Journeys in Translation – update

but one country Rod Duncan showing English original and Shona translation by Ambrose MusiyiwaJourneys in Translation is seeking translators to help translate 13 poems from “Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” (Five Leaves, 2015) from English into other languages for an event being held in Leicester on International Translation Day, 30 September 2017, as part of Everybody’s Reading. During the event the original poems and translations will be read and displayed.

So far the 13 poems have been translated into Bengali, Finnish, French, German, Italian, Shona, Spanish, Turkish and Welsh with assistance from 16 translators (translators working in a group have been counted as one translator) who have translated at least one poem each. The most popular poems to be translated have been Pam Thompson’s “Dislocation” and Rod Duncan’s “but one country”. Translators have said they picked these because they felt it would be challenge, particularly because “but one country” is a verbal mirror image poem and, like the original, translators have been ensuring their translations also work in a mirror image.

One translator has commented, “The process of translation always involves a certain degree of what is known as ‘translation loss’. There are certain ideas, objects or experiences that can never be satisfactorily translated because they simply do not exist in the target language’s culture. For example, the phrase ‘a present from Skegness’ in the poem ‘Framed’ by Marilyn Ricci carries connotations for the UK-based reader, but will be lost in translation for the German reader. I imagine that sometimes when refugees try to describe the lives they left behind, the equivalent words are simply not available, which therefore means that on top of all the others losses there is a further loss on a linguistic level… this sense of powerlessness through the loss of communication tools can feel extremely uncomfortable. I found that when focusing on the words and stories within the poems I started to really focus on the human aspect of the refugee crisis, which I had not perhaps really appreciated until this point. Suddenly all those news images and statistics took on a more personal meaning.”

At the start of the project, coordinator Ambrose Musiyiwa held a workshop in Leicester with further workshops planned at the Soundcafe and local community centres.

We look forward to more translations into more languages and to working with people from everywhere.

Anyone who would like to have a go at translating the poems can join the Journeys in Translation Facebook group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/316952552020172/) or contact one of the organisers.

“Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge” is being sold to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Leicester City of Sanctuary and Nottingham Refugee Forum. Copies of the anthology are available from De Montfort University Bookshop (Leicester) and Five Leaves Bookshop (Nottingham).

Journeys in Translation: translating poems

Stories from the Jungle by Emma Lee poem postcardJourneys in Translation is intended to build on the success of the Journeys Poem Pop-up Library which took place during Leicester’s Everybody’s Reading last October. We took 8 poems from “Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge”, printed them on postcards and gave them out at Leicester’s Railway Station. We had allocated an hour each day but ran out of postcards on the fourth day. Doubtless some would have taken a postcard thinking it another promotional leaflet and less hassle to accept and move on rather than try and refuse, some of those postcards may have been read before being recycled. The library was about sharing poems. One of the drivers of the original anthology was to reach out and share stories, hopefully enabling others to share theirs.

The practicalities of a quick publication turnaround – the call for submissions went out on 3 September and the anthology was launched on 1 December – meant that we had to request poems in a language common to all three co-editors so the poems could be selected, typeset and proofed in a timely manner for the printers to deliver by the launch date. Raising funds towards practical help was given priority. I feel that was the right decision.

Journeys in Translation gives an opportunity to overcome some of the disadvantages of the monolingual “Over Land Over Sea: poems for those seeking refuge.” The 8 poems have been expanded to 13 and the idea is to encourage people to have a go at translating one (or more) of those poems into another language. There is a Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/316952552020172/ and a couple of Journeys in Translation workshops have been held in Leicester where participants were encouraged to have a go at translating one or part of one of the poems and discuss any obstacles to translations or the nature of translation itself. We’ve asked for literal translations so there is no pressure to make a poetic translation (i.e. to try and shape the translation so it reflects the original rhythms and/or sound patterns/rhymes in the English poems). We are also exploring how to translate the poems into British Sign Language – this will probably be done as a video with someone reading the original poem alongside another signbut one country Rod Duncan showing English original and Shona translation by Ambrose Musiyiwaing it.

We plan to have an event on 30 September 2017 (International Translation Day) in Leicester where the original poems are read along with some of the translations. There will also be posters on display showing original poems and translations. Most of the original poets are based in or near Leicester. However, it is open for translators not local to Leicester to hold similar events or workshops in their own locality. Our focus currently is on our Journeys in Translation event but we are thinking about how to make the poems and translations visible after the event.

 

 

 

 


This blog is included in Matthew Stewart’s Rogue Strands’ Best Blogs of 2016. Do have a read of his article and explore the listed blogs – all worth a read.  With thanks to Matthew for listing this blog.