As women in translation month returns, the task is simple – just read!
So I went to a new publisher of Slavonic literature, Glagoslav, and found the perfect way to start. Lydia Grigorieva’s Shards from the Polar Ice is out today and will be beamed to my e-reader by the time you read this.
After a false start, you can hear her reading her work in Russian and English in a British Library recording from the Between two Worlds project.
Born in Ukraine, growing up on the Arctic Circle, and now living in London, Grigorieva has a lot to say about the experience of being stripped of language in an alien land. As she wrote in 2001, translated by Richard McKane in Modern Poetry in Translation: “So, in a flash I became deaf, dumb, blind. I, the celebrated Russian poetess! … In England, God speaks to poets in English, I supposed. What otherwise could be the reason for this long silence from above?
Four years passed, before I once again heard within me that music of transcendent sorrow and suffering, which made my heart beat faster. All those sounds, images, the blurred shape of lines and quatrains, which afterwards turn into poems, slowly returned to me.”
Now the music has returned, and been turned into English for you by a master turner. Working with Olga Nakston, the translator John Farndon has a fascinating intellectual and creative history of his own.
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