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.
The rocks under our feet shape every aspect of human existence
From agriculture and art to our emotional and psychological weather.
The only image that remains in my mind from school is a map on my geography teacher’s wall showing, as its title elegantly proclaimed: “A delineation of the strata of England and Wales, with part of Scotland; exhibiting the collieries and mines, the marshes and fen lands originally overflowed by the sea, and the varieties of soil according to the variations in the substrata, illustrated by the most descriptive names.”
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.
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.
“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.”
Research associate Dr Sergio Lobejón Santos has built a YouTube channel to share videos from events and research from the Poettrio experiment. It’s just gone live so visit and see what we’ve been up to!
Watch the Translation as Collaboration event curated by research associate Dr Rebecca May Johnson, which saw translators, writers, artists and performers from across the UK present collaborative translations to an audience in Newcastle.
Soon we’ll post videos readings produced during Poettrio Translation workshops, as well as panel discussions featuring principal investigator Professor Francis Jones, co-investigators Professors Bill Herbert and Fiona Sampson and translators and visiting Dutch poets involved in the project. Watch this space.
To showcase the fruits of a week’s hard work translating poetry at Newcastle University, and to bring together creative practitioners and translators from all over the UK, The Poettrio Experiment hosted a public event with a focus on collaboration.
[For the uninitiated: the poet-language advisor-poet trios work collaboratively and in person, and the poets are not necessarily experts in each other’s language. However, because of the contemporary hegemony of English as global lingua franca, the Dutch poets in this experiment were more familiar with English than the English poets were with Dutch. In our academic analysis, we explore how trios function, from the patterns of communication that arise between participants, to the strategies used to tackle problems of poetry translation and how moments of creativity arise in a trio setting.]
During the second half of the evening, the concept of collaborative translation was opened up to wider interpretation by poets, composers, artists and experimental translation practitioners visiting from University of Birmingham, University of Warwick, Roehampton University and beyond, as well as Newcastle University. This half brought in poets and creatives who had not previously engaged with translation in their own work to reflect on how they could re-imagine the process.