This essay examines the complex role of the poet-translator through the specific case of the collaborative relationship between Mexican poet Octavio Paz and his long-time translator, the American poet Muriel Rukeyser. The article first outlines the role of literary translation in Rukeyser’s artistic practice and illustrates her outlook on the process. More generally, it engages with existing theorizations of the translation of poetry, especially those that focus on the often precarious position of the established poet as translator. With Rukeyser’s translatorial position established, the article then provides a close reading of the correspondence between these two long-time collaborators, bringing to the foreground a gradually increasing disconnect over how Paz’s poetry should be translated. These progressively differing points of view on translation would eventually play a role in opening up Paz’s Spanish-language poetry to new translators in the United States. While this article examines an understudied but crucial facet of Rukeyser’s career as a writer and translator, it also sheds light on the complicated set of expectations and realities involved when one poet translates another.

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