Poem Podcast from the Poetry Translation Centre

This week’s poem is 'Birds' by Kajal Ahmad from Kurdistan. The poem is read first in English translation by Mimi Khalvati and then in Kurdish by Kajal Ahmad.

In her essay on translating Kajal Ahmad Mimi Khalvati says "The sweetness and simplicity of the voice, the political and personal passion, the directness and immediacy of the address, were qualities that struck me most, and which I decided were the most important to preserve. I also liked Kajal's sense of humour and the fable-like quality of the poems, evoking so clearly her cultural heritage. In my translations, I also wanted to preserve some sense of the Kurdish language, while helping the poems to sit naturally in English. In considering the strengths and weaknesses of my own voice, I thought that the biggest danger for me might be in losing some of the simplicity that Choman had achieved so gracefully and, to this end, decided to stick as closely as possible to these first versions."

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Direct download: PTC_Kajal_Birds_3.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am UTC

This week's poem is 'When Morning Breaks ' by Corsino Fortes from Cape Verde.  The poem is read first in English translation by Sean O'Brien and then in Portuguese by Corsino himself.

Born and brought up on the Cape Verdean island of São Vicente, Corsino Fortes studied in Portugal and spent much of his working life abroad, so while his work is concerned with giving voice to the life of his own country, his perspective is often that of an exile, and exile and redemptive return are among his recurring themes. Significantly he uses the oral language Cape Verdean Creole, as well as standard Portuguese (sometimes one or other, sometimes the two blended together) - itself a powerful statement reinforcing the idea of the islands' distinctive African nature. Fortes's began writing in the dying days of colonial rule, and he uses his work to reclaim, almost to recreate, his newly reborn country. But while the islands' post-colonial nature is constantly conspicuous, these are not obviously political poems, or at least not as we usually understand that term; they do not deal with the country's governments, leaders or freedom-fighting heroes, but present the islands almost mythically - a living place imbued with creative, regenerative forces. 

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Direct download: PP_Corsino_When_Morning_Breaks_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am UTC

This week's poem is by Shakila Azizzada from Afghanistan. The poem is read first in English translation by Mimi Khalvati and then in Dari by Shakila herself. 

Shakila has spent many years in the Netherlands and her poetry reflects both her Afghan heritage and her European influences. She also writes in Dutch and translates her own poetry both ways.  She is a very musical poet,  tender and intimate, but also uncompromising in her political poems, and sometimes surreal – a poet of range and courage.  Many of the poems, or parts of them, were relatively straightforward to translate and, perhaps because of the European influence, seemed to slip happpily into English.  Shakila’s voice is not as adorned as some poetry in Farsi that I have read, and is idiomatic and sometimes humourous or satiric.  I speak colloquial Farsi and this of course was a great help as, with Zuzanna’s help, I could understand most of the original.  Zuzanna also recorded a tape for me of the poems we were working on and this, more than anything else, helped me to try and find equivalent idioms while replicating the musical phrases.

If you enjoy this recording and would like to find out how you can support the Poetry Translation Centre please visit our website.

 

Direct download: PP_Shakila_A_Feather_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am UTC

This week's poem is by David Huerta from Mexico.  The poem is read first in English translation by Jamie McKendrick and then in Spanish by David himself.

If you enjoy this recording and would like to find out how you can support the Poetry Translation Centre please visit our website.

David Huerta's poems frequently turn on images that are experiences in themselves. In an eerie piece, he describes a poem by Gottfried Benn:

A flower fell apart in the middle of an autopsy
and the doctor who'd cut open the corpse
saw how those petals landed among the inner organs.

This may only be a poem, but it takes hold of the speaker, removing him from his daily obligations. It is ‘something I must / come to terms with it won't be easy but I have to do it'.

If ‘Poem by Gottfried Benn' recalls the violence of ‘Nine Years Later', it also revisits the earlier poem's cathartic purpose. Huerta turns away from questionable generalizations about history to concentrate on the experience of the individual. But he doesn't stop there; he casts a steady gaze back on the self that is the repository of that experience. This is not confessional poetry and he pokes fun at the autobiographical figure with his ‘imperious solipsistic moustache, / the hirsute landscape of minor characters'.

From Three Mexican Poets by Tom Boll

Direct download: PP_David_Poem_by_Gottfried_Benn_2.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:00am UTC