POETICS: Thomas McDonald, 10/16 @ 1pm PT

Fri October 16th 2020, 1:00pm

A quick reminder that our first Poetics event will take place this FRIDAY 10/16 @ 1pm Pacific Time – Zoom details are available by registering here.


Thomas McDonald (Comparative Literature) will present a chapter from his dissertation titled “No-Man’s Language: The Slovenian poetry of Fabjan Hafner, translated by Peter Handke” (PDF attached). Prof. Michael Biggins (University of Washington) will offer a response, followed by an open discussion of Thomas’s draft. Here is what Thomas has to say about his work:


Fabjan Hafner (1966-2016) was a poet, translator, and scholar who operated in the cultural interstice between Slovenian and German-language literature.  As a scholar, Hafner is known within Germanistik for groundbreaking work establishing Slovenia as central to the oeuvre of the Austrian writer Peter Handke (1942-).  In turn, in the spring of 2019, Hafner's earliest and last works of Slovenian poetry were posthumously translated into German by Handke, who was moved by their tender and quiet anxiety and pleading tone.  "Poetry writing is translating," Hafner wrote in a poem from 1988, "from a language that is not [in existence]."  Hafner would take his own life in 2016.  This paper, which examines how Hafner's playful language attempts to offset his themes of identarian anxiety, is a part of a dissertation on the development of Handke's aesthetic-existentialist concepts of place-writing and translatability in tandem with his exposure to Japanese literature and film.


Thomas McDonald is a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Literature.  He researches modern German-language, South Slavic, and Japanese literature and film, and his dissertation deals with the connections between the Austrian writer Peter Handke and modern Japanese art. 


Michael Biggins is an affiliate professor in the Department of Slavic Languages and Literatures and the head librarian for Slavic and East European Studies at the University of Washington in Seattle.  He teaches courses in Slovenian language, advanced Russian language, and Slavic to English literary translation.  As a translator, he has published more than fifteen book-length works of Slovenian literature, including the avant-garde poetry of Tomaž Šalamun, and as he has most recently released Book Two of Lojze Kovačič's masterpiece narrative trilogy Newcomers.  In 2015, Prof. Biggins received the Janko Lavrin Prize, a lifetime distinction for his contributions to Slovenian literature abroad.