Poetry Exchange between South Asia and Germany

The Goethe-Institute has created a forum in order to translate poetry into German and also into the languages of South Asia

July 13th, 2016
Jessica Sama, CD News

"Poets Translating Poets" is a project which began in July 2015 by the Goethe-Institut-Mumbai, in collaboration with Literaturwerkstatt Berlin and in Cooperation with Deutsche UNESCO. The project was created with the purpose of providing a platform for poets from South Asia and from Germany to translate each other’s works.

Contemporary poetry from Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Sri Lanka will be translated into German by well-known German poets, while German poetry will similarly be translated into South Asian languages during the course of the project. By bringing together 51 poets, including 17 German poets, through literary encounters in several South Asian locations this project promises to stimulate new literary networks and open new avenues for transcultural understanding.

The poems will be translated through unconventional methods, for instance not by translators with a command of the native language. Rather the translations will be the result of an elaborate process of understanding and questioning, involving week-long encounters between fifty poets from across nine locations in Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and India.

The task of this new type of translation is to create a literal, word-to-word translation of the original texts, not only highlighting the semantic and grammatical attributes but also providing readers with the real meaning of the words in their original language.

One of the main purpose of this project is to bring closer the German and South Asian literary culture, considering that contemporary German poetry is virtually unknown in South Asia and accessible primarily in English translation, which according to the organizers, attracts little attention from Asian people.

This is reason enough for the Goethe-Institute to build bridges at a time of often violent discourse on identity and marginalization between cultures.

Several readings and talks with the participating poets have been scheduled in Germany from June to October 2016. The grand finale will be in Mumbai from the 25th of November until the 27th of November 2016. 


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