Nottingham poet & British Sign Language translator to take part in Int. Translation Day event

Elvire Roberts, a poet and British Sign Language translator and interpreter from Nottingham will be taking part in Journeys in Translation, an event that is being held at the African Caribbean Centre in Maidstone Road, Leicester on September 30, to mark International Translation Day 2017.

The event is being held as part of Everybody's Reading, Leicester's nine-day festival of reading.

As part of the event, Elvire Roberts will translate two poems, Pam Thompson's "Dislocation" and Trevor Wright's "Yalla", from English into British Sign Language.

International Translation Day is held around the world annually on 30 September.

For the Journeys in Translation, 13 poems were selected from Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge, a poetry anthology published in 2015 by Nottingham's Five Leaves Publications.

The poems have since been translated into more than 20 languages.

The poems are also being 'translated' in other ways as well. For example, one of the poems, "Yalla" has been treated to a Contemporary Music for All (CoMA East Midlands) musical conceptualisation, and, two visual artists are currently working on visual responses or illustrations to the poems.

The poems and at least one translation of each will be performed at the Journeys in Translation event in Leicester on September 30.

Posters of the poems and translations will also be on display at the event.

Elvire Roberts says,
Translating poetry from English into British Sign Language is the ultimate challenge because the two languages work differently and have a completely different structure.

It was a delight to be able to talk to the Over Land, Over Sea poets Pam Thompson and Trevor Wright, check my understanding with them, and ask about intended effects.

With Pam’s poem, I knew immediately how the handshapes would work, that repetition and rhythm were particularly important, as well as keeping the vocabulary true to the original. With Trevor’s poem I needed to hear about the pictures he saw in his mind’s eye so that I could re-create them in British Sign Language's inherent filmic mode.
Elvire Roberts and Trevor Wright at the Quiet Riot disability Poetry event that was held on 21 April 2017 as part of the Nottingham Poetry Festival which was also the first outing of the British Sign Language translation of "Yalla".

Project coordinator, Ambrose Musiyiwa says,
Journeys in Translation aims to facilitate cross- and inter-cultural conversation around themes of home, belonging and refuge. It encourages speakers, learners and teachers of other languages to translate or encourage others to translate as many of the 13 poems as possible and to share the translations and reflections on the translations through blogs, in letters and emails to family and friends, on social media, and elsewhere.

The initiative also encourages people, as individuals or communities, to organise related events in their localities. The events could be translation workshops or sessions at which the 13 poems and translations are read and discussed.

Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge was edited by Kathy 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.

So far, the anthology has raised about £3,000 for the three charities.

Five Leaves Publications director, Ross Bradshaw says,
In 2015, towards the end of summer, a group of East Midlands writers started discussing the refugee crisis.

The outcome was Over Land, Over Sea, which brings together poems and short fiction from 80 writers from around the world all of whom, through the anthology, respond to people who are seeking refuge, the journeys they are making and how they are being received in Europe and in countries like Britain.

Some of the contributors to the anthology are well-known or are at the start of their career. Some are refugees or from other migrant families, others have campaigned or raised funds for refugees in the past.

Journeys in Translation builds on Over Land, Over Sea and, like the anthology on which it is based, encourages people to look closely at language and images and the effect these have on how we treat people who are looking for refuge. It is good to see there are people in villages, towns and cities in Britain and around the world simultaneously working on the translations.
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. 

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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