Poet, Journalist, Translator

Stephen Komarnyckyj

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I write about poetry, Ukraine and money laundering- why the hell not?

How do you like your criminals, Cockney or Yorkshire?

By Steve Komarnyckyj, Mar 24 2014 05:48PM

Orwell wrote that writing a book was like a struggle with a long, exhausting illness. He would have understood that metaphor intimately as he succumbed to the tuberculosis that robbed us all of the books he would have written. It is however an oddly joyless metaphor. I love his work but have always seen him as a writer who took delight in ideas rather than in the texture of language.


Susie, my partner at KLP, and I are definitely intoxicated with literature. The relationship between a translator and their editor is one that demands continuous dialogue. We sit in the midst of printed out pages with words underlined. Yet their is a crazy joy in that moment when you find the right word... one particular problem is with slang which is always mutating. Urka, a colloquial term for criminal could be rendered by any number of equivalent phrases... old lag.. and what about the words spilling from our cigarette toting Urka's lips... do we try and give him a cockney or Yorkshire accent... these debates are at the heart of the text... you will have to wait to see whether we have a Cockney or a Yorkshire crook... or indeed a posh boy spouting criminal slang

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