Today’s prompt comes from my memory of an excercise used by the poet Christopher Howell in one of his classes. It is a twist on the translation poem. The twist: you shouldn’t know the language. The point is to read/listen to the poem in its original language and, by tone, sound, feel, mood–every way beside knowing what the words mean–translate the poem. As you guessed, this is not about who can translate from one language to another the best.
Poetry International Rotterdam has a smorgasborg of poets writing in a smorgasborg of languages. Some are recorded and you can listen as in these three poems by the Czech poet Miroslav Holub. Other poems appear only in English. Others, in their original language. Remember, the point is to not understand the words, but to feel them.