In 1999, UNESCO decided to declare 21 March as World Poetry Day. Today is a day dedicated to the promotion of poetry, human creativity in its various forms, and also linguistic diversity. On this occasion, we want to broaden our horizons and suggest recently published poetry in translation from around the world. Here are our top five recommendations.
#1 So At One With You (2018) published by the Poetry Translation Centre, Kayd Somali Arts & Culture and Redsea Online. This is a bilingual anthology recalling ten years of Somali Week Festival and the collaboration between the PTC and Kayd Somali Arts & Culture. It features the works of eighteen Somali post-colonial poets and of various translators, among which UK poet W.N. Herbert and Somali translator and scholar Said Jama Hussein, who are also the book’s editors and who have written the book’s introduction.
If you are interested in Somali poetry in translation, a recent publication not to miss is The Sea-Migrations by Asha Lul Mohamud Yusuf (2017), named the Poetry Book of the Year 2018 by The Sunday Times, published by The Poetry Translation Centre and Bloodaxe Books, translated by Clare Pollard, Said Jama Hussein and Maxamed Xasan ‘Alto’. This powerful Somali woman poet discusses current themes such as war and displacement, having lived in exile in the UK for many years, and Tahriib, the search for a better life in another country.
#2 Orbita: The Project (2018), published by ARC Publications and translated by Kevin M. F. Platt. Orbita is a 1999-established collective of Latvian poets who write in Russian. Their poems mix genres and play with cultural boundaries. This book introduces Orbita’s art and innovative power.
#3 My Voice: A Decade of Poems from the Poetry Translation Centre (2014), published by The Poetry Translation Centre and Bloodaxe Books. This inspiring, diverse anthology celebrates the work and mission of the PTC, marking ten years of poetry in translation. It includes 111 poems (from 23 languages: from Arabic to Zapotec!) by 45 world poets, co-translated by several UK poets.
#4 The Parley Tree (2012), edited by Patrick Williamson, published by ARC Publications. This bilingual (French-English) anthology explores the works of key voices in French-speaking African countries and in the Arab World across various poetic genres and generations, hoping to deconstruct commonly applied divisions and distinctions.
#5 Jade Ladder, Contemporary Chinese Poetry (2012), edited by W.N. Herbert and Yang Lian, with Brian Holton and Qin Xiaoyu, published by Bloodaxe Books. This anthology sheds light on the great diversity within Chinese poetry, in terms of experiences, genres, perspectives, in the wave of the profound historical changes and the social and cultural turmoil of recent times.
If you want to read more Chinese poetry in translation, Bloodaxe Books has recently published Narrative Poem by Yang Lian (2017), translated by Brian Holton. This bilingual edition, also PBS Summer 2017 Translation Recommendation, is a very personal work, constructed around family photographs spanning from 1955 to the mid-1970s, and expressing the poet’s experience of exile and world travel.
To keep up to date with the latest poetry in translation and bilingual editions from around the world, consider becoming a Poetry Book Society translation member. Every quarter our expert poet selector George Szirtes chooses his favourite new poetry in translation book to deliver to our members alongside a full commentary in our Bulletin. Moreover, translation members get 25% discount on the books mentioned above.