I was listening to Pat Humphries and my cat was hungry. Lately she has been boycotting kibble and demanding wet food …
At my publisher’s suggestion, I’m giving in and registering for an Amazon Author Page. Headmistress Press is an independent publisher of lesbian*-identified poetry (note: this includes poetry by bi+ women, trans women, non-binary people, and Two-Spirit people) and hopefully my Author Page will make it easier for people to find and order my book and thereby generate revenue for the press. You can find it here.
I’ve compiled this woefully incomplete list of medieval women’s poetry in translation partly as self-promotion and partly in order to share resources. Additions are welcome. Happy #WITMonth, everyone!
Classical Arabic, 4000 BCE – 1492 CE
Hebrew, 10th – mid-15th centuries
Latin, 1st–16th centuries
- Larissa Bonfante, tr. The Plays of Hrotsvitha of Gandersheim. Robert Chipock. Mundelein: Bolchazy-Carducci, 2013.
- Barbara Newman, tr. & ed. Hildegard of Bingen: Symphonia. 2nd Ithaca: Yale University Press, 1998.
- Jane Stevenson, tr. & ed. Women Latin Poets: Language, Gender, and Authority, from Antiquity to the Eighteenth Century. Oxford University Press, 2005.
- Katharina Wilson, tr. Hrotsvit of Gandersheim: A Florilegium of her Works. D. S. Brewer, 1998.
Classical Chinese, 9th–16th centuries
Early Middle Japanese, 8th–12th centuries
- Tony Barnstone & Chou Ping, tr. “Xue Tao (768–831).” The Drunken Boat.
- Jane Hirshfield & Mariko Aratani, tr. The Ink Dark Moon: Love Poems by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu, Women of the Ancient Court of Japan. Knopf Doubleday, 2015.
- Kenneth Rexroth & Ikuko Atsumi, tr. Women Poets of Japan. New Directions, 1977.
- Hiroaki Sato, tr. String of Beads: Complete Poems of Princess Shikishi. University of Hawaii Press, 1993.
- Philip Tudor Harries, tr. The Poetic Memoirs of Lady Daibu. Stanford University Press, 1980.
- David Young & Jian I. Lin, tr. The Clouds Float North: The Complete Poems of Yu Xian Ji. Wesleyan University Press, 1998.
Kannada, 12th century
Old Norse, 9th–13th centuries
Old Occitan (Provençal), 12th & 13th centuries
Italian, 13th century
- Samantha Pious, tr. “La Compiuta Donzella: Three Sonnets.” ed. Gianfranco Contini. Doublespeak Magaine (Fall 2016). [Scroll down for the Table of Contents.]
- Samantha Pious, tr. “A Sonnet by La Nina Siciliana.” [Seeking a home!]
Old French, 12th & 13th centuries
Dutch, 13th century
Middle French, 14th & 15th centuries
- Renate Blumenfeld-Kosinski & Kevin Brownlee, tr. The Selected Writings of Christine de Pizan. New York: Norton, 1997.
- Charity Cannon Willard, ed. The Writings of Christine de Pizan. New York: Persea Books, 1993.
- Maryann Corbett, tr. “Christine de Pizan, Ballades 11 & 53, from Cent Ballades.” String Poet (Winter 2011).
- Maryann Corbett, tr. “Christine de Pizan, Ballade 37, from Other Ballades.” Able Muse (Summer 2011).
- [Ask me about my translation of the Cent Ballades d’Amant et de Dame of Christine de Pizan!]
Catalan, 14th century
- Kathleen McNerney, tr. “La Reyna de Mallorques.” Catalan Review 5.2 (1991): 163-167.
- [My new translation of Lady Tecla’s verse exchange with Ausiàs March is now seeking a home!]
Kashmiri, 14th century
Middle Welsh, 15th & 16th centuries
Old Spanish, 15th century
Middle High German, 11th–16th centuries
Marissa Higgins and I interviewed each other as the fourth installment in “The Lesbian Poets of Headmistress Press,” a series of conversations between Headmistress poets, on Ms. Magazine’s blog.
*LBT women & non-binary poets, SUBMIT your manuscripts to the Charlotte Mew Contest, awarded annually through Headmistress Press! This year’s judge is Ching-In Chen.*
I have a double translation in Doublespeak! The original is an Old English riddle; I adapted it into “Middle French” octosyllabic couplets and then translated my own adaptation into Modern English iambic tetrameter. Thank you to the editors, especially Shailly Pandey and Yehudith Dashevsky, who encouraged me to submit!
I interviewed Joy Ladin for Lambda Literary! You can read our conversation here.
The translators and advocates at Women in Translation have posted a link to my Renée Vivien translations on their blog! Both their blog and their website are invaluable resources for women and non-binary translators as well as women and non-binary writers in translation. You can also follow them on Twitter @Read_WIT and look for their hashtags #womenintranslation and #WITmonth.
Here is a list—by no means complete!—of women-authored translations from the Ancient Greek of Sappho (ca. 630 – ca. 570 B.C.E.).
- Louise Labé (1524-1566), Sonnet 7 (1555), an adaptation of Sappho 31 into a French sonnet
- Anne (Le Fèvre) Dacier (1647? – 1720), Les Poésies de Sappho de Lesbos (1681), translations into French prose
- Anonymous (“Fille d qualité de Guyenne, âgée seulement de dix-huit ans”), “Ode de Sapho à son amie” (1684), an adaptation into French verse after Anne Dacier’s prose translation of Sappho 31
- Clotilde de Surville (ca. 1405–ca. 1498), “Qu’à mon gré ceste-là va primant sur les Dieux” (published in 1803 & 1826), two adaptations of Sappho 31 into French verse
- Renée Vivien (née Pauline Mary Tarn, 1877–1909), Sapho (1903), adaptations into French verse
- Édith de Beaumont (1877–1952), Poèmes de Sapho (1950), translation into French free verse
- H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886–1961), “Fragment Forty,” an adaptation into English verse
- Mary Barnard, Sappho: A New Translation (1958), translations into English verse
- Marguerite Yourcenar, La Couronne et la Lyre (1979), adaptations into French verse
- Anne Carson, If Not, Winter: Fragments of Sappho (2003), translations into English verse
- Aurora Luque, Safo: Poemas y testimonios (2004), Spanish
- Rosita Copioli, Saffo: Più oro dell’oro (2006), translations into Italian verse
- Maria Rosa Llabrés Ripoli, Cants de Safo (2006), Catalan
- Susan Hawthorne, “Fragment 16,” in Sinister Wisdom 81 (2010), English
- Mary Meriam, “who leaves me rootless,” in Girlie Calendar (2014), imitation into English verse
- Josephine Balmer, Sappho: Poems and Fragments (2nd edition, 2018)
For more information on Sappho’s “afterlives,” you can consult:
- Jane McIntosh Snyder, Lesbian Desire in the Lyrics of Sappho (1997)
- Margaret Reynolds, The Sappho Companion (2000)
- Philippe Brunet, L’Égal des dieux: Cent et une versions d’un poème de Sappho (2018)
Thank you so much to Maryann Corbett for this stunning review of my Renée Vivien translations! A poet, scholar, and translator—check out her work in Mid Evil!—Corbett writes:
… the strangeness itself is fascinating, and one has the sense that our fascination is Vivien’s aim. She is an exotic, and for those times when your mood runs to the exotic, Samantha Pious has brought her within easy reach.
Thank you, also, to Molly Spencer for your work in publishing this review in The Rumpus!
My translations are available in a new edition through Amazon and Headmistress Press.
I’m happy as a cat to have two poems appearing in the Winter 2018 issue of Mezzo Cammin! The sonnet “Shakespeare, to his Cat” began ten years ago as an assignment for Mr. Hackett’s eleventh-grade English class at Wooster School, and it’s come a long way since then. As always, I’m deeply grateful to editors Kim Bridgford and Anna Evans for the work they do in compiling our poetry and curating the extraordinary online presence that is Mezzo Cammin.