Poetry in Translation Project
reVERSible Belfast-Berlin is a translation workshop bringing together three poets from Belfast and three poets from Germany to translate each others‘ verse into their own language. Poetry is unique among literary genres in being made for this kind of dialogue. Condensed into manageable amounts of text, poems often react like seismographs quickly and immediately to social and political tendencies of their own time. This also involves the most various and elaborate ways of forming language, which can expand the creative potential of the target language when the poems are translated.
This project will involve three Belfast poets and three German- speaking poets travelling to Berlin in September 2022. They will be working together for four days in small groups each comprising a Northern Ireland poet and a German poet to translate a selection of each other’s poems. To help cross the language barrier gloss translations will be prepared beforehand and a language mediator will be assigned to each group to support the poets throughout the workshop.
What is created in the course of the workshop are new versions of the poems in the other language. This process has proved to be perfect for poetry, since the poets are themselves invested in the work of translation and are themselves being translated by poets. What is more, the intense and intimate nature of the work process engenders conversations about the meaning of words which almost necessarily turn into intercultural dialogues about context, and into aesthetic, cultural and social adventures which the poets often continue long after the project has finished.
As with all our extracurricular projects, we are keen to bring insights and learning to bear on teaching and open up discussion with our students and wider audiences.
In addition to the translation workshops then, there will be some public readings of the poems and their new translations in Berlin and Belfast, and a bilingual publication produced by Haus für Poesie. The Seamus Heaney Centre will also host a return visit from the three German-speaking poets with readings and workshops in Belfast, later in the academic year.
VERSschmuggel - reVERSible Belfast-Berlin is a joint project of Haus für Poesie and the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University, Belfast.
It is funded by the British Council’s International Collaboration Grants, which are designed to support UK and overseas organisations to collaborate on international arts projects.