Affective Trans-scapes: Affect, Translation and Landscape in Erín Moure’s The Unmemntioable

Dominic Williams, Milena Marinkova

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Erín Moure’s The Unmemntioable (2012) tells a story of one of the poet’s heteronyms (E.M. or Erín Moure) taking her mother’s ashes back to Ukraine, while observed, and then followed, by another (E.S. or Elisa Sampedrín). As selves multiply, the landscapes through which they move, split, and superimpose themselves upon each other: Bucharest, Alberta, and the Galicias of both Spain and Ukraine. Words too traverse different languages and different materialities (fonts, colors, alphabets, genres, and pictorial renditions). These multiple versions of person, place, and writing recurrently challenge notions of the interiorized self, authenticity, and linguistic transparency to open up new domains of expressivity that resonate with the cognitive, the sentient, and the affective. The article maps out Moure’s strategies of mobilizing the affective charge of bodies, objects, and words to translate physical and emotional landscapes beyond direct knowledge. We position Moure’s poetic praxis against recent discussions within “the affective turn” in theory about the intensity, transmissibility, and political momentum of affect by Sara Ahmed (2004), Teresa Brennan (2004), and Nigel Thrift (2007). Our argument, therefore, is that Moure’s practice of “transelation” (“a way of foregrounding the translator’s presence instead of pretending to disappear”) in rendering what we have termed the affective trans-scapes of memory and history constitutes a significant contribution to critical work on the ethical dimensions of translation (by Jeremy Munday 2001 and Lawrence Venuti 1995) and a powerful intervention in the rereading of historically affect-laden landscapes, such as those of Galicia, Bucharest, and Alberta.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)73-92
Number of pages20
JournalContemporary Women's Writing
Issue number1
Early online date22 Feb 2015
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2015

Cite this