W N Herbert offers a fascinating insight into how he approached co-translating Somali poetry. In this essay he describes his induction into the marvellous complexities of Somali verse and how he came to terms with the formal dexterities of Gaarriye’s ‘non-lyric’ poetry.
Prize-winning translator, Daniel Hahn, writes about how he approached translating Corsino Fortes’s poems with Sean O’Brien. This was Daniel’s first experience of translating poetry, and his first as a co-translator and he’s very interesting on how he felt his role was to ‘defend’ the original poems.
Jo Shapcott enthuses about the ‘magic’ of translating Farzaneh Khojandi with Narguess Farzad. She talks about the ‘daunting’ challenges she faced coming to terms with a poet whose work ‘seemed worlds away from the modern, urban context of my own work’.
Mimi Khalvati expresses her desire to preserve, ‘The sweetness and simplicity of [Kajal’s] voice, the political and personal passion, the directness and immediacy of the address ... [together with her] sense of humour and the fable-like quality of the poems’, in the translations she made with Choman Hardi.
Martin Orwin describes his initial approach to translating Gaarriye’s poetry as ‘an intense, deep reading’. He aims to make literal versions that ‘come to rest on the page dancing to as close a tune as possible as the original’. And he discusses the significance of ‘the interaction between syntax, metre and alliteration’ in Somali poetry.
The Conference Room in Manchester Central Library was packed with eager listeners for this event with three of our poets and their translators. It provided a very grand setting, with panelled walls and high sash windows. By the time we kicked off it was standing room only and there must have been at least sixty people in the audience.
I never realised the Moon landings had such a profound and far-reaching effect. For Corsino Fortes, driving his battered Peugeot 204 from Kuito to Luanda, the moment he heard the Americans had touched down was a revelation. He stopped the car, got out, put his hands on his head and looked up at the sky.