Translating the work of English-language poets has raised the bar for literary translation among postgraduate students at the University of Salerno.
Literary translation is a skill that sits comfortably in the background when it’s done well, invisible to the eye and ear; an art form in its own right to delight and engage its audience in whatever language they find it.
Correnti Incrociate 2 (‘Cross-currents 2’), the latest in the poetry chapbook series from Mosaïque Press, is one such gem – with a twist sure to delight lovers of language and artistic expression. Alongside the Italian interpretations of 44 English-language poems in this 130-page volume are the originals, line for line.
The result is a fascinating insight into language and expression: the similarities, differences and turns of phrase that add colour to a culture.
Correnti Incrociate 2 is the result of a collaboration with the University of Salerno’s Department of Humanities, in which postgraduate students studying literary translation with Prof Linda Barone translated poems selected by the book’s co-editor, John Eliot.
Eliot said the nature of the project influenced his choice of poetry. “My intention was to make it challenging and thought-provoking for the student translators,” he said. “It wasn’t about finding the best and best-known poets in the world, but of course the poetry was still a prime concern.
“So, we have in the collection some poets who will be on university curriculi, alongside some who are almost unknown. Sometimes though it can be the unknown who deserve the recognition and from whom we have as much to learn.”
The anthology presents a kaleidoscope of styles, subjects and emotions that reflect the multinational makeup of the contributors: reflections on life and death, a tribute to heroism, thoughts of a Russian canine cosmonaut, observed infidelity, the impact of Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine, and much more.
“Once again, it’s been a memorable and satisfying exercise, working with the poets and the students in Italy,” said Eliot. “There are so many good poets writing today, and seeing how their work is rendered in another language is a special pleasure.
“I want to thank all at Salerno University who were involved in the project and of course the poets without whom this would not have been possible. We’ve produced an anthology that we can be proud of.”
Publisher Chuck Grieve said: “The poems are consistently entertaining and thought-provoking, and the great thing about the face-to-face format is you don’t need fluency in Italian to appreciate how they work in that language too.”
Correnti Incrociate is published by Mosaïque Press, priced at £6.99, and available through online retail bookshops.
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