Articles

The PTC’s World Poet Series

By: Edward Doegar

For fifteen years the Poetry Translation Centre has been championing exciting contemporary poets from Africa, Asia and Latin America through collaborative translations, bringing together leading poets and bridge-translators to showcase exciting poets across the globe. To celebrate these fifteen years, we’re launching the World Poet Series, a new series of pocket-sized bilingual books, with the English and original-language text displayed side by side. Each book will commence with a translator’s introduction, setting the poet and their work in context, and end with a critical afterword by a leading poet responding to the translations.  

Last week saw the launch of the first title from the series: Adelaide Ivánova’s the hammer and other poems translated by Rachel Long and Francisco Vilhena with an afterword by Emily Critchley. The book is a perfect expression of what the series as whole aims to be – bringing into English a vital, challenging poet in translations of the highest quality. Alongside the hammer and other poems this year’s forthcoming titles from the series are:

My Tenantless Body by Yu Yoyo, translated by A.K. Blakemore and Dave Haysom published in July.

Akin to Stone by Bejan Matur, translated by Jen Hadfield and Canan Marasligil published in October

Ask the Thunder by Maxamed Xaashi Dhamac ‘Gaarriye’, translated by W.N. Herbert and Martin Orwin published in October

You can pre-order all four books published this year at a discounted rate of 4 books for the price of 3.

Enlarging the English poetic tradition through translation has always been a key aim of the PTC and we hope that over the next fifteen years the series will encourage Anglophone readers to discover poetries beyond Europe and influence how poetry is written in English. The PTC’s founder, Sarah Maguire, often expressed admiration for Penguin’s Modern European Poets series and we want the World Poet Series to develop a similar platform for non-European poets. Literature in translation has long been underrepresented in UK publishing, and though this tide seems to be turning with Nielsen recently reporting a 5.5% growth, yet poetry in translation from Africa, Asia and Latin America is still frustratingly rare on publisher’s lists. Against this dark sky, we’d like the World Poet Series to be a new, bright constellation – preferably, one among many.

We’re particularly grateful to Kit Humphrey whose scrupulous care and aesthetic good sense has made it almost possible to judge our books by their covers. Likewise, our advisory board has been invaluable – a reminder of the immense generosity and passion that people who love literature in all languages share.