I turn on the radio. Wrong. Let's not have any noise in this room, except the sound of a voice reading a poem.
from the book The Best Poems of Jane Kenyon / Graywolf Press

What Sparks Poetry is a serialized feature in which we invite poets to explore experiences and ideas that spark new poems. 

In our current series, What Translation Sparks, we’ve asked a group of poet-translators to share a seminal experience in translation. How does the work of translating poetry feel essential to the writing of one’s own poetry? Our contributors reflect on inspiring moments as intricate as a grammatical quirk and as wide-ranging the history or politics of another place.

Matvei Yankelevich on "Rug/Hydrangea"
Photo: Matvei Yankelvich
Reginald Shepherd
You’re walking down the street alone, absorbed in the anticipation of a lunchtime salad with that crusty olive bread you like so much, and suddenly you’re marching in formation in a crowd, it’s called a regiment. You seem to be a soldier this time, you learn to be at war.
Gaius Valerius Catullus (translated from the Latin by A.J. Woodman)
I left there fired, Licinius, by so much of your charm and wit that in my wretched state no food agreed with me, no sleep at night would close my eyes, but, uncontrolled in frenzy, on my bed I tossed and turned, craving a sight of dawn to speak and be with you again.
Choi Seungja (translated from the Korean by Won-Chung Kim & Cathy Park Hong)
Nobody raised me. I was nothing from the beginning, sleeping in a rat’s hole, nibbling on the flea’s liver, dying absentmindedly, in any old place.
Samuel Amadon
Having to be so without having to be so, I take my seat at the bar. It's my manner. I'm willful. Absent. Crisp. And cold. I know where to point my eyes when speaking, when listening, when the check arrives. I'm having lunch today because I'm pretty civilized.

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