By Meaghan Menzel
Benjamin Paloff is a poet and translator who received his Ph.D. in Slavic Languages and Literature from Harvard University. His publications include “The Politics,” and “articles on the construction of God in contemporary Russian poetry and the metaphysics of the Other in Polish and Czech Modernism as well as translations of several books from Polish,” according to Washington College’s website.
Director of the Rose O’Neill Literary House and Associate Professor of English Dr. Jehanne Dubrow introduced Paloff to the Rose O’Neill Literary House for a reading on Tuesday, March 17. She first learned about him through his translation of “Snow White and Russian Red” 10 years ago.
Paloff translates more modern works and gets to discuss his translations with some of the authors. He said, “I insist on a kind of autonomy and I try only to work with writers with whom I can work with. I can say the translation for me is purely an exercise in poetics…which is also one of the reasons why I very deliberately chose for most of my career as a translator to translate things to that are really very, very messy,” so it helps to meet with the authors.
One of his greatest gifts as a translator, Dr. Dubrow said, is “not just identifying words that share the same definitions but in constructing English language translations that carry not only the meaning but also the music of the original Polish.”