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Eugene Ostashevsky (New York University)

Eugene Ostashevsky

Eugene Ostashevsky
Image Credit: Zarina Zabritsky

Dorothea Schlegel Artist in Residence
Research Area 1 "Competing Communities"

October 2019  - September 2020

A Poetics of Translingualism

Eugene Ostashevsky’s experimental and theoretical activity at EXC 2020 will focus on the creation and explanation of translingual poetry. Translingualism, or language mixing within the boundaries of a single literary work (on a scale as small as a single word), tends to emphasize untranslatability, deny language boundaries, admit contamination, allow nonnative competence, and interpret linguistic norms in terms of historical formation and social power. Translingual practices such as code-switching, multilingual punning, or foreignizing translation, reject and relativize the implicit claim of any single language to offer a true world-picture. The project aims to inscribe translingual practices into the broader context of poetic form, and especially of the semantisation, in poetry, of material aspects of language that, in ordinary language use, lack semantic function, such as sound, spelling, and etymology. But the primary aim, as always, is practical: to do more new things with fewer words.

Eugene Ostashevsky is a poet and translator working mainly in English. His books of poetry include The Pirate Who Does Not Know the Value of Pi (NYRB, 2017), translated into German by Uljana Wolf and Monika Rinck as Der Pirat, der von Pi den Wert nicht kennt (KookBooks, 2017), as well as The Life and Opinions of DJ Spinoza (UDP, 2008). He teaches at the Liberal Studies program at NYU and is the winner of the Preis der Stadt Münster für Internationale Poesie (DE), the National Translation Award (US), and other prizes.