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so … alabama

so alabama you’ve decided to

make ab*rtions illegal in your state

it’s like you’ve pressed a progression undo

Roe v. Wade is what you want to negate

you aim to take the restrictions f u r t h e r

eliminating the practice and thought

mixing churchandstate, saying its murder

tying the ab*rtion restriction knot

democrats on the other side of this

argue it will only make it unsafe

freedom and privacy? rights to be miss

a mother gone – their child? now a waif

two sides, debates only getting hotter

to solve is to mix oil with water Commented [MOU1]: Great! I really like the metaphors
you use and the way you address such a complicated issue.
so … alabama: Translation Analysis
Have you ever wondered what Cinderalla would be like if it was an action story? What Commented [MOU2]: Cinderella?

about a chemistry book but as a graphic novel? Or your favorite murder mystery book as a movie

script? With the help of a genre translation this is all possible. The number of genres that exist

are almost endless and through the understanding of each it becomes possible to take one and

transform it into another. It can elicit a different reaction from the reader or even take on a whole

new audience. To examine this phenomenon, I translated a New York Times article pertaining to

the Alabama abortion laws into a sonnet with a modern twist. The poem follows the

Shakespearean sonnet format, 14 lines with an abab cdcd efef gg rhyming scheme (three

quatrains and a rhyming couplet) in iambic pentameter (10 syllables in each line). Every step in

the creation of this poem focuses on what the words convey. By shorting the article, it effectively

conveys the main arguments of the news article. The rigid format created a lot of restrictions but

pushed me to think outside of the box.

The reason behind this translation was to challenge myself and write in a genre that I was

unfamiliar with. Poetry is a genre that comes in several forms. They can hold a mass amount of Commented [MOU3]: Poems?

information within a short amount of text, as in my poem. What attracted me to writing a poem

although was the freedom and thought-provoking nature of it. Some poems can be shallow, but

others can have much more meaning encased in the words and sentences. They can have a

physical appearance, incorrect grammar, figurative language, abstractedness, etc. One poem can

have a different response on each reader which I think makes this genre so unique. By choosing

to translate a news article into a poem, I was able to effectively capture some of these aspects

while still keeping the integrity of the original text. Its short format required that only the key

details of the news article was included in the poem, showing the importance of that information.

From this the reader could still form their own opinion. To do this successfully, I approached the

writing process in a stepwise fashion.

I first had to understand how poems and news articles were written in order to

successfully translate the news article to this format. As Kerry Dirk mentions in his paper,
“learning about genres and how they function is more important than mastering one particular

genre; it is this knowledge that helps us to recognize and to determine appropriate response to

different situations,” which entailed me to understand the purposes of both the writings (pp.

259). In doing the translation, I learned this and much more about both of the genres. News Commented [MOU4]: If there are four or more words in a
clause, you need to separate it with a comma.
articles are straight to the point and aim to educate the reader about current events. The writing in

them is formal, including correct grammar and no jargon. They include several quotes from

direct sources, which acts as a way to keep the writing flowing. The goal is to inform the public

with accurate and precise information. On the opposite end of the writing spectrum is poetry. Commented [MOU5]: New paragraph?

This genre of writing can lack clarity, be abstract, and divert from correct grammar conventions.

They don’t always have to be factual and can be based off of emotions. The purpose of poems

can vary from piece to piece and the readers response can be different in each case. Additionally,

from translating a news article to a poem, I learned about the similarities between the two. The

same information can be conveyed in these two unlikely genres. The New York Times’s article

showed how clarity and writing concisely can educate the reader in a simple manner. You can

gain a lot of information from poems too. My translation still contains a fair amount of

information but lacks some of the clarity from the original. The majority of the language is

concrete and due to the shortness is still concise. The poem imparts the reader with the meat of

the original text (crucial information) while the news article includes the meat and fat (other

detail, which could be dispensable content).

Additionally, there were other writing facets that I had to consider to be able to address

the changes I needed to create a successful translation. Before I started to analyze my primary

text, I had to consider several things. As Brunn states in his article “How to Read Like a Writer,”

I had to consider “the author’s purpose for this piece of writing,” and “who is the intended

audience is for this piece of writing,” first (pp. 76). This was key in creating a difference between

the two genres. The original article’s audience in the most general sense are those looking to gain

some knowledge of current events in the United States. Deeper than that is those people

specifically looking to be informed about the abortion ban in Alabama. Due to the subject and
higher level of language this article is targeted to older audiences. The text is written in a

straightforward format, appealing to readers who seek to edify themselves through basic details.

This contrasts greatly with the intended new audience of the translation. While it still appeals to

those with an interest in learning about the Alabama abortion laws, the poem lacks all the details

of the original text. The poem is short; it takes a zoomed-out perspective of the piece focusing on

only the overarching themes. The poem appeals to a younger yet still intellectual audience. It has

a modern twist to a traditional poem format laced with unformal writing conventions, as seen by

the lack of capitalization (with two exceptions). This is to show the article as casual as well to

aid in a visual aesthetic, a characteristic which appeals greatly to younger audiences. The poem

also allures readers who want to analyze and dig deeper into the meaning of the text and stylistic

choices. It is not a “simple” read like the original text.

One can understand the context of the poem, but once analyzing the reader can see some

deeper meaning in the text. The first step was to portray the word abortion as how curse words

are usually written replacing some letters with symbols, like the asterisk. Turning “abortion” into

“ab*rtion” created a sense of taboo-ness and how it has become this word that seems forbidden. I

also chose to combine words, as in the line “mixing churchandstate, saying its murder,” I wanted

to convey how the two were intertwined. The news articles mention that the right’s argument

behind abortion was from a religion viewpoint – essentially combining church and state into one

entity when that is prohibited via the U.S Constitution. No longer are they two separate words, as

they should be, but one larger one. Along with this I decapitalized the ‘a’ in Alabama while

capitalizing the ‘r’ and ‘w’ and Roe v. Wade. This was the relay the significance of the Supreme

Court ruling of Roe v. Wade, which takes precedent over the Alabama’s attempt to pass a law in

direct challenge of it. Alabama in all lowercase insinuates that they don’t have the power to do

pass the abortion restriction law. The rest of the poem is also in lowercase letter so to distract and

create a sense of this continuous story. Punctuation is used in order to create pauses while

reading and inflections in voice, as in “freedom and privacy? rights to be missed”. This creates a

simple question and causes the reader to pause and consider what is to happen to them. Another
feature I included were spacing out the letters in ‘further’ to give a physical sense of the word’s

definition – adding emphasis to it. I also included some figurative language, which can be an

essential aspect of poetry. I did so in the lines “tying the ab*rtion restriction knot” and “to solve

is to mix oil and water” making comparisons between the content to physical materials. Lastly

was the title, which was the last choice made in the writing process. The title, “so … alabama,”

presents the piece as a conversational; it’s a lead into a sentence, story, argument.

The shortness of a sonnet was also another feature I had to keep in mind while writing

but was also a big challenge during the writing process. It required me to cut out a lot of detail, Commented [MOU6]: eliminate

although the loss of detail did not affect the quality of the translation. In order to conform to this Commented [MOU7]: In order to -> to

format, I had to cut out a lot of content from the original text. Entire paragraphs were then

summed into a new 10 syllable line which stressed the imperative details. I was able to retain the

key purpose of the news article, which was to explain the Alabama situation: what happened,

why, implications, oppositions, and conclusion. Another challenge I faced was keeping my own

opinions out of the writing due to the news article had a unbiased standpoint. I had preconceived Commented [MOU8]: Unclear. This sentence has to be
revised.
notion that poems had to be solely feelings based but through the writing process I only picked Commented [MOU9]: Express feelings?

details that accurately represented the original text. I included the original texts format of

explaining the situation and then an explanation of the two sides, concluding with the disparity of

the two sides of the abortion argument. The language seems emotion-filled but relays what the

article’s paragraphs had stated.

The translation of news article to poem effectively shows how one text can be converted

into another and still maintain the same content but with a different effect. We can see how

choices grammar, writing style, and other writing options can drastically change the audience

and tone of a text. A translation can reveal information from a text not consider before and also

show the versatility of writing.