Rendering The Word

Last week, having finished a reading in Acton – yes, they have poetry in Acton, promise! – I was with some friends from the Middle East, many of whom were writers and artists of some reputation.  We were talking about literature in general and the fact that a lot of writers who don’t write in English aren’t able to make a mark on the ‘literati’ here because they find it so hard to get their work translated into English in the first place.

Fair point, I believe.  It made me start wondering why this is.  Translation and publication of the work of overseas writers who might have a limited appeal with book lovers here is certainly one reason.  It’s an expensive risk that publishers might not be willing to take.  Doubtless there are other reasons, political correctness and the short-sightedness of some publishers/book sellers amongst them.  I read somewhere that bookshops were reluctant to put Steig Larsson’s Millennium Trilogy on the shelves because they honestly felt people wouldn’t buy books by authors with foreign names.  Word of mouth sorted that out, and it’s a shame Steig wasn’t around to reap the benefits.   But there are many foreign writers living in the UK right now who deserve a much bigger audience, and whose work, if translated well into English, would enrich all of us who value good writing and the fresh perspectives of life and literature that a foreign writer can give us.

Over the years Loose Muse has featured some exceptional foreign writers, many living here in exile, whose work I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy if it hadn’t been translated into English. For example, fine Iranian poet Ziba Karbassi, Jordanian novelist Fatiah Saudi, Iraqi writer/novelist Haifa Zangana, and Dutch writer/poet Vrouwkje Tuinman ….all crafting excellent work, sometimes exploring difficult and painful themes.  My chat last night gave me a couple of ideas as to how Loose Muse might bring more women writers who are not writing in English into a modest but essential limelight.  So watch this space…and if any of you have ideas, suggestions or thoughts on any of the above, please do let me know…the Loose Muse website is an ideal place to voice those opinions, as well as helping our events to make the kind of difference I’ve always wanted them to make.

Just go on to http://http://www.loose-muse.com to give us your comments, and also to see what else is going on in the world of Loose Muse.  Plus, do send me a poem or short story for the Monthly Muse page.  This month we’ve got a new piece by Naomi Woddis entitled Singultus, a poem with more layers than an onion, and just as likely to make you cry.

Just to remind you, the next event is on April 11th and will feature the exceptional novelist Miriam Halahmy, and one of my all-time fave poets Charlotte Ansell.  A truly brilliant night, so do join us…you won’t regret it.

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