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If you didn’t know it, 2019 is International Year of Indigenous Languages. As literature is one of the many means which can help to raise awareness of traditions and cultural diversity, today we would like to give you a few suggestions to explore this topic further through poetry, and, in particular, to enjoy poetry in translation from the indigenous languages of the UK.

The extremely diverse languages of the UK were the topic of the Modern Poetry in Translation magazine Spring 2019 issue titled ‘Our Small Universe, focusing on, for example, Romani, Turkish, BSL, but also Welsh, Shetlandic and Ulster Scots. On the MPT’s website, you can find some of the selected poems in audio form as well as a playlist of readings in the different dialects and languages of the UK!


Restricting the scope of today’s post to Welsh in particular, here are three reading suggestions for you.

#1 Bondo by Menna Elfyn (Bloodaxe Books, 2017), a Welsh/English collection from a well-known Welsh-language author. With Bloodaxe Books, Elfyn has also published the Poetry Book Society Recommended Translations Murmur (2012), that is a book of poetry of murmurs, sounds and meditation.

#2 The Bloodaxe Book of Modern Welsh Poetry. 20th-century Welsh-language poetry in translation (Bloodaxe Books, 2003) – a Poetry Book Society Recommended Translation edited by Menna Elfyn and John Rowlands. This is a wide-ranging anthology of 20th-century innovative poetry translated into English from Welsh, which includes the work of different contemporary poets such as T. Gwynn Jones, R. Williams Parry and Saunders Lewis, Alun Cilie and Dic Jones, Pennar Davies, Bobi Jones Geraint Løvgreen and Ifor ap Glyn.

#3 Mamiaith by Ness Owen (Arachne Press, August 2019). Owen’s first collection, this book reflects on themes such as family, motherhood, language, place and belonging. The book’s title, which means ‘Mother tongue’, symbolises the author’s relation to a language she speaks but cannot write fluently. While the majority of the poems in this collection are in English, five are translated into Welsh (with the help of Sian Northey). In addition, one poem, originally in Welsh, is translated into English by the author.

Mamiaith will be launched on 9th August at 7pm at the Ucheldre Centre in Holyhead.

(Box office: 01407 763361 / Everyone welcome / Croeso cynnes i bawb!


To keep up to date with the newest poetry in translation and bilingual books, why not become a Poetry Book Society Translation Member? Every quarter, you will receive the PBS Translation Choice alongside a full commentary in our Bulletin.

This month, take advantage of our special Women in Translation Month 20% discount by using the promotional code WIT2019 at the checkout when purchasing a Translation Membership on our website. The offer is valid until 31st August!

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