Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Found in Translation

On Monday night at the celebration of Derbyshire's twinning relationship with Toyota City, I was lucky enough to have my poem 'Litton Mill' translated into Japanese in front of an international audience. I've only had one experience of seeing my work translated before (as part of Sheffield's City Books project) and certainly no experiences of the translation happening live! It was strange and wonderful to hear the words so differently and I was struck by how much longer the poem seemed in Japanese, which I was told was partly to do with grammatical structure, the need to explain references in context.

I wondered how the poem came across to a Japanese audience, whether the references to a very specific place in Derbyshire could ever 'translate' fully and whether the poem's sense had shifted along with its sound. I was particularly struck by the rhythm with which the translator read the Japanese version of 'Litton Mill', which definitely retained some of the rhythms of the original. It was a humbling and intriguing experience, especially knowing that I'd never have the capacity to translate a poem from a different language into English myself.

Thank you to everyone who made Monday night so enjoyable!

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