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Everything you need to know about the world's great writers and emerging voices is being collected and shared on the English PEN Online World Atlas. Head over to the Atlas to create (or edit) a profile for your favourite author or book, leave a comment or contact another user, and discover your next great read. We believe that great writing has the power to change your life and change the world, one book at a time.

The Atlas is proud to be partnering with the Hay Festival's Beirut39 contest, celebrating Beirut's year as UNESCO World Book Capital, to find the hottest authors under 40 of Arabic origin. Nominations are open until August 24th, 2009.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Poetry in Translation: An Event, a Boxset, and Essential Information for Literary Translators

Exiled Writers Ink, a London-based group that "aims to facilitate the wider dissemination of work by writers in exile and to ensure they have a platform…to give a high profile to translators who enable the work of exiled writers to become accessible… and to develop literary creativity in the broadest sense within the refugee communities" will be focusing on the Near East for the December installation of their monthly Poetry Café salon. The Near East: Jew and Kurd brings together musicians and writers, including Moris Farhi (a former chair of English PEN's Writers in Prison Committee), Nazand Begikhani, and Kamal Mirawdeli. And there are open-mic slots after the featured performers, so dust off your poems and join in!

The Poetry Translation Centre is celebrating its amazing 2008 World Poetry tour with an innovative boxset of ten dual-language chapbooks, collecting work by the poets from the tour with facing-page translations by leading British poets collaborating with translators. The boxset can be ordered by emailing the Centre, and each chapbook is available singly from co-publishers Enitharmon, whose extensive catalogue of poetry is both lyrical and beautiful.

Fantastic sample poems are appearing on the Centre's homepage. It being autumn in London, I'm particularly drawn to this one, "Small Fox," by Sudanese poet Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi, translated by Sabry Hafez and Sarah Maguire:

Suddenly - a small fox, playful,
floods your wounded heart with joy
He searches your face with his singular gaze,
knows you're at one with his vagabond stance

That very night I longed for you,
I missed your exquisite arousal,
I yearned for the moon that knew our names
That shattered glass forgotten,
the skittish squirrel gone -
leaving us everything: night, and wine

And as for me - I am drunk with thirst,
I am shaking with desire for you -
but here there's not a fox to be found.

The site also hosts the poem in Arabic, audio recordings in Arabic and English, and more poems by Al-Saddiq Al-Raddi. It also lets you trace the translation process, with a literal version of each poem and the 'worked-up' version by the poet collaborating with the translator. If you're interested in translating poetry, the site has a wealth of material, including recordings of lectures and workshops.

English PEN has been running a Writers in Translation program for several years, and the committee are frequently asked for information on becoming a literary translator (primarily fiction and non-fiction), presses who publish translation, and how to approach them. Here, we're making their tried-and-tested guidelines public for the first time. The Literature Department of the Arts Council of England also have a very useful and detailed list of UK publishers who publish work in translation. So if this blog has inspired you to bring the work of a favourite author into English publication, these are the tools you need!

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