The book Passages is an anthology from the northwestern United States written by over thirty-five authors and translators. The anthology contains stories that are set in different countries all over the world. The short stories are from every type of viewpoint and genre, and some range from light and happy, to dark and disturbing. Often, the very people who wrote the stories provided their own translator services, making the book very unique and highly diverse.
A Unique Passport
Barbara Lloyd McMichael, a writer from the northwest, says that the anthology is a “globe-spanning collection of literary shorts.” The poems and stories found within the anthology transport the reader to a different time and place throughout the world where the reader is exposed to different opinions and different cultural experiences, which are difficult to gather alone. From Russia to Canada, the stories are a gateway into languages and cultural values that are both foreign and familiar to readers.
Some of the authors and poets say that they have had to sacrifice things in their stories and poems for the sake of translation, but that it hasn’t taken away from the words at all. The act of being their own professional translator puts the authors and poets in a singular experience where they have to think about how to present the original meaning to an audience with different views on life and culture.
Elliott batTzedek, poet and translator, says that an author or poet must “value message over music” when translating a piece of literature. This isn’t to say that a translator shouldn’t do their best to find the right words that closely relate to the originals, but that they shouldn’t sacrifice the message for finding the most accurate words.
Similarities and Differences between Writers and Cultures
McMichael says that as she read the book, she became acquainted with the authors and poets. She could see the differences in the words and between the poems and short stories, but she could also see the similarities. Instead of focusing solely on the cultural differences in the stories, McMichael chose to see the essential truths inside the words that could cross the boundaries of both language and culture.
Though the stories had received cultural and technical translation from the authors, the true meanings behind the words remained communicable, revealing that no matter where the story is written, it can speak important truths to readers everywhere.