Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with John Howard Reid

Continuing our series of interviews with editors/translators of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician and Spanish poetry, I include here an interview with John Howard Reid, the editor/translator of two anthologies of Rosalía’s Spanish poetry.

John Howard Reid (also known as Tom Howard) is based in Australia. He self publishes with Lulu.com. He has published numerous titles on cinema, a series of mystery/suspense novels based on the character Merryll Manning, new translations of the Gospels, poetry, advice on writing, and translations from Spanish of poetry.

These translations include Rosalia de Castro: Selected poems rendered into English verse and Rosalia de Castro: Margarita & other poems in Spanish & English. A third volume of Rosalía’s Galician poems, based on Mauro Armiño’s Spanish translation, is planned.

What made you want to translate Rosalía de Castro’s poetry?
I’ve always loved Rosalia’s work since reading ‘The Bells’ many years ago at college.

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
I had none. I simply translated the poems I particularly admired. But there were so many de Castro creations in this category, one book could not contain all my favorites. So I followed Rosalia de Castro Selected Poems rendered into English verse with Margarita & Other Poems in Spanish & English.

Why were none of Rosalía’s Galician poems included in your selection?
I can’t read Galician, but now that they have been translated into Spanish, I am working on English translations for publication later this year.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
The publisher had no input whatever. In fact, they didn’t even publicize the book to any great extent.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
Reviewers have been most encouraging, but despite their praises, the publisher, the wholesaler and book retailers generally have been totally unimpressed. Amazon is the only noteworthy exception.

You have translated other poets and also parts of the Bible. How do you approach a translation? Do you approach all translations in the same way?
To some extent, the answer is yes. My first question is: ‘What are the authors actually telling us in this particular passage or sentence?’ My second question: ‘How can that particular notion/thought/statement/idea be best rendered into English?’ In other words, it is the meaning rather than the form that I home in on, but I do try to preserve a poetic structure, even if that structure is not actually a mirror image of the original.

You have written poetry, crime fiction, advice on writing, and also been involved for many years in the publishing industry. How do you combine such varied activities?
I transferred from the newspaper industry to the publishing industry because I wanted to broaden my horizons. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life writing a newspaper column. Who remembers newspaper columnists – even famous ones? Is Will Rogers still thought of as a newspaper columnist? In fact I’d be surprised if anyone would make this connection today.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Fifty Books of Galician Literature Are Published in English


The list of books of Galician literature published in English has reached fifty titles for the first time. 2013 has already seen two titles published in English: Rosalía de Castro’s Galician Songs (in Erín Moure’s translation) and Suso de Toro’s The Hunting Shadow (in Antonio de Toro and David Clark’s translation). A couple of other titles are projected for the coming months.

The bumper year regarding books of Galician literature published in English was 2010, which saw seven titles, including the first volume of Jonathan Dunne’s Anthology of Galician Literature and Antonio de Toro’s anthology Breogán’s Lighthouse.

The most successful author of Galician literature published in English is Manuel Rivas, seven of whose titles have appeared, five in Jonathan Dunne’s translation, one in a translation by Margaret Jull Costa and Jonathan Dunne and one in Lorna Shaugnessy’s translation. His eighth title, All Is Silence, is due out in May.

The first book of Galician literature published in English was Rosalía de Castro’s Poems, which was produced by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Madrid in 1964. There have been a total of twenty-four poetry collections, thirteen novels, eight books of short stories and five mixed-genre anthologies.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Rosalía Day – ‘The Poet Out of Time & Place’


To celebrate Rosalía Day, the Irish poet Michael Smith, who edited and translated Rosalía de Castro’s Selected Poems for Shearsman Books in 2007, has written the following poem, which we are honoured to publish on this blog:

THE POET OUT OF TIME & PLACE

in memoriam Rosalía de Castro (1837-1885)

Born out of time and place
as most of us think we are,
her sadness was not hers alone
but her people’s, too, inbred in her.

‘A village moaner,’ Unamuno said.
But his own moans – his mortality –
were longer and larger than hers
which she bore with as great courage.

A lost, loved child. Sickness.
Wanderings in a Castile not quite hers,
a heart-rending desire to return,

to die by the sea amid her own.
Their lost poetry her persistent love.
Her scattered folk never forgotten.

Michael Smith

Galician Songs in English


Small Stations Press announces the publication of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician Songs, considered the cornerstone of modern Galician literature, for the first time in English. The translation was carried out by the Canadian poet and translator Erín Moure, who as well as being an accomplished poet in her own right – winner of the Governor General’s Award for poetry and twice of the A. M. Klein Prize for Poetry – has translated three books by Chus Pato into English, all of them published by Shearsman Books.



Galician Songs forms part of the series Galician Classics published by Small Stations Press with the support of the Xunta de Galicia. Previous titles in the series are Lois Pereiro’s Collected Poems, Álvaro Cunqueiro’s Folks From Here and There and Celso Emilio Ferreiro’s Long Night of Stone.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with Aileen Dever


The third and final interview in our series of interviews with the editors/translators of the three anthologies of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician and Spanish poetry available in English is with Aileen Dever, who together with her father, John P. Dever, edited and translated The Poetry and Prose of Rosalía de Castro for Edwin Mellen Press in 2010.

What made you want to translate work by Rosalía de Castro?
My father and I were drawn to the beauty and meaningfulness of Rosalía’s poetry and essays. We thought it could be useful to bring to English a larger selection of her work for scholars, creative writers, and those who simply enjoy reading poetry and prose.

How difficult was it to find a publisher? Who made the initial contact, you or the publisher?
It was not difficult to find a publisher as Edwin Mellen Press regularly has a representative and published material about the company at one of the conferences I regularly attend. When my father and I decided to do the translation, we sent the manuscript proposal to Mellen simply because we knew them.

There were two of you translating this book. How did you share the workload?
My father had recently retired from his teaching position and was looking for projects to do. I thought this might be a nice project to engage his mind and one in which he could continue to utilize his skills. We divided up the poems and essays equally. Then we would do our own translations; next we would exchange them and edit each other’s work.

Which edition of Rosalía de Castro’s texts did you use?
Castro, Rosalía de. Obras completas. Ed. Marina Mayoral. 2 vols. Madrid: Biblioteca Castro, 1993.

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
The main criteria used included selections that we found meaningful, beautiful and artistic in addition to seeking a wide representation of Rosalía’s themes. We wanted readers to have a very good idea of who she was.

Was there a difference between translating texts from Galician and Spanish?
I would say that I particularly enjoyed translating the Galician texts because I think they truly represent Rosalía’s greatest work.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
The manuscript was sent out for review and one critic thought the manuscript was too long, so we shortened it a bit. As I recall, there were no comments that stand out about the actual translations. The comments were more directed to the introduction, which they found rather prosaic, and, thinking about it, I would have to agree.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
We have received some comments here and there, but not much beyond that. That’s all right. We understood when we undertook the project that it would probably fill a lacuna for a small group of people. We do hope, though, that professors may bring some of her poems into their classrooms.

What place do you think Rosalía de Castro occupies in world literature today?
I believe that Rosalía de Castro occupies a place that is edging closer to that of Emily Dickinson, her U.S. contemporary with whom she shares numerous thematic and stylistic points of contact. These two women were philosopher-poets who pondered and felt deeply.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with Michael Smith


To celebrate the 150th anniversary of the publication in Vigo of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician Songs, recently published in English for the first time, we continue our series of interviews with the editors/translators of the three anthologies of Rosalía’s Galician and Spanish poetry available in English.

Today is the interview with Michael Smith, who edited and translated Rosalía de Castro’s Selected Poems for Shearsman Books in 2007. We will be publishing a poem Michael wrote for Rosalía Day, ‘The Poet Out of Time & Place’, this Sunday on this blog.

What made you want to translate work by Rosalía de Castro?
I had come across her name in various books on feminism, but, when I went to look for her poems, I found that these were unavailable or had been poorly translated or were in a dated English. The best I found were the translations by the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan (which still seem to me to read well). Besides that, I was aware of her role in reviving Galician, which has a great deal in common with the Irish experience of reviving poetry in Gaelic after many years of marginalisation and neglect. I also felt that the feminists who wrote about Rosalía seemed more concerned with feminism than with the poetry. At any rate, I felt that Rosalía deserved decent recognition in English. I might also add that, as an Irish poet, I felt a deep affinity with the Galician background. That affinity was very helpful in empathising with Rosalía’s work.

How difficult was it to find a publisher? Who made the initial contact, you or the publisher?
I initiated the project, but I had no difficulty in finding a publisher. Tony Frazer of Shearsman Books had already published many of my translations from Spanish and, once I had sent him my small anthology of Rosalía’s work, he immediately agreed to publish it.

Which edition of Rosalía de Castro’s texts did you use?
I used the Obras completas in two volumes, edited by Marina Mayoral (Madrid: Turner, Biblioteca Castro, 1993).

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
My main criteria were the quality of the poems and the possibility of their being translated into an English that was readable and pleasurable and at the same time faithful to their originals, at least in the sense that any translation can be ‘faithful’ to its original.

Was there a difference between translating texts from Galician and Spanish?
Now, I don’t know Galician, but with the help of Spanish literal translations and the help of two Galician friends, José Manuel Estévez Saá and Margaret Estévez Saá, I was able to cope comfortably enough with the Galician. Two Spanish friends of mine, Luis Huerga and my longtime co-translator from Spanish, Luis Ingelmo, were extremly helpful in checking my translations of the poems in Spanish.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
Tony Frazer was extremely pleased with the book and gave it an unreserved acceptance.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
I honestly don’t know how well the book was received, but four of my translations have been included in the prestigious Norton Anthology of World Literature, so clearly the book has not been ignored.

What place do you think Rosalía de Castro occupies in world literature today?
Although not quite in the same league as Emily Dickinson, Rosalía should rank with Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti and (as a poet) Emily Brontë.

One last thing. I am hoping to persuade some good bilingual Irish poet to translate Rosalía’s poetry into Gaelic. Her work would find a very sympathetic acceptance in that language.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Rosalía Translators – Interview with Anna-Marie Aldaz


This year marks the 150th anniversary of the publication in Vigo of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician Songs, the cornerstone of modern Galician literature and recently published in English for the first time in Erín Moure’s translation by Small Stations Press and Xunta de Galicia.

To celebrate this fact, we have conducted interviews with the editors/translators of the three anthologies of Rosalía’s Galician and Spanish poetry available in English. These are Poems (1991), edited and translated by Anna-Marie Aldaz, Barbara N. Gantt and Anne C. Bromley; Selected Poems (2007), edited and translated by Michael Smith; and The Poetry and Prose of Rosalía de Castro (2010), edited and translated by John P. Dever and Aileen Dever. A fourth anthology, now only available second-hand, is Poems of Rosalía de Castro (1964), edited by Xosé Filgueira Valverde and translated by Charles David Ley.

We start with Anna-Marie Aldaz, who kindly agreed to answer the following questions:

What made you want to translate work by Rosalía de Castro?
While attending an American Literary Translators Association (ALTA) conference, my friend and colleague Barbara Gantt and I came across an announcement by the State University of New York (SUNY) asking for submissions for its series Women Writers in Translation. After some discussion, we decided that Rosalía de Castro would be an excellent candidate because we felt that she was too little known in the English-speaking world.

How difficult was it to find a publisher? Who made the initial contact, you or the publisher?
We submitted our proposal to SUNY, where it was met with great interest by the series editor. Even so, it took time and effort to clear the path to acceptance.

There were three of you translating this book. How did you share the workload?
After selecting the poems we wanted to translate, Barbara and I divided the task. We met frequently to read each other’s translations and revise them. When we were finally satisfied with our versions, we asked another friend, the poet Anne Bromley, to read and critique them. After a discussion of her suggestions, we came up with what would be the final version.

Which edition of Rosalía de Castro’s texts did you use?
The edition we used – Rosalía de Castro, Obras completas. 7th ed. (Madrid: Aguilar, 1982) – was the latest one available at the time we worked on the poems (the late 1980s). It includes the original selections by Victoriano García Martí and additional ones by Arturo del Hoyo.

What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
Since our main aim was to make Rosalía better known in the English-speaking world, we chose relatively short, mostly lyrical poems from her three major books (Cantares gallegos, Follas novas and En las orillas del Sar), hoping this sampler would illustrate her innovative style, pervasive moods and recurrent themes.

Was there a difference between translating texts from Galician and Spanish?
The Galician texts were at times linguistically more challenging, but we felt that many of the poems Rosalía wrote in her native language best captured her most intimate thoughts and deeply felt emotions.

Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
We did not receive any comments on the translation. However, since our book was part of a series, there were definite guidelines regarding the format. This meant that, much to our chagrin, our book could not be a bilingual edition.

What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
Though overall favorable, the initial critical reception was fairly low-key, but some recent studies have seen our book as groundbreaking. Around 250 libraries hold a copy and, given that SUNY had the foresight of digitalizing our book soon after its publication in 1991, the book can also be accessed online from over 500 libraries worldwide.

What place do you think Rosalía de Castro occupies in world literature today?
It is gratifying to see that Rosalía’s stature has continued to increase steadily over the years and that she is now rightfully recognized as one of the outstanding figures in world literature.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Claudio Rodríguez Fer’s Tender Tigers


This year saw the publication of Claudio Rodríguez Fer’s Tender Tigers (Tigres de ternura) in a bilingual Galician-English edition by Editorial Toxosoutos. The English translation is by Kathleen March and is accompanied by illustrations by Kathleen’s daughter, Kimberleigh Martul-March.



An up-to-date list of books of Galician literature published in English can be consulted here.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Anthology of Galician Literature 1981-2011

This month sees the publication of Jonathan Dunne’s Anthology of Galician Literature 1981-2011, a companion volume to the earlier Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981.

While the earlier volume was intended to give an overview of the history of Galician literature up to the present day, this second volume aims to introduce the English-language reader to contemporary Galician writers. Sixty texts by sixty different writers ranging from Xavier Alcalá to Domingo Villar, passing through more established names such as Chus Pato and Manuel Rivas, and including younger names such as Oriana Méndez and Daniel Salgado, present the genres of adult and children’s fiction, poetry, drama and essay in a bilingual Galician-English edition. In the case of living authors, all the texts were chosen by the authors themselves; thirty-nine of the texts date from the twenty-first century, making this volume highly up-to-date.

It is hoped that this book will enable the interested reader to access some of the best of what is being written in the Galician language today.

Anthology of Galician Literature 1981-2011 is edited and translated by Jonathan Dunne, with additional translations by Roy Boland, Erín Moure and Sonia Soto, and published by Edicións Xerais de Galicia and Editorial Galaxia in collaboration with the Xunta de Galicia. A list of the contents is to be found here.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Forked Tongues


Today sees the publication by Shearsman Books of a volume of Galician, Basque and Catalan women’s poetry in translations by Irish writers, which has been edited by Manuela Palacios, associate professor of English literature at Santiago University (Manuela also co-edited with Mary O’Donnell an anthology of Galician women poets, To the Winds Our Sails, with translations into English and Irish).

The five Galician poets included in Forked Tongues are Pilar Pallarés, Chus Pato, Lupe Gómez Arto, Yolanda Castaño and María do Cebreiro, who have been translated by five Irish writers, Maurice Harmon, Lorna Shaughnessy, Anne Le Marquand Hartigan, Máighréad Medbh and Mary O’Donnell respectively. The Galician poets are accompanied by four Basque and four Catalan poets.

Shearsman Books is one of the main publishers in the UK of poetry in translation and has published six books of Galician poetry, three by Chus Pato and one each by Rosalía de Castro, María do Cebreiro and Manuel Rivas.

It is possible to see the contents and read Manuela’s introduction here. Congratulations to all involved!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Three New Galician Books in English


Three new books of Galician literature are published in the space of twenty days, bringing the total number of books of Galician literature published in English to 45 (just two years ago, at the start of 2010, there were 31). A full list of Galician titles in English can be consulted here. It includes twelve novels and fourteen individual poetry collections (as opposed to group anthologies).

Last Friday saw the publication of On a Bender, Craig Patterson's translation of A esmorga by Eduardo Blanco Amor, published by Planet Books. An interview with Craig is available on this blog.


15 April sees the publication of The Disappearance of Snow, Lorna Shaughnessy's translation of Manuel Rivas' A desaparición da neve, published by Shearsman Books, who also publish Rosalía de Castro, Chus Pato and María do Cebreiro. A selection of Rivas' earlier collected poems, From Unknown to Unknown, came out in 2009.

And 20 April sees the third title in the series Galician Classics published by Small Stations Press - Long Night of Stone in Jack Hill's English translation.

Translators crossing lines, sewing wounds, so that grass grows where the scar was.

Friday, March 30, 2012

On a Bender

Today sees the publication by Planet Books of Eduardo Blanco Amor's classic novel A esmorga, translated into English as On a Bender by Craig Patterson. Craig, who is lecturer at Cardiff University and president of the International Association of Galician Studies, kindly agreed to give the following interview about the book and his translation.

What is On a Bender?
On a Bender is my translation of Eduardo Blanco Amor's 1959 novel in Galician A esmorga. The novel centres upon the main character Cibrán's account of an extended spree of drinking and shenanigans in Auria, an imaginary transposition of Ourense. The novel's psychological depth lies in the way Cibrán retells events to the police and in his attempts to save his own skin by prolonging the narrative and distorting events and details. The novel is constantly rated in surveys by Galicians as their favourite of all time, so it has been an honour to work on the English version which will hopefully contribute to Galicia's international cultural profile.


What's this business about the book being censored? Do we now have the original as the author intended?
The manuscript of A esmorga was taken to Galicia from Argentina by Isaac Díaz Pardo on behalf of Blanco Amor at the end of 1955 and handed to the Galician-language publisher Galaxia, which then began the process of submitting it to the Francoist censor. The first attempt at publication in Galicia in 1956 failed because the text was rejected on the grounds of its expletive language rather than for political reasons. After some further difficulties, Blanco Amor followed a course familiar to many writers who could not get their work past the gatekeepers of the dictatorship's moral and religious codes and sought publication in Latin America. A esmorga appeared in Buenos Aires on 3 April 1959. The novel was submitted to the censor on two further occasions in 1969 in a new attempt to get it published in Galicia. Although the literary quality of the work was praised on this occasion, it was nonetheless cut in five places in order to suppress criticism of authority, including the reference at the end to the possible causes of the protagonist's death (at the hands of the Civil Guard). It was finally published in Galician in December 1970. In 2010 Galaxia published a restored version which retained the five fragments suppressed by the censor over forty years earlier. If anybody wants to learn more about the history of the novel's publication history and the censorship it encountered, then they should consult Xosé Manuel Dasilva's excellent study "As vicisitudes editoriais d'A esmorga" (Grial 184, pp. 36-51).

I am delighted to say that On a Bender will be the first translation of the restored novel by Blanco Amor into any language. Luís González Tosar told me recently that Blanco Amor had hoped that his most well-known novel would be translated into English one day and I am honoured to have been a part of this endeavour.

What does a piss-up set in the nineteenth century have to do with the global crisis?
The novel is about what ordinary people do in extraordinary circumstances and also how they cope with those circumstances, warts and all. It's about what people with nothing do to make their lives worth living. So there is some universality there. There is greater contemporary resonance, however, in the novel's treatment of the relationship between the mainstream and the periphery, between the conventional, the marginal and the marginalised, between conformity and being true to one's own identity, however flawed we may be as human beings. Also the novel deals with the relationship between a repressive authority and possible criminality or social deviance. All of these factors held great relevance for Blanco Amor at the time of the novel's publication, given that he was a homosexual writer producing the work in exile when the Franco dictatorship was firmly in power in Spain and Galician culture just beginning to emerge, if only in a fragmented way, from the bleak period that followed the Spanish Civil War. But in the same way the novel can still travel across cultural specificity today, in our times, when decades of progress in terms of social welfare, mobility and inclusion seem to be being rolled back at an alarming rate, when economic inequality in the form of bankers' bonuses and levels of unemployment are never higher and when we must question more than ever the discourse imposed upon us by superstructure, be that a government, the media or advertising. For me one of the many essential truths of the novel is: together we stand, divided we fall. That may mean something for us today and for our need for solidarity in the face of disaster capitalism and shock doctrine on both a large and smaller, everyday scale that challenges our serenity.

What were some of the peculiarities of translating this book?
I can think of four peculiarities: two general and two specific.

The first general peculiarity was of course deciphering and translating the heavily colloquial Ourensan Galician in which the narrator-protagonist relates the events that supposedly took place during the notorious bender, in a style which reflects his struggle to surpass his own cultural, educational and social condition. Translating that strand of Galician in general was extremely challenging. The second was that of trying to emulate or capture the voice of a narrator-protagonist who is not educated to a great degree, but who nevertheless shows occasional lyrical flourishes and a creative tendency in his exposition. So register had to remain mid to low whilst at the same time almost reaching higher levels now and again.

In addition there were two specific cases relating to vocabulary. One of these was the translation of the Galician noun follateira. The search for the meaning behind the term went on for some time and, to cut a long story short and after many linguistic trials and tribulations, friends reminded me that Blanco Amor himself defines the term in his novel La catedral y el niño as "misteriosa fiesta de Auria, reminiscencia, quizás, de cultos báquicos del latino colonizador". This of course led to a new challenge: how to reduce that down to a term without the recourse to a footnote, textual or otherwise. I opted for "those drunken fiestas that go back to old Auria".

The other principal linguistic challenge encountered was the phrase fóra a ialma, which appears six times in the text. The expression has the equivalent grammatical value of the conjunction agás or excepto, expressing anomaly, exception or even contradiction. Its function is not semantic, but pragmatic and euphemistic and is employed when animals are compared with humans within a clearly Catholic socio-cultural context: its cultural specificity is rooted in the blasphemous connotations of such a comparison. For example it is still not uncommon today to hear the expression in regards to domestic animals such as cats and dogs when humans are compared to them or vice versa: "fóra alma e fé [os cans] son como a xente". In Catholic doctrine God created man in his own image and animals were doctrinally inferior. Therefore to suggest a person is like an animal is to offend the work and image of God and therefore blasphemous. This rhetorical exemption clause allows blasphemy to be avoided without excluding the recourse to animalisation through simile. It has an apologetic core that seeks to redress the overwhelmingly blasphemous essence that it conveys in a southern European socio-religious context.

In order to translate this specific and peculiar Galician idiom with no direct equivalent in English, I favoured retaining some its strangeness whilst attempting to render it as a seamless part of the dialogue and rhetoric of the narrator-protagonist, just as it functions in the Galician. I achieved this by consolidating and reinforcing the sense and lexicon of the original Galician so that it attained some idiomatic plausibility in English: "save for his/her/their blessed souls". By introducing the adjective "blessed", a liturgical and hallowed sense of spiritual exclusivity is retained, thereby emphasising the religious quality of the rhetorical device and reminding what will probably be a largely secular readership of its purpose, origin and cultural specificity. Furthermore this solution communicates the peculiarity or otherness of the source idiom precisely by highlighting its origins through an appeal in the English to archaic religious lexicon that evokes the pre-Reformation period.

The great irony is that A esmorga has been extremely challenging to translate, yet it is a relatively short novel. By comparison Castelao's sprawling masterwork Sempre en Galiza, which I am also translating, has been relatively straightforward in linguistic terms. The only challenge with that text is of course its length and the need to provide a critical edition for it. Watch this space.

Our congratulations to Craig and to Planet! The book can be ordered here.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Folks From Here and There


Today sees the publication by Small Stations Press of Folks From Here and There by Álvaro Cunqueiro in Kathleen March's new translation. This follows fifteen years after Everyman published Merlin and Company in Colin Smith's translation and is set to coincide with the 100-year anniversary of the author's birth.

Kathleen March is well known for her work with Galician literature and in particular for her translation of an anthology of Galician short stories, Así vai o conto, and Circling by Ramón Otero Pedrayo. She is professor of Spanish at the University of Maine in the US, where she specialises in Galician, Latin American and Women's Studies.

This book is the second title in the series of Galician Classics created by the publisher Small Stations Press with the support of the Xunta de Galicia. The first title appeared in May this year and was the Collected Poems of Lois Pereiro.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Popescu Prize for Poetry in Translation


Two books of Galician poetry in English translation are among the 73 titles translated into English from twenty-five European languages nominated for the 2011 Popescu Prize.

The two Galician titles are: I Am Not from Here by María do Cebreiro, translated by Helena Miguélez-Carballeira (published by Shearsman Books in 2010) and the Collected Poems of Lois Pereiro, translated by Jonathan Dunne (published by Small Stations Press in 2011).

The Popescu Prize is awarded every two years and is administered by the UK Poetry Society and funded by the Ratiu Foundation. The winner of this year's prize, whose judges are Jane Draycott and Sasha Dugdale, will be announced in November.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Galician Poets in English


This week sees the publication in English of two books of Galician poetry. Shearsman Books publishes a third title by Chus Pato in Erín Moure's translation, Hordes of Writing, while Small Stations Press publishes the Collected Poems of Lois Pereiro (the subject of this year's Galician Literature Day on 17 May) in Jonathan Dunne's translation.


These two publications take the number of books of Galician literature published in English translation to 42. This list includes nineteen poetry titles and three mixed anthologies (poetry and prose). In December 2010, Poetry Review, the magazine of the Poetry Society, published a selection of Contemporary Galician Poets, which can be downloaded for free.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Interview with Neal Baxter

Neal Baxter was born in Shrewsbury, England, and studied Linguistics and French at York University. He later worked in the Diwan Breton language schools in Brittany. Since 1995 he has taught Interpreting at Vigo University, where he holds a doctorate in Translation Studies.

How did your involvement with Galicia come about?
My wife, who I met during my study year in Brittany, studied Spanish at Roazhon/Rennes University, which has contacts with Galiza and I went with her, variously with and without a grant, to attend the very first three years of Galizan language courses for foreigners organised by the Galician Language Institute in Santiago. After working for the Diwan Breton language schools for several years, we decided to make the move to Galiza, where we’d made a lot of friends who also introduced us both to the Galician Nationalist Bloc or BNG.


You’ve done a lot of work on the normal use of minority languages and genre/sexuality in translation. Where, in particular, is there a need to raise awareness?
My opinion pieces on Terra e Tempo Dixital deal mainly with the state of the Galizan language and militant atheism. The bulk of my academic research has, barring my dissertation, tended to centre on the place/portrayal of what could best be termed ‘socially marginalised’ groups (primarily wimin) within the context of ‘socially marginalised’ languages (mainly Galizan, but also touching on Welsh and Breton). Using this terminology perhaps helps to draw out how I see the two aspects as being related. As a believer in the impossibility of adopting a neutral stance on social questions within an objectively unbalanced context, my research is ‘engagé’ in the sense that I hope it helps contribute to change for the better, driven by the idea that the priority of preserving Galizan in the face of aggressive competition from Spanish does not require that other issues, such as the use of inclusive language to stimulate debate and explicitly highlight the role of wimin, need be disregarded as incompatible with this ‘higher’ aim. I am also pleased to see that this work has, in part at least, inspired students of mine to take their postgraduate research in that direction, notably with the recent PhD dissertation by Olga Castro, currently lecturing at Exeter University.

As a member of the Galician People’s Union or UPG’s Committee for International Relations, how do you view the role of a non-Galician in the context of Galician nationalism?
I joined the UPG and the BNG as well as the CIG trade union soon after I settled in Galiza. I am very proud of being a member of the UPG, having also served on the Local Committee, and would probably (and fairly) be described as a staunch upholder of the Party line. Although I’ve lived here so long, being a foreigner still provides you with the certain advantage of a perhaps more neutral or objective view of certain issues and a different way of thinking about them derived from a different cultural background. Having a native English-speaker and professional interpreter/translator is of course an asset when dealing with foreign delegations and when translating the International newsletter and press releases. Somewhat paradoxically perhaps I have been the language corrector for Terra e Tempo (official publication of the UPG) for several years because, as a non-native Galizan speaker who hasn’t formally learned any Spanish, it’s easier for me to spot interferences than it is for many Galizans.

How do you find living and raising a family in another culture? What are the specific challenges? And the dominant language at home?
I suppose we can’t pass on everything about Galizan culture directly but then again neither do a lot of Galizans… Fortunately we have a strong network of friends, almost all of whom are Galizan-speakers who provide additional input. My daughter never speaks Spanish with either of us at home and only speaks Galizan with certain friends, although Spanish dominates at school. The main home language is French, which I use with my wife. I only use English with my daughter, except on rare occasions where the situation would make it look as if we were deliberately excluding people, although I usually use English with her in front of friends, at BNG rallies, demonstrations, etc. It’s never even been commented upon, except to say how fortunate she is. We would like to have added Breton which she hears in the summer, but we thought four was enough for the time being.

Are you the Robert Neal Baxter who wrote a book called Chinese: That Marvellous Tongue (Joseph Biddulph, 1997)? What is the most curious language you’ve learned?
Yes, that’s me… At University, as part of the Linguistics course, we had to choose a new language out of Chinese, Hindi and Kiswahili. I dabbled in Yiddish years ago (which actually came in handy in Prague) and learned a bit of Nynorsk with Norwegian friends as university. I also did some Cornish in Brittany. More recently I had a go at isiZulu and isiXhosa (not much of a go really). I gave up Arabic after a while. My most recent interests have been Modern Greek, which I’ve been learning on and off for about four years, and Turkic languages, mainly Turkish and Azerbaijani. I have absolutely no Latin and no Ancient Greek!

Thank you for talking to us!

Friday, April 8, 2011

Galician poetry on BBC Radio 3


The English poet and editor Fiona Sampson, and the Galician writers Marilar Aleixandre and Xesús Fraga, are guests on BBC Radio 3's The Verb, presented by Ian McMillan, to talk about contemporary Galician poetry this evening. The interview is available for listening here from minute 9 to minute 20, but only until next Thursday.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Death on a Galician Shore


Today sees the publication in London of Domingo Villar's second novel, Death on a Galician Shore (A praia dos afogados). The English translation is by Sonia Soto, who also translates authors such as Arturo Pérez-Reverte and Guillermo Martínez. The book is published by Abacus (an imprint of Little, Brown).


Villar's first novel, Water-Blue Eyes (Ollos de auga), also featuring Inspector Leo Caldas, was published by Arcadia Books in 2007.

It is fantastic that, through the enterprise of his translators, Villar's work is reaching a wider audience. This brings the number of books of Galician literature in English translation to forty!

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Reaction to the supplement of Contemporary Galician Poets

Here is some of the reaction to the supplement of Contemporary Galician Poets which accompanied the December 2010 issue of Poetry Review, following the visit to Galicia of the magazine's editor, Fiona Sampson, and the presentation of the supplement in Santiago de Compostela on Friday 11 March. The supplement is available for free download here.

El Correo Gallego (Luís González Tosar)

El País (Manuel Rivas)

Galicia Hoxe (Antón Lopo)

La Voz de Galicia (Xesús Fraga)

Xornal de Galicia (Alberto Ramos)

Radio Galega (interview with Fiona Sampson and Jonathan Dunne by Ana Romaní at the beginning of the programme Diario Cultural)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Galician poetry makes the front page


‘Welcome to the winter issue of Poetry Review, which celebrates The Poet’s Progress with a glowing image of the triple helix staircase in the Museo de Pobo in Santiago, Galicia. Our cover also celebrates the supplement of contemporary Galician poets which accompanies the magazine. Edited and translated by Jonathan Dunne, and published with the generous support of the Xunta de Galicia, it offers a rare insight into this vibrant Southern European Celtic culture.’

This is how Fiona Sampson, the editor of Poetry Review, opens her editorial in the winter 2010 issue that has just come out. Domingo de Andrade’s spiral staircase in the Galician People’s Museum in Santiago graces the front cover of the magazine, and that is because the magazine is accompanied by a supplement of contemporary Galician poets. Thirty-nine poems by nineteen poets introduce the reader of Poetry Review to Galician poetry being written today.


The poets included are: Xosé María Álvarez Cáccamo, Manuel Álvarez Torneiro, Yolanda Castaño, María do Cebreiro, Miguel Anxo Fernán Vello, Luís González Tosar, Bernardino Graña, Xulio López Valcárcel, Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín, Olga Novo, Pilar Pallarés, Chus Pato, Alfonso Pexegueiro, Luz Pozo Garza, Manuel Rivas, Xavier Rodríguez Baixeras, Claudio Rodríguez Fer, Xavier Seoane and Xohana Torres. The selection and translation of the poems is by Jonathan Dunne.

With an immediate distribution of 4000 copies to the members of the UK Poetry Society, this supplement, the cover of which is decorated with a drawing by Chelín, is one of the most important publications of Galician literature in translation, surpassed in English only by the fiction of Manuel Rivas.

The magazine is available for purchase here at a cost of £9 (£11.50 if shipped outside the UK). The supplement itself is available for free download here.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

New historical anthology of Galician literature


Francis Boutle Publishers have just published Breogán’s Lighthouse: An anthology of Galician literature, edited by Antonio Raúl de Toro Santos. This fine volume contains a total of over 200 texts of mainly poetry and fiction covering medieval literature, the so-called Dark Centuries and the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The translations in this volume were carried out by John Rutherford (poetry and medieval prose) and by David Clark, Anne MacCarthy and Juan Casas, and Alan Floyd and Ana Gabín (modern prose). The book forms part of a Lesser Used Languages of Europe series, and contains a short introduction to Galician literature by Luciano Rodríguez and an essay on the Galician language by Manuel González González. Congratulations to all involved!

A revised list of books of Galician literature published in English translation is available here.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Interview with Aileen Dever (translator of Rosalía de Castro)


The following is an interview with Aileen Dever, who together with her father, John Dever, edited and translated The Poetry and Prose of Rosalía de Castro: A Bilingual Facing Page Edition.

What made you both decide to do this book?
First, my father and I decided to do this book because we truly fell in love with Rosalía’s poetry and hoped to give her a wider audience. There are some wonderful translations that have been done into English. However, we wanted to do a more comprehensive translation to give English-speaking readers and scholars a wider selection from which to choose and thus get to know more completely this remarkable writer. Second, we were drawn by Rosalía’s inclusivity in that she embraces all human beings. Her brand of ‘feminism’ is about caring for all people everywhere. There is so much Rosalía can teach us today.

How easy was it to find a publisher?
We were very fortunate as we found an advertisement for The Edwin Mellen Press at the annual National Association of Hispanic and Latino Studies conference in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, specifically seeking translations. We wrote to the press to determine their interest in our idea and Professor Herbert Richardson, Editor-in-chief, answered enthusiastically. So we excitedly began our project.

What was it like working two of you on a single translation? What surprises did this throw up?
It was particularly wonderful to work with my father on this translation because I had a chance to see him in a very different light. We live close to a beautiful park with oaks, elms, maples, and pine trees as well as a river. We would stroll most mornings through the park and discuss the poems we had apportioned ourselves, sometimes reciting lines of Rosalía’s poems as the wind whistled through the green leaves. Although we divided up the poems and prose between us, one of the best parts of the project occurred when we would look over our translations together, making suggestions and notes in the margins. Then mutually we would agree on the final version. It was surprising how much absolute fun we had talking about Rosalía’s poems and our translations. We became aware that there is indeed a creative process involved in translation as we sought just the right word or image to convey Rosalía’s meanings in our determination to do her artistic justice.

Did you try to keep the metre and rhyme of the original poems, or have you opted for a freer version of the poems?
We did not strive to keep the metre or rhyme of the original poems because we did not want to subject her beautiful poems to ‘straitjackets’ of sound. We were more concerned with maintaining the sense of her words. Sometimes, though, rhyme occurred seamlessly and then, of course, we would employ it. We found that alliteration/assonance were wonderful tools for conveying a poetic sense in English.

What other translations have you done, and are you planning to do more translations of Galician literature?
I have done a little translating of José Asunción Silva’s poetry. Perhaps I will turn my attention to translating a selection of his poems.

Finally, please could you show us the translation of a (short) poem you particularly liked?
Below is the translation of Rosalía’s well-known poem ‘Cando penso que te fuches’:

When I think that you’ve gone off,
dark shadow haunting me,
there again by my bed
you return taunting me.

When I imagine you’re gone,
in the very sun you show yourself,
and you are the star that glows,
and you are the wind that blows.

If there is singing, it is you who sings,
if there is crying, it is you who cries,
and you are the murmuring of the river
and you are the night and the dawn.

In everything you are and you are everything,
for me and in me you live,
nor will you abandon me ever,
shadow who haunts me forever.

Thank you for talking to us!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Fourth anthology published of Rosalía de Castro’s poetry


Edwin Mellen Press, who previously published two books of Galician literature in English, recently brought out a new anthology of Rosalía de Castro’s poetry, The Poetry and Prose of Rosalía de Castro: A Bilingual Facing Page Edition, edited and translated by John and Aileen Dever. Three anthologies of her poetry had appeared before this.

The Devers’ anthology contains a total of 103 poems from her three main books of poetry – Cantares gallegos, Follas novas and En las orillas del Sar – as well as short prose excerpts from Lieders, La hija del mar and Las literatas.

John Dever is emeritus professor of foreign languages and literature at Western Connecticut State University, while his daughter, Aileen Dever, is associate professor of modern languages at Quinnipiac University, also in Connecticut.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Reaction to the Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981

Here is some of the reaction to the Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981 edited in Galician and English by Jonathan Dunne, published in May by Edicións Xerais de Galicia and Editorial Galaxia, and presented on 5 June in Santiago de Compostela.

Edicións Xerais de Galicia

Editorial Galaxia

El País

Europa Press

Galicia Hoxe

La Voz de Galicia

Xornal de Galicia

Radio Galega (interview by Ana Romaní on Diario Cultural)

Televisión de Galicia (interview on Ben falado!)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

To the Winds Our Sails


A wonderful publication has just reached my hands, courtesy of one of the translators, Lorna Shaughnessy, and this is an anthology of Galician women poets published in May by Salmon Poetry in Ireland. The anthology, edited by the Irish writer Mary O’Donnell and Manuela Palacios, associate professor of English literature at Santiago University, contains the work of ten Galician poets: Luz Pozo Garza, María do Carme Kruckenberg, Xohana Torres, Marilar Aleixandre, Luz Pichel, Chus Pato, Ana Romaní, María do Cebreiro, María Lado and Xiana Arias. Five poems each – four in English and one in Irish – have been translated using the talents of different Irish writers in what is a trilingual text: Galician-English-Irish. The cover is the work of Siobhán Hutson. Another book of Galician literature, but this time one that has appeared in both Irish and English!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Presentation of Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981

Today sees the presentation in Santiago de Compostela of the Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981 edited in Galician and English by Jonathan Dunne and published by Edicións Xerais de Galicia and Editorial Galaxia.

Since I cannot make the presentation, I would like to publish here the text I wrote in Galician for this occasion:

Como ocorre moitas veces, o corazón deste libro está nun apéndice. Se miran as páxinas 320 e 322, atoparán a lista de 55 xéneros, autores e libros que eu cría debían estar representados nunha antoloxía histórica da literatura galega. A maioría dos textos son do século XX: 31 fronte a 24 textos da época medieval, dos séculos XVI-XVIII e do Rexurdimento. Verán que inclúo textos da literatura de tradición oral, tan importante esta, e textos ensaísticos xunto con textos de poesía, ficción e teatro.

Elaborei esta lista en 1997, hai trece anos. Non sabía que o libro tardaría tanto tempo en facerse realidade. Decidín que para a selección dos propios textos, ¿que mellor que contar coa axuda de escritores e especialistas galegos? Por esta razón empecei a poñerme en contacto cos 55 antólogos para que escolmasen o seu anaco preferido de tal autor ou libro. A resposta foi entusiasta e xenerosa e o lado galego da antoloxía é unha reflexión histórica, feita dende dentro, sobre os textos cumios da literatura galega. Algúns dos antólogos xa faleceron: é o caso de José Ángel Valente, Antonio Fraguas Fraguas, Domingo García-Sabell, Manuel María, Antón Risco, Carlos Casares e Uxío Novoneyra. Pero alí están as súas escolmas.

Para a tradución para o inglés dos 55 textos fixen un esforzo por contar coa presenza de todos os que traballan neste momento no eido da tradución galego-inglés. Son 22 tradutores xunto co tradutor galego do meu limiar, o poeta Martín Veiga. Todos querían participar nun proxecto que ía axudar a espallar a cultura galega polo mundo.

Síntome orgulloso de ter participado con tanta xente nun proxecto destas características. Os libros sempre deben ir un pouco contra corrente. Non tiñan que existir, son instrumentos da fe. Amosan o lado bo do ser humano, a súa incansable fe e vontade de ser mellor.

Era hora de que Galicia tivese á súa disposición unha tradución literaria digna dalgúns dos seus autores máis importantes. A tradución é unha especie de exhalación, unha especie de morte continua. Non nos decatamos disto, pero somos todos tradutores, as cousas nin empezan nin terminan connosco, pasan a través de nós e saímos aprendendo.

Con este libro, estamos nas portas da literatura galega contemporánea e agardo que sexa posible, co mesmo equipo, sacar un segundo volume, unha antoloxía dedicada aos anos 1981-2011, que sería de moita utilidade para os editores estranxeiros interesados en publicaren a autores galegos. Reafirmo a miña disposición para este proxecto e dou as grazas aos editores aquí sentados: Manuel Bragado, de Edicións Xerais; Víctor Freixanes, de Editorial Galaxia, e o Conselleiro de Cultura e Turismo, Roberto Varela Fariña. Tamén á incomparable coordinadora de edición, co-autora deste libro, Anaír Rodríguez, e ao deseñador de cuberta, Miguel Vigo.

Agardo que este libro sirva de carta de presentación, xesto de benvida a todos, dentro e fóra do país, con interese na cultura galega.

Jonathan Dunne
Santiago de Compostela, 21 de maio de 2010

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981


Today sees the publication by Edicións Xerais de Galicia and Editorial Galaxia of a bilingual Anthology of Galician Literature 1196-1981, edited by Jonathan Dunne, which aims to give the general reader a history of Galician literature through the texts themselves. Fifty-five texts by forty authors (and six voices that are anonymous) have been translated by a total of twenty-two translators working in the field of Galician-English translation. These range from medieval songs or cantigas to folk tales and verses, learned poetry, poetry of the Galician Revival (or Rexurdimento) and classic authors of the 20th century writing a mixture of fiction, poetry, essay and theatre. While the editor, Jonathan Dunne, chose the genres, authors and books that would be represented in this anthology spanning 785 years, from the first literary text written in Galician-Portuguese to the 1981 Galician Statute of Autonomy, the texts themselves were chosen by Galician writers and specialists from José Ángel Valente to Carlos Casares, Manuel María, Uxío Novoneyra, Xosé Luís Méndez Ferrín, Manuel Rivas and a host of others. In total, 124 people contributed to this book, which it is hoped will act as a letter of introduction to all those from outside who wish to know more about Galician culture and the foundations of contemporary Galician literature.

Coincidentally, Francis Boutle Publishers are due to bring out another historical anthology of Galician literature, Breogán’s Lighthouse, edited by Antonio Raúl de Toro Santos. These two books will bring the total of Galician books published in English to 38.