From 'That is nothing'


To our workshop on Marxist Bangladeshi poet Nirmalendu Goon, attendees collectively brought decades of poetry translation experience, including from Bengali. Yet ‘ওটা কিছুনয়’—published in 1973, near the beginning of Goon’s long career and soon after Bangladesh’s war of independence—proved challenging. Startling images of throats and headless bodies lent an element of body horror. A fourteen-line structure nodded to the sonnet form. We debated whether to preserve some of the specificity of Bangla, such as a word meaning ‘blind at birth’, and whether a body part was a throat, a windpipe, or an oesophagus.

April Yee, Workshop Facilitator