And again, nothing much happened . . .
I did once think of writing a witty modern novel about life in a coin shop, but I’m not sure where I’d get the material from. We only had two customers through the door today – one with £3 worth of coppers and one with a rare American coin. Or “rare American coin” if you prefer. He wouldn’t go away or believe the owner that it was common, until he was shown several hundred in bags. It was a modern quarter and although it has George Washington on it, isn’t that old.
In Europe, if we put someone on a coin, they tend to be alive. In America it is the other way round and to get on one of their coins you need to be dead. I suppose it is cheaper that way if you change presidents every four or eight years. We have had four different portraits of the Queen in sixty years, which is a lot easier.
On the writing front I have just had a rejection to balance up recent successes. It wasn’t unexpected and I had wondered whether to send it or not. In the end I did send it as the writing is OK, it was just the subject that caused concern. So you ask yourself, what is Quercus doing writing hate-filled racist, homophobic, sexist, pornographic or violent poems?
Don’t worry, I’m not. It’s just a problem with translation.
Though we think of language when we think of translation, there are other things that can cause problems. Species of birds have made me think about this in the past, goldcrests and kinglets interchange nicely but tits and chickadees have a tricky syllable mismatch.
No, the problem was a British cultural reference which was considered too obscure.
I was advised that notes may have helped but I find that a tricky area. Notes always make me think the writer is being condescending. On the other hand, I’m not keen on poets who write obscure verse either, and don’t really want to be one. To be honest, I didn’t realise the poem Adlestrop, which I reference, was obscure. If an American wrote about two roads diverging or only God being able to make a tree I wouldn’t find that obscure. Even with my low level of formal education there are some poems that I assume are familiar to everyone at some level.
If, of course, I were to make a joke about my submission getting a frosty reception, that would be obscure, unless you have checked the links.