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01/08/2011

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Caving is perhaps the most extraordinary outward bound activity.Cycling is therapeutic and may relieve stress. Riding bicycles is proven to be a therapeutic activity and more and more people are taking up cycling for a serene

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Strange is the affair of the Mu'min (the beeviler),verily all his affairs are good for himIf something pleasing befalls him he thanks (Allah) and it becomes better for himAnd if something harmful befalls him he is patient (Saabir) and it becomes better for him and this is only for the Mu'min

Thanks for all the recommendations.If I could take 4 20th-century fogiren language poets to a desert island they’d be Seferis, Akhmatova, Herbert and Celan. Paul Celan: a Romanian Jew who wrote mostly in German, survived the 2nd world war (his parents didn’t), and ended up in Paris married to a Frenchwoman; he drowned himself in the Seine in 1970, aged 50. His poems are full of agony, despair, lyricism, mystery; they are often highly imagistic, mostly short, and can be impenetrable – but they ask you to go on trying. They reflect the middle of the 20th century in a very dark way, and push language to the limit, surely as much as anyone has done. (sorry if that's a cliche, but they do!)It would be great if anyone could recommend a good translation – I have got Michael Hamburger’s in the Penguin Selected parallel text, but (hope this is not sacrilege, given his eminence) I do think he had rather a tin ear sometimes… I’ve also got one collection translated by someone else but I’m away and can’t find it on the internet. To be fair, Celan is really hard to translate – the opposite of Seferis, who as Edmund Prestwich says is so accessible thanks to Keeley and Sherrard; is there any other poet who translates so well into English? The French poet Philippe Jaccottet has been translated by Derek Mahon, in a parallel text – contemplative, thought-provoking poems.The Finnish poet Edith Sf6dergran (early 20th century, wrote in Swedish, died young of TB) has been translated by David McDuff, published by Bloodaxe. It’s out of print, and in English only. Very weird, visionary, imagistic poems, some quite spine-chilling; both modernist and romantic. I’d also recommend The Poetry of Survival: Post-war Poets of Central and Eastern Europe (Penguin International Poets) edited by Daniel Weissbort, available second-hand via Amazon etc. And Miroslav Holub, utterly magical and compelling, Czechoslovak scientist from Iron Curtain days; various translations on Amazon, but I don’t think there’s a parallel text. Then there’s Durs Grfcnbein, translated by Michael Hoffman for Faber – but alas it’s not in a parallel text. Could we have more of those, please? I’d love to get more recommendations of younger, contemporary fogiren-langauge poets like DG. There must be people in the academic world who are reading them. The magazine Modern Poetry in Translation seems to be doing its best to bridge the divide between academia and the poetry world, but one magazine, however good, can’t do that on its own. As for North America.. where to start? Good to see Marie Howe and Kay Ryan mentioned; what about Jorie Graham (eg. her Selected, Dream of a Unified Field publ Carcanet, though it doesn’t include more recent stuff) – she does great things with form and thought. And Louise Gluck’s Wild Iris. Three I’ve enjoyed a lot recently are Philip Nikolayev, publ Salt, who writes some weird but very interesting stuff; Brenda Shaughnessy, very vivid, erotic and eclectic; and the Canadian Karen Solie who I’d never heard of until she had two poems in the last Magma (thanks!!) which sent me straight off to find her books. I’ve reviewed all 3 poets on my blog, which should be linked to at the top of this post.

I translate potrey, it's my main activity: few can say that. From French, JEAN CASSOU (2 books etc published) who is my own discovery, from an English point of view; VICTOR HUGO (1 book etc) so grievously underrated here, and a great human being: Harry Guest's anthology is best Mostly unpublished, my ROBERT DESNOS, though Magma is one of very many magazines in which I've placed him: a huge book waiting in this computer: the most exciting French poet of the last century: died at Terezin aged 45. Most translators fight shy of his big rhymed poems. NERVAL, a book in waiting: yes, Derek Mahon's Chimeras' are the best so far.From German: BERT BRECHT, great poet as well as great playwright. About half his 1500 poems are available in English. From Spanish: ALFONSO REYES (Mexico) whom his successor Octavio Paz called a group of writers, a whole literature': I published his Homer in Cuernavaca'; not much potrey has appeared in English; another big book, one day. From Greek: ANGELOS SIKELIANOS, the last great traditional poet of Greece.By other translators: Radnoti Francis Jones. Lalic ditto. Laforge Peter Dale. Villon ditto. Verlaine Martin Sorrell. Rimbaud ditto. Pre9vert Sarah Lawson. Horace Colin Sydenham. Any Latin poet by James Michie. Rilke Martyn Crucefix. Rilke McNeill & McCarthy. Careame Christopher Pilling whose fantastic Corbie8re is hard to find. Baudelaire Walter Martin (Carcanet). Juan Ruiz the Archpriest Elizabeth Drayson. Pessoa Jonathan Griffin. Cavafy any translator. Borges a huge American volume which I've mislaid if only our publishers worked on that scale!

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruitOf that fdobirden tree whose mortal tasteBrought death into the world and all our woe,With loss of Eden, till one greater ManRestore us and regain the blissful seat,Sing, Heav'nly Muse, that on the secret topOf Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspireThat shepherd who first taught the chosen seedIn the beginning how the heav'ns and earthRose out of Chaos; or if Sion hillDelight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'dFast by the oracle of God, I thenceInvoke thy aid to my advent'rous song,That with no middle flight intends to soarAbove th' Aonian mount, while it pursuesThings unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.And chiefly thou, O Spirit, that dost preferBefore all temples th' upright heart and pure,Instruct me, for thou know'st; thou from the firstWast present, and, with mighty wings outspread,Dove-like sat'st brooding on the vast AbyssAnd mad'st it pregnant: what in me is darkIllumine, what is low raise and support,That to the highth of this great argumentI may assert Eternal ProvidenceAnd justify the ways of God to men.

Thanks for the link, Jennifer.I'd like to strongly remmocend the Arc parallel text version of Valerie Rouzeau's Pas revoir (Valerie Rouzeau, Cold Spring in Winter, translated by Susan Wicks). It's a deeply moving elegy to the poet's father, using language in a brilliantly innovative, fractured and multidimensional way to bring out simple, heartfelt intensities of feeling.As these entries have ranged further back in time I'm surprised that no one's mentioned Baudelaire or Nerval (or Rimbaud, though he's not one of my favourites). There are lots of Baudelaire translations none in verse that I'd particularly remmocend, though I'm sure there must be good ones, but if you have basic French the Francis Scarfe prose glosses are a useful crutch. I'm sure Anvil still publishes the complete verse in French with Scarfe's translations at the foot. Derek Mahon has had a long engagement with Gerard de Nerval and has translated Les chimeres (grave accent on the first e) and there's a good parallel text version by Peter Jay.Picking up on Laura's references to Pavese and Montale, there's a very useful Carcanet parallel text of Pavese's humane, accessible poems with translations by Geoffrey Brock (Cesare Pavese, Disaffections: Complete Poems 1930 1950). Montale is a difficult but immensely rewarding poet I'd remmocend the Farrar, Straus and Giroux Collected Poems, a parallel text translated and copiously annotated by Jonathan Galassi.

What an interesting peosrn. She has a lovely radio voice as well. Enjoyed the interview.My aunt was a poet, she really taught me an appreciation for poems rhyming and not. I like Kate's approach to rhyming a soft alliteration more than a strict rhyme.

Andy, I agree there isn't much more to be said after that I saw Shane a few years back in Edinburgh and I was mesmerised (and splesheecs). He really had us in the palm of his hand, one minute laughing our heads off, the next weeping at a poem like this. Alexander I'm glad you enjoyed it. It inspires me too, to write better, but also to express my ideas, emotions and beliefs, and not to be scared of being human wilson, I believe that too. And you know, I feel so blessed to have such wonderful readers here. You give me such strength and encouragement. Conor that is just the right way to describe it. Thank you.

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