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Translation workshops

by Karen van der Eng on June 13th, 2010

Have you ever tried to walk down the street gracefully carrying about 35 dictionaries?

Saskia and I are coordinating the translation workshops during the festival. Under Rosa’s formidable guidance, we are inviting every poet and editor who steps foot on the theatre’s grounds during the festival to participate in translating poems by Carlos López Degregori and/or Tomas Lieske. I’ve been looking forward to this event very much: I love poetry, I love searching for right word, and I am sure I will love the participants (in a professional way – we have been told not to love the poets too much).

However lovely it is to be in an intern at Poetry International – it really is, we’ve been given so much freedom and responsibility – sometimes we get to do true “intern tasks”. Such a task was given to Saskia and me the other day. Could we please pick up an enormous pile of dictionaries at the library? Of course we could, though it’s a miracle I am able to use my fingers to write this after lugging them back.

This trip could have been a pain. It could have just been annoying and tiring. It wasn’t, though. As we were dragging the books along with us, Saskia noticed a big Poetry International stand at the library, with bright festival posters, the red and yellow seeming to burn with fire. The magazines – piles of them – never looked better. And then we noticed the banners. I forgot about my heavy load when I saw the Layla & Madjnun articles. So, there I stood – eye to eye with articles about “my” programme. As I read over the words I myself had written for the magazine (a couple of lines, really), and the words more qualified writers had written for me (about two pages’ worth) – I suddenly realised that other people were actually reading this. Not just Poetry International people, people involved in the programme or the people I have been harassing about it, but also strangeers who are just visiting the library and notice the stand. People who might come to the festival. People who will actually come to the festival. I stood there a little while taking this in. And I looked over and noticed Saskia doing the same.

Saskia was gazing at the Wallace Stevens section of the stand, and we realised we had done a pretty good job. There was only one thing to do. We had to take a picture. So we did. Because we made it. The festival – featuring our programmes – will happen! We can be proud of ourselves. For some reason I can’t remember if we high-fived at that point, but if we didn’t, Sas: high five! In fact, high five to everyone involved in making this festival happen! And if you are reading this, dear blog reader, and you see me running around next week, feel free to throw me a high-five yourself. Oh, and please do participate in the translation workshop so that we didn’t drag those dictionaries around for nothing. It will be lots of fun!

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