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Mother My Tongue

India has yet another opportunity to shine this year as the Market Focus Country at the London Book Fair in April 2009.

Written by Anushree Majumdar |
January 22, 2009 2:40:53 am

Four Indian poets along with four UK poets come together at Jaipur Literature Festival to speak one language

India has yet another opportunity to shine this year as the Market Focus Country at the London Book Fair in April 2009. Forty Indian writers,representing the diversity of the country’s literary traditions will be showcased at one of the world’s largest literary fairs. And four Indian poets-cum-translators find themselves in an incredible place as they kicked-off the Writer’s Chain Translation Workshop,as a start to the various programmes organised by the British Council in the run-up to the Fair.

The four from India are Kynpham Sing Nongkynrih,Sampurna Chatterjee,Udaya Narayana Singh and Sivasankari. Partipating in the workshop is Mererid Hopwood from Wales,Matthew Hollis from England,Meg Bateman from Scotland and Gearoid Mac Lochlainn from Northern Ireland. “Translation is often viewed in a poor light,as betrayals of the original text. But it is also a primary way of discovering how literary traditions can work together,” says Alexandra Buchler,director,Literature Across Frontiers,who along with Mita Kapur of Siyahi Literary Consultancy facilitated the week-long workshop at the Neemrana Fort Palace Hotel from January 14 to 20. Last evening,at a showcase event at the Jaipur Literature Festival,all four Indian poet/translators along with the four UK authors performed their original poems as well as the translated versions of each other’s works.

English was used as the “bridge language” with Matthew Hollis from England playing a vital role as he translated works that were in turn translated into either Tamil,Bengali,Khasi or even Welsh and Scottish. “The music of the languages is something that as a poet I fear could be lost but if you work with languages that have their own music,that fear is put to rest,” says Mac Lochlainn whose poems were translated into Bengali with great élan and humour by Chatterjee,eliciting many an appreciative nod from some of the audience.

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