Abstract: The purpose of this communication is to discuss some of the feminist translation issues found amidst the translation of Anne Sexton’s poems to Brazilian Portuguese, particularly those from her book The Awful Rowing Toward God(1975), which are the subject of my research. As it is well-known about the neutrality of the English language considering the gender of nouns and adjectives, the translation of American poetry to Latin-based languages implies a gendered choice. In Portuguese, it is a common practice to employ the masculine grammatical gender as the neutral, based on the linguistic formation of this language, therefore, ambiguous usages of nouns or collective nouns in texts written in English are generally translated to masculine. This presents a major problem while translating a woman poet whose work, although not declaredly feminist, has explicit feminist stances, which is the case of Anne Sexton’s poetry (RICH, 1995). I’ll focus my analysis on some poems of The Awful Rowing Toward God, book which I am translating to Brazilian Portuguese within the feminist translation studies’ perspectives (CASTRO, 2009), motivated by her themes and parallel to the Brazilian poet Ana Cristina Cesar. The main cases that I’ll present refer to the use of the words that imply both genders, but, to include the two possibilities, this would disrupt the poem’s rhythm. Another case is the masculine figure of death, within a dialogue do Emily Dickinson’s poetry (UNDERHILL, 2011), that is very subtly implied in a pronoun (“his”) and posits another problem, because “death” is a feminine noun in Portuguese. So, from this examples I’ll show my solutions that manage the feminist approach to translation with the needs of poetry recreation of rhythm and imagery, and, therefore, the importance of the feminist translation studies to some of the Latin-based translators working with Anglophone women poets.
Key-words: poetry translation; Anne Sexton; gender; women’s poetry; feminism.
Bio: Beatriz is a MA student in the program of Translation Studies at UFSC, Federal University of Santa Catarina. Graduated in Literary Studies, at the State University of Campinas, which was concluded with her commented translation of Djuna Barnes’ The Book of Repulsive Women. She is member of GEFLiT (Grupo de Estudos Feministas na Literatura e na Tradução/Group of Feminist Studies on Literature and Translation) at UFSC, and works on poetry revision since 2016.