Texas Tech University

Curtis Bauer

Associate Professor
Department of English
College of Arts & Sciences 

 

black and white portrait, bauer in printing pressWhat are your research objectives and interests?

My research focuses on two areas of interest: contemporary poetry and literary translation. I write poetry, and I translate poetry and prose from Spanish into English. These interests have allowed me to become part of multiple communities: poetry and writer's communities in the US, Europe and South America, translation communities in the same regions, and publishing and editorial communities in the U.S., Spain and Mexico.

Part of me refuses to admit that I am a specialist; instead I want to say I'm interested in participating in all aspects of the world around me. My foundation in a liberal arts education has helped me identify intersections and relationships between seemingly dissimilar subjects—for example, I am currently part of a research group addressing issues of writing practice in mathematics—and as a result, I continue to encounter new modes of seeing my main interests, which is both invigorating and challenging.

With that in mind, my research objectives in both areas of poetry and translation are as connected and all-encompassing as my interests. My translation work is an opportunity to share literature from other parts of the world with English readers, readers who wouldn't otherwise have access to it. The same applies to the poetry I write. I hope it gives those who encounter it a new perspective on the world they live in, that they might think about daily experiences and observations differently.

How do you feel your research impacts the globe?

I've heard people say, "No one needs to read poetry, because poetry doesn't matter," and "There's no money in poetry, so why should I study it?" When I hear that, I'm reminded of a few lines of the William Carlos Williams poem, "Asphodel, That Greeny Flower":

It is difficult

to get the news from poems

yet men die miserably every day

for lack

of what is found there.

Studying poetry isn't going to make you rich, I tell my students, but it is going to make you a better physician, lawyer, scientist, engineer, a better citizen. By giving greater attention to the nuances of language—sound, rhythms, rhymes—and how we construct our ideas—syntax, rhetoric, metaphor—makes us more thoughtful speakers, more analytical readers, and better listeners. Poetry requires that you give greater attention to the tones and gradations of language, how you use it and how others use it. Knowing how to use language effectively gives you great power.

As a translator, I have the opportunity to give English language readers access to Spanish literature they wouldn't otherwise have access to; and as Translation Editor for Waxwing Literary Journal and From the Fishouse I have been able to give emerging and established writers from around the world a new readership in the United States. I take that responsibility quite seriously, but it has also been a gift, allowing me to meet and collaborate with writers from all over the world, and through those relationships I have had the good fortune to not only publish my own poetry and give lectures and readings abroad, but also be an advocate for emerging and established writers from the US when I travel to different countries.

bauer with student at printing pressWhat types of service projects have you been involved with?

I do not differentiate service from my teaching and research; in fact, I see all three interconnected. For example, translation is a significant part of my research and it is a subject I teach, but I also see my translation practice as a service to local, national and international communities. As editor and translator, I am helping writers who are either unknown or inaccessible to readers in the U.S. find a new readership and greater recognition; at the same time, I am working with beginning and seasoned translators, giving them new venues for their work.

I am the product of dedicated mentors and teachers, so advising and mentoring activities are significant in much of my work. In addition to team-teaching some undergraduate classes with graduate students who are interested in developing their teaching practice and presenting with graduate students at conferences, I invite my students to work with me in the Letterpress Studio to print broadsides for our Creative Writing reading series and chapbooks for Q Avenue Press, the small press I run.

Another significant element that permeates what I do at TTU is my work with diversity. I address issues of diversity in my courses and research as much as possible, so it is only natural that I work with my colleagues in Creative Writing and Comparative Literature, the TTU Open Teaching Concept program, and the Office of Institutional Diversity to also bring in speakers from diverse ethnic, linguistic and social backgrounds in order to expose our students, the TTU and broader Lubbock community to the vibrant creative and intellectual art and scholarship produced today.

What are you currently working on?

In addition to my ongoing work as translation editor for two literary journals, I am working on a number of projects at different stages of completion: I am writing a book of poems that addresses issues of power related to race, gender and socio-political relationships, I am working on a series of essays about travel, social injustice and inter-personal relationships and influences, and I am translating a book of prose by the Mexican writer Fabio Morábito. I also have two critical projects I plan to complete this semester—an essay titled "How Translation Practice Raises Questions of Style and Influence: A Case Study of the Mexican Author Fabio Morábito as Translator and Translated" and the other, "Jorge Gimeno: The Odd Older Brother of Contemporary Spanish Poetry"— which are directly connected to ongoing translation projects.

Where do you find your inspiration?

I don't like the word inspiration; instead, I prefer to talk about curiosity. Inspiration makes the work I do sound unpracticed or based on luck. Instead, curiosity is a way of life. Walk out the door, pull out your ear buds, have conversations with friends or strangers, go for a walk: all of these activities, in one way or another, enter into my work practice. I read widely—newspapers, books and magazine articles in Spanish and English— I look at art, listen to music, have conversations and meals with people outside my field. My goal is to incorporate attributes of these interactions, or what I have learned from them, into my creative and critical work, my teaching and my service.

bauer with letter types

What advice do you have for new faculty members about
balancing the components of Integrated Scholarship—
teaching, research, and service—in their careers?

Find a way to make connections. Human interaction is based on relationships, and some of the most successful and interesting scholars—and I include visual and performing artists, writers, printers, architects and designers in this group, of course—are those who are part of and/or bring together different communities. Aspire to do that with every part of your work. Be curious and allow that curiosity to lead you outside of your field. And remember that teaching, research and service are threads that create a whole weave; the beauty and strength of that weave depends on the unique balance of the different threads inside it.

More about Curtis Bauer

I hold a B.A. in political science from Central College, an M.F.A. in poetry from Sarah Lawrence College, and a Ph.D. in English from Texas Tech University. Although I grew up on a farm in Iowa, I have long been interested in travel and the nuances of language. I was in contact with foreign languages at an early age (my grandparents spoke German and encouraged me to study it in high school; my great uncles spoke Welsh to each other when we played cards; I realized that different members of my small Midwestern community spoke different kinds of English). I thought quite a bit about absence and foreign places when I was young. My first trip abroad was to Germany when I was in high school; I studied in London when I was in college, taught English in Puebla Mexico and Vitoria Spain before starting my graduate work. Since I have been at TTU, I have taught on the Seville campus several times and have ongoing research projects in Spain, Mexico, Argentina, and Chile. Residue of all the places where I have lived and the languages I have encountered form part of the writer and scholar I am today.

I am the author of two poetry collections, most recently The Real Cause for Your Absence (C&R Press, 2013). I am also a translator of poetry and prose from the Spanish: my publications include the full-length poetry collections Eros Is More, by Juan Antonio González Iglesias (Alice James Books, 2014) and From Behind What Landscape, by Luis Muñoz (Vaso Roto Ediciones, 2015). I am the publisher and editor of Q Avenue Press Chapbooks, the Spanish Translations Editor for From the Fishouse, and Translations Editor for Waxwing Literary Journal, and "Emerging Spanish Poets" Series Editor for Vaso Roto Ediciones.

 

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