Khaled Mattawa on Translation

Translation is something I encounter on a daily basis. As soon as I say my name I’ve put myself outside the border; I have to crawl back into the center. When a stranger asks me my name—and they ask maybe four or five times a day—every time they ask they’re telling me “I don’t know this name.” Then I have to find a way to translate or legitimate the existence of my name in this world, in their language. Translation, not alienation or estrangement, becomes a kind of existential state, a form of identity.
Khaled Mattawa, “Identity, Power, and A Prayer to Our Lady of Rapatriation: On Translating and Writing Poetry,” The Kenyon Review