Interview _ Giacomo Savani

Giacomo Savani is an archaeologist, a writer, and an artist.

His short stories have been featured in anthologies and magazines that include Italian Shorts (Caracò Editore, 2012); 10:25 International and Con.Tempo.

In this interview, Savani talks about poetry and Journeys in Translation.

How would you describe the work that you do?

I am an archaeologist, a writer, and an artist and I like to combine these three ‘souls’ in my work. I have written and illustrated several historical short stories, sometimes in collaboration with other authors, such as the novelist and archaeologist Victoria Thompson.

I like to investigate the positive impact that imagination and art have on archaeological research, incorporating creative work and reflective practice.

Who or what has had the most influence on you as a writer?

Ancient classics have played a major role in my education and are still greatly influential on my work. Among modern authors, I would certainly mention Dylan Thomas, Beppe Fenoglio, Boris Vian, J.D. Salinger, and Haruki Murakami.

How did you get involved with Journeys in Translation?

I heard about Journeys in Translation through a friend of mine, a Greek writer that suggested my name to the organisers. I was excited about taking part to this project and I decided to translate all of the poems on the list.

Which were the most challenging aspects of the work you put into the project?

Translating texts written by such a variety of authors in so many different styles and ‘languages’ has been undoubtedly a great challenge for me. Sometimes, I was immediately captivated by the atmosphere and rhythm of a poem, which I then almost naturally translated into my own poetic language (e.g. "Framed" and "Waiting").

Other times, this process has been much longer and more complex. The poem "but one country" has been particularly challenging. I had to work on the text and, at the same time, on its ‘shape’, as this can be considered an example of concrete poetry. While I am pleased with the result, I see it more as a technical exercise than an act of creativity.

Overall, however, working on this project has been a very rewarding experience. Before starting to collaborate with Journeys in Translation, I never had the chance to translate poems. Thanks to this project, I discovered the beauty and labour of this sophisticated art.

Giacomo Savani's Italian translation of Marilyn Ricci’s “Framed”, Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) p. 114.

What would you say is the value of initiatives like Journeys in Translation?

I think that initiatives like this one are an extremely powerful way to engage with compelling socio-political problems such as the current migrant crisis in Europe. In particular, I find that giving a new voice to people suffering much hardship and deprivation is a beautiful, humanistic act, which will hopefully contribute to create a bridge of empathy between different cultures and backgrounds.

Editor's Note:

Journeys in Translation aims to facilitate cross- and inter-cultural conversations around the themes of home, belonging and refuge.

The project encourages people who are bilingual or multilingual to have a go at translating 13 of the 101 poems from Over Land: Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) from English into other languages and to share the translations, and reflections on the exercise on blogs, in letters and emails to family and friends, and on social media.

So far, the 13 poems that are being used as part of the project have been translated into languages that include Italian, German, Shona, Spanish, Bengali, British Sign Language, Farsi, Finnish, French, Turkish and Welsh. Currently, over 20 people from all over the world are working on the translations. More translations and more languages are on the way.

In Leicester, Journeys in Translation will culminate in an event that is going to be held on September 30 as part of Everybody's Reading 2017. During the event the original poems and translations will be read, discussed and displayed.

Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) was edited by Kathleen Bell, Emma Lee and Siobhan Logan and is being sold to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF)Leicester City of Sanctuary and the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum.

Copies of the anthology are available from Five Leaves Bookshop (Nottingham).

More information on how Over Land, Over Sea came about is available here.


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