Sharmila Cohen: It’s pretty clear that translating a work like Kummerang would be no easy feat—can you discuss your process a bit? How did you tread the line between sound and content? Did you put more emphasis on one or the other? What were the particular difficulties you faced with it being such a sound-heavy poem? How much input did Dagmara have? Do you think anything was gained or lost in the process? How was this experience different from other translations you’ve done?
Joshua Daniel Edwin: Translating gloomerang was certainly a challenge. The poem is ripe to bursting with sound-play and references and allusive connections and strange direct-address dialogue. Finding a balance between all these elements, or rather, figuring out a balance in English that worked as well as the balance Dagmara struck in German, was a long process. The first breakthrough I had was with the title. The original, “kummerang,” is a neologism that mushes together kummer (which means grief, troubles, sorrows, worries) with boomerang. My first solution was “boomeranguish,” which is pretty close in terms of sense-meaning, but all wrong in terms of sound. I kept thinking about it, and when I hit upon gloomerang, I knew I had found something good. It sounded right and it felt right. The sense-meaning wasn’t quite as close, but it was close enough and it captured the aura of the original. That set the tone for everything that followed.