|ErÃn Moure is the UBC Okanagan campus's sixth annual writer-in-residence.|
"I was so intrigued with it as a kid," says Moure, who wraps up her two-week term as UBC Okanagan's sixth annual writer-in-residence this week. "I tried to rip it out of the book to keep it for myself because I had to share my books with my brothers."
Moure's ongoing fascination with language has helped her become one of Canada's leading poets. But the Montreal-based writer is also respected for her translations of other poets into English.
She says translating lets her share her joy in reading. But she also likes the intellectual engagement.
"When you translate a poem, you really get into the mechanics of how it's working and how the choice of a word makes a difference, because this is a creative act.
"Poetry is something where there's such a concision in the use of words, there's tonalities, so trying to figure out how you can work between the two languages to bridge them is always endlessly fascinating."
Moure's own writing is experimental and often cryptic. For instance, her most recent book of poetry is titled The Unmemntioable. And, no, that isn't a typo, but rather a linguistic play on what is unmentionable within family history.
Moure, who has published 17 books of poetry and 12 translations of other poets, says her writing is influenced by her work as a translator.
"If I put some words from another language into the poem, you can still read it. People can still look at the words. They look beautiful."
She has also explored mistranslating and mixing her writing with untranslated passages from other writers.
Moure, born in 1955, studied French growing up in Calgary. She moved to Montreal in 1985, where she became interested in translation after reading QuÃ©becois poets such as Nicole Brossard, a feminist writer who also experiments with form and structure.
Moure also taught herself Galician, a minority language in northwestern Spain that was repressed under Franco, in order to read Galician poetry in its original form.
"It's a small language," says Moure. "For small languages to survive in this world, they need to be able to admit outside speakers as new speakers . . . Borders are only useful because they are porous. If you turn them into fortresses, quickly the vine withers."
While in Kelowna, Moure led a workshop on translating poetry as well as the usual public reading and critiques with aspiring writers that the university asks of each writer-in-residence.
She encourages translators to work with poetry because so few books are translated in Canada, even from French to English, and decisions about which works to translate are often political.
"We don't see the poetry of the world," says Moure. "We only see the poetry if some American decides to translate it. But the choice of what to translate is a value-driven choice. It's driven by values. It's driven by ideology.
"And when we just read the poets translated by Americans, we're just reading what has been selected from world poetry according to their values."
Moure says Canadian translators have something to offer the world.
"Even the Americans are interested in Canadian translators," she says. "They find us refreshing, saying that what we translate is stuff they wouldn't have access to either. And they don't even mind if we spell things 'ou' instead of 'o.' "
Moure, who also translates from Spanish and Portuguese, has won various literary prizes, including the Governor General's Award, the Pat Lowther Memorial Award and the A.M. Klein Prize.
She is a three-time finalist for the Griffin Poetry Prize and has an honorary doctorate from Brandon University in Manitoba.
Last year, she published Secession, her fourth translation of Galician poet Chus Pato. And her translation, with Robert Majzels, of Brossard's White Piano is due out this spring.