Monday, April 04, 2011

Arc: poetry of the world

Tile in a clay poem made by children
Who'll find me the word for birch in the world's languages when I need it? A translator. A poet. 
Birch is paper and wine. Some trace the word to Sanskrit (bhurga a tree with bark used to write on). Coleridge called it Lady of the Woods. 
Arc Publications is one of the UK's leading presses for poetry in translation. Its Arts Council grant was cut last week. 
Arc's list brings us the poetry of the world, from places where the birch does and doesn't grow. 
Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti is one of them. He told the Guardian, "I learn from trees. Just as many fruits drop before they're ripe, when I write a poem I treat it with healthy cruelty, deleting images to take care of the right ones."
Barghouti has twelve poetry collections in Arabic. His Collected works was published in 1997 and his first major book in English translation, Midnight and Other Poems, was published by Arc in 2008.  
This is an extract from his long poem, Midnight. There is more on Arc's website.
"you stay wide awake, when all others go to sleep,

afraid that the stars will fall

without your hands to nail them

to the ceiling of the night.
The weary sun's rays settle sugar in grapes,

crimson in cherries,
honey in figs

and olive oil in jars.
War itself,

leaning on its cane,

strolls occasionally

down the corridor of peace." (Mourid Barghouti, Midnight, Arc 2008).
Here are some of the poets on Arc's list from countries above and below the equator, whose work is available because of the work translators and poets do together.... and as a consequence give us the world view a language contains within each line, character, space and full stop. 
Kunwar Narain, Amarjit Chandan, Meta Kusar, Doris Kareva, Regina Derieva, Ewa Lipska, Victor Rodriguez Nunez, Cathal O' Searcaigh, Tomaz Salamun, Vladimir Mayakovsky, Georg Trakl, Claude de Burine, Valerie Rouzeau, Cevat Capan, Kristina Ehin, Gabriel Ferrater, Mila Haugova, Soleiman Adel Guemar, Dorothea Rosa Herliany, Yannis Kondos, Sabine Lange, Inna Lisnianskaya, Bejan Matur, Larissa Miller, Miklos Radnoti, Tadeusz Rosewicz, Eli Tolaretxipl.....among the many others.