About

[Where the author writes about himself in the third person]

Jeff Schwaner is the author of six books of poems and two novels. He was an independent bookseller for ten years in Boston, Portland, Ithaca, and Charleston, edited two alternative newspapers and in 2000 co-founded Booksurge LLC, offering on-demand fulfillment to self publishers and small publishers. After Amazon purchased Booksurge in 2005, he moved to Virginia to work for LexisNexis, where he managed a motley crew of editors in the desktop publishing unit. Jeff  now works as the Content Coach for The News Leader in Staunton, Virginia, where he and his family make their home within a drone’s throw of the Blue Ridge mountains.

Jeff_cropped

[About translations from the English]

What the heck are translations from the English? Well, it’s the title of a recently published book of poems. It’s the title of a poem in that collection. It’s also about an ongoing investigation that really started when I found the most comprehensive translation of Tomas Transtromer’s work in English, The Great Engima, translated by Scottish poet Robin Fulton. I had long been a fan of TT, and I found that even in “bad” translations or in the cases where I could compare translations–say, by Fulton and by American poet Robert Bly and by May Swenson, and so on–and find vast differences in the word choice and feel of the poem, that those poems were still somehow working for me as Transtromer’s poems. Strange. It got me thinking about the whole question of translation–the translation of an idea for a poem in one’s head, half wordless, half anticipation of words in fact, to a “draft,” to a “final” version–and on to the reader, where the translation from the English really begins…

[About this site]

So this site is a place where you can explore that idea, at least through my writing and poems. Obviously it is a place where, after many years of writing as an entirely private gesture, these poems are now available to a larger audience, for better or worse.

Most of my work is available in print through the Books page of the site.

You’ll also find free PDF versions of each of the last three books of poetry, and while I’d certainly love to sell zillions of books of verse, I encourage you to download the free PDFs and enjoy the work in that way as well.

I will also be posting news of new publications and readings and other collaborations, random thoughts on my favorite writers and literary happenings. I’ll be throwing out the occasional poem not yet collected in any book, as well as new stuff, which may or may not be in the final form it will eventually have in the next book.

I am not promising that I won’t just throw in a photo of one of my pets for the heck of it now and then. Or a rock. I like rocks.

Other pesky details

I studied English at Cornell University and Boston University, where I managed to attend classes and workshops taught by A.R. Ammons, Kenneth McClane, Robert Pinsky, Derek Walcott and Olga Broumas, among others. I spent a few years creating letterpress books and broadsides, then moved into that nomadic existence known as independent bookselling mentioned above. I spent several years in Charleston, South Carolina editing two alternative newspapers and one literary journal.

40 thoughts on “About

  1. HD

    Given your talents, it’s no surprise that you have a really intriguing ABOUT page. Your blog should be savored. I’m checking in regularly, lurking, and savoring the various entries.

    And I’m not averse to photos of pets. Or rocks.

    Reply
  2. Pingback: “Sky Dream” ~ Poetry in Translation | St Brigid Press

  3. donegallizdoyle

    hi Jeff, how lovely for mm e that my painting was included in all of this, just in case you’re up for a replay, here’s another suggestion, curve, from my recent post, perhaps something about contentedness, emptiness, acceptance

    no worries if now is not the time
    best wishes
    Liz

    Reply
  4. Björn Rudberg (brudberg)

    Hey, and thank you for visiting my page.. translating poems is for sure hard.. I’m can only judge how it works between Swedish and English and more and more I have started to understand how even closely related languages there are problems… still I agree that many times the essence is still caught.. (and translating your own poems from Swedish is not easy either).. my brain seems to be wired differently when I write in English compared to Swedish.

    Reply
  5. Raxa Collective

    Hi Jeff, thanks for introducing yourself by following our site. So glad to meet another “Cornellian” – we look forward to exploring yours as well! If you happen to be on facebook we invite you to visit the RAXA Collective page. See you there!

    Reply
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  7. Susan G

    Just dipping in, discovering your blog via a search for Transtromer translators, love what I’m seeing so far (esp the Subg Dynasty sequence) and looking forward to spending time with more!

    Reply
  8. Ron

    Jeff, just a few words to tell you how much I appreciate your reading and “liking” three of my recent non-haiku poems. (Truthfully, I think they were ALL written around 1984, the same year I wrote and published my first haiku, so they aren’t exactly fresh!)

    Drop in any time. I’ll leave the light on and there’s always a stack of quarters on the night stand next to the “Magic Fingers” bed!

    Ron – still crazy

    Reply
  9. tristaisshort

    very cool. I look forward to browsing your page. Recently I did a translation feature in Helsinki and it grew a need to learn more about translations. I hope to learn something from your work.
    Thanks

    Reply
    1. Jeff Schwaner Post author

      Welcome! As you’ll see there is some actual translation going on here, but also the idea that what we’re doing when we write poetry is a kind of translation too.

      Reply
  10. Mary Tang

    I guess we translate everything we see to make sense of it to ourselves. Living in an English speaking world the Chinese me is constantly translating. There’s an Aussie me too who sees the world the Down Under way 🙂 I also admire Robin Fulton’s translations of Tomas Tranströmer.

    Reply
  11. garyhorvitz

    Jeff, I’m a little humbled and honored that you’ve somehow found my mostly non-poetic blog and decided to follow. I see that I’m sure to find some inspiration here in the work of those more accomplished than I in poetry. Congrats on all your accomplishments,…especially the kids. 😉

    Reply
    1. Jeff Schwaner Post author

      Has not been much to follow lately, as i’ve been busy learning a new job, and taking a physics class, resulting in 13-14 hour days the last week (and next three weeks). No, I wasn’t making up the physics class part. So, glad to have you back! I’ve got a lot to catch up with, including your interview AND your broadside with St Brigid Press…

      Reply
  12. Jen Eisenberg

    Hey Jeff. This is Jenny Eisenberg, nee Williams. Just wanted you to know that I turned out okay. And thank you for your help with that. I didn’t marry a bass player! My husband has an MFA, so that’s sort of different. We have four kids (3 year old twins!!) and are getting ready to move to Dutchess County, NY. Hope you are well and glad you are still doing cool stuff.

    Jenny from Prattville, AL

    Reply
    1. Jeff Schwaner Post author

      Sounds like you turned out pretty darn well! Are you writing? playing? singing? I know you are *parenting* and that is a creative gig in and of itself…

      Reply
  13. bearspawprint

    Jeff, do you have a Facebook page? Someone using your name sent me a “friend” request, but there are no new posts on the page, since April. I did not respond, because it perhaps was not you???? If you’ve been hacked, I thought you ought to know. If it is real, I shall respond. Thanks.

    Reply
  14. Valorie Grace Hallinan

    I have always wanted to delve into TT, especially because my mother’s family was Swedish. So now you really have my curiosity aroused. So glad to have found your site through St. Brigid Press. Good luck with Wind Intervals, I’m enjoying reading about and listening to stories of its making. What beautiful work!

    Reply
    1. Jeff Schwaner Post author

      Thanks Valorie. If you can find a digital copy of the video that James Wine made of Transtromer’s “Baltics” you should check that out. There’s also a fabulous reading he gave at the 92nd Street YMCA that you can find on YouTube. The Scottish poet Robin Fulton has the most comprehensive collection of translations of TT in his book The Great Enigma (New Directions) but there are also other fine translations of Transtromer’s work. Robert Hass edited an ensemble cast of translators into a Selected Poems, and Robert Bly’s selection of translations The Half-Finished Heaven is also worth reading. Most recently Sarabande Books published Bright Scythe, translations of Transtromer’s work by Patty Crane. I’m not as keen on these but the collection is bilingual, so you get to see the Swedish side by side with the English and it helps you make your own decisions on word choice and style, especially if you have other translations available as well. Another translator that Transtromer liked is Samuel Charters, though I don’t think there is a book of his translations available. Enjoy! And if you happen to be in Virginia on April 28th, come say hello at the book launch for Wind Intervals. If not, I may try to use Facebook Live for the reading part.

      Reply
  15. Valorie Grace Hallinan

    Jeff, I have Robin Fulton’s translation, The Great Enigma, on my shelf, so I pulled it out. Glad to know I’ve got a good intro here. Can’t wait to listen to the videos. We have family about an hour from you in Virginia, so one of these days we’ll get back there. If you do a FB reading, I’ll watch out for it. How exciting!

    Reply

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