Poet Amanda Gorman caused a stir in the United States during the inauguration of President Biden. In Europe, the translation of his poems has been at the center of controversy in the literary world, highlighting extraordinary racial tensions. “We control our divisions because we know we have to put our differences aside first,” he writes in The Hill We Climb.
Newly published in the United States, the poem, which was attacked by Capitol, was recited during the inauguration of the new US President, turning its 23-year-old writer into an event.
The message of unity came to the fore on the other side of the Atlantic, where we mainly discussed … the skin color of the translators. Do they have to be black? Isn’t it time to inject more diversity into the very white literary world?
In the Netherlands, journalist and activist Janice Dule published an inflammatory article in the Daily Volgograd at the end of February: “A white translator for Amanda Gorman’s poem: The Unthinkable. “
A week later, the translator in question, Marேke Lucas Rijneveld, resigned. Mullenhof Publishing then apologized: “We missed a great opportunity to offer a site to a young black woman in the Netherlands and Belgium. [néerlandophone] Without translating his work. “
The incident angered Spanish translator Nouria Barrios (Lumen editions, published April 8). “This is the triumph of symbolism in the face of creative freedom,” he wrote in El Pais.
Because this controversy is lively in Spain. Catalan translator Victor Opioles was challenged by his teacher in early March. “They are looking for a different profile, a woman, young, enthusiastic and preferably black,” he explained. The publisher, the Universe, is not involved in its “Project B”: in Barcelona, readers will wait.
The same goes for Paris, where Ford plans a release on May 19 entitled La Colin Que Nous Ascension. The translator is Belgian-Congolese singer Luce and Yakuza, with first experience in the field.
In Swedish, he is not a singer, but a man, sticking with Berkett v Pestiger (released by Polaris editions on Tuesday). Born to American parents, Jason Diaquita, according to Timbuktu, “The poem has a lot and lots of rhymes, so it feels like a rap text. This is very familiar to me, ”he said on SVD television.
“Fiasco” in German
In German, Den Hegel Hinaf was released by Hoffman and Combe editions on the same day as him in the United States. But according to the Austrian daily Der Standard, the translation is “a failure” that misrepresents the “stylistic figures or strong images” of the original edition.
Three women worked there. Among them, the Vienna newspaper lamented that “Hadija Haruna-Olkar, who is black, and Kabra Gomez, who is of Turkish descent, are less active in the field of literature and journalism than in anti-feminist and anti-racist activities.”
The mystery surrounding the name of the Finnish translator. “We have sent our plans for translators to the author and his agent, and are awaiting a response,” publisher Sarah Duranemi told Helsing’s Daily on March 4. According to her, the process was “not normal”.
In Italian, the publisher Carsanti retained the English title, The Hill We Climb, and chose it with the approval of Amanda Gorman and the young (white) translator, Francesca Spinelli. He tried to ignore the controversy in the Netherlands, “a heated and somewhat confusing discussion in which everyone said what they thought, often without talking about the same thing,” he told the website Il Libraio.
Hungarian publisher Open Books publisher has launched an original project: under the guidance of author Krista Bedis, the translation is being carried out in the framework of a literary workshop with young Roma. We do not know when it will end.
Outside Europe, some translations are planned. For example, in French-speaking Canada, at this time we are content to study the American woman in her own language.
In Brazil, the choice fell on journalist, poet and black translator Stephanie Borges. “This is a very important debate: we hope it will continue to be highly represented in the literary world,” said Dalita Peris, the person in charge of foreign rights youth for Indrinseka editions.
Hughes HONORÉ / AFP
Poet Amanda Gorman caused a stir in the United States during the inauguration of President Biden. In Europe, the translation of his poems has been at the center of controversy in the literary world, highlighting extraordinary racial tensions. “We control our divisions because we know we have to put our differences aside above all else,” he writes …