Discussion of poetry translation at Arkadia bookshop, Helsinki – my thoughts

Maceochi's Language Learning

This evening I went to a public discussion of poetry translation at the ever-wonderful Arkadia International Bookshop. This was the November edition of Tiukku-klubi, a “Public Information Cultural Factory”. Hosted by Laura Serkosalo, the three guests, all distinguished writers and translators, talked about their experience of translating poetry. The guests were Henriikka Tavi, poet and translator of Germani, Tanja Roini, translator of Spanish, German and French who has received a Finnish government award for her work, and Jyrki Vainonen, whose speciality is Irish poets such as Heaney, Muldoon and Yeats. All translate into Finnish.

To my taste, the discussion was far too translator-centred, with questions about the translator’s attitude, approach and working methods, and how they interacted with the original poet. What I felt was missing was the translator’s appreciation for the effect the original poem has on speakers of the source language and the attempt to bring…

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