I am delighted to introduce to you this special chapbook featuring poems from The Poetry Translation Centre, brought to you through the dedication and hard work of the remarkable Saraba team. The guiding principle of the PTC is a radical poetic internationalism and so we were thrilled when Adebiyi Olusolape contacted us in April 2011 to tell us of Saraba’s desire to draw your attention to our translations. We hope this will be the first of many collaborations.
I founded the Poetry Translation Centre in 2004 (thanks to Arts Council England’s generosity) with two aims. Firstly, to ginger up poetry in English through translating contemporary poetry from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Poetry always thrives through translation— think of Wyatt and Sidney bringing the sonnet into English, or Pound’s astonishing Cathay and its enduring impact on Modernism. However, it is startlingly apparent that, despite the fact that Britain is now home to many people from all over the world, we have not yet learned from their remarkable poetic heritage. So, the second aim of the PTC is a hope that translating their poetry might be an excellent way of engaging with the countless thousands of people now settled in the UK for whom poetry is the highest art form as it is particularly, for anyone from an Islamic background, and what better way to make them feel welcome than to translate their most highly esteemed poets into English using the skills of talented linguists working closely with leading British poets (such as Jo Shapcott, Sean O’Brien, Lavinia Greenlaw and W. N. Herbert), with the additional hope that these brilliant translations might engage English-speaking audiences too and revivify an interest in translation itself?
I very much hope that this selection of our translations will encourage you to visit the PTC website where you can read hundreds more poems we have translated as well as listen to recordings made by the poets themselves reading their work. You will also be able to watch videos of their readings and see countless photographs, many featuring our events and—crucially!—our parties. We all look forward to your joining us soon.
— Sarah Maguire, The Poetry Translation Centre, U.K.
Photo: Slice of Chic