Charles Bernstein

Doubletalking the Homophonic Sublime: Comedy, Appropriation, and the Sounds of One Hand Clapping

Charles Bernstein

A Matrices Edition

Homophonic translations create poems that foreground the sound of the original more than the lexical meaning: sound-alike poems or “sound writing.” This essay presents a dizzying number of examples of sound mimesis as a way to explore the poetics of sound and the politics of translation….

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Charles Bernstein

A Matrices Edition

Homophonic translations create poems that foreground the sound of the original more than the lexical meaning: sound-alike poems or “sound writing.” This essay presents a dizzying number of examples of sound mimesis as a way to explore the poetics of sound and the politics of translation. Covering modernists (such as Pound, Bunting, and Khelbnikov) and contemporaries (such as David Melnick and Caroline Bergvall), the Bernstein also addresses homophonics in popular culture including an extended discussion of TV comedian Sid Caear’s “double talking.” The essay raises a thorny question: Are homophonic poems a form of cultural appropriation or a form of transnationalism?


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