Saturday, 22 October 2011
It isn't every day that you meet an Italian who lives in Paris, and who's just won a prize for his translation from Spanish into English.
But then it isn't every day that my small town hosts an international poetry competition. In this case, it was a contest to translate the poems of Federico García Lorca, and the first prize winner, Alberto, came to stay with us while he was visiting to read his poem.
Alberto even invited us along to the evening event where he was reading. There was some great music and a short (silent) film, and then the shortlisted poems were read out. Not all the translators could be there to read their own work, but the judges stepped up to do some of the reading themselves.
The judges, two US academics, were across for the Cheltenham literature festival, so they were able to come to Stroud as part of the same trip. But in contrast to what I imagine of their (sold out) literature festival appearance, we had the advantage of a small room and plenty of opportunities to chat with them.
It was a really fun evening, and introduced me to a few poems I wouldn't otherwise have heard - in new and excellent translations. We had neither death nor cognac, but the title phrase was one that sticks in my mind, nevertheless. Also, did you know there was a version of the Spanish flag in which the lowest stripe was purple? I kind of wish they'd kept it that way...
Photos: Alberto reading, and later, asked to sign a copy of his poem.