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TRANSLATION THURSDAY: LONDON BOOK FAIR WEEK-INSPIRED POETRY

Posted on March 14 2019

After three days of showcases, business appointments, seminars, performances and networking, the 2019 London Book Fair ends today. For the publishing world, including that of translation, one of the highlights during these three days is the London Book Fair Market Focus initiative, which throws a spotlight on a particular country or geographical area with the aim of fostering trade and cultural contact, launching a series of collaborations and inspiring fresh ideas.

This year, the London Book Fair Market Focus was Indonesia. Taking inspiration from this, here are our weekly translated poetry recommendations.

Our LBF-inspired key title is Sergius Seeks Bacchus by Norman Erikson Pasaribu (translated by Tiffany Tsao), which won the PEN Translates Award last year and is going to be published next week by Tilted Axis Press. Sergius Seeks Bacchus is the debut poetry book by this young Indonesian writer voicing the experience of being gay and part of the ethnic and religious minority. It is both funny and tragic, poignant, diverse.

Another translated poetry book by an Indonesian writer that we suggest is Kill the Radio by Dorothea Rosa Herliany (ARC Publications, 2007, bilingual edition), translated by Harry Aveling and introduced by Linda France. This book is a selection of recent poems by the author dealing with feminist themes and the socio-political developments in her 1990s Indonesia.

To give you more LBF-inspired food for thought and to build cultural bridges and open borders through literature, here are our top four recommendations and further reading suggestions of translated poetry from the previous LBF market focuses: the Baltic countries in 2018 and Poland in 2017.

#1 Shortening the Candle’s Wick by Estonian couple Ly Seppel and Andre Ehin (Little Island Press, 2018, translated by Ilmar Lehtpere). The two poets are husband and wife. Their different styles mix in this book, in which selected poems by both are brought together in the form of a ‘poetic dialogue’ between spouses.

#2 Then What by Lithuanian writer Gintaras Grajauskas (Bloodaxe Books, 2018, translated by Rimas Uzgiris). The poems in this book are a bittersweet reflection on the socio-economic changes that the writer’s country underwent post-1990.

#3 Come to Me by Latvian writer Karlis Verdinš (Arc Publications, 2015, bilingual edition, translated and introduced by Ieva Lesinska). Also an academic, critic, librettos and song lyrics writer and translator, this successful and experienced author talks in this books about the often overlooked details of the everyday.

#4 Finite Formulae & Theories of Chance by Polish writer Wioletta Greg (Arc Publications, 2014, bilingual edition, translated by Marek Kazmierski). In this book, the author explores a century of her family’s past from the World Wars and Communism to her life as a migrant in the UK.

If you want to learn more about Indonesian, Baltic and Polish poetry in translation, do not miss the following publications. If you are looking for poetry anthologies, check out Arc Publication’s New Voices from Europe and Beyond series which includes the bilingual collections Six Estonian Poets (2015), Six Lithuanian Poets (2008), Six Latvian Poets (2011) and Six Polish Poets (2009).

Or, if you enjoy pamphlets, have a look at Modern Poetry in Translation’s latest digital ones: Silencesilencesilencesilencesilence (2018), on Estonian poetry, Words about Words (2018) on Latvian poetry, How to Swim (2019) on Lithuanian poetry. The next pamphlet (forthcoming) will feature Indonesian poets, and will be curated by Indonesian writer and Modern Poetry in Translation’s Poet in Residence Khairani Barokka.

To learn more about this talented Indonesian poet, check out her debut collection Rope (2017), published by Nine Arches Press. She focuses in her work on topics such as environmental issues and impact, as in Indigenous Species (Tilted Axis, 2016) and disability. She co-edited, with Sandra Alland and Daniel Sluman, the anthology Stairs and Whispers (Nine Arches Press, 2017) which explores UK disabled and D/deaf poetics. 

To keep up to date with the latest poetry in translation books, why not becoming a Poetry Book Society Translation member? With every Bulletin, PBS Translation Members also receive the quarterly selected poetry in translation book, chosen by our expert poet selector George Szirtes. In addition, Translation members get 25% discount on all of the books mentioned above!

 

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