Lost in Translation

If you want to read about Scarlet Johanson singing the songs of Tom Waits, go here.

But if you’re hankering for a sight based translation of an Indonesian poem into English, with wise-ass Williamsburg subtext, look no further.

My new friend (and future camp employee) Dan just graduated with his MFA in poetry from The University of Iowa.


He’s a good writer. Um, I think? I don’t know. I’ve only really read him in Indonesian. He’s had some of his English poems translated by Nukila Amal. I thought it might be fun to translate them back into English based on homophones and visual cues and, well, the amount of Heinekin I’ve been drinking.

Dan will send me his original tomorrow and I’ll share it with you.

All I know is, the poem’s title accurately translates to “Little Annie.” Try reading only my translation, then only the Indonesian, then alternate lines. You should definitely do this out loud if you’re at work.

So. Here we go.

Annie Mungil
Little Annie

Menyanyi di dalam kacaserat mulutmu
Tomorrow we cut off your mullet

gagal, bibir urung lain untuk kuselamatkan.
girl, your bangs hang untucked and tusseled.

Telah kucercahkan hidup pada sepatu kets-mu dan kau
Your kitchen hides scissors from your Keds—when we cut

tak berkaki, Annie, apa yang terjadi
that braid, Annie, will your tears

dengan daya kita mencinta? Hanya meriak longgar
spill like menacing kites? Any mermaid long

di dadamu, kaos oblong yang diimpikan
abandoned it, crazy oblong masculine limpy

untuk seorang yang lebih utuh.
untucked so wrong of a bad fringe.

Jangan sibakkan hina-dina remeh ini;
Janice Dickenson kinda-couldn’t remedy it;

warna yang tertinggal di air memudar diri
warn dark birds of air to shed feathers

jadi busuk. Mengapa tak bisa
in sympathy. You’ll kiss hipster

kuingat matamu? Bagai mimpi buruk
hair goodbye? Living in a bourough

ada hal-hal yang menolak kita, kaum perkasa.
made funny ha-ha of your shag, cheap already.

Annie kupasangkan topeng padamu. Annie
Annie singing tone-deaf karaoke after-hours. Annie

yang panas basah dariku akan berkilau di dekat
stocking bread beside the vegan Bearclaws at the Co-op

wajahmu hingga kunang-kunang kembali;
listen to the snip-snip tumble;

tengadahkan dagu plastikmu dan bernafaslah.
pommade ponytails aren’t in, they’re L.



5 responses to “Lost in Translation

  1. Does Little Annie get night terrors?

  2. Funny you should ask, Woody–see the original English version, which will be brought to you soon by a Becca near you.

  3. Can you just blurt the Indonesian out loud in the office today? 🙂

  4. that’s hawt. really, a good post. hot blog name, too.

  5. there are some wrong in Indonesian version 🙂

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