Transpoetry  Project

Daniel Göske


Anant Kumar



Under Pressure




A program run by Professor Alexis Nouss

Cardiff University School of European Languages, Translation and Politics.

a collaboration with

Artist Glenn Davidson Digital Interaction Design,

Moire Framework and Site

The site documents the following

teaching and public events:


Transeuropa Transpoetry Project

Collaborations with Artstation,

Philip Gross and Tsead Bruinja at

Chapter Art Centre Cardiff.

May 2011


Daniel Goeske workshop

Workshop on translation of Derek Walcott's The Prodigal.


Anant Kumar workshop

Workshop on translation of A. Kumar's poems


Poetry under Pressure

May 2012

Poetry in Translation


Nothing is lost or gained when translating poetry. The act acquires its value in itself, in the doing - which is the etymon of poetry –, not with regard to its results. Similarly, travelling is the goal of the travel, and not

arriving somewhere.


Poetry is about displacement, moving away from normal, codified linguistic and sensitive practices. Therefore, translating poetry does but continue the moving, from one language to another.


No mapping here, no definite territories or boundaries, rather a permanent experience in moiré aesthetics since a translation is never ultimate nor a poem absolutely understood.


That is why we invite you to add your comments.


A. N.







Philip Gross and Tsead Bruinja and Glenn Davidson at TransEuropa Festival Cardiff with the participation of the Cardiff School of European Studies)



Saturday 7th May, 18:00

Chapter Arts Centre, Market Road, Canton, CF5 1QE


The Project


Part A : A framework, devised by Glenn and Alexis for the exchange of poetry, written whilst in motion crossing Europe, ideas and impressions of the train journey were to colour and influence the process of creative writing. This involved inviting two outstanding poets, Philip Gross and Tsead Bruinji, on mirror journeys to visit one another's home cities. Each was to write a poem and present it in Cardiff for further investigation.


Part B: A workshop, the poems are being translated into more than 10 languages, an act of displacement... a term which refers to the root of the word translation. So poems in transit are further translated into many languages. This conceptual ground is a meditation on Europe's cultural migration and the global Diaspora.


Real-time translation

Students and staff have used mobile phones to instantly publish their textual throughts, using the artists TXT2 software. A line, "I am out of my languages", taken from Philips poem Spoor, formed a short provocation which was texted and projected onto a screen for all to read. The room burst into activity, and within around four minutes a series of translated versions emerged, line by line below  the first. Witnessing this was a fascinating experience, for the first time those present witnessed something of the nature/nurture conflict within the term translation. These short pieces of projected text turned out not to be copies at all, but completely new, and therefore displaced, originals! See the banner on the right


The Chapter TXTEU event

Poems, poets, translators, media projection and live txting will provide an array of engagement. The poets will read, the translators present their new translated originals. The Poets will use the txting system to write a Heiku (a short poem) which the translators will translate, before the floor was opened up to everyone to join in.


Background to the Artists


Philip Gross, who was awarded T.S.Eliot award for 2009, was introduced to this project by Glenn, they met through a poetry film project in 2010. Philips father reached Britain from Estonia in 1946 as, officially, a Displaced Person. Philip is currently writing about him in a new book, which is entirely about the travelling, the being in motion, of his father's displacement...And so a travelling poetry proposal appealed and the outcome, the poem Spoor, exposes glimpses of his father's life in reflections of himself, within a universal frame of rail tracks and landscape (matter) and continuum (time).


Tsead Bruinja, is short listed to be Amsterdam's poet laureate, he was bought into the project through the TransEuropa Festival. We are more than happy to be working together. Tsead's work immediately resonates with place, with family and life cycle, his poem Bed & Grave forming this project is grounded in a notion of the well known or fond journey.


Glenn Davidson recieved the Beacon for Wales award to develop TXT2, exploring the creative and social aspects of text messaging through a public practice of site specific TXT2 installations. These engage with a wide range of social enclaves, places, organisations and issues. Within the story of TXT2 was the story of the Creative Texter - see www.artstation.org.uk/EM10_C_Davidson.pdf exploring how people can use phones in creative ways  In 2010 the artists produced a crowd sourced poetry event -TXT2Baylit created for the Baylit Literature Festival . (www.artstation.org.uk/BAylit).


Glenn is a Fine Artist he co directs  Artstation with fellow  Artist Anne Hayes, undertaking Art Installation, media and film, Interaction Design, production and cultural consultancy.



More information  www.artstation.org.uk








  • Spoor




    Doctor doctor

    it’s the way things pour


    on round me when I shut my eyes


    like the glassy but shuddering pause

    at the lip of the weir.


    It’s either that or


    it’s the stasis of speed,

    the way the furthest tree keeps pace


    unmoving, while what’s near


    (tell me: is this a sign

    of ageing? or the age?)


    twitches past in a blur.





    Or now: I’m in the dark

    of tunnel vision.


    How much of the journey will be

    in non-space, new space

    borrowed from the earth or sea


    or from the air above a valley?


    Here’s a flicker, in the long

    view, of a granite viaduct’s brief


    being-there-ness — and me


    one pulse in that flicker. Crack

    an atom, track its scattered spores

    of particles; you have to choose


    which to grasp: mass or velocity.


    Is that the bargain, then: the more

    we’re everywhere,


    the less substantial we will be?





    Or now: looking down into gardens,

     which could be yours

    or anyone’s, though more likely

             the poor…

    Their bedrooms even, each unguarded

       detail magnified

    like mist-intricate rockpool weed.

       (The child

    I was reached in to touch, and missed

    as my arm became crooked, the hand

     not quite mine;

    it could have turned to me

          and beckoned;

    it had crossed the line.)




    Faced backwards, I’m ready to fall

    into my destination unforewarned


    except there’s this shadow, not unlike my own


    thrown by its, no, by many lights

    behind me, into fragments, a diaspora,


    displacements, which however come in, on


    and clearer if I step towards them,

    draw them closer to the vanishing point


    where they will, no, we will, be one.





    As in the station washroom,

    my reflection in grey polished steel,


    the see-and-see-through self

    advancing in the automatic door


    before the stomach-punch thud

    and wheeze of opening… or


    like the shape of my father

    through the falling-water blur


    of his shattered languages; who

    was the man I saw yesterday


    shuffling towards me, head

    shaved as if for delousing,


    on the (tactfully) locked ward?








    Now I’m out of my languages (English,

    French) and on the crowded

    InterCity through Den Haag,


    the shape of space around me changed,


    between me and the next man, and

    the next, by the lack of one casual word

    we might share; it recalls me


    to the cramped airless world of the shy


    … or to him, in his word-naked

    world, as tight as a lift cage,

    strangers pressing in too close


    and some of them in uniform


    … or to any illegal, without papers,

    the air sweating against him,

    every breath a risk. Do not meet


    word with word, or eye with eye.






    Of course things pour.

    You want a different planet?


    Right now, we’re sitting here faster

    than the speed of sound.


    The wonder is that we can talk,

    I mean, converse, at all.





    Did I think I was going to meet him

    half way — after-image at least,


    the inside-out of what his converse

    journey must have printed on his eye,


    all his kind, coming out of the east /

    west rip of Europe (1946,


    that was, already hardening

    like a bad scar)


    truck-loaded through wrecked

    Rhinelands, fallen sky


    for miles in flood-fields

    where the dykes were breached


    — Europe After The Rain

    as in Ernst’s wax-rubbing, not


    of a plaque or tomb but the hide

    of one predator reptile or other


    that had thrashed and gored and

    thrashed before they (he


    could never quite believe it)







    in his brain

    between the dried


    blood shadow

    of stroke damage,



    doctor, are

    the traces?

    Scuff marks


    in the dust.

    A stray print in the mud.

    Where can I track


    (I find a word

    in Dutch now on the station

    indicator board


    for track as in railway,

    for these lines)

    his spoor?


    Philip Gross : Cardiff - Amsterdam 03.04.11

  • Tsead  Bruinja  :  Amsterdam - Cardiff 04.04.11



    the names you use

    for food cutlery and service on the table

    are not the first names


    which I learnt for food cutlery and service

    and when you touch me you sometimes touch

    a completely different part of me


    than where my sister

    would pinch me after I'd teased her

    or where my mother would put a little

    more effort in washing me


    we sleep in the same bed

    but yours is shorter

    and mine sounds more

    like the bleating of a goat


    your father and mother

    your grandfathers and mothers

    they are called something else


    they never cuddled up to you

    gave you a kiss

    or a good wash


    we live in the same world

    I cuddle up to you

    give you a kiss


    for those things we use

    the same names no


    your bed and kisses

    are growing longer

    every year





    I know where my stuff

    and money will go

    when I die


    but nowhere

    have I written down

    that I want to enter the earth

    naked in a blanket


    where doesn't matter to me

    my mother wanted to be far away from her children

    because we had to move on

    according to her


    she was buried

    next to her father's father

    granddad went over there almost

    every day


    my granddad and grandmother lie neatly together

    beside the church they didn't believe in

    next to their home


    where granddad would peel an apple for her

    and change the channels with a bamboo fishing rod

    we never watched a channel for more than one second


    all three of them aren’t lying in the ground

    which they were born on top of but never a lot further

    than 20 miles from it


    from where I live

    you can’t see their graves

    or find one on a day’s walking distance


    leeuwarden furthermore

    is further removed from amsterdam

    than the other way around


    and I just realized that I am already somewhere else

    I dropped skin and hair in indonesia zimbabwe

    and nicaragua


    urinated and ate in their restaurants

    the body renews itself

    no part of you is the same at the end


    and when it will die that will also be the end of my soul

    so returning the empty corpse would serve no purpose


    where you’re going to leave it doesn’t really matter to me

    but you know that I want it to enter the earth

    in a blanket naked


    and in case you’ve accidentally

    become a believer again around that time


    throw before the sods

    fall on the bones I left behind


    a bamboo fishing rod

    in with them



  • Glenn Davidson :  TXT2EU

  • We are out of our languages -  The Second Original

    From the first workshop


    Translation is a kind of impossibility especially in the context of a poem


    Below: TXT2 transmissions by students during Glenn Davidson's lecture for the School to European Studies / Translation Studies 6th April 2010.


    A new autopoietic work of second originals, based around a short extract of Spoor by Philip Gross from his commissioned poem for TransEuropa Festival - a travelling poem



    From Spoor...


    "i am out of my languages"


    i am out of my language...

    Je suis hors de ma langue

    Estoy fuera de mi idioma

    Eimai ektos tis glwssas mou.

    i'm out of my depth?

    Je ne parle pas ma langue

    I have lost my identity

    sono fuori della mia lingua

    Mo ti kuro lede mi

    je suis dehors de ma langue...

    Estoy ajena a mi misma

    I am out of tongue

    dwi ar goll!!!

    I'm don't speak proper English butt innit?...(Welsh valley dialect)

    Me encuentra ajena a mis origines

    Ana la agder atklm alloga (arabic)






     # 15:53:53

     # 15:55:00

     # 15:55:25

     # 17:55:38

     # 15:55:41

     # 15:55:51

     # 15:55:57

     # 15:56:10

     # 15:56:15

     # 15:56:20

     # 15:56:22

     # 15:56:23

     # 15:56:24

     # 15:56:53

     # 15:58:48

     # 15:59:03

  • Arabic



    نظرة الى الوراء, انا جاهز للسقوط

    الى غايتي بدون حذر

    الا ان هناك هذا الظل, ولكنه لا يختلف عن

    ما هو ممدد لي, لا, من العديد من الاضواء

     من خلفي, ينتشر الى شظايا و الى الشتات,

    النزوح, والتي مع ذلك تأتي,

     بوضوح أكثر أذا خطوت خطوة اتجاههم,

    تسحبهم اقرب الى نقطة التلاشي

    حيث أنهم سوف, لا, ونحن سوف, نكون واحد.




    من خلال الباب ذاتي الحركة

    وقبل ان يجلجل صوت اللكمة على المعدة

    وصوت ازيز فتح ال ..... أو

    مثل شكل مظهر والدي من

    خلال ضبابية تساقط المياه

    أنه صاحب اللغات المحطمة؛ من

    كان ذلك الرجل الذي رايته بالامس

    يجر رجليه اتجاهي, حليق

     الرأس كما لوكان محجوز( بلباقة) في جناح مغلق

     من اجل التخلص من القمل؟




    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into Arabic by Sadi Elsassi











     الآن ان خارج نطاق لغاتي ( الانجليزية,

     الفرنسية) وعلى طريق المزدحم بين المدن الذي يمر خلال  دن هاخ ( مدينة لاهاي)

    تغير شكل المكان من حولي,

    بيني وبين الرجل التالي, و

    ثم التالي, بسبب عدم وجود كلمة عفوية

    التي من الممكن ان نتشارك فيها؛ هي اعادتني الى

    عالم الخجولة المتشنج خالي الهواء

    ..... أو اليه, في كلماته- عالم

    مكشوف, ضيق كما هو قفص المصعد,

    غرباء يضغطون باصرار

    و البعض منهم يرتدون لباس موحد

    ... أو الى أي احد غير قانوني, بدون أوراق ثبوتيه,

    الهواء يتعرق ضده,

    كل نفس هو خطر. لا تجتمع

    كلمة مع كلمة, أو عين مع عين.




    بالطبع تتدفق الاشياء.

    كنت تريد كوكب آخر؟

    و في الحال, نحن نجلس هنا في سرعة

    تفوق سرعة الصوت.

    العجب انه اننا نستطيع ان نتكلم

    انا اعني, تقريبا ,نتناقش.



  • Bulgarian

    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into Bulgarian by Krasimira Ivleva










    Седнал с гръб към пътя готов съм да се хвърля

    в пътуването, незнаещ нищо


    освен че тук е тази сянка, различна от моята,


    която хвърля, не, която хвърлят светлините зад

    мен, на парчета, диаспора,



    премествания, които обаче идват към мен,


    стават по-ясни, ако тръгна към тях,

    приближават се към убежната точка


    там, където те, не, където ние ще, бъдем едно.





    Както в тоалетната на гарата

    отражението ми в сивата полирана стомана,


    прозрачното вглеждане в себе си

    вървейки към автоматичната врата,


    преди глухия звук от юмрук в корема

    и хриптенето от отварянето...или


    както силуета на баща ми

    през размазания водопад


    на умореното му говорене; кой

    беше мъжът, когото видях вчера



    в тактично заключеното болнично отделение

    да се тътри към мен, с обръсната,

    като против въшки, глава?




    Сега съм без езиците си (английски,

    френски) и в претъпкания

    InterCity влак за Den Haag


    пространството около мен промени контурите си

    между мен и другия до мен и

    другия, поради липсата на каквато и да е обикновена дума която да си разменим; напомня ми

    за едно тясно, душно, срамежливо пространство


    ... или за него, в своя свят от

    голи думи, тесен като асансьорна кабина,

    където непознати се блъскат,


    някои от тях в униформа


    ... или за всеки нелегален, без документи,

    въздухът потящ се срещу него,

    всяко вдишване е риск. Не посрещай


    думата с дума, окото с око.













    Разбира се, че нещата изтичат

    Различна планета ли искаш?


    Точно сега седим тук по-бързо

    от скоростта на звука


    Чудя се дали въобще можем да разговаряме

    искам д кажа, да общуваме.



  • Catalan

    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into Catalan by Montserrat Lunati






    Encarat cap enrere, estic a punt de caure

    al meu destí sense avís previ


    excepte per una ombra, semblant a la meva,


    fragmentada per la, no, per moltes llums

    darrere meu, una diàspora,


    desplacements, que tanmateix continuen venint de cara


    i són més clars si jo m'hi atanso,


    si me'ls acosto fins al punt d'esvanir-se,


    el punt on seran, no, serem, una sola cosa.





    Com en el bany de l'estació,

    el meu reflex en l'acer gris, lluent,


    el jo transparent que es veu

    travessant la porta automàtica


    abans del soroll que fa en obrir-se,

    com un cop sord a l'estómac i un xiuxiueig... o


    com la figura del meu pare

    a través del vapor de la cascada d'aigua,


    de les seves llengües destrossades; qui

    era l'home que vaig veure ahir,


    que se'm va atansar arrossegant els peus, el cap

    afaitat com per desinfectar-lo,


    a la sala d'hospital tancada amb pany i clau (amb molt de tacte)?






    Ara, sense les meves llengües (anglès

    francès) i a l'InterCity

    ple a vessar, passant per L'Haia,


    canviada la forma de l'espai que m'envolta,


    entre l'home assegut al meu costat i jo, i

    l'altre, per la manca d'un mot informal

    que podríem intercanviar; em fa pensar


    en el món asfixiant i encongit del tímids


    … o en ell, en el seu món despullat de paraules,

    estret com la gàbia d'un ascensor,

    amb estranys que se li acosten massa,


    alguns amb uniforme


    … o en qualsevol immigrant il·legal, sense papers,

    l'aire que sua en contra seu,

    cada alenada un perill. No mirar


    als ulls, no respondre als mots.





    És clar que les coses es precipiten.

    Vols un planeta diferent?


    Ara mateix, seiem aquí més ràpids

    que la velocitat del so.


    La sorpresa és que siguem capaços d'enraonar,

    vull dir, és clar, de conversar.




  • Dutch

    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into Dutch by Tsead Bruinja






    Achteruit reizend, bereid ben ik

    om ongewaarschuwd in mijn bestemming te vallen


    maar er is die schaduw, niet veel anders dan mijn eigen


    door zijn, nee, door een veelvoud aan lichten

    achter me, in stukken gesmeten, een diaspora


    van verschuivingen, die hoe dan ook door komen, aan


    en helderder als ik op hen af stap,

    ze dichter naar het verdwijnpunt trek


    waar zij, nee, wij, één zullen zijn.





    Net als op het station in het toilet,

    mijn spiegelbeeld in grijs gepolijst staal,


    mijn zichtbare en doorzichtige zelf

    naderend in de automatische schuifdeur


    voorafgaand aan de maagstomp plof

    en het puffen bij het opengaan… of


    als de gedaante van mijn vader

    door vallend water de waas


    van zijn versplinterde talen; wie

    was de man die ik gisteren zag


    op me af sloffend, hoofd

    geschoren alsof het ontluisd moest,


    op de (tactvol) gesloten afdeling?





    Nu ik buiten mijn talen ben (Engels,

    Frans) en in de drukke

    Intercity door Den Haag,


    de aard van de ruimte om me heen veranderd,


    tussen mij en de volgende man, en

    de volgende, door het ontbreken van een simpel woord

    dat we delen konden; het brengt me terug


    naar de verkrampte bedompte wereld van de verlegen


    …of naar hem, in zijn van woorden naakte

    wereld, zo krap als een liftcabine,

    vreemden te dicht tegen je aan gedrukt


    en enkelen onder hen in uniform


    … of naar een illegaal, zonder papieren,

    de lucht tegen hem aan zwetend,

    elke adem een risico. Beantwoord geen


    woord met woord, of oog met oog.






    Uiteraard stromen dingen.

    Wil je een andere planeet?


    Nu op dit moment, zitten we hier sneller

    dan de snelheid van het geluid.


    Het is een wonder dat we spreken,

    ik bedoel überhaupt kunnen converseren.




  • Fresian


    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into Frisian by Tsead Bruinja





    Achterút reizgjend, ree bin ik

    om ûnwarskôge yn myn bestimming te fallen


    mar der is dat skaad, net hiel oars as myn eigen


    troch syn, nee, troch in mannichte oan ljochten

    achter my, yn stikken smiten, in diaspora


    fan ferskowingen, dy’t hoe dan ek troch komme, oan


    en helderder at ik op se ôf stap,

    se tichter nei it ferdwynpunt lûk


    wêr’t sy, nee, wy, ien wêze sille.






    Lykas op it stasjon yn it toilet,

    myn spegelbyld yn griis polyste stiel,


    myn sichtbere en trochsichtige sels

    yn de automatyske skodoar oankommend


    foarôfgeand oan de magestomp plof

    en it blazen by it iepengean... of


    as it stal fan ús heit

    troch fallend wetter de waas


    fan syn fersplintere talen; wa

    wie de man dy’t ik juster seach


    myn kant op toffeljend, holle

    skeard lykas moast it ûntluze,


    op de (mei takt) sletten ôfdieling?





    No’t ik bûten myn talen bin (Ingelsk,

    Frânsk) en yn de drokke

    InterCity troch Den Haach,


    de aard fan de romte om my hinne feroare,


    tusken my en de folgjende man, en

    de folgjende, troch it ûntbrekken fan ien simpel wurd

    dat we diele koenen; it bringt my werom


    nei de krampeftige bedompte wrâld fan de ferlegen


    ...of nei him, yn syn fan wurden neakene

    wrâld, sa krap as in liftkabine,

    frjemden te ticht tsjin dy oan drukt


    en guon fan harren yn unifoarm


    ... of nei in yllegaal, sûnder papieren,

    de lucht tsjin him oan swittend,

    elk sike in risiko. Beäntwurdzje gjin


    wurd mei wurd, of each mei each.






    Uteraard streame dingen.

    Wolst in oare planeet?


    No op dit stuit, sitte we hjir flugger

    dan de faasje fan lûd.


    It is in merakel dat we prate,

    ik bedoel überhaupt konversearje kinne.


  • French

    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into French by Gabrielle Pillet








    Tourné vers l'arrière, je suis prêt à tomber

    dans ma destination sans avertissement


    sauf qu’il y a cette ombre qui ressemble à la mienne


    projetée par sa, non, par de multiples lumières

    derrière moi, en fragments, en diaspora,


    en déplacement, qui viennent quand même et reviennent


    et deviennent plus claires si je m'avance vers elles

    si je les attire à moi jusqu'à l'évanouissement,


    où elles seront, non, nous ne serons qu'un.





    Comme dans les toilettes de la gare,

    dans l'acier gris poli, mon reflet


    le moi en totale transparence

    qui avance dans la porte automatique


    avant le bruit sourd tel un coup dans le ventre

    et le soupir de l'ouverture … ou


    comme la silhouette de mon père

    à travers le tourbillon de l'eau qui court,


    celui de ses langues éclatées; qui

    est cet homme que j'ai vu hier


    s'approcher de moi en se traînant, tête

    rasée comme pour l'épouiller,


    dans la salle (soigneusement) verrouillée?





    Je suis maintenant au-delà de mes langues (Anglais,

    Français) et installé dans un train

    InterCity bondé qui traverse Den Haag,


    la forme de l'espace autour de moi s'est altérée,


    entre moi, et l'homme d’à côté, et

    celui d'à côté, par l’absence d'une parole familiėre

    que nous aurions pu échanger; cela me rappelle


    le monde étouffant et étriqué des timides


    … ou bien lui, dans son monde

    sans mot, étroit comme un ascenseur

    où des inconnus se serrent trop proches


    certains portent un uniforme


    … ou bien le clandestin, sans papiers,

    l'air transpire autour de lui,

    chaque souffle est un danger. Ne rends pas


    mot pour mot, oeil pour oeil.





    Naturellement les choses se versent.

    Vous voulez une planète différente?


    En cet instant, nous voilà assis,

    plus rapides que la vitesse du son.


    C'est merveilleux que l'on se parle,

    que l'on converse même.



  • Frisian

    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into Frisian by Tsead Bruinja






    Achterút reizgjend, ree bin ik

    om ûnwarskôge yn myn bestimming te fallen


    mar der is dat skaad, net hiel oars as myn eigen


    troch syn, nee, troch in mannichte oan ljochten

    achter my, yn stikken smiten, in diaspora


    fan ferskowingen, dy’t hoe dan ek troch komme, oan


    en helderder at ik op se ôf stap,

    se tichter nei it ferdwynpunt lûk


    wêr’t sy, nee, wy, ien wêze sille.






    Lykas op it stasjon yn it toilet,

    myn spegelbyld yn griis polyste stiel,


    myn sichtbere en trochsichtige sels

    yn de automatyske skodoar oankommend


    foarôfgeand oan de magestomp plof

    en it blazen by it iepengean... o

    as it stal fan ús heit

    troch fallend wetter de waas


    fan syn fersplintere talen; wa

    wie de man dy’t ik juster seach


    myn kant op toffeljend, holle

    skeard lykas moast it ûntluze,


    op de (mei takt) sletten ôfdieling?





    No’t ik bûten myn talen bin (Ingelsk,

    Frânsk) en yn de drokke

    InterCity troch Den Haach,


    de aard fan de romte om my hinne feroare,


    tusken my en de folgjende man, en

    de folgjende, troch it ûntbrekken fan ien simpel wurd

    dat we diele koenen; it bringt my werom


    nei de krampeftige bedompte wrâld fan de ferlegen


    ...of nei him, yn syn fan wurden neakene

    wrâld, sa krap as in liftkabine,

    frjemden te ticht tsjin dy oan drukt


    en guon fan harren yn unifoarm


    ... of nei in yllegaal, sûnder papieren,

    de lucht tsjin him oan swittend,

    elk sike in risiko. Beäntwurdzje gjin


    wurd mei wurd, of each mei each.





    Uteraard streame dingen.

    Wolst in oare planeet


    No op dit stuit, sitte we hjir flugger

    dan de faasje fan lûd.


    It is in merakel dat we prate,

    ik bedoel überhaupt konversearje kinne.



  • German

    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into German by

    Béatrice Gonzalés-VAngell and Marc J. Schweißinger






    In entgegengesetzter Fahrtrichtung fahrend bin ich bereit,

    Ungewarnt mein Reiseziel zu erreichen.


    Abgesehen von diesem Schatten, der meinem sehr ähnlich ist,

    Zerfallend durch seine, nein durch viele Lichtquellen,


    Hinter mir in Bruckstücke, eine Diaspora,


    Ortswechsel, die so oder so vor sich gehen,

    und deutlicher werden, wenn ich mich in ihre Richtung bewege,

    Sie näher bringe an den Punkt des Verschwindens


    Wo sie eins, nein, wo wir eins werden.





    Während ich in dem Bahnhofswaschraum

    Meine Wiederspiegelunge in dem grauen polierten Stahl sehe.


    Das Visvai des Selbst vorwärts gehend

    Zur automatischen Tür fortschreitend


    Kurz bevor der dumpfe Schlag in den Magen aufprallt

    Und dem Keuchen der Türöffnung... oder


    Wie die Gestalt meines Vaters

    Hinter dem trüben Wasservorhang

    Seiner zerschlagenen Sprache; wer

    Ist der Mann, den ich gestern sah?-


    Schleppend zu mir kommend

    Kahlrasiert, als ob er entlaust wird,

    in dem (taktvoll) abgeriegelten Hinterhof?





    Nun bin ich außerhalb meiner Sprachsphäre (Englisch,

    Französisch) in dem überfüllten

    Intercity durch Den Haag.


    Die Form des Raumes um mich her ändert sich


    Zwischen mir und dem nächsten Mann, und

    Dem nächsten durch den Mangel eines gewöhnlichen Wortes,

    Das wir austauschen könnten, es erinnert mich

     An die verkrampfte luftleere Welt der Scheuen.


    Oder an ihn in seiner wortlosen

    Welt, so eng wie ein Aufzugsschacht,

    Fremde zu eng zusammengedrängt

    Und einige von ihnen in Uniform


    Oder an jedweden Illegalen ohne Papiere,

    In der um ihn erhitzten Luft,

    Jeder Hauch ein Atemzug. Wage nichts,

    Auge um Auge, Wort um Wort.





    Natürlich strömen die Dinge.

    Willst Du einen anderen Planeten?


    Gerade jetzt sitzen wir hier, uns

    Schneller fortbewegend als die Geschwindigkeit des Schalls.


    Das Wunder ist, dass wir sprechen können,

    Ich meine uns überhaupt unterhalten.






  • Greek

    Spoor by Philip Gross (stanzas 4-7)

    Translated into Greek by Georgios Tziakos







    Κοιτώντας προς τα πίσω, έτοιμος να χυθώ

    Μες στον προορισμό μου, χωρίς να το σκεφτώ


    Τη σκιά μου βλέπω, ή αλλουνού κανένα;


    Που ένα φως τη ρίχνει – όχι, πολλά τη ρίχνουν,

    Πίσω μου, θρύψαλα, διασπορά


    εκτοπίσεις, που πλησιάζουν προς εμένα,


    καθαρίζουν σαν πάω κοντά τους,

    να τις μαζέψω εκεί όπου χαθούν


    όπου αυτές – όχι, εμείς θα γίνουμε ένα





    Όπως στην τουαλέτα του σταθμού,

    η αντανάκλασή μου στο γυαλισμένο ατσάλι


    ο διαφανής κι αφανής εαυτός μου

    προς την αυτόματη πόρτα προχωρεί


    πριν τον γδούπο, στο στομάχι σαν γροθιά

    και το σύριγμα σαν ανοίγει… ή


    σαν του πατέρα μου να φαίνεται η μορφή

    μες απ’ του τρεχούμενου νερού την όψη τη θολή


    σαν τις θρυμματισμένες γλώσσες του; Ποιος

    ήταν ο άνδρας που είδα χθες


    να πλησιάζει, τα πόδια σέρνοντας, με κεφάλι

    ξυρισμένο λες και βγήκε από ξεψείρισμα


    στην (διακριτικά) κλειδωμένη κλινική;



    Τώρα είμαι έξω απ’ τις γλώσσες μου (Αγγλικά,

    Γαλλικά) και μπαίνω στο γεμάτο

    ΙντερΣίτυ μέσω Χάγης


    το σχήμα του χώρου γύρω μου έχει αλλάξει


    ανάμεσα σε μένα και τον διπλανό, και τον

    παραδίπλα, με την απουσία μιας λέξης

    που ίσως ανταλλάζαμε˙ Με επαναφέρει


    στον ασφυκτικό των ντροπαλών τον κόσμο


    … ή σε κείνον, στον απογυμνωμένο από λέξεις

    κόσμο, στενό κλουβί ανελκυστήρα

    άγνωστοι στριμώχνονται πολύ κοντά


    κάποιοι απ’ αυτούς φορούν στολή


    … ή σε κάποιον λαθραίο, χωρίς χαρτιά,

    ο αέρας γύρω του ιδρώνει,

    κάθε ανάσα ένα ρίσκο. Να μη συναντηθούν


    ούτε λέξεις, ούτε μάτια.





    Μα φυσικά τα πάντα ρέουν

    Τι θες, άλλο πλανήτη;


    Τώρα καθόμαστε δω, πιο γρήγορα

    κι απ’ την ταχύτητα του ήχου.


    Το θαύμα είναι που μπορούμε και μιλάμε,

    που συζητάμε καν, θέλω να πω.



  • Hungarian

    bed  (part 1)  of bed and grave  by Tsead  Bruinja

    Translated in Hungarian by Russell Travenen Jones




    dunyha és sír



    a szavak, amiket

    ételre, kanálra, s az asztali tálra használsz

    mások, mint


    amiket nekem tanítottak ételre, kanálra, s tálra

    és amikor hozzám érsz, néha

    teljesen máshol érintesz, mint


    a szavak, amiket

    ételre, kanálra, s az asztali tálra használsz

    mások, mint


    amiket nekem tanítottak ételre, kanálra, s tálra

    és amikor hozzám érsz, néha

    teljesen máshol érintesz, mint


    ahol a nővérem

    belém csípett, ha csúfoltam

    vagy ahol anyukám kicsit

    erősebben csutakolt


    ugyanazzal a dunnával takarózunk

    csak a te dunyhád

    lágyabb mint az enyém, ami majdnem úgy hangzik

    mint a nagy folyó


    apádat és anyádat

    nagyapáidat, nagyanyáidat

    máshogy hívják


    sosem bújtak oda hozzád

    sosem csókoltak meg

    vagy mosdattak le


    ugyanabban a világban élünk

    odabújok hozzád



    most már ugyanúgy hívjuk

    a tárgyakat is


    a dunnám és a csókjaim

    minden évben

    egyre lágyabbak






    (cont. unused in performance)


    tudom, mi lesz a holmimmal

    és a pénzemmel

    amikor meghalok


    de azt sehol se

    írtam le

    hogy meztelenül, egy szál takaróba csavarva

    szeretnék bekerülni a földbe


    hogy hol, az teljesen mindegy

    anyám a gyerekeitől messze kívánkozott

    úgy gondolta

    nekünk el kell mennünk


    az apjának apja mellé


    nagyapám szinte naponta

    kiment hozzá


    nagyapám és nagyanyám szép rendesen együtt fekszenek

    a templom mellett, amibe nem jártak

    közel a házukhoz


    ott ahol nagyapa almát hámozott neki

    és egy bambusz horgászbottal váltott csatornát

    amit sosem néztünk tovább egy másodpercnél


    hármuk közül egy sem nyugszik abban a földben,

    ami fölött született,

    de sosem húsz mérföldnél távolabb


    onnan, ahol lakom

    nem látszik a sírjuk

    s egynapi járóföldnél messzebb van


    leeuwarden pedig

    messzebb van amszterdamtól

    mint fordítva


    most jövök rá, hogy én is másutt vagyok

    indoneziában zimbabwében

    és nicaraguában kopott a bőröm, hullott a hajam


    ott vizeltem, és az éttermeikben ebédeltem

    a test mindig megújul

    s egyetlen porcikája sem a régi


    és mikor majd elenyészik, a lelkem is elmúlik vele

    ezért az üres testet nincs értelme visszavinned


    hol hagyod majd, nekem majdnem mindegy

    de ugye tudod, azt szeretném,

    meztelenül, pokrócba tekerve tegyétek a földbe


    és ha netalántán

    újra hívő leszel akkor


    mielőtt a rögök

    hátrahagyott csontjaimra hullanak


    dobj utánuk kérlek

    egy bambusz horgászbotot



  • Italian

    grave (part 2) of bed and grave by Tsead Bruinja


    Translated into Italian by

    A. Fochi, V. Motta and M. Donovan



    la tomba



    So bene dove la mia roba

    i miei soldi andranno

    quando morirò


    ma da nessuna parte

    lasciato ho scritto

    che nudo in terra entrare

    voglio in un lenzuolo


    dove non mi importa

    mia madre si e’ allontanata dai figli

    perchè staccarci dovevamo

    così pensava lei


    accanto al padre di suo padre

    è stata seppellita

    il nonno ci andava quasi

    ogni giorno


    nonno e nonna sereni giacciono

    a fianco della chiesa in cui non credevano

    accanto alla loro casa


    dove il nonno le sbucciava la mela

    e cambiava i canali con una canna da pesca di bambù

    mai più di un secondo abbiamo visto un canale


    nessuno dei tre giace nella terra

    sopra a cui era nato, ma neppure

    più lontano di venti miglia


    da dove vivo io

    le loro tombe non le vedi

    né ci vuole un giorno di cammino per raggiungerle


    inoltre leeuwarden

    è più lontano da Amsterdam

    che in senso inverso


    e solo adesso comprendo che sono già altrove

    ho lasciato pelle, capelli in indonesia zimbabwe

    e nicaragua


    ho urinato e mangiato nei loro ristoranti

    il corpo si rinnova

    niente di te alla fine è uguale


    e quando morirà sarà la fine anche dell’ anima mia

    perchè allora restituire un cadavere vuoto?


    dove  lo lasceremo non m’interessa

    ma tu sai che voglio entrare in terra

    nudo in  un lenzuolo


    e caso mai tu avessi allora

    di nuovo la fede ritrovata


    getta prima che le zolle cadano

    sulle ossa da me lasciate

    una canna da pesca di bambù

    assieme a loro

  • Luxemburgish

    bed (part 1) from  bed and grave by Tsead Bruinja

    Translation  by Sarah Hanech in to Luxembourgish






    D'Nimm di du benotz

    fir d'Bestéck, den Teller an d'Tass um Dësch

    sën net di Nimm


    déi ech fir d'Bestéck an de Service geléiert han, an

    wanns du mich beréiers, hainsto beiéiers du

    ee komplett anneren Deel va mer


    wéi wa méng Schwëster

    mich gepëtzt hatt wa mer gerolzt han

    oder wa méng Mamm

    mich gudd geschrubbt hatt


    Mer schlofen an deem selwischte Bett

    mee däint as mi kuerz

    a mäint kléngt ischter

    wi d'Meckeren van enger Geess


    däi Papp an déng Mamm

    däi Bopa an déng Boma

    si heeschen annischt


    Su han ni mat der gekuschelt

    der ee Kuss gien

    oder han dich an der Bidden geschrubbt


    Mer liewen an der selwischter Welt

    Ech kuschelen mat der

    gien der ee Kuss


    Fir déi Saaschen benotzen mer lo

    di selwischt Nimm


    däi Bett an deng Kussen

    gi mi aal

    va Joër zu Joër.






  • Persian

    Bed and Grave by Tsead Bruinja

    Translated into Persian by: Seyed Hossein Heydarian




    به نام خدا


    Bed & Grave


    من و تو با دو زبان



    نامهایی که تو می نهی

    برای یکایک وسائل روزمرۀ مان

    نامهایی دیگرند



    برای احساساتمان

    برای لمسهایمان


    شوخیهای کوچکمان


    من و تو، هر یک، چیزی می گوییم


    گاهی من طولانی تر می گویم: گاهی تو

    گاهی من کوتاه تر می خوانم: گاهی تو

    و شبها

    من در تخت کوتاه تری می خوابم


    همیشه مادرت را جور دیگری صدا می کنی

    و آن یکی را که دوستش داشته ای




    هر دو در یک دنیا زندگی می کنیم

    و من

    برای آنچه که برایمان نام واحدی دارد

    تو را در آغوش می گیرم


    بوسه می زنم



    تخت تو و بوسه های تو

    طولانی تر می شوند

    در سالگرد هم زبانی مان



    Spoor by Philip Gross stanzas 4 - 6






    به عقب می نگرم

    آمدم که بیفتم


    به سوی مقصدی که از پیش نمی دانستم


    اما شبحی در اینجاست، که به من مانند نیست


    افتاده با نورهایی فراوان

    از پس من، تکه تکه شده: مثل در به در شدن یک تبار





    در دستشویی ایستگاه بین راه ایستاده ام

    تصویر خاکستری من در فلز جلاخورده روبه رویم افتاده است


    آنجا خود را و بعد خود را در درهایی که خودکار باز و بسته می شوند

    می بینم


    یب که یاد تصویر پدرم می افتم


    یاد زبان از هم گسیختۀ او؛

    انگار همین دیروز بود که به سوی من به سختی قدم می نهاد

    صورتش را از ته ته تراشیده بود


    از آن سوی اتاق بخش، که به ظرافتی قفل شده بود





    اکنون من زبانی ندارم و در داخل قطار اینترسیتی به سمت دن هاگ می روم

    اینجا فضا صورت دیگری دارد


    بین من و مرد بعدی،

    و آن یکی، بدون گفتن کلامی خودمانی

    به یاد می آورم که ما باید چیزی را تقسیم کنیم


    در این دنیای تنگ و کوچک و دم کرده


    یا برای او با دنیای واژه های

     بی پرده اش

    مردم اینجا، مثل درون اتاقک آسانسور،

    به هم زور می آورند

    آنها که گاه لباس رسمی شان را بر تن کرده اند


    واژه رو بروی واژه: چشم روبروی چشم



  • Polish


    bed and grave byTsead Bruinja

    Translation from English into Polish by

    Agata Kalisz


    łóżko i grób


    słowa których używasz

    dla noża i szklanki na stole

    nie są pierwszymi słowami


    które poznałem dla noża i  szklanki

    a kiedy mnie dotykasz dotykasz czasami

    zupełnie innej części mnie


    niż kiedy moja siostra

    szypie mnie gdy  ją zezłoszczę

    lub kiedy matka z większą czułością

    mnie myje


    śpimy w tym samym łóżku

    ale twoje jest krótsze

    a moje brzmi bardziej

    jak szczekanie psa


    twój ojciec i matka

    twoi dziadkowie i babki

    nazywają się inaczej


    oni nigdy nie przytulają się do ciebie

    nie całują

    i nie czyszczą twarzy


    my żyjemy w tym samym świecie

    przytulam się do ciebie

    i całuję


    dla różnych rzeczy używamy

    już tych samych słów


    twoje łóżko i pocałunki

    stają się dłuższe

    co roku








    wiem co się stanie

    z moimi rzeczami i majątkiem

    kiedy umrę


    ale nigdzie

    nie zapisałem

    że chcę wstąpić w ziemię

    nagi w pledzie


    nie ma znaczenia gdzie

    moja matka chciała być daleko od dzieci

    bo musieliśmy się rozwijać

    według niej



    pochowano ją koło ojca jej ojca

    dziadek chodził tam prawie



    mój dziadek i babka leżą ładnie razem

    przy kościele w który nigdy nie wierzyli

    obok ich domu


    w którym dziadek obierałby dla niej jabłko

    i zmieniał programy bambusowym patykiem

    nigdy nie patrzeliśmy na program dłużej niż sekundę


    i wszyscy troje nie leżą w ziemi

    na której wierzchu się urodzili ale nigdy dalej

    niż 20 mil


    stąd gdzie mieszkam

    nie możesz zobaczyć ich grobów

    ani znaleźć rzadnego idąc cały dzień


    fryzja poza tym

    jest bardziej oddalona od amsterdamu

    niż odwrotnie


    i właśnie zrozumiałem że jestem już gdzie indziej

    zostawiłem skórę i włosy w indonezji zimbabwe

    i nikaragui


    sikałem i jadłem w ich restauracjach

    ciało odnawia się samo

    żadna twoja część nie jest taka sama u kresu


    i kiedy ono umrze bedzie to koniec mojej duszy

    więc powrót do pustych zwłok byłby bezcelowy


    dokąd odejdziesz nie ma dla mnie znaczenia

    ale wiesz że chcę wstąpić w ziemię

    w pledzie nagi


    i na wypadek gdybyś przypadkowo

    zaczęła być wtedy znowu wierząca

    rzuć zanim ziemia

    spadnie na szczątki które po sobie zostawię


    bambusowy patyk

    razem z nią



  • Spanish

    bed and grave by Tsead Bruinja

    Translated into Spanish by Montserrat Lunati



    se dónde terminarán

    mi dinero y mis cosas

    cuando muera


    pero en ninguna parte

    he escrito

    que quiero entrar en la tierra

    envuelto en una manta, desnudo


    me da igual dónde

    mi madre quería estar lejos de sus hijos

    porque teníamos que volar

    creía ella


    la enterraron

    junto al padre de su padre

    mi abuelo iba allí casi

    todos los días


    mi abuelo y mi abuela yacen juntos

    al lado de la iglesia en la que no creían

    cerca de su casa


    allí mi abuelo le pelaba una manzana

    y cambiaba de canal con una caña de pescar de bambú

    nunca veíamos el mismo canal durante más de un segundo


    ninguno de los tres yace en la tierra

    que le vio nacer pero ninguno reposa mas allá

    de una distancia de 20 millas


    desde donde yo vivo

    no se pueden ver sus tumbas

    o encontrarse con una tras un día de camino


    además leeuwarden está

    mucho más lejos de amsterdam

    que no al revés


    y me acabo de dar cuenta de que estoy en otro lugar

    he dejado piel y cabellos en indonesia zimbaue

    y nicaragua


    he orinado y comido en sus restaurantes

    el cuerpo se renueva

    ninguna de sus partes es ya la misma


    y cuando se muera será el final también de mi alma

    por tanto devolver el cuerpo vacío sería inútil


    dónde lo dejes me da igual

    pero sabes que quiero entrar en la tierra

    envuelto en una manta, desnudo


    y en caso de que por casualidad

    seas creyente de nuevo cuando me llegue la hora


    antes de que la tierra

    cubra los huesos que dejaré atrás


    haz que reposen

    junto a una caña de pescar de bambú

  • Welsh

    bed and grave by Tsead BruinjaTranslated in Welsh by Jessica Mills




    gwely & bedd


    yr enwau a ddefnyddi di

    am fwyd cwtleri a llestri

    nid y rhain yw’r enwau cyntaf


    a ddysgais i am fwyd cwtleri a llestri

    a phan gyffyrddi di â fi mae’n weithiau

    rhan hollol wahanol ohonof


    i le byddai fy chwaer

    yn pinsio fi ar ôl imi’i herio

    neu le byddai mam yn ymdrechu bach fwy

    wrth iddi f’olchi


    cysgwn yn yr un gwely

    dy un di’n fyrrach

    a f’un innau’n debyg

    i frefu’r da


    dy dad a dy fam

    dy dadcu a dy famgu

    enwau gwahanol sydd ganddynt


    gwtsion nhw di fyth

    ni rhoion nhw sws i ti



    defnyddiwn ni am y rheiny

    yr un enwau nawr


    dy wely a dy sws

    tyfan nhw’n hirach

    bob blwyddyn


    lle bydd fy mhethau

    a’m arian yn mynd

    pan byddai’n marw

    yr hyn dwi’n gwybod


    ond nunlle

    yr ysgrifennir

    fy mod am cael fy nghladdu

    yn noeth mewn blanced


    lle ‘sgen i  ddim ots

    dyhead fy mam oedd pellter oddi wrth ei phlant

    achos rhaid oedd symud ‘mlaen

    yn ôl hithe


    cafodd ei chladdu

    ar bwys dad ei thad

    aeth dadcu yno bron â bod

    bob dydddadcu a mamgu sy’n gorwedd yn dwt gyda’i gilydd

    ar bwys yr eglwys ni chreden nhw ynddi

    wrth ochr eu cartref


    lle byddai dadcu yn pilio afal i mamgu

    a newid y sianel gyda gwialen fambŵ

    wylien ni byth yr un sianel am hirach nag eiliad


    gorweddan nhw tri

    nid yn y ddaear bu’n wyneb i’w geni, ond nid yn fwy

    nag 20 milltir ohoni


     le dwi’n byw


    ni weler eu beddau

    ni ddarganfyddir run ohonynt dydd daith ar droed


    leeuwarden ymhellach

    sydd bellach i ffwrdd o amsterdam

    nag o chwith


    a dwi newydd sylweddoli fy mod man arall yn barod

    gollyngais croen a blew yn indonesia simbabwe

    a nicaragua


    pisiais a bwytais yn eu bwytai

    adnewydda’r corff

    does run rhan yr un peth yn y diwedd


    a phan byddai’n marw byddai’n ddiwedd hefyd i’m enaid

    felly dychwelyd y celain ofer fyddai


    lle’i gedwir sdim ots gen i

    ond ti sy’n gwybod fy mod am iddo gael ei chladdu

    mewn blanced yn noeth


    ac os yr ydych ar hap

    yn dod yn grediniwr eto pryd ‘ny


    tafla cyn y tyweirch

    gad ddisgyn ar yr esgyrn

    y gadewais ar eu hôl


    gwialen fambŵ

  • Italian Translation

    The dialect of the scrub in the dry season

    withers the flow of English. Things burn for days

    without translation, with the heat

    of the scorched pastures and their skeletal cows.













    The issues that we found in translating this passage were very similar to those found by the French group. It was not possible to find such short translations for a number of the monosyllabic words used in the source text, resulting in some of the lines being somewhat longer in the Italian version.


    A second issue was the line “flow of English”, which seemed to crop up as a challenge for every group. We decided that if we used ‘English’ in a non-English poem the word would become totally irrelevant (possibly the reader would have no idea how English flows). To overcome this, we used a more general concept of language itself, as the flow of words/language is something that everyone can relate to. Tied in with this, we found that the Italian word “fiume” (river) rather than “flusso” (flow) is used when talking of language or words.


    We also found the same problem in the word 'scorched' that the French group found. The word translates in Italian as 'bruciare' (to burn) which we had already used previously in the passage. To avoid repetition, as has been done in the source text, we decided to use the word 'indarire', which means sun-dried in the sense of grass. We felt that this was a more applicable word since the text was speaking of a pasture.


    The final problem that we noted was that of “for days”. In Italian the translation 'per giorni' would not have the same meaning of 'a long period' and so we added the word 'tanti' (many). This did lengthen the line of the poem, but not significantly enough to change the structure a great deal. As none of us in the group were first-language Italian, however, it is quite difficult to be sure that what we have written is the most accurate/appropriate translation.



    James Hammacott, Chris Smiddy,

    Claudia Hutchinson

    Il dialetto della sterpiglia nella stagione secca

    appasse il fiume del linguaggio. Le cose bruciano per tanti giorni

    senza traduzione, con il calore

    delle pasture indaridite e le loro mucche scheletrice.

  • Spanish Translation

    The dialect of the scrub in the dry season

    withers the flow of English. Thing burn for days

    without translation, with the heat

    of the scorched pastures and their skeletal cows.












    As with Italian, French and Romanian, a conscious effort has to be made at times not to make the Spanish sound too poetic, or over laden with rhymes and alliteration that does not exist in the original.


    This occurred in particular with the final line of the poem, and although I searched through many words for ‘skeletal’ in Spanish, I could not avoid the rhymes made between ‘pastos abrasados’ and ‘vacas lacias’ as the adjective must agree with the noun in gender, therefore giving the same sounds to the word endings. In the end, I had to leave it as there were other occasions in this section of the poem where I had managed to avoid this problem by finding other synonyms.


    Another problem was the word ‘quemar’ (to burn) as the word ‘burn’ and the word ‘scorched’ would both be translated as the same in Spanish so  I chose to use a different word to avoid repetition.


    The other concern was to make sure that it flowed in Spanish. Obviously, it was impossible to re-create the exact number of syllables per line, but I consciously chose certain words which were either shorter or longer in length in order to make the Spanish version flow as much as possible.


    Finally, when I translated ‘the flow of English’ I literally said ‘the fluidity of English’. I was torn between the word ‘corriente’ which more or less translates as ‘current’ and ‘fluidez’ (fluidity). I liked the word current because when I read the English it gave me this idea of flowing like water, but I chose ‘fluidez’ because in Spanish that word is most often associated with language, and so it fitted better with the poem’s context- ‘the fluidity of English’.


    I also liked the comment made by one of my classmates that it was not necessary to include the word ‘English’ at this stage. This left me free to use the word ‘lengua’ in Spanish which means both language and tongue. I thought this gave a powerful image of language literally withering in the mouth. Maybe I overcompensated on this occasion but I felt that sometimes it is necessary to bring out an idea/theme that runs through the poem (in this case the idea of the English language being overtaken by Creole) whenever possible as there may be an occasion later in the poem where the translator has to ignore this image in favour of something else. In other words, it is a case of prioritising and trying to keep the ideas of the poem intact even if they do not appear in exactly the same line as the original.


    Amy McGregor


    El dialecto de las brozas en la época seca

    marchita la fluidez de la lengua. Cosas queman por días

    sin traducción, con el calor

    de los pastos abrasados y las vacas lacias

  • Chinese Translation


    枯竭了英语的洪流。 他们燃烧了许多日子










    The points I find now are some differences with what we did in Nov. 22 workshop.

    Fist of all, I translate “scrub” to “灌木丛”,which in chinese means a geographical landscape, but combined with dialect, it does not make sense. To make it known to chinese reader, “如同灌木丛一般”would be appropriate.


    And the second issue comes the line“flow of English”, which is a common challenge for each group. What confuses me here is the“English”since it has two meanings, either the english this language or english-speaking countries”, but the fist line tells me that they should be correspondent, so it is talking of english this language.


    The third issue goes to“days”,with no plural in chinese, the translation“日子” would not have the same meaning“a period of time” because it does not translate the“s”, so here“些许”would be added.


    In addition, the sequence of sentence is an important issue concerned in translation.

    Regarding the line“with the heat of the scorched pastures”, I put the“热气”(central meaning)at the end of the sentence because in chinese,  the central meaning are most of the time put at the end and“the scorched pastures” serves as the role of modifying, which would be put before“heat”.


    Retranslate this poem into english:


    The dialect in the dry season strives as the scrub

    Withers the flow of English.things burn for days without newly things,with the heat of the scorched pastures and its roots showing.


    Dongdong XU, Lan Lan, Lumeng Yang,

    Ruby Chung

    The dialect of the scrub in the dry season

    withers the flow of English. Things burn for days

    without translation, with the heat

    of the scorched pastures and their skeletal cows.

  • Romainian Translation

    Dialectul tufişului în sezonul uscat

    ofileşte fluxul englezei. Lucrurile ard zile-ntregi

    făr-a fi-nţelese, cu arşiţa

    păşunilor pălite şi a vacilor scheletice.









    In the first line of the poem I tried to keep the musicality of the text offered by the sounds /s/, /ʃ/ and /z/. Thus, I used words like tufiş (scrub), sezon (season) and uscat (dry).


    The second line of the poem offered me the possibility of creating an alliteration using the stressed syllable of the word ofileşte (withers) and the stressed syllable of the word fluxul (flow). On the other hand, the same line was also an issue because of the literal translation of the word flow that I had to use. From my point of view, the use of /ʃ/, /ɛks/ and especially the voiced /z/ in only one line makes it sound a little bit too harsh. Although the word englezei is the biggest issue in this line because of its voiced /z/, I decided to keep it, as I think that this is a key word for any reader to understand the cultural background of the text.  However, the problem of the voiced /z/ in the first part of the line got solved in the second part of the line where the word days offered me the possibility of using zile, counterbalancing in this way the harsh strength of this sound.  Although I was not able to use only monosyllabic words for this part of the line, as is the case in the original text, I tried to shorten the Romanian version by using an aphaeresis – instead of saying zile întregi I chose to cut out the î and link the two words together. Fortunatelly, Romanian is a language that allows its users to recur to such linguistic tricks.


    In the third line I chose a risky solution; I decided to leave out the obvious option traducere, which would be a literal and perfect equivalent of the word translation in English and I used instead without being understood. The main reason for which I chose to do this is simply because the word traducere would have sounded rather odd and would have disturbed the entire flow of the poem, especially because of the sound / tʃe/. Thus, I opted again to link together four words this time and instead of saying fără a fi înţelese, I used făr-a fi-nţelese, in order to make the text flow. This choice allowed me to bring in another alliteration using the voiceless fricative /f/. The flow of the text was also preserved with the use of sounds like /ʦ/, /s/ and /ʃ/.

    The English version of the scorched pastures in the fourth line offered me the possibility of another alliteration -  păşunilor pălite. One semantic issue that I had to deal with here was the choice of the best equivalent for the word scorched. One of the most obvious options was pârlite and a milder option was pălite. I chose the latter one thanks to the fact that this way the alliteration is made up of an entire syllable and not only the first consonant.


    All in all, from a semantic point of view, I have not encountered many issues, Romanian offering me a numerous variety of options worthy of taking into consideration. From my point of view, the most interesting part while working with this text was the phonetic puzzle that I had to ‚re-create’ in my translation. That is why my commentary is mostly based on phonetic issues. Fortunately, Romanian is a highly versatile language, both from a semantic and phonetic point of view (and maybe even a syntactic one) and it allows its users to use it creatively.


    Mirona Moraru


    The dialect of the scrub in the dry season

    withers the flow of English. Things burn for days

    without being understood, with the heat

    of the scorched pastures and their skeletal cows.

  • French Translation

    Le dialecte des broussailles pendant la saison sèche

    Fane le flot de l’anglais. Les choses brulent des jours durant

    Sans traduction, dans la chaleur

    De prairies écorchés et de leurs vaches squelettiques.








    The main issue that we had while translating this piece was the fact that the translation in French uses up more syllables and requires more definite articles, making the lines longer than in the original. One example of this was when we translated ‘things burn for days.’ We had to add the word ‘durant’ because simply saying ‘les choses brulent des jours’ does not make sense in French. However, adding ‘durant’ makes it translate to ‘for lasting days’ which somewhat increases the time lapse in the poem.


    When translating ‘the flow of English’ the first word we thought of to translate ‘flow’ was ‘flux,’ but then we realised that this word referred to the sea and the tide more than a river, and so we changed it to ‘flot’ in order to capture the imagery and make it tie in better with the concept of speech.


    Another challenge we had was with the word ‘scorched’ which commonly translates as ‘brulé’ in French, but we did not want to use this word since it would be repeating the same verb for the word ‘burn’ two lines above. Instead we chose the word ‘écorché’ which, although it usually translates as ‘skinned’ or ‘scraped’ in French, can also be used to describe burns on the skin.


    Finally, we had an issue with the word ‘pastures’ as we could not decide whether to use ‘pâturage’ (the literal translation) or ‘prairie,’ which is less technical and which may provide more imagery. In the end we used the latter, as we realised that there would already be a lot of syllables in this line.



    Rhiannon Batcup, Gwenllian, Jones Natalie Soper


    The dialect of the undergrowth during the dry season

    Withers the stream of English. Things burn for days

    Without translation, in the heat

    of the skinned meadow and their skeletal cows.

  • Hungarian Translation

    Język buszu w czasie suszy miażdży płynność  mowy. Sprawy  palą się długimi dniami pozbawione wyjaśnienia, gorącem przypalonych pastwisk i krowich szkieletów. Każdy rzeczownik to pniak z korzeniami na wierzchu, kreol języka rozpościera się jak ziele aż cała wyspa będzie pokryta, pózniej deszcz zaczyna padać akapitami i zaciera stronę, zaciera szarość wysp, szarość oczu, sztorm jest dziką owłosioną pięknością.













    We translated the word ‘dialect’ into ‘language’ as we felt it helps to put across the sense of the sentence.  We have changed the word ‘English’ to ’Speech ‘because as we thought it made the text sound better in Polish. It also made the text a little smoother. The reader can figure out that it is English language on author’s mind. We have not translated the word ‘kreol’ as it has not got Polish equivalent.



    The speech of the bush in the time of drought crushes the flow of speech. Things burn for long days without explanation by the heat of cows skeletons. Every noun is a stump with its roots out, kreol of the language spreads like weed until the whole island will be covered, then the rain begins to come in paragraphs and hazes the page, hazes the grey of islets, the grey of eyes, the storm is a wild hairy beauty.

  • German Translation

    1.   Das Verdorren des Gestrüpps in der Trockenzeit

    2.   stört fließendes Englisch. Tagelang brennend

    3.   ohne Übersetzung, die Hitze.

    4.   des versengten Grases und dessen knochigen Kühe.










    Line 1:

    We omitted 'dialect', due to the effect of saving as many syllables as possible. As Mr Göske stated, German words tend to be a lot longer, so a larger amount of syllables is unavoidable, but the aim is to reduce the number as much as possible to maintain the music as well as possible. We are aware of the link between the keywords relating to language (dialect, English, fluent, etc) and we tried to maintain them as much as we could, however, minor sacrifices had to be made.


    Line 2:

    'Withers' has been translated as 'interrupts' as the process of withering has already been emphasised in line 1 ('Verdorren') and to save syllables.


    'The flow' has been transformed into 'flowing' which can also mean 'fluent' which refers to the key theme mentioned above.


    'Things' has been omitted as we understood it as too broad or unclear which can as well be expressed as 'burning' instead of 'things burn'. This, again, decreases the number of syllables.


    Line 3:

    'With' has been omitted, too, as we agreed that the same effect can be achieved without using this preposition and as the same time reduces syllables in the German translation.


    Line 4:

    The genitive construction as in 'of the scorched pastures' does not exist in the German, we use a specific article the indicates the genitive case.


    'skeletal' does not exist in German either, it would have to be 'skeleton-like' or 'like a skeleton' which, again, does not fit into the melodic pattern and has therefore been substituted by the translation of 'bony'.



    The withering of the scrub in the dry season

    interrupts the flowing/fluent English. Burning for days

    without translation, the heat

    of the scorched pastures and their bony cows.

  • Arabic Translation

    The dialect of the scrub in the dry season

    wither the flow of English. Things burn for days

    without translation, with the heat

    of the scorched pastures and their skeletal cows.





    The local language in the dry season

    shrinks the flow of English language.

    Things burn for days without translation,

    with the heat of burning pastures and their skeletal cows.


    It was difficult to translate some terms from English to Arabic. It was also difficult to find the equivalent of some words. During the Arabic translation, we have to omit some words in order to maintain the structure and to make a meaning for the sentence. For example we had to omit the words “scrub”. Such word does not fit when we translate it to Arabic. And, when we translate it literally, it was difficult to find the proper meaning, as it has different meanings. In addition, when we tried to translate it as a free translation, it does not make any sense in Arabic. This is because of its location in the sentence.


    To make it more sense, we had to translate the first sentence as “The local language in the dry season shrinks the flow of English language”.


    Translating English poems to Arabic, the target language becomes irrelevant and nonsense by which the reader of the target language can not understand the word relevance. In Arabic language, we usually maintain the rhythm and tone. Therefore when we translated to Arabic, this poem turned to be a prose.


    The second sentence, we translate it literally, which also does not make sense in Arabic, but it was easy to find the equivalent words in Arabic.


    Ansaf Elmajdalawi, Sady Elseesi


    اللغة المحلية في موسم الجفاف

    تقلص انسيابية اللغة الانجليزية.

    الأشياء تحترق لأيام بدون ترجمة،

    مع حرارة المراعي المحروقة والأبقار الهزيلة

  • Polish Translation

    Mowa buszu w czasie suszy miażdży

    przepływ mowy. Rzeczy bez powodu

    palą się długimi dniami gorącem

    spalonych pastwisk i krowich szkieletów.

    The speech of the bush in the time of drought

    crushes the flow of speech. Things without reason

    burn for long days by the heat

    of burnt pastures and cows skeletons

    Katarzyna Bialas-Swart, Rafal Jennek, Maciej Mechacki


    The speech of the bush’: we translated the ‘speech’ literally as ‘speech’ (mowa), we were also thinking that ‘language’ might have been better (język), but that would not have agreed with the ‘speech’ used in the second line (the flow of the language would not work well).


    ‘crushes the flow’: we chose ‘miażdży’ for ‘[it] crushes’, which is a translation that gives an idea of crushing extremely hard; ‘the flow’ became ‘przepływ’, rather than ‘pływ’, although both mean virtually the same, the first adds an additional meaning of ‘through’ (the suffix ‘prze-‘). Nevertheless, we are not entirely sure how a flow of speech could be crushed as usually, only solid substances can be crushed, not liquids or gases (we treat speech, in the physical sense, as a series of waves of pressure which propagates through air, thus they cannot practically be crushed).


    ‘Things without reason’, here, we were very literal again – ‘things’ became simply ‘rzeczy’, while ‘reason’ was more problematic. We used ‘powód’, in the sense of a ‘cause’ (there is no reason why the things burn), however, we might have translated ‘reason’ as ‘rozum’, in the sense of being intellectually reasonable, being able to think logically, or as ‘rozsądek’ (as ‘sense’ in the expression ‘common sense’ – ‘zdrowy rozsądek’). Because Polish offers the three different names (and perhaps more), by choosing ‘powód’ (cause), we might have missed the play on words, i.e. ‘things have no reason (are incapable of thinking) and they ‘burn’ and, at the same time, ‘there is no reason why the things burn’, nevertheless, the poem provides a reason why they burn (because of the heat). Our third possible rendering would have been: ‘Rzeczy bez sensu palą się...’ i.e. ‘it is pointless/useless why the things burn’, it would introduce another hidden meaning if translated literally – ‘things without sense burn...’, which could be understood by a Polish person as the aforementioned ‘pointless/useless’, or ‘without meaning’, ‘meaningless’. The difference being that the second understanding would mean that the things have no inherent meaning in themselves, rather than it is useless that they burn. Hence, we decided to choose ‘powód’, for the benefit of simplicity, but it could be debated whether it was a good choice.


    ‘for long days by the heat’, ‘for long days’ was quite easy and literal – ‘długimi dniami’, whereas for ‘by the heat’, we could have rendered two, in our opinion, equally valid options – ‘gorącem’, ‘skwarem’ and two slightly worse options – ‘upałem’ or ‘ciepłem’ (‘upałem’ would not sound correct and ‘ciepłem’ would not convey the idea of ‘very hot’, because it could be translated as ‘warm’, or ‘hot’ and hence could have been too mild). We chose ‘gorącem’, because ‘skwarem’ would have produced an alliteration: ‘skwarem spalonych’, where it is not present in the original: ‘heat of burnt’, so we did not want to improve (?) the form, which might not be any improvement after all.


    ‘burnt pastures’ we translated literally as ‘spalonych pastwisk’, although, at first, we used ‘przypalonych’, but later we realised that it sounds like ‘slightly burnt’, which would not fit our reading of the gloomy atmosphere of the pastures, so we chose ‘spalonych’ – ‘completely burnt’.

    Next, again, we translated literally ‘cows skeletons’, as ‘krowich szkieletów’ – conveying the gloomy and dark vision of burnt bones lying on the pastures, rather than e.g. cows, which are so emaciated that one could see their bone structure.


    Finally, we were surprised that we could find so much meaning and so many possible interpretations, and hence translations, in such a short text.

Daniel Göske

reads from his translation of

Derek Walcott's


The Prodigal


Stanzas 11 & 12


Anant Kumar




Translation Workshop

"...It was thoroughly enriching  to see my poetry/ poems through the lenses of translators live at work. Their queries opened me new windows to understand and enjoy my words. Enjoyable. Refreshing. Enriching..."


  • Turkish

    Die Eulen und ihre Augen





    Seda Okuyucu

    Baykuşların Gözleri


    Gündüzleri baykuşların gözleri kapanır,

    Bir şey görmek istemezler.

    Güneş ışığında sanki kör olur baykuşlar.


    Günahlar peşlerini bırakmaz,

    Tehlikeler, kötülükler…

    Baykuşlar onlara zarar veren

    Tüm bu kötülüklerden uzak durmak isterler.


    Büyük bir sabırsızlıkla beklerler

    Kuytu köşelerinde

    Akşamı, baykuşlar.


    Gündüzleri görmezler baykuşlar,

    Geceleri ise tüm kötülükleri görürler,


    Gün ışığında bir şey görmek istemezler baykuşlar.

    Gözleri dolar sanki kör olurlar.





    The Eyes of Owls


    The eyes of owls are closed during the day,

    They don’t want to see anything.

    They go blind by the sunlight.


    Their sins never stop following them,

    Dangers, evils…

    They want to keep them away from

    All these dangers and evils harmed them.


    They wait for the evening

    At their hidden places impatiently to come out, owls.


    The owls don’t see anything in the daytime,

    But they see all the evils during the night.


    They don’t want to see anything at daytime, owls,

    Their eyes filled with tears with the sunlight

    And they go blind.



    In poetry translation, the most important thing is to reflect the meaning of the source text in a logical way that can make sense for the target audience. If the translators follow a direct translation method, the translated text might fail. Therefore, what it should be done is that to make some slight adaptations according to the target culture and shape the translation in the light of the culture.


    In this poem, I changed some points just to be able to make it more sensible and understandable for the Turkish audience. In our culture, the owls are not considered as good. They are believed not to bring luck to the people who see them. It is not a good sign to see an owl and especially at nights it brings bad luck.  According to my culture, the owls don’t see anything during the day so they hide in their places until the evening and they come out in the evening. Thus I paid attention to the details and translated the poem according to my culture.


    In the first verse, it says “during the day the owl eyes water” and I translated the line as “they eyes of owls are closed during the day” because if I translated it as it is in the original, it wouldn’t make sense for the target audience. In the same verse, for the phrase “in the flood of tears”, I preferred to translate it as “they go blind by the sunlight” as it is more sensible to reflect the meaning as a whole.


    For the second verse, I made some changes to smooth the meaning. I wanted to change it not to create a bad impression about the poem because the owls in my country are already considered bad luck animals. Therefore, I used less strong words.


    In the third verse, I translated the “ascetic impatience” just as “impatiently” as I could not explain it as it is in the source text. For the word “unusual places”, I chose “hidden places” because the owls wait in hidden places at daytime and you cannot see them and they come out in the evening. Therefore, I found appropriate to use such a word to reflect the meaning.


    For the fourth verse, as they don’t see at daytime, I changed the sentence completely and said “they don’t see anything at daytime but they see all the evils at night”. I didn’t want to use the words in the original text.


    For the fifth verse, I translated it as “their eyes filled with tears by the sunlight and they go blind”. I explained the reason why they go blind during the daytime. Therefore I render the meaning in “in the flood of tears” as “their eyes filled with tears”.


    After all, the poetry translation is quite challenging to give the same message with different words. Also, culture is always a big factor playing a key role in the poetry translation. The translators should always regard to the cultural differences between two different languages and indicate their translation methods to transfer the message intended to be given in the source language into the target language.

  • Japaneese

    Tränen im Herbst

    Translation into Japanese






























    Aki ni no namida


    aki ni

    namida wa


    koto da.



    Dokutsu wo dettara


    seiteki wa



    hohosometa Amaterasu-oomikami

    to okamisama ga kiiro ni narareta ha

    no mitai.




    koto da.

    Aki ni

    namida wa


    sukoshi amai shi,





    Tears in Autumn


    In autumn

    the tears

    are something




    If leaving the cave



    wants to mingle


    like blushing Lady Amaterasu

    and the leaves turned yellow

    by her.



    Are something


    in autumn

    the tears.


    A little bit sweet,


    cannot be stopped.





    In stanza two, there is a reference to gender and a 'solar disc.'  Because Japanese does not assign gender to nouns and does not regularly make use of gender pronouns, it would not be possible to replicate the sense of gender exactly in the case of 'yellowed by her.'  Therefore, we have replaced 'solar disc' with a reference to the Japanese goddess Amaterasu, goddess of the sun.  This keeps the sun metaphor intact and gives the line a sense of female gender.  It has the additional effect of adding a native Japanese element to the poem.


    In the same stanza, there is the line 'if they leave the caves,' and 'their home.'  Again, because pronouns are not generally used and because the subject 'their' refers to is not defined within the poem, it has been omitted in the Japanese, which can be seen in the back translation.


    Sometimes the differences in grammar between the two languages required different word order in sentences, therefore some of the lines have been rearranged.  This is not very apparent in the back translation as translated for readability in English instead of a literal translation.



    Sarah Uhl + Chris Smiddy



  • French



    Larmes d’automne


    en automne

    quelque chose de spécial


    les larmes


    en sortant de leurs caves

    - de chez eux, de chez elles -

    les genres veulent

    se mélanger


    rougeoie le disque solaire

    qui jaunit les feuilles


    quelque chose de spécial


    en automne

    les larmes


    elles sont douceâtres


    sans fin





    Tears in Autumn


    in autumn

    something special


    the tears


    upon leaving/going out of their caves/hollows/cellars

    -their home-

    the genders want

    to blend/mix


    the solar disc glows fiery red

    so the leaves go yellow


    something special


    in autumn

    the tears


    they are sweetish





    Marie-Laure Jones and Sally King



    Using the pivot language of English, we translated “Tränen im Herbst” from German to French. The lines in the first paragraph required some re-arranging, as their order did not flow in the same way in French as the German version; it made more sense to swap the “are” and “something special”.


    The second paragraph had to be cut down from eight lines in the German to seven lines, as with the English, since French grammar does not permit the verb to be at the end, which is required in this “wenn” construction in German, so in the French version, the first and third lines must be joined to be grammatically correct. The construction “if they leave …” was translated using gerund “en sortant …” as it was more idiomatic. “Sortir de” was used rather than “quitter” for “to leave” due to it meaning “leave” in a less permanent sense, which seemed more applicable here. In rendering “caves” into French, there were several options. “Grottes” (tends to be man-made) and “cavernes” (natural) were possibilities, however we chose “caves”, because although less accurate semantically, it seemed most suitable phonetically. Indeed, “grotte” is quite a harsh-sounding word compared to “höhlen”, which would be unsuitable and significantly alter the atmosphere of the poem. Translating “home” raises challenges, as there is no term in French that exactly captures both its emotive and referential aspects. While the feelings conjured up by “foyer” are similar to those of “home”, it is a wider term with more meanings, including “hearth” and “focus”. “Maison”, “habitation” and “chez” are along the lines of “home” or “house”, but without the emotion connected to “home”. We opted for “chez” since it is the shortest in terms of syllables, hence mirrors the source text rhythm most closely.


    “MF FM MM FF” could be preserved as in the German and English, as the genders begin with the same letter. As for “to blush”, “rougeoyer” was chosen instead of “rougir”, because even though “blush” used in English is itself more poetic and would be unusual in other circumstances, “rougeoyer” seemed more logical to juxtapose with “the sun”, and both contain “rouge” in the word anyway. “Disque solaire” seemed a slightly odd collocation to us, but “solar disc” is also quite unusual in English, hence it is seemed appropriate to use it here. German quite naturally invents new terms by placing two nouns together, which is less easily done in English or French, so it was not possible to find an exact equivalent. The use of “her” to refer to the sun was problematic, since the French word for “sun” is masculine, whereas in German it is feminine, and in English it is a feminine concept. Omission was used to deal with this, as neither masculine nor feminine would have been satisfactory for different reasons.


    To translate “sweetish”, “douceâtre” was used. It can mean “sickly sweet” and “vapid”, among other things, yet the suffix “-âtre” is equivalent to the suffix “-ish”, for instance when used with colours, hence the choice and its suitability here. Use of “never-ending/endless” rather than “unstoppable” is almost like modulation as it is saying essentially the same thing just from different points of view; while “never-ending/endless” considers less the source, but more the stream of tears, “unstoppable” is more from the perspective of the source which then goes on to form the stream. These perhaps reflect differences in approaches in the respective languages.


    It is also interesting to note that throughout the German text, no capital letters are used, not to begin new paragraphs nor even at the start of common nouns, which would be grammatically correct. The use of no capital letters was retained in the French version, however conveying the lack of capital letters for common nouns was difficult, since French uses lower case letters to begin these anyway. This had to be lost in translation, since there was no real way of compensating for it.



  • Persian

    به نام خدا


    Tears in Autumn

    اشک در پاییز


    در پائیز

    چیزهای مخصوصی وجود دارند



    اگر آنها از قفس رها شوند

    که مأواشان است

    جنسیتها می¬خواهند با هم درآمیزند

    مردزن  زن¬مرد  مردمرد  زن¬زن

    همچون چهرۀ خجلت¬کشیدۀ قرص خورشید

    که برگها با او زرد شدند


    چیزهایی مخصوص

    هستند در پاییز



    نسبتاً شیرینند

    و خشک

    و گریز ناپذیر



    Tear(s) is Autumn

    There are some special things



    If they are freed from the cage

    - which is their home -

    The genders want to mingle

    Man-woman woman-man man-man woman-woman

    as blushed face of the solar disc

    by which the leaves got yellow


    there are something special in autumn



    are sweetish

    and dry

    and unstoppable



    S. H. Heydarian




    I translated ‘they leave the caves’ as ‘آنها از قفس رها شوند’ (they are freed from the cage), because of the rhythm and aesthetic observation.


    We do not usually use single abbreviations in Persian. On the other hand, ‘مرد’ and ‘زن’ are one-syllable short words which are used respectively for ‘man’ and ‘woman’ and can represent ‘male’ and ‘female’.


    I added three ‘and’s in the last stanza because of the lack of the coherence when translating literary into Persian. It is also very formal if we say ‘they are sweetish’ in Persian.





  • Romanian

    The owl and their eyes





    Bufniţa şi ochii ei

    În timpul zilei, ochii bufniţei bufnesc în lacrimi

    Şi nimic nu vrea să vadă.

    În lacuri de lacrimi ochii ei orbesc.


    Păcătoşii zic că-i rea.

    Că-i periculoasă, că-i urâtă.

    Vor să se ferească

    De ce le-ar putea primejdui.


    În nerăbdarea ei ascetică

    În locuri neaşteptate




    Ziua, noaptea,

    fapte nesăbuite. Nesăbuita!


    În timpul zilei bufniţa nimic nu vrea să vadă

    În lacuri de lacrimi ochii ei orbesc.



    Back Translation



    The owl and her eyes

    During the day the owl eyes burst in tears

    And she doesn’t want to see anything.

    In lakes of tears her eyes go blind.


    The sinners say that she’s mean.

    That she’s dangerous, that she’s ugly.

    They want to keep themselves away

    From what might bring harm to them.


    In her ascetic impatience

    In unexpected place

    She waits.


    She sees

    At day, at night

    disgraceful deeds. Disgraceful being!


    During the night the owl doesn’t want to see anything

    In lakes of tears her eyes go blind.



    Translator: Mirona Moraru


    Anant Kumar’s poem was translated into Romanian trying to render the author’s perspective. However, during the translation process, various changes, involving mostly lexical issues, had to be applied. In the following lines, I will try to explain and provide arguments for the challenges occurring in the Romanian version of the poem.


    The most important point that has to be clarified from the very beginning is the fact that I chose to translate the main ‘character’ of the poem with its Romanian singular form – instead of ‘owls’, I used ‘owl’. The reason for which this was done is the simple fact that in Romanian the equivalent word for plural would have been composed of four syllables, while the English version is monosyllabic. Thus, I chose the slightly shorter singular, which has three syllables (buf-ni-ţă vs buf-ni-ţe-le or the genitive/dative buf-ni-ţe-lor).


    In the first verse, ‘the owl eyes water’ was translated as ‘the owl eyes burst in tears’ in order to create the alliteration ‚bufniţă – bufnesc’ and to introduce the recurring motif of the tears ‚lacrimi’. The last line of this verse was also slightly modified, the translator preferring to create another alliteration – the ‚flood of tears’ was translated as a ‚lake of tears’ (lac de lacrimi).


    The most significant issue that I had to deal with in the second verse was its first line where I chose to paraphrase ‚The sinners took them for the bad guys’ with the Romanian version of ‚The sinners say that she’s mean’.


    The third verse gave the translator the opportunity of creating a pun – the Romanian equivalents for ‚unusual’ and ‚to wait’ have the same root – ‚aştept’. Thus, I chose to translate these two lines with the Romanian ‚ În locuri neaşteptate/ aşteaptă.’


    In the fourth verse, the issue that arose was in the last line, where I decided to translate the adjective ‚disgraceful’ and the noun ‚desecraters’ using the same word, ‚nesăbuit’, because, in Romanian it can be used as a partial homonym for these two meanings.


    All in all, the text did not present any exceedingly difficult issues when it was translated, thanks to the fact that no major culture specific problems occured. The symbol of the owl has the same connotation in the Romanian culture as it seems to have in Anant Kumar’s perspective.



  • Spanish

    Los búhos y sus ojos


    Durante el día, los ojos de los búhos lloran.

    Y no quieren  ver.

    En llantos los ojos de los búhos se quedan ciegos.


    Los pecadores creían que eran los malos

    los peligrosos, los feos.

    Quieren mantenerse  alejados

    de los que podrían traerlos mal.


    En la impaciencia ascética, esperan

    en lugares extraños.

    Los búhos.


    Ellos ven

    durante el día, por la noche.

    Los vergonzosos actos. Los profanadores.


    Al amanecer, los búhos no quieren ver nada. Los búhos.

    En un mar de lágrimas, se quedan ciegos.




    The owls and their eyes


    During the day, the eyes of the owls cry

    And they don’t want to see

    Weeping, the eyes of the owls go blind.


    The sinners believed that they were the bad ones

    the dangerous ones, the ugly ones.

    They wanted to keep themselves away

    From those that could bring them evil.


    In the ascetic impatience they wait

    in strange places.

    The owls.


    They see

    During the day, at night

    shameful deeds. The desecraters.


    At dawn, the owls do not want to see anything. The owls.

    In a sea of tears they go blind.



    Commentary: Amy McGregor


    This poem posed several challenges. Not least of all was the fact that as I have no knowledge of German, I was translating from a rough translation of the original from German to English and therefore did not have direct access to the source text.


    I started by doing a very literal translation from English to Spanish, and then went to the German text to look at features such as rhyme and metre. Although I do not speak German, I could guess more or less the extent to which the poem rhymed or contained important linguistic or syntactical features.


    Personally, I find translating poetry a constant process of decision-making and substitution. One must decide which aspect of a line or stanza to prioritise over another as it is usually impossible to re-create the same rhyme and rhythm in another language. Furthermore, if one feature must be left out to make room for another, it is sometimes possible to add that feature somewhere else in the line or stanza. Therefore I would change words or features where possible so that they kept to certain rules regarding rhyme and metre.


    For example, in the first stanza I have translated the Spanish as:


    Durante el día, los ojos de los búhos lloran.

    Y no quieren  ver.


    En llantos los ojos de los búhos se quedan



    The word ‘ciegos’ has been put on a separate line in order that the verbs “lloran” and “se quedan” rhyme. The original stanza makes all three lines rhyme but unfortunately I was not able to imitate this in my translation, so had to settle for alternate rhyme.


    Overall though, I would say that my translation stays fairly close to the English source text in terms of word use, but often strays in terms of stanza length and syllables per line. I hope that my translation conveys the bleak, melancholy and somewhat mysterious air to the poem.



  • English

    Translated by

    Alison Mewes and Mirjam Zdybel



    German to English

    The Owls and their Eyes



    During the day the owl’s eyes water.

    And they don’t want to see.

    Floods of tears blind them, the eyes of the owls.


    The sinners are called the bad.

    The dangerous, the ugly.

    They want to keep their distance

    From those who would bring evil to them.


    Biding their time in ascetic impatience

    In the most bizarre places.

    The owls.


    They see

    By day, by night.

    The acts of desecration. The desecrators.


    In the light of day they do not want to see anything. The owls.

    Floods of tears blind them.



The workshop took place in steps:


I. Rhythmic introduction of poems in original language.


II. Silent reading of working English translation of the introduced poems.


III. Selection of their one favorite poem/ piece of work by the translators.


IV. First round of questions / discussions between stundents and Anant Kumar regarding semantical understanding of the poems.


V. Translator at their work.


VI. Discussions during the work.



  • Tanslation Workshop

    Poetry Under  Pressure
    Translation Workshop, 24th May 2012.


    The Cardiff School of European Languages, Translation and Politics hosted a translation workshop under the supervision of Prof Alexis Nuselovici during which participants worked on a translation from German of two poems, one by Richard Pietraß and one by Uwe Kolbe. After a reading of the original poems by the poets, a literal translation in English, done by Alison Mewes and later revised by Marc Schweissinger, was given to the translators. The poets read their poems a second time and then answered questions about difficulties encountered by the translators on cultural, semantic, stylistic or linguistic levels. The translators worked on a draft translation in six target languages (Romanian, Catalan, French, Kurdish, Spanish, and Arabic) which they read to conclude the workshop.


    Some of the translations, in an amended version, are presented here with a back-translation in English and a commentary.


  • Poets Workshop

    Poetry Under Pressure

    Wales Millennium Centre, 25 May 2012


    At the workshop in the Wales Millennium Centre on 25 May 2012 Richard Pietraß and Uwe Kolbe were joined by Welsh poets for a round-table discussion. The Welsh poets were Jane Blank, Simon Rees, Annie Wilton-Jones, Rhys Trimble, and Mererid Hopwood who chaired the discussions. The aim of the workshop was to discuss the shared and differing conceptions of poetry under pressure in different periods of history in different political and cultural contexts. After a brief introduction to the history of Welsh poetry by Mererid Hopwood, the poets exchanged different experiences of marginalisation and cultural hegemony in Britain and East Germany in the 1980s. Because the Welsh poets were present at the previous events at which the focus was on the German poets and their former situation, there was a good basis for comparing the contemporary German and Welsh cultural context. However, the discussions were not reduced to political issues – also other pressures with which poets and their poetry are confronted with were discussed.


    Gerrit-Jan Berendse, School of European Languages, Translation and Politics, Cardiff University



    Uwe Kolbe (*1957) is from Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg. As opposed to the literary playfulness or language games of some of his contemporaries, Kolbe has placed himself in the tradition of the seemingly simple image right from the start. Kolbe’s texts search out the political and poetical implications to be found in everyday life.


    Kolbe worked as a translator of, among others, the Spanish poet Federico García Lorca. Between 1982 and 1987, he was the co-editor of the illegally distributed literary journal Mikado. Through publications such as these, Kolbe was able to ‘infiltrate’ the official literary circles in the GDR, and to continue publishing his own work at the same time.


    Kolbe writes the kind of poetry that straddles between the current moment and tradition, between societal doubt and poetic confidence. His techniques have become increasingly diverse in the 1990s: classical metre meets folk songs. Yet all is held together by Kolbe’s typical, unobtrusive precision of sound, phrasing and image.


    In 1988 he received the translation prize of the publishing house Henschel.


    Also visit:



    Richard Pietraß (*1946) was born in Saxony and studied Psychology at the Humboldt University in East Berlin. He worked for several official East German publishing houses and poetry journals, such as the famous Poesiealbum in the 1970s. However he has been sidelined because of his “internationalisation” as an editor and pubisher . His own poetry has been published in both official and sub-cultural quarters. More grouped to the “official” literature in the GDR, Pietraβ is able to map out the various profiles of state domination and repression.


    Having been active in both Saxony and East Berlin, Pietraβ is able to pinpoint geopolitical particularities when it comes to a “poetry under pressure”. And as an active member of the Saxon Academy of Arts he communicates with many contemporaries who have experienced similar conditions in the GDR.


    Pietraβ has a lot of experience with translation work. He translated and published work by Lars Gustafsson, Tomas Tranströmer and Seamus Heaney.


    Also visit:




Uwe Kolbe

Richard Pietraß

Date: 24/25 May 2012


We have invited to Cardiff University two poets from Germany, to explore with us the multi-facetted concept of “Poetry under Pressure”. Uwe Kolbe and Richard Pietraß have been poets writing in remarkable circumstances: they were writing, editing and translating poetry behind the Iron Curtain in the GDR; today they are poets writing in the contemporary Berlin Republic; they also wrote during the pressured era of transition between those two cultural contexts.

Germany, at the heart of Europe, has a cultural history full of pressures and fissures of various kinds. It also has a rich lyric tradition, which like the country’s cultural history, deserves to be better known in the UK. We hope that our visiting poets will allow us to bring that history and culture alive for a British audience.


Two open public events in Cardiff


The Poetry Reading

Date: 24 May 2012, 19:00-20:30

Location: Media Point, Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff


The German poets Uwe Kolbe and Richard Pietraß will be giving a public reading from their works, with new translations made over the preceding months. This reading aims to present specially selected poems which in some sense have been produced under pressure and highlight the range of these poets. We will make them accessible to a Cardiff arts audience by accompanying them both with an introduction to the writing and circumstances of Kolbe and Pietraß and also with translations into English and into Welsh. The translations have been made by Mererid Hopwood, Karen Leeder, David Clarke and Ruth Owen. All welcome.


"Pressure! What Pressure?" An introduction by Gerrit-Jan Berendse: Slides and Text

BBC Wales radio coverage.



Interview and Talks

Date: 25 May 2012, 10:00

Location: Room 2.18, 65-68 Park Place, Cardiff


We will interview the two poets about their roles in the various German cultures they have experienced. We will be talking about cultural policy, about poetry and censorship, about poetry magazines, urban poems, and poetry translation. In addition, there will be short talks from two invited speakers, from Birmingham and from Oxford respectively, one focussing on censorship in the GDR and the other on translating German poetry. There will also be a book presentation concerning memory of the GDR. This event is especially aimed at schools, book group members, and those keen to know more about the background to the poetry performed at the reading. A free buffet lunch will be provided afterwards. All welcome.



  “Poetry under Pressure” Interview with Uwe Kolbe und Richard Pietraß by Gerrit-Jan Berendse & Ruth Owen, Cardiff University


  “Dichten: GDR Poetry and the Pressure of Translation” 15-20 minute talk by Karen Leeder, University of Oxford


  “Whose text is it anyway? Writing, censorship and the Stasi” 15-20 minute talk by Sara Jones, University of Birmingham


  “The Politics of Remembering the GDR” by David Clarke, University of Bath

Audience questions welcome.


Two workshop events in Cardiff

Translation Students' Workshop

Date: 24 May 2012, 10:00-12:00

Location: Room 2.22, 65-68 Park Place, Cardiff


For MA Translation students. Supervised by Prof Alexis Nuselovici. The aim of the workshop is to produce new versions in a wide variety of languages based on two short poems by our visiting poets – “Notausgang” by Richard Pietraß and “Daß ich so bin” by Uwe Kolbe. The poets will read their poems aloud and participants without German will be able to use prose cribs prepared by MA student Alison Mewes to get a sense of the meaning, in order to create translations in their native languages that function as poems.


Poets’ Workshop

Date: 25 May 2012, 15:00-17:00

Location: Wales Millennium Centre, Cardiff


The poets from Germany will be joined by poets in Wales for a round-table workshop. The aim is to discuss their shared and differing conceptions of poetry under pressure. We will be discussing different experiences of marginalisation and cultural hegemony in the GDR, in Germany today and in Britain. The workshop is an opportunity to develop cross-European dialogues about the place of poetry and the conditions of its production and reception. The workshop is open to Wales-resident poets writing in English and Welsh and to our translators of the German poets. This event will be chaired by Mererid Hopwood, National Eisteddfod Chair, Crown and Literature medal winner for poetry. By invitation only.




Prof Gerrit-Jan Berendse

Position: Co-ordinator of the Languages, Cultures and Ideologies research unit Email: BerendseGJ@cardiff.ac.uk
Telephone: +44(0)29 2087 4534


Dr Ruth J Owen

Position: Co-ordinator of the Poetry Research Network Email: OwenR12@cardiff.ac.uk Telephone: +44(0)29 2087 5036


Supported by the Learned Society of Wales, Literature Wales, Cardiff School of European Languages, Translation and Politics and the Saxon Academy of Arts.






  • Richard Pietrass - Original poem

  • Uwe Kolbe - Original poem

  • English - Pietraß

    Emergency Exit


    My distress my guardian

    takes a walk

    but even then

    her presence is still felt


    She returns

    in Spanish boots [booty kins]

    or the deadly advice:

    from now on,

    to avoid the word death


    Walks away

    only to hit me more precisely


    I sit with my pencil

    And don’t know

    Through the back door of which poem

    I shall escape this time


    Alison Mewes &

    Marc J. Schweißinger




  • English - Kolbe

    That I am so


          To all my previous superiors

          The kindest explanation


    I am reshaping the sky

    More bad than blue

    I am waiting


    My calmness lasted

    For some millennia already

    I create poetry


    I surrender the world

    As it isn’t

    With song


    I don’t call

    I don’t follow

    Protest is not one of my words


    I know myself and know

    About the prohibitions

    Of which none affects me


    I create trouble

    And enjoy

    The unrest of others


    It is incomprehensible

    And without concept

    Even without politics


    I could provide work

    For a mental hospital

    With my head


    Alison Mewes &

    Marc J. Schweißinger


  • Romanian - Kolbe

    Ăsta sunt eu

                 foştilor mei superiori

                 le ofer cea mai blândă explicaţie


    Recreez cerul

    Mai învolburat decât albastru



    Pacea mea ţine

    Deja de câteva milenii

    Creez poezie


    Îmi găsesc locul în lume

    Şi ea nu are



    Nu vorbesc

    Nu urmez

    „Protest” nu folosesc


    Mă ştiu pe mine şi ştiu

    Ce-mi este interzis

    Nimic nu m-afectează


    Creez probleme

    Şi mă bucur

    De neliniştea altora


    E de neînteles

    Şi nimic nu-nseamnă pentru mine

    Chiar şi fără politică


    Aş putea fi foarte bine

    Un pacient într-o clinică

    Cu-al meu cap



    (Back translation into English)


    This is who I am

     to all my previous superiors

     this is the kindest explanation


    I recreate the sky

    More swirled than blue

    I’m waiting


    My peace has already been lasting

    For some millennia

    I create poetry


    I find my place in the world

    And she doesn’t have



    I don’t talk

    I don’t follow

    ‘Protest’ I don’t use


    I know myself and know

    What is prohibited to me

    Nothing affects me


    I make trouble

    And enjoy

    The unrest of others


    It is incomprehensible

    And doesn’t mean anything to me

    Even without politics


    I could very well be

    A patient in a clinic

    With my head

    translated by

    Mirona Moraru





    Kolbe’s poem was translated from English into Romanian, using the literal translation from German into English provided by Alison Mewes. The most important issues were raised by the English translation and were discussed during the actual workshop. Thus, most of the differences between the English translation and my back-translation have occurred thanks to the productive discussion all the translators had with the poet.


    One of the first issues encountered in the Romanian text was the translation of the verb in the first line. I chose to translate ‘reshape’ as ‘recreate’ as the connotation of the verb ‘recreate’ is much closer to the idea of the author than the translation of ‘reshape’, or at least, this is the impression that I got during the workshop. The next point that needs to be discussed regarding this first stanza is its second line ‘sky/ more bad’. In this case, the translator chose to use ‘swirled’ instead of ‘bad’. In Romanian, the word ‘învolburat’ has a very strong connotation, being perceived as something ‚bad’, something agressive, something grey and destructive. This choice might go beyond the author’s idea, but I consider that it can still be very much in line with his thoughts.


    In the third stanza I decided to replace the ‚As she isn’t/ With song’ with the Romanian version of ‚And she doesn’t have/ Lyrics’. At first, the change might seem drastic; however, the idea that I emphasize here is that song can be poetry and poetry can be song, even if it has lyrics or not. What is more, the Romanian translation of ‚song’ would have sounded rather odd in this line.


    Another important choice that I made in my translation occurs in the last line of the fourth stanza, where I decided to put the word ‚protest’ in inverted commas - in order to be clear for any Romanian reader that the reference is about the actual word - and then the continuation of this line ‚I don’t use’, which makes the line short and concise, expressing the same idea in a slightly different way.


  • Catalan - Pietraß

    Notausgang / Emergency Exit


    My distress my guard

    goes for a walk

    But even then

    She is not gone


    She returns

    in Spanish boots

    or the deadly advice

    from now on

    to avoid the word death


    Goes away

    to hit me with precision


    I sit with my pencil

    and don’t know

    through the back door

    of which poem

    I will escape this time



    (The translation into English is based on the one provided by Alison Mewes, with some alterations incorporated after the workshop discussion.)


    Sortida d’emergència


    El meu malestar la meva guarda

    surt a passejar

    però ni tan sols llavors

    no se n’ha anat



    amb unes botes de càstig

    o el consell letal

    que des d’ara

    hem d’evitar la paraula mort


    Se’n va

    per ferir-me amb precisió


    Assegut amb el llapis a la mà

    no sé

    a través de la porta de darrere

    de quin poema


    m’escaparé aquesta vegada



    Translated by:

    Montserrat Lunati





    First stanza:


    I have used ‘malestar’ and ‘guarda’ in the first line to avoid giving an explicit gender to the subject of the verb in the fourth line.  ‘Malestar’ is masculine but ‘guarda’ is feminine. The verb does not need an explicit subject pronoun in Catalan (the suffix of the verb indicates the person and the number of the verb).


     I have chosen ‘guarda’, a more literary and old fashioned word than its synonym ‘guàrdia’ because of its religious connotations - it is commonly used in the expression ‘àngel de la guarda’ (‘guardian angel’). Since the poem talks about death and life and ways of surviving in between – literature being one good strategy, as the last stanza of the poem seems to indicate – I thought the word was more appropriate.


    Second stanza:


    The concept of ‘Spanish boots’ does not make any sense in Catalan. I have translated the expression as ‘botes de càstig’ to keep the idea of punishment (‘càstig’) but also of danger (reference to the title) and of attraction, or even morbid/mortal seduction.


    I had thought of translating it as ‘botes inquisitorials’ or ‘botes d’inquisidor’, assuming that ‘Spanish boots’ included an historical reference to the Spanish Inquisition, but as I was not sure of the German connotations for ‘Spanish boots’, I have discarded it.


    Since the German poem does not seem to have the English alliteration/ repetition of ‘deadly’ and ‘death’, I have chosen ‘letal’ in the first case (instead of ‘mortal’) and ‘mort’ in the second.


    Last stanza:


    I have avoided the possessive before ‘llapis’ (‘pencil’) as it is a bit preposterous, even infantile and not elegant to use the possessive adjectives in Catalan when they are not necessary. However, I have added ‘a la mà’ (‘at hand’) to the word ‘llapis’ to signify clearly that literature, writing, is part of the (meta)reflection.


    The rest of the poem has not been particularly difficult, but I am not sure that I have not betrayed the German original. I find translating German poetry through English a very challenging exercise, only possible when you can trust the English version of the poem (at least in a literal version).



  • Romanian - Pietraß

    Ieşire de siguranţă



    Disperarea mea, paznica mea

    pleacă la plimbare

    Dar nici atunci

    nu mă părăseşte


    Se întoarce

    în cizme hispanice

    sau sfaturi mortale

    de a evita cuvântul moarte

    de acum încolo



    pentru a mă lovi cu exactitate


    Stau cu-al meu creion

    şi nu ştiu

    prin uşa din spate al cărui poem

    voi scăpa de astă dată.



    Emergency Exit  (back-translation)


    My distress my guards

    goes for a walk

    But not even then

    does she abandon me


    She returns

    in Hispanic boots

    or deadly advice

    to avoid the word death

    from now on


    Goes away

    to hit me accurately


    I sit with my pencil

    and don’t know

    through the backdoor of which poem

    I shall escape this time


    translated by

    Mirona Moraru


    Richard Pietrass’ poem was translated from English into Romanian, using the literal translation from German into English provided by Alison Mewes. Several challenges were encountered in this particular translation.


    If we attempt to analyze these challenges, we should first look at the last two lines of the first stanza. First, Romanian is a double negation language while English is not. Thus, a double negation had to be used in the Romanian translation – ‘nici’ and ‘nu mă părăseşte’. This aspect cannot be seen in the back-translation, as a double negation in English renders a positive statement. The second important point in this translated stanza is the choice to translate the original ‚she is not gone’ with ‚doesn’t abandon me’. The reason for which I decided to do it is that a literal translation would not have been appropriate in this case. The interesting aspect of this stanza in its English form, is that it allows the reader and the potential translator to interpret it and translate it in various ways.


    The second stanza presented another minor challenge – the ‚Spanish boots’, which I decided to translate as ‚Hispanic boots’, as ‚cizme hispanice’, which offered the possibility of connecting the first two lines of this stanza even more, by using the same group of sounds ‚ce’ at the the end of them. In the same stanza, the word order had to be changed so that the line of thought of the poem to be comprehensible in Romanian. The inversion ‚advice/ from now on/ to avoid the word death’ would not have made sense in the Romanian translation.


    The rest of the poem did not present any other major challenges, as the images created by the author are put into words in a very straigthforward way.



  • French - Pietraß

    Sortie de secours


    Ma détresse ma gardienne

    va se promener

    Mais ce n'est pas de cette manière

    qu'elle s'épuise


    Elle revient

    en camisole de force

    ou avance

    en suivant le conseil mortel

    d'éviter le mot mort



    pour me blesser avec plus de précision


    Je suis assis mon crayon à la main

    et ne sais pas

    par quelle porte de quel poème

    m'échapper cette fois-ci




    Emergency exit  ( Back translation )


    My distress my (female) guard/ minder

    goes for a walk

    But it is not in this way

    that she becomes exhausted/runs out


    She returns/ comes back

    in a straitjacket

    or moves forward/ progresses

    following the deadly/ mortal piece of advice

    to avoid the word death


    Goes away

    to hurt me with more precision


    I am sitting my pencil in my hand

    and do not know

    through which door of which poem

    to escape this time






    We translated Richard Pietrass' poem “Notausgang” from German to French, using English as a pivot language. This poem seems to be about poetry under surveillance. It is important to bear in mind that for any text, each person will interpret it differently, and therefore a translator will impose his/her particular reading of the text at hand. This is particularly the case with poetry, where ambiguities are abundant and it can be understood in many ways. With the poet present, this meant he could explain and justify his intended meaning, thus guiding the translation process in the way he had in mind. Nevertheless, this is far from meaning that there was then one way of translating, since interpretations are still open and many other factors contribute to the work produced. Indeed it could be said that the translator of a poet must be a poet, hence calling for creativity on the part of such translators.


    Firstly, there were several options of how to translate the title itself. Pietrass expressed how the sense in which he was using “Notausgang” in German, was the concrete, universal idea, and he gave as an example of that which exists in a cinema. To render this into French, “issue de secours” was a possibility, which may have a more pleasant sound to it, however the connotations around this term are more metaphorical, so considering the poet's intended meaning, “sortie de secours” is more appropriate and indeed it links more clearly to the physical image of “Hintertür”, that is “back door”, at the end of the poem.


    The fact that in German both “Not” and “Bewacherin” are grammatically of feminine gender also required attention, because it is ambiguous to which noun the “sie” in line four refers. Indeed, in certain languages grammatical gender does not exist meaning there would have to be a choice as to whether to neutralise “sie” or make the feminine more evident. For some languages, the use of “sie” would be problematic, since translations of one of or both “Not” and “Bewacherin” may not be feminine. “Ma détresse” seemed the most suitable rendering of “meine Not”, and also retained the feminine. Meanwhile, “ma gardienne” expressed “meine Bewacherin”. “Mon gardien” could have been used, however we opted for the feminine form, since in German “Bewacherin” has been used rather than “Bewacher”, so it seems the choice of female form has been intentional. “Meine Not” is personified and thus through use of feminine in languages that do not have grammatical gender, this emphasises the anthropomorphic nature.


    The phrase “is not gone” could be interpreted as physically lingering, or as the memory lingering, and preserving this ambiguity posed difficulties. The term “s'épuiser” can mean “to exhaust oneself” when referring to a person, and “to become exhausted” (that is, run out) when referring to resources, hence in a way it has senses of mental and physical dwindling, thus reflects both aspects of the source text word, even if not mirroring it exactly. Our choice of verb thus could apply to the object and its non-human state, or to the personified nature it has been given.


    Pietrass explained that “Spanish boots” is an instrument of torture relating to the Spanish inquisition. It seemed to us that the weapon itself did not necessarily have to be retained, the most important thing was not to lose the imagery the poet was trying to conjure up, and other terms may be more successful in other languages for reasons of rhythm, phonetics, and so on. We opted for an equivalent of “spanischen Stiefeln” conveyed as “camisole de force” meaning “straitjacket”. This is adopted rather than “bottes espagnoles” since it uses the same imagery of a torture weapon that constrains. Nevertheless, the poet did describe how as he was writing this poem, and using “Spanish boots” meaning to imply the torture device, he also owned some very pretty boots that were Spanish, so the term had double meaning for him. This is lost in translating with “camisole de force”.


    The order of “the deadly advice// from now on// to avoid the word death” was rearranged as “ou avance// en suivant le conseil mortel// d'éviter le mot mort”, where “avance” conveys the idea of “from now on”, which is necessarily placed first for syntactical reasons. Explicitation occurs with genitive “en suivant” in order to work grammatically with the verb “avance”.


    Pietrass spoke of death as being the ultimate topic, and therefore a subject that poets must deal with and can not skirt. The part of the poem that goes “to avoid the word death” is what is trying to be imposed upon poets under surveillance, yet he feels death is a subject that must be dealt with in poetry. This idea had to be preserved in French. Use of “mortel” and “mort” seems to convey the use of “tödlichen” and “Tod”, since in both cases one word derives from the other, and they appear close to one another in the poem, which seems to be for emphasis.



    French language group:

    Béatrice Gonzalés-Vangell Claire Gorrara

    Sally King

    Stephanie Munyard  Fabrice Roger



  • Kurkdish - Pietraß


    هة لًهاتنى لة ناكاو


    بيًزاري  وةك ثاسةوانمة

    دةضيًت بؤ طةشتيًك

    بةلًام هةتا ئيُستا




    بة جوتيًك بووتى ئيسثاني يةوة

    يان , ئامؤذطاريةكي  کوشندە

    لة ئيًستا  بة دواوة

    بؤ دوورخستنةوةى ووشةي مةرط



    دوور د ة  كةويًتةوة

    بؤ ئةوةى بة تايبةتى من ببينيًت


    لةطةلً ثيًنوسةكةم دا د ة  نيشم و


    ئةمجارة , ض هؤنراوةيةك  هةلًديًت؟

    لة دةرطايي ثشتةوة


    Back Translation


    A sudden escape


    My distress my guard

    Goes for a journey

    But even then

     it is not gone



    It returns

    In Spanish boots

    Or  a deadly advice

    From now on

    To avoid the word death

    Goes away

    To meet me particularly



     I sit with my pencil

    And don’t know

    Which poem will escape this time?

    Through the back door





    1. The title: the expression “Emergency Exit” is translated as " هە لًهاتنى لة ناكاو ", BT:  A sudden escape”. .There is a difference between the meaning of the expression used in the ST and its equivalent in the TT, because in the TL there is not a clear expression for this expression yet. Furthermore, the genre of the ST, which is a poem, may change the meaning of the ST as the culture and the authors intention plays a great role in determining the meaning lies behind the expressions used.


    2. Gender: it is difficult to know what is the word or expression which the pronoun “she” refers to in the first stanza, because gender issues and identity can be known by pronouns, proper names, and some other special names, but not abstract nouns like “distress”.


    3. Culture specific words: translating specific expressions which are part of specific culture cause problems for translators, as in this case they are among different alternatives such as foreignization, domestication or just translation the meaning using everyday words, e.g., translating “ Spanish boots”, which is translated into “ جوتيًك بووتى ئيسثاني , BT : a pair of spanish boots”, is not accessible to the TL readership and at the same time it is difficult for the translator to domesticate it as there is no equivalent for it in the TL culture. Furthermore, because poems usually express the poet’s feeling and emotion, it will be really difficult for the translator to translate or change the expressions which refer to the poet’s feeling and emotion.


    Fenik Ghafur




  • Kurdish - Kolbe

    تە نانەت  منیش

    هەموو باڵادەستەکانی پێشوو.....

    بەوپەڕی ڕاڤەیی دۆستانەوە


    هەڵئەکشێم بەرەو ئاسمان

    خراپتر لە ڕەنگی شین

    چاوەڕێ دەکەم


    هێمنیم درێژەی کێشاوە

    بۆ چەند هەزار ساڵێکە

    هۆنراوە دادەنێم


    من خۆم لە جیهاندا دەبینمەمەوە

    لەکاتێکدا ئەوناتوانێ

    بە گۆرانی

    من بانگ ناکەم

    من شوێن ناکەوم

    ناڕەزایی یەکێک نییە لە  ووشەکانی من



    من خۆم دەناسم  و دەزانم

    سەبارەت بە رێگریی

    کە هیچ شتێک پەیوەندی بە منەوە نی یە


    من شتێک دەهێنمە ئاراوە و

    چێژ وەردەگرم  بە

    وەرگرتنی کائارامی کەسانی دی

    ئەوە ئاڵۆزە و

    هیچ مانایەکی نیە بۆ من

    تەنانەت بەبێ سیاسەتیش


    من دەتوانم

    وەک نەخۆشێک لە نۆرینگەیەکدا

    مێشکم بخەمە گەڕ (دابین بکەم)


    Back Translation


    Even for me

           All previous superiors to me

           To most friendly explanation


    I vault to the sky

     worse than blue

    I wait


    My peace has already lasted

    For some millennia

    I create poetry


    I find myself in the world

    As she isn’t

    With song

    I don’t  call

    I don’t follow

    Protest is not one of my words


    I know myself and know

    About the ban

    That nothing belongs to me


    I bring about something

    And enjoy

    The unrest of the others

    It is incomprehensible

    And doesn’t mean anything to me

    Even without politics


    I could provide

    As a patient in a clinic

    With my head




    1. Period:  the word ‘millennia’ means “a period of 1000 years” and it is being translated as “هەزار ساڵ, BT: 1000 year”. However, the TT gives the same meaning, but usually the word “century” is used to refer to ‘a long period of time of doing or practicing something’ and not ‘1000 years’ in the TL.  In poetry, the translator should be aware that changing the meaning of one word in one stanza may change the meaning of the idea of that stanza. For example, although the word “century” is more common in the TL, but in the SL this word may be used to refer to “Jesus” as   basically the word century or 100 years counted from what is believed to be the year of the birth of Jesus.


    2. Gender: it is difficult to know what is the word or expression which the pronoun “she” refers to in the third stanza, because gender issues and identity can be known by pronouns, proper names, and some other special names.


    3. Ambiguity: the first three lines of the fifth stanza includes ambiguity as the three line together may  include two different meanings:


                I bring about something

                And enjoy

                The unrest of the others


    As it is not clear what does ‘something’ refer to, this stanza may hold two different meaning.  It could be “I bring about something and enjoy it and don’t care about the unrest of the others” or “ I bring about something that I enjoy to take the unrest of the others”. Therefore, the translator tries to translate this sentence as literal as possible so as to include the same sense of ambiguity and the same situation repeated in the last stanza  as regard to “with my head”.


    Fenik Ghafur


  • Spanish - Kolbe

    La razón por qué yo soy así

    A todos los que eran mis superiores

    Les ofrezco una explicación cordial


    Remodelo el cielo

    Más mal que azul



    Mi paz ya ha durado

    Unos milenios

    Invento la poesía


    Renuncio al mundo

    Porque falta vida


    No mando

    No sigo

    No sé protestar


    Me conozco

    Y me he enterado de las prohibiciones

    Pero a mí, no me afectan


    Creo problemas

    Y disfruto

     La inquietud de otros


    Es incomprensible

    Y no me importa nada

    Incluso sin la política


    con la mente que tengo

    podría ser paciente

    en un hospital psiquiátrico



    Literal back-translation:


    The reason why I am so


    To all who were my superiors

    I offer a cordial explanation


    I reshape the sky

    More bad than blue

    I wait


    My peace has already lasted

    A few millennia

    I invent poetry


    I surrender the world

    Because it lacks life


    I do not order

    I do not follow

    I do not know how to protest


    I know myself

    And I have heard about the prohibitions

    But they do not affect me


    I create problems

    And I enjoy

    The unrest of others

    It is incomprehensible

    And it does not bother me at all

    Even without politics


    With the mind that I have

    I could be a patient

    In a psychiatric hospital




    The main challenge I found when approaching this task was that not only was I not using the original German text to work from, the English translation had also been translated for a second time and had changed considerably since the workshop took place. Therefore, I had a lot of doubts that could not be answered when it came to carrying out a translation, and I had to follow my own interpretation. I mostly stuck fairly close to the English text, but there were times where my own personal interpretation or understanding of a line or stanza meant that I would make any changes necessary to preserve the meaning I wished to convey. For example, in the fourth stanza, the English reads:


                I surrender the world

                As it isn’t

               With song.


    I interpreted this more to mean that the world was devoid of life and vitality, rather than actual music, therefore in Spanish I translated it as “lacking life.”

    When approaching any translation, the translator is often presented with the dilemma of how much freedom they are allowed in the translation process. Issues of faithfulness and which elements are most important to preserve in the target text are difficult enough when translating from one language to another, but even more so when translating a translation of the original, and not the original itself. However, this can also be an exciting opportunity to see how meaning develops and changes through each translation. This exercise is a good example of where the translator is fairly free to do as she or he wishes, deciding for themselves what they wish to preserve or prioritise in the process.


    Amy Mc Gregor



  • Poetry In Translation

    A pine forest:

    The trees straight and tall

    Their branches dark. They do not move

    Those black trunks. Shadows fall, deep as the

    High in the canopy the wind is a turbine

    Though here is the silence of needles.


    Oaks on high ground:

    Stunted, twisted, they are bent, all the same

    Their branches, dripping lichen, flowing away

    To a kinder air. Everything is mutated:

    The greens to gold and rust; the proud bark
              scabbed with grey.

    They have escaped the axe

    But not the relentless wind from the East.



    Here is a vast plain that meets the sky like a
              mathematical equation.

    There is no point of reference, only that

    the land is land because it absorbs light;
              the sky is a luminous agate.

    There are no trees. It is engineered via a

    You cannot see. But can you feel it, that all-

               consuming rhythm?

    Into the black dykes syllables drop without a


    Never to return.



    Janet Blank

  • Songs With Spirits

    The translation of poems is always a risky business. Just as the German verb for this undertaking reminds us -  ‘übersetzen’ – (literally to ‘cross over/to carry over’), it’s a bit like crossing a river, and woe betide the ferryman who does not know the treachery of the strait. To reach the other side, you need to map out your crossing carefully. You must decide what you might be prepared to jettison should the going get tough. And at times, you will need to make a choice between equally precious cargo – will you favour rhyme or rhythm, assonance or consonance, scansion or reason, let alone meaning? The danger, of course, decreases if you have the opportunity to meet the maker of the goods – the poet of the original text. This is better than a compass and a star chart; this is a crossing with a life jacket. You may still fall into the turbulent waters, but the chance of survival is better.


    And so it was in the Cardiff Poets under Pressure colloquium. In preparation for the event, I had translated works by both Uwe Kolbe and Richard Pietraß, and by the time of the meetings, I had whittled my draft offerings down to about four poems per poet. These were the translations that seemed to me, at least, to be more convincing as works in their own right. They were the poems whose Welsh clothes seemed to fit them quite well, and the slightly altered designs seemed to suit them. Nevertheless, there were still questions to be asked, and to my relief and delight, the poets’ patience was graceful. Diolch Uwe. Diolch Richard. What did x exactly mean? What were the circumstances of poem y? Was z anyone in particular? Answers to these kinds of questions are hugely helpful.


    By the evening of the reading, it seemed that the translations were sufficiently polished … and yet, even then, listening to the poets read their work, I found myself making changes. A word of introduction, an emphasis, a pause, all these elements add to one’s understanding of a text and deepen one’s acquaintance with it. Ultimately, it is genuine familiarity with a text and long experience of it that allows the translator to hope that the spirit of the translation becomes ever closer to the spirit of the original. Perhaps this is one of the main things I take with me from the Poetry under Pressure event, namely, a reminder that essentially, carrying poems over from one shore to another is a trade in spirits, not words – the words are but the vessels.


    M. Hopwood




  • Poetry Under Pressure  – a reflection

    When I received the invitation to be a participant in this event, I was excited but, also, at a loss to know how I could make a useful contribution to the Poets’ Workshop. What was there in my knowledge or experience that could in any way compare with the trauma of repression that the Uwe Kolbe and Richard Pietrass had known?


    However, as I prepared my notes, I realised that the majority of my poems are written as a result of pressure of some kind. Even my occasional descriptive piece will usually have a response to stress or pressure within its layers. Encouraged by this realisation and aided by the knowledge gained through the Poetry Reading and the Translation Workshop (both excellent events), I approached the Poets’ Workshop with rather more confidence.


    My fellow Welsh poets seemed to have had similar feelings to my own but the discussion brought out a number of pressures and pressure-causing situations which we had experienced in our writing. These included:


    • Needing to preserve the poetry tradition of Wales

    • Being a woman poet in a field that has been the preserve of male poets

    • Coping with domestic abuse

    • Being an incomer

    • Living in a repressive religion-based culture

    • Overcoming language-based divisions within Wales

    • Choosing subjects which one is considered not to have a right to write about, eg a patriot from an ‘enemy’ country.


    These situations can result in censorship, including self-censorship, difficulty in being published, the need to use pseudonyms, etc, so the Welsh poets felt some degree of fellowship with the German poets, who had experienced writing within the repressive German Democratic Republic.


    However, the pressure that caused the most discussion was Political Correctness, seen  by at least two of the Welsh poets (one of them being me) as being the most repressive of all the current pressures, resulting in censorship, self-censorship, publishing difficulties and, at its worst, prosecution and dismissal from employment. Also, whilst other pressures can result in an enhancement of the individual’s writing, ‘PC’ can impoverish it.


    These discussions formed the greater part of the workshop, though the nature of censorship was also considered. There was so much more that we could have covered and everyone was so enthusiastic about offering their thoughts but, even more, about hearing from the other members of the group. There was strong evidence of mutual respect and of the willingness to share ideas and encouragement. We met as strangers, in most cases, but parted as friends.


    I came away from the workshop feeling that I had being able to contribute usefully to the discussions but that I had learnt so much from the others. I wish the event could have continued for longer but time was an enemy. With renewed enthusiasm, I must now get back to my writing!


    A. Wilton-Jones


  • Poetry Under Pressure

    To even call such a conference to take place in a Celtic country in the far West of Europe stirs things up, for in Wales, like in many small countries with powerful neighbours, there is a relatively silent but desperate battle to the death going on. As R.S Thomas writes in

    ‘Welsh Landscape’


               ‘ To live in Wales is to be conscious...

               Of strife in the strung woods,

               Vibrant with spent arrows.

               ...You cannot live in the present

               At least not in Wales.’


    Despite what some may say, English is in no danger at all in Wales! It has equal status with the indigenous language of Britain/Wales and, now that all Welsh speakers are bi-lingual, it must be a matter of sheer will and determination to keep the minority language alive at all.


    It is not enough to let it linger without support. The centuries of systematic, official purges against the language have meant that it has been ‘disappeared’ in the majority of the population of Wales (it is thought that only 1 in 5 speak Welsh).  Yes, then, I believe that even to chose to speak or write in Welsh in the public domain is a political act in itself. As we sat together around the table, our common language was English and, excepting our German visitors, though everyone else was long- term resident in Wales, only three of the people in that room spoke the language. So, what’s my first point? To use Welsh in the public domain in Wales is an act of guerrilla warfare, and is often perceived as such by non-Welsh speakers. All Welsh language poetry therefore is ‘poetry under pressure’.


    2. Censorship is alive and well and living in Western Europe!


    Although ‘the state’ now allows criticism of itself and its institutions, I would argue that ‘free speech’ is still the myth it ever was. Western states champion certain groups and adopt a ‘hierarchy of offence.’ Debate around issues involving these groups is carefully policed and any whiff of debate forbidden.

    Writing or even speaking in a negative manner about these groups carries not only the penalty of censorship but can result in the perpetrator being dismissed from their place of work and even imprisoned.  These penalties are no longer confined to the workplace or the public sphere; people reported speaking or writing in the realm of their social networks are also liable*.

               (* See the recent case of Swansea student

               Liam Stacey).


    3. Poetry is recognisably poetry to the ear, even in a language one doesn’t understand.


    I thoroughly enjoyed the readings at Chapter on Thursday night. I have fluent Welsh and English, so was obviously able to appreciate the poems’ meanings in translation, but I found that I enjoyed the original German versions almost as much. The work had the recognisable rhythm, congruence, cadence and patterning of poetry. I realised just how much authority poetry has; how much it demands from its listener in terms of attention and thus, how much respect should be accorded to the poet! The experience has reinforced for me how I want to strive constantly for the urgency of music in my work, and not be content merely with conveying a message.


    4. A warning


    Be careful, all friends from overseas, of being bi-lingual. As we know in Wales, as soon as everyone can speak the more powerful language fluently, it is seen at best, as self-indulgence; at worst as a deliberate act of provocation, to use the indigenous language. The tide of English is rising all over Europe, do not let your children get too good at it!


    Janet Blank


  • Zwei Tage In Cardiff

    Zwei Tage sind nichts. Zwei Tage sind eine Welt. So lehrte es die Erfahrung in Cardiff. Die insgesamt vier Veranstaltungen am 24. und 25. Mai 2012, zu denen Richard Pietraß und ich, auffallend unterschiedliche Vertreter der deutschsprachigen Dichtung mit ostdeutschem Hintergrund, an die Cardiff University eingeladen waren, bedeuteten eine solche Welt. Sie waren in ihrer Unterschiedlichkeit dazu angetan, uns als Teilnehmer und auch Protagonisten zu fordern.


    Mit dem Übersetzungs-Workshop  stand aus der Autorenperspektive am Anfang ein großes Vergnügen. Nichts ist schöner für den Schreiber von Gedichten, als an der Arbeit des Übersetzens aktiv, als Gesprächspartner teilnehmen zu können und ihre Ergebnisse, die Neudeutung des Textes in der Zielsprache zu goutieren. Die Studierenden, die sich anhand von wörtlichen Annäherungen je eines Gedichts von Pietraß und Kolbe annahmen, repräsentierten auf dem engen Raum des Seminars sechs Sprachen – Arabisch, Englisch, Französisch, Katalan, Kurdisch und Spanisch. Es war eine Freude, die Texte – selbstverständlich vorläufige Fassungen – am Schluss des forcierten Geschehens in den verschiedenen Sprachen zu h ö r e n . Die Auseinandersetzung mit sprach- und kulturbedingten Problemen, etwa der Konnotation eines Begriffs, die rasch erreichten und zu überschreitenden Grenzen des wortwörtlichen Übertragens erweitern nicht nur Horizonte des Dichtens, sondern grundsätzlich des jeweiligen Sprachverständnisses. Eine perfekte Übung auch für diejenigen, die nicht das literarische Übersetzen zum Beruf machen werden. Vielleicht eine Anregung für manche, es ins Auge zu fassen.


    Die öffentliche Lesung am selben Abend war gut besucht. Dass es neben der angenehmen Atmosphäre im Media Point des Chapter Arts Centre vorbereitete, professionelle Übersetzungen gab und sie erstklassig gelesen wurden, setzte Maßstäbe. Dass mein rhetorisch ziemlich ‚durchwachsenes‘, längeres Gedicht „Preußens Quelle“  dreisprachig, nämlich deutsch, walisisch und englisch vorgetragen werden konnte, war ein persönliches Highlight, für das ich ausdrücklich den Beteiligten Dank sagen möchte – namentlich Mererid Hopwood für ihr Engagement.


    Der 25. Mai galt der titelgebenden Problemstellung der Tagung, der „Dichtung unter Pression“. Die Auseinandersetzung mit der Rolle von Schriftstellern und Literatur unter den Bedingungen der geschlossenen Gesellschaft, ob nun in der DDR und insgesamt östlich des Eisernen Vorhangs oder in anderen Diktaturen, ist ein komplexes Feld. Es wäre langweilig, sich dabei nur auf die eigene Erfahrung zu stützen. Der Beitrag von Sara Jones aus Birmingham hätte mehr Diskussion im Anschluss verdient. Er war ein starker, sachlicher Überblick, und die Vortragende signalisierte mehrfach, wie souverän sie in der Materie steht. Dagegen waren die Beiträge von uns beiden Autoren „naturgemäß“ weniger präzise. An Punkten der Zuspitzung hätte mehr Gespräch gut getan, das in der Kürze der Zeit bzw. auch durch die Interview-Situation beschnitten war. Dass diese Geschichte als eine pars pro toto akademisch, lebens- und zeitgeschichtlich, vor allem aber als moralische Fallgeschichte bis heute interessiert, steht außer Frage. Mit meinem eigenen Hintergrund und meiner Arbeitsweise, die das historische und ethische Element nie ablegt, kann und will ich die weitere Auseinandersetzung damit nicht vermeiden.


    Das Zusammentreffen von walisischen und zwei Autoren mit ostdeutschem Hintergrund unter dem titelgebenden Motto der Veranstaltung war der gewagteste Teil des Ganzen. Das von Mererid Hopwood kenntnisreich eingeführte und moderierte Gespräch konnte seinen Fokus nicht wirklich finden. Das lag in der Natur der Fragestellung, deren Beantwortung sich – vorhersehbar – individuell aufspaltete. In dem offenen Gespräch unter Kollegen ging es um gänzlich verschiedene Begriffe und Begründungen von Druck, der auf Poesie und auf das Arbeiten von Autoren ausgeübt wird oder eben nicht. Eine der angesprochenen war das Problem der Konfrontation zweier Sprachen auf dem Gebiet von Wales. Die eine ist historisch älter und mit ihrer großen Dichtungstradition singulär, die andere ist erfolgreicher, übt in gewisser Hinsicht bis heute kolonisierenden Druck aus – dies aber nicht nur auf den britischen Inseln, sondern bekanntlich auch in anderen englisch dominierten Gebieten und längst über diese hinaus. Ein Beispiel für ein mögliches, brutales Ergebnis solcher Vorgänge, wenn sie staatlich sanktioniert bzw. gewollt sind und sich mit Gewalt paaren, wurde von Alexis Nuvelovici in das Gespräch getragen: das Schicksal des Jiddischen, das in einem sehr großen Teil Europas gesprochen, geschrieben, gesungen und mit den Menschen, deren Sprache es war, vernichtet wurde.


    Einsichten, die wir in die Tradition der Bardendichtung  und heutiger, lebendiger walisischer Dichtung und Sprachpflege erhielten, auch im Vortrag (Chapeau für Rhys Trimble)waren faszinierend. Diskutiert wurden selbstverständlich die Rolle des Marktes, die marginale Stellung von Dichtern im Kanon des Kulturbetriebes bei gleichzeitiger hoher Wertschätzung der Gattung, die Stellung des gedruckten Wortes überhaupt, auch einschränkende öffentliche Sprachkonventionen wie die der political correctness, wenn sie als Zensur betrieben werden oder zur Selbstzensur führen. Das alles sind Fragen, die uns nicht als Einzelne, sondern weltweit als Berufsgruppe betreffen. Es tut gut, sich auch dazu über Länder- und Sprachgrenzen kollegial zu verständigen.

    Resümierend kann ich von einer intensiven Erfahrung berichten, für die ich allen, die dafür gearbeitet und gesorgt haben, vorbereitend wie aktiv begleitend, Dank sage. Zwei Tage – eine ganze Welt.


    Uwe Kolbe

    Berlin- Charlottenburg, den 19. Juni 2012



  • Two Days In Cardiff

    Two days are nothing. Two days are a world.

    My experience in Cardiff suggests as much. The four events on 24th and 25th May 2012, to which Richard Pietraß and I were invited, as two remarkably different representatives of German-­‐ language poetry from an East German background, constituted a world in this sense. They were conceived in their variety as opportunities for us as both

    participants and protagonists.


    From an author’s perspective, the translation workshop at the outset was enjoyable. Nothing is nicer for a writer of poems than to be able to join in discussing actively the work of translating and to savour its results, the new meaning of the text in the target language. The students, tackling one poem by each of us poets, by means of literal approximations, represented at the

    workshop six languages: Arabic, English, French, Catalan, Kurdish and Spanish. I enjoyed hearing the texts in the different languages – albeit in draft versions – at the end of the forced part of proceedings. Thinking about linguistic and cultural problems, such as the connotations of a word, the limits on literal translation which are quickly reached and need to be surmounted, extend not only the horizons of poetry but also of fundamental understanding in and between languages. It’s a good exercise even for those who do not intend to make literary translation their profession. And

    perhaps a chance for some to consider it for the first time.


    The public reading on the evening of the same day was well attended. Besides the pleasant atmosphere at the MediaPoint in Chapter Arts Centre, I appreciated the well-­‐prepared professional translations, read in a first-­‐class manner.  That my somewhat ‘overgrown’, longer poem “Prussia’s

    Source” was read out in three languages – German, Welsh and English – was a particular highlight for me and one for which I would like to thank those who took part – including Mererid Hopwood –

    for making possible.


    May 25th was devoted to the issue which gave the events their title, namely “Poetry under Pressure”. Thinking about the role of writers and literature in a closed society, whether in the German Democratic Republic or more widely to the East of the Iron Curtain or in other dictatorships, is a complex area. It would be tedious to draw only on one’s own experience. The talk by Sara Jones was worthy of greater discussion than was possible on the day. It offered a

    powerful and factual overview, revealing a souvereign knowledge of the material. What we as authors had to say was naturally less precise. We could have talked at greater length about some of the key points raised within the constraints of the interview situation. This history is certainly interesting academically, biographically, in terms of the social history of the era, but above all as a moral case study. In light of my own background and my own way of working, never setting aside the historical and ethical dimension, I cannot and indeed don’t want to avoid continuing to think it through.


    Bringing together Welsh poets with two German poets of East German background, under the title motto for the events, was the most daring part of the whole enterprise. The encounter, introduced and moderated by Mererid Hopwood, did not have one single focus. It was in the nature of the issue

    – predictably – that ideas fragmented individually. The free discussion among colleagues used different concepts of and reasons for the pressure exerted on poetry and on the work of authors, or not, as the case may be. One of those discussed was the problem of a confrontation between two

    languages in the region of Wales. One language is historically older and has its own distinctive poetry tradition, the other more successful and in a certain respect exerts even today a colonial pressure – although this doesn’t just apply to the British Isles but to other English-­‐dominated areas and beyond. One example of the possible, violent outcome of such processes was mentioned by Alexis Nuselovici during the conversations: namely, the fate of Yiddish, which in a large part of Europe was spoken, written, sung and then destroyed along with the people whose language it was.


    Insights we were given into the bardic tradition and today’s living Welsh poetry, and the practice of keeping the language alive in performance (thanks to Rhys Trimble), I found fascinating. We discussed the role of the market, the marginalisation of poets in the canon of the cultural industry at the same time as the genre is valued highly, the status of the printed word per se, and also the restrictive use of public language conventions such as political correctness, when it is

    pursued in a censoring way or leads to self-­‐censoring. These are questions which affect us not only as individual poets but as members of a profession. It is always good to find common ground as colleagues across the borders of countries and languages.


    In summary, I can report that it was an intense experience, for which I would like to thank all those involved in the work of preparation and participation. Two days –
    a whole world.


    By Uwe Kolbe,

    translated from German by
    Ruth J. Owen


    Written in Berlin-­‐Charlottenburg, Germany, 19 June 2012