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TRANSLATION THURSDAY: MEDITERRANEAN TOUR

Posted on February 21 2019

Across and around the Mediterranean Sea cultures meet, mix and clash. It is a space where people and their times connect and divide. Joined by strong feelings, powerful experiences and innovative views, poets from Mediterranean countries reveal the distinctiveness of their cultures and histories, as well as their individual uniqueness in their own interpretation of life, past, present and future.

Recently, several amazing authors from Mediterranean countries have been published in English translation, as listed in the PBS quarterly Bulletin. Here are our top five and further reading suggestions.

#1 The Play of Waves by Immanuel Mifsud (ARC Publications, 2017, translated by Maurice Riodan, with introduction by Charles Briffa) is a collection of poems by the notable Maltese poet. Divided into six sections, his works deal with lyricism, mental issues, the Self, travel, the interaction between body and spirit, sexuality, concluding with a short cycle about Medusa. Time is a main theme, particularly the sense of waiting.

#2 Negative Space by Luljeta Lleshanaku (Bloodaxe Books, 2018, translated by Ani Gjika) was last year’s PBS Spring Translation Recommendation. Place is the major motif in this poem selection. Responding to a life under autocratic rule in Albania, Lleshanaku revisits her (and her generation’s) past by focusing on “what lacked”.

Bloodaxe Books has also published Lleshanaku’s first collection in English Haywire: New & Selected Poems (2011, translated by Henry Israeli, Shpresa Qatipi and the author), where she also reflects on her personal past and her country’s history. This book was also a PBS Translation Recommendation at the time of its publication and was shortlisted for the Corneliu M. Popescu Prize is 2013.

#3 Beast by Irene Solà (Shearsman Books, 2017, translated by Oscar Holloway and the author) is the first English-language collection (bilingual edition) of poems by this Catalan author, exploring gender, identity, sexuality and desire.

#4 Before Lyricism by Eleni Vakalo (Ugly Ducking Presse, 2017, translated by Karen Emmerich) collects six intertextually connected book-length poems by this Greek writer, shedding light on modern Greek poetry.

#5 Epitaphios (translated by Rick M. Newton) and Romiosini (translated by Bill Berg) by Yannis Ritsos (Smokestack Books, 2014) also draw upon Greece's history and the author’s experience.

Keep up to date with all the latest new publications of poetry in translation by becoming a Poetry Book Society Translation Member!

With every Bulletin you will also receive the quarterly selected poetry in translation book, chosen by expert poet selector George Szirtes. All Translation members also get 25% discount on all of the books mentioned above.

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