The Nuances of Copyediting Poetry for Film

Copyediting is fun! Every project has its own challenges, intended media format, platform and audience. One such project I worked on was “I Spy I Spy,” a Dutch experimental documentary about a unique neighborhood in Utrecht. The filmmaker contacted me for assistance creating accurate subtitles.

Subtitles, eh? What’s so special about that? The content.
As an experimental documentary, this film utilizes spoken word from a Dutch poet. Simple, literal translation of all the text and audio was not applicable. Instead, the director needed someone who could artfully match the feel and intention of the spoken word. As with any cross-lingual work, we often have complex overlaps of synonyms, meanings and implied nuances.

The beauty of poetry is how abstract, malleable it can be; it can be overt or subtle, even within the same line. As a copyeditor, my job was to correct any translational errors and simultaneously find the best possible English words to match the poet’s crafted intent and convey an aesthetic conducive to the director’s carefully layered film and score.

Have a project with unusual challenges?
I’m your copyeditor.

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