PoetTrio research associate Dr Sergio Lobejón Santos has lovingly subtitled and edited the readings and discussions presented at the Translation as Collaboration event in Newcastle in July.
Visit our YouTube channel to watch the individual segments – and below is the full hour!
I have read the American author Jhumpa Lahiri’s New Yorker essay “Teach Yourself Italian” a number of times. It’s an account of more than ten years spent struggling to acquire a new language, a roll-call of textbooks, tutors, grammar drills and trips overseas, which ends on a heartening note: “Translated, from the Italian, by Ann Goldstein.”
The message of the piece is that if Jhumpa did it, you can do it, too. The journey from linguistic exile to a new home is long, but it is possible.
Except not for me. I’ve been living in Berlin for over a year. I have attended classes of varying quality, downloaded apps, puzzled over children’s books and watched bad German sitcoms, yet my own journey might be characterised as a near-constant state of panic, brain fade and isolation, interrupted here and there by brief flashes of insight and comprehension.
In truth, I feel a greater kinship to a different American author, Mark Twain, who concluded his 1880 essay “Die schreckliche deutsche Sprache” (“The Awful German Language”) by arguing: “A gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in 30 hours, French in 30 days, and German in 30 years.”
Just another 29 years to go, then. And I certainly would not consider myself “gifted”. In a fit of irritation, both at myself and a language “so slippery and elusive to the grasp” (Twain again), I sought out some linguistic prodigies to ask them where I might be going wrong.
“It’s important not to mind too much if you sound ridiculous, or childlike,” said Professor Francis Jones, reader in translation studies at the University of Newcastle. “Speaking a language is probably one of the highest-level cognitive skills we do, perhaps equivalent to learning to fly a jumbo jet, and yet we all learn at least one.”
Limestone, found across the world, is a sedimentary rock, ceaselessly reshaped by time and water, made from the bones and shells of vanished oceans.
In Limestone Country, the prize-winning poet Fiona Sampson paints a lyrical and very personal portret of four particular limestone landscapes: a farming hamlet in Perigord, southern France, the Karst region in Slovenia, a rural perish in England, and Jerusalem, a limestone city, that has long shaped people’s believe, ways of life, and imagination.
These stories, vital and human, are told through farming routines, snapshots of daily life, and through encounters in streets and fields with wildlife and human history.
Limestone country is a meditation on how people liv in a landscape, how they alter it, and how the landscape, in turn, shapes them. It is also a love letter to a sedimentary rock, exploring how different communities around the world are bound together by their shared geology.
Sands Films is a busy film studio and production facility set up in an 18C warehouse in Rotherhithe since 1975.
Sands Films Cinema
82 Saint Marychurch Street
SE16 4HZ London
I loved this map, though only as an object of beauty and of some strange knowledge that I knew I would never possess.
At 15 I was too foolish to take an interest in geography; if I had, I would have known that this beautiful object was “the map that changed the world”, paving the way for Darwin’s theories and revolutionising the study of geology. It was created by William Smith, a blacksmith’s son whose life was dogged by betrayal and poverty (including a spell in debtors’ prison), but who, in later life, gained something of the recognition he deserved.
On 22nd March 2018 PoetTrio principal investigator Professor Francis Jones will give a lecture about the PoetTrio project and collaborative translation as part of the Translating and Interpreting seminar series at the Centre for Translation and Intercultural Studies School of Arts, Languages and Cultures, University of Manchester, UK.
Simon Building, Room 4.63
Check out the website and the Twitter account for more detail.
photo: The British Library
A few months ago, Poettrio researcher Dr Rebecca May Johnson chatted to the British Library’s inaugural translator-in-residence, Jen Calleja.
Hear about how Jen got into literary translation, how she built a career in translation, what she’s got planned for her tenure as the British Library, how she approaches translating prose and poetry, and much more.
Poettrio poet Professor Sean O’Brien discusses Paradise Lost on BBC Radio 3’s show, The Essay:
“Milton’s Paradise Lost was first published 350 years ago. It remains the most important long poem in the English language. It came out of a time of revolutionary upheaval in Britain and is a political poem as much as a theological one. Poet Sean O’Brien discusses Milton’s adventurousness. Producers: Tim Dee and Siobhan Maguire.”