TIM JONES was born in Grimsby, England, and moved with his family to
New Zealand when he was two. He grew up in Southland, lived for seventeen
years in Dunedin, and moved to Wellington in 1993. He writes poetry
and short fiction, including science fiction, and has recently finished
writing a novel.
Full details of Tim’s published short fiction and poetry, with links
to work available online, are on his web site. Twelve of his stories
are collected in Extreme Weather Events (HeadworX, 2001), and
his first poetry collection is Boat People (HeadworX, 2002).
When he’s not writing, Tim is a husband, father, web site content manager,
cricket fan, advocate of sustainable energy use, and someone who ought
to get more sleep.
‘In the early 1990s,’ says Tim, ‘I started a degree
in Russian at Otago University, and completed it at Victoria University
after I moved north. My final-year project was to translate and comment
on 15 poems by the Russian poet of the revolutionary era, Sergei Esenin
– a poet who is much loved in Russia, but not as well known as
he deserves to be elsewhere.
‘I made word-for-word translations, and then attempted to refine
these into good poetry. The word-for-word translations were a challenge,
since Esenin uses a lot of dialect words in his poetry, but I think
I did a pretty good job. With a couple of exceptions, however, the resulting
English-language poems weren’t up to the mark.
‘As the 2003 war in Iraq approached, I was taking another look
at my Esenin translations, trying again to make them work as poems.
I’d recently read John Crowley’s superb novel, The Translator.
And, coming home from a Poetry Society meeting, I had a conversation
with Basim Furat, an Iraqi poet now living in New Zealand, which crystallised
the pre-war mood for me. Somewhere in the intersection of all these
elements, my poem “The Translator” was born.
‘I still intend to get those Esenin translations finished one
day, following the example of New Zealand poet Charles Brasch, who (with
Peter Soskice) produced a small volume of Esenin translations in 1970.
But, even if that never happens, at least those hours of translation
have now been put to some use!’
Poem: The Translator