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Humph ([personal profile] spiralsheep) wrote in [community profile] forkedtongues2014-07-07 12:09 pm

African and Asian poets, and English translations

The Poetry Translation Centre, dedicated to translating works by African and Asian and Latin American poets into English (while further publishing the poems in their original language/script alongside), has launched a book to celebrate a decade of translations. This book, published by Bloodaxe, is just short of 400 pages and contains 111 poems by 45 poets in 23 languages (from Arabic to Zapotec). All the poems are presented in their original languages/scripts first and then in an English translation made through the collaboration of literal translators with respected English poets. It’s been sponsored by various worthy organisations and has a cover price of only £12. Bloodaxe are also intending to publish collections by some of the individual poets in the coming years.

My Voice page at Bloodaxe Books.

(1) Literary event in London with multilingual readings and discussions and (2) the official book launch in London with multilingual readings and discussions. I’ve been lucky enough to hear Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi from Sudan reading intensely in Arabic (modern standard, obv) and Reza Mohammadi from Afghanistan reading lyrically in Persian (Dari, amongst other dialects), and to listen to them both discussing poetry and translation in English, and I wholeheartedly recommend the experience.

The title of the book is taken from a poem by Partaw Naderi, translated as "My Voice".

My Voice by Partaw Naderi (written in Kabul, December, 1989)

I come from a distant land

with a foreign knapsack on my back

with a silenced song on my lips

As I travelled down the river of my life

I saw my voice

(like Jonah)

swallowed by a whale

And my very life lived in my voice


The Persian/Dari original poem. The literal translation is by Yama Yari and the poetic translation by Sarah Maguire.

There are many other poems freely available on the Poetry Translation Centre website. Enjoy!
marina: (Default)

[personal profile] marina 2014-07-07 11:28 am (UTC)(link)
Thank you for this post! I really want a copy of that book!
marina: (Default)

[personal profile] marina 2014-07-07 11:34 am (UTC)(link)
Yes, this is why I was so sad to discover that the Book Depository, which ships internationally for free, will only have the book in a few months. :( I can't really afford the shipping from Amazon, alas. And I too find poetry books much more accessible as physical books.