Poetry and Sound in Expanded Translation

deadline for submissions: 
January 2, 2018
full name / name of organization: 
Bangor University
contact email: 

Poetry in Expanded Translation III

Conference: Poetry and Sound in Expanded Translation, April 4th to 6th 2018


Bangor University, Wales

Deadline for abstracts: January 2nd 2018


Keynote speakers:

Caroline Bergvall, artist, writer and performer

Lawrence Venuti, translation theorist, Professor at Temple University



Andrew Lewis, composer, Professor at Bangor University


Conference organisers:

Dr Jeff Hilson (Roehampton University) and Dr Zoë Skoulding (Bangor University).

This international and interdisciplinary conference will consider the role of sound in poetry translation, and in related areas of performance and creative practice. How helpful is a musical vocabulary in discussion of the sound of a poem in translation? Conversely, what is meant by describing music as a language? Can the relationship between poet and translator be compared with that of composer and performer? Such parallels will be used to explore poetry in bilingual, multilingual and cross-artform contexts. Examining new and emerging interfaces between poetry, sound and translation, this conference will bring together poets, musicians, critics and translators.


Translation, considered as a distinct articulation of knowledge rather than a means to a communicative end, demands particular forms of listening. Noise, in the sense of the opening up of multiple channels, is closely linked to the creative multilingual space that emerges in the act of translation, but the carrying over of translation also implies a boundary between the clean channels of different languages. Traditional concepts of translation are often based on proverbial constructs that operate through rhythm and pun, such as 'traduttore traditore', while the statement attributed to Robert Frost, 'poetry is what is lost in translation', takes for granted his view of poetry as 'the sound of sense,' that is, a shared sense of the cadences of the English language. Language is sensed differently, however, when it is not assumed as shared ground. What new relationships between languages are possible within the scope of poetic practice and its intersections with translation and performance?


Underlying these issues is an interest in how poetry travels internationally on the ear, creating links and legacies that connect poetry across languages, for example the influence of early twentieth-century Dada performances on contemporary sound poetry. In a time of isolationist politics, this conference will ask how such cross-currents might help us to engage with the multiple linguistic communities of contemporary Europe and beyond.


This conference is the third and final event of the AHRC Network Poetry in Expanded Translation. Confirmed speakers include Jennifer K. Dick (Université de Haute Alsace), Chris McCabe (National Poetry Library), Vahni Capildeo (Douglas Caster Cultural Fellow, Leeds University), Vincent Broqua (Université Paris 8), Lily Robert-Foley (Université Paul-Valéry, Montpellier), Carole Birkan-Berz (Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris 3), Alys Conran (Bangor University), Nia Davies (Poetry Wales), Tim Atkins (Roehampton University), Philip Terry (University of Essex), Simon Smith (University of Kent).


Proposals for critical or practice-based papers of 20 minutes are invited. They may deal with one or more of the following questions or any theme related to the conference:


  • the role of sound when poetry is performed in bilingual and multilingual contexts
  • sound in the practice of poetry translation
  • the relation between translation and the ecological dimensions of listening
  • the political questions raised by a cross-border ethics of listening
  • ways in which a considerations of noise might open up new ways of listening to other languages
  • the relationship between sound poetry and translation
  • the role of translation in revealing different ways in which the poem 'listens'
  • the kinds of listening and translation at work in a poetry reading
  • the relationship between poetry and song lyrics
  • approaches to poetry performance that might enable or articulate new relationships between languages
  • collaboration between poets and musicians or sound artists as intercultural dialogue



Please send abstracts of 250 words to z.skoulding@bangor.ac.uk and j.hilson@roehampton.ac.uk by January 2nd 2018.


This conference is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council