Dutch poet declines assignment to translate Gorman’s works
MARCH 11, 2021
THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — A writer who was chosen to translate American poet Amanda Gorman’s work into Dutch has handed back the assignment following criticism that a white author was selected to translate the words of a Black woman who is the youngest inaugural poet in U.S. history.
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, who last year became the youngest writer to win the International Booker Prize with her novel “The Discomfort of Evening,” announced the decision in a Twitter post Friday.
A Dutch translation of “The Hill We Climb,” the poem Gorman recited to wide acclaim at the inauguration of U.S. President Joe Biden, was scheduled to be released at the end of March by publisher Meulenhoff.
The American poet Louise Glück was born 1943 in New York and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Apart from her writing she is a professor of English at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut. She made her debut in 1968 with Firstborn, and was soon acclaimed as one of the most prominent poets in American contemporary literature. She has received several prestigious awards, among them the Pulitzer Prize (1993) and the National Book Award (2014). Louise Glück has published twelve collections of poetry and volumes of essays on poetry. All are characterized by a striving for clarity. Childhood and family life, the close relationship with parents and siblings, is a thematic that has remained central with her. In her poems, the self listens for what is left of its dreams and delusions, and nobody can be harder than she in confronting the illusions of the self. But even if Glück would never deny the significance of the autobiographical background, she is not to be regarded as a confessional poet. Glück seeks the universal, and in this she takes inspiration from myths and classical motifs, present in most of her works. The voices of Dido, Persephone and Eurydice – the abandoned, the punished, the betrayed – are masks for a self in transformation, as personal as it is universally valid.
The Triumph of Achilles (1985) and Ararat (1990) Glück found a growing audience in USA and abroad. In Ararat three characteristics unite to subsequently recur in her writing: the topic of family life; austere intelligence; and a refined sense of composition that marks the book as a whole. Glück has also pointed out that in these poems she realized how to employ ordinary diction in her poetry. The deceptively natural tone is striking. We encounter almost brutally straightforward images of painful family relations. It is candid and uncompromising, with no trace of poetic ornament. It reveals much about her own poetry when in her essays Glück cites the urgent tone in Eliot, the art of inward listening in Keats or the voluntary silence in George Oppen. But in her own severity and unwillingness to accept simple tenets of faith she resembles more than any other poet, Emily Dickinson. Louise Glück is not only engaged by the errancies and shifting conditions of life, she is also a poet of radical change and rebirth, where the leap forward is made from a deep sense of loss.
Excerpt from “An Afternoon with Tranströmer in Stockholm”
I mention Century of the Death of The Rose: The Selected Poems of Jorge Carrera Andrade, this gift book to Tomas Tranströmer only in that his readings in world literature were more extensive than one might imagine. In the 1960s, when books from different parts of the world traveled slowly, it might seem strange a Swedish writer would know of a writer writing in Spanish from a distant country like Ecuador. Ecuador is a small country in northwestern South America, bordered by Colombia on the north, Peru on the east and south, and the Galápagos Islands and Pacific Ocean to the west. Remarkably, Tomas found access to the poetry of Jorge Carrera Andrade in an anthology, Modern European Poetry, edited by Willis Barnstone (New York: Bantam Books, 1966), which was available at that time in Europe. Carrera Andrade had already lived on and off for decades in France as Chancellor of the Ecuadorian consulate in Marseilles, Consul General in Le Havre, Ambassador to France in Paris, and principal contributor to management at UNESCO, also in Paris. With a French wife and fluent in French, as well as a translator of French poet Pierre Reverdy into Spanish for book publication, Carrera Andrade was seen by some in French and global literary circles as more European than Latin American. Carrera Andrade in Europe was Ecuadorian and remained so throughout his life in every country he traveled to in service to his native country as a diplomat and writer.
Steven Ford Brown
Jorge Carrera Andrade (1903-1978), Ecuadorian poet, historian, author, former Ambassador and Official Representative and member to The United Nations in New York City, is recognized with Jorge Luis Borges, Vicente Huidobro, Gabriela Mistral, Pablo Neruda, Nicanor Parra, Octavio Paz and César Vallejo, as among the first South American posts to rise to international prominence in the Twentieth Century.