Intentional mistranslations that set a meandering path through the maze of language.
Drawing on the patterns of words, speech, and identity we encounter in the wider world—subway ads in Mexico City, a Dutch-Japanese phrase book, multilingual airplane safety instructions, one of Italo Calvino’s invisible cities—the poems in Hugh Thomas’s Maze playfully translate the maze of language into moments of amazement.
Hugh Thomas‘s work as a mathematician takes him around the world to conferences and residencies, which has contributed to the polylingual mishmash out of which his poetry arises. Hugh has lived in Winnipeg, Toronto, Chicago, London, and Fredericton, and currently resides in Montréal, where he teaches mathematics at the Université du Québec à Montréal.
“A clever, complex debut, Maze will draw you into its labyrinthine, snakelike halls.”—Winnipeg Free Press
“The poems in Maze, as the title suggests, articulate a navigation through language and languages, deliberately allowing for misunderstanding, and opening up the possibility for what might otherwise be impossible.”—Vallum
“Rarely have I been so thrilled to be disoriented by a book of poems. In his feature-length debut, Maze, Hugh Thomas deftly and pleasurably readjusts my brain with his direct, unexpected, and beautifully weird lines. ‘When in a dream, speak the language of the dream,’ he writes. When I finished this book, I woke up fluent and enraptured, happily in the wrong country.”—Stuart Ross, author of Motel of the Opposable Thumbs and A Sparrow Came Down Resplendent
“Exploring the grey area of translation, Albanian Suite is as much a study in intuition as it is a doorway to improvisation… Thomas’ lines are direct and unaccommodating, as if under foreign constraints, yet the linguistics at play resound beyond a surface level of political boundaries.”—Ottawa Poetry Newsletter
“Maze is composed from a mix of works, languages and styles, and is more interesting for the variety, composing poems from works by Adam Zagajewski, Harry Martinson, Tomas Tranströmer, Carlos Drummond de Andrade, Anne Tardos, Sappho, Frederico Garcia Lorca, Erín Moure and Georg Trakl, and from languages including Swedish, French, German, Irish, Romanian, Japanese, Korean, Nynorsk and Italian. Even more entertaining, the sequence “He Said” are translations of eight poems “back into English of translations into Nynorsk by Dag Straumsvåg” of poems by Canadian poet Stuart Ross, taking the element of translation even further.”—rob mclennan
“[Maze] is trippy and good-weird, and labyrinthine without being tortuous: the premise is clearly just fun, and the poet sturdy at the helm… The language is deceptively straightforward, but the simultaneous presence of the body, the implicit undermining of subjectivity, and the whimsical bend of time bears rereading and rethinking.”—Montreal Review of Books
“With his sentimental, figurative adaptations of foreign-language poetry, Hugh Thomas shows himself to be a pioneer in the field of what can only be described as “abstract translating.”… Maze is sure to find a grateful audience in poetry enthusiasts who consider themselves “of the world,” and language lovers alike.”—Atlantic Books Today