Managing Editor’s Note: Today’s post features Solstice’s own Poetry-in-Translation Editor, Dzvinia Orlowsky, in conversation with writer and translator Stuart Friebert. Enjoy this fascinating, in-depth discussion of Friebert’s work translating the work of Austrian poet Elisabeth Schmeidel. It reminds us how important it is to bring the work of foreign writers into the English language, and introduce it to a whole new readership.
On Translating Elisabeth Schmeidel’s Poetry: An interview with poet/short story writer/memoirist/translator Stuart Friebert
Intro to Elisabeth Schmeidel:
Elisabeth Schmeidel (1945-2012) was born in Austria. Her father Herrmann von Schmeidel, a conductor in Salzburg, and her mother, Eleonora von Arbesser Rastburg, named her after the writer Bettina von Arnim, but she was baptized Elisabeth, absent any saint named Bettina.
After attending Gymnasium, she passed the entrance exam with honors for the Akademie der Bildenden Künste in Vienna, where she studied with Prof. Szykowitz.
She moved with husband and daughter to Los Angeles in 1968, and began writing seriously. In 1976, due to different circumstances, she returned to Salzburg and began a teaching career in secondary schools.
Having left a suitcase of written work, she died in 2012. She’s virtually unknown in English, save for a few translations I’ve published in the 70s (in Field, Malahat Review). I’m preparing a Selected Poems, and scaneg Verlag/Munich will soon publish the German twin-volume in Europe.