Indian, French poets to translate each other’s works | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Indian, French poets to translate each other’s works

For poetry lovers in the city, this weekend will be a rare, multi-lingual treat — three poets from Mumbai, coming together with three from France, reading some of each others’ best contemporary verse in English, French and even Marathi.

mumbai Updated: Sep 25, 2010 02:19 IST
Aarefa Johari

For poetry lovers in the city, this weekend will be a rare, multi-lingual treat — three poets from Mumbai, coming together with three from France, reading some of each others’ best contemporary verse in English, French and even Marathi.

The French poets Caroline Sagot-Duvaroux, Danielle Memoire and Franck Andre Jamme, have been in the city for the past five days, having their work translated into English and Marathi by three Mumbai bards in intense workshops at the Alliance Francaise.

“It’s important to have poets translate other poets, since they can best convey a poetic musicality and cadence,” said poet Sampurna Chattarji, who, along with Mustansir Dalvi, has translated the French verses into English. These were then further rendered into Marathi by poet Hemant Divate.

The intense translation workshops as well as the public readings on September 25 and 27 are part of ‘Import/Export’, a translation exchange programme organised by the International Centre of Poetry, Marseille (cipM), a French poetry forum. Every year, the programme promotes inter-cultural translation between poets from Marseille and another city, and for this year’s Mumbai-Marseille edition, cipM has collaborated with the Delhi French Embassy and the PEN All-India Centre.

“We have had Import/Exports with poets from many Arabian countries, but coming to Mumbai has been a dream which is finally working out,” said Francois Lespiau, administrator of cipM, which will publish an anthology of all the translated work next year. For the poets, the programme has been an opportunity to explore the poetic universes of artistes from another culture. “The French poets play a lot with language, trying to convey its absurdity and complexity,” said Divate, who describes his own verse as more linear and concerned with a post-globalisation world.

While Memoire and Duvaroux had never heard of Marathi before this tour, Jamme’s works have already been translated into Bengali and Hindi before. “I have been to India several times before and references to its culture often enter my poetry in oblique ways,” he said.

The Indian poets are now looking forward to their Marseille tour in February 2011, where their poems will be translated into French for another public reading.

(The public readings of the translated works from Import/Export will be held at Prithvi House, Juhu, at 6.30 pm on September 25 and at Theosophy Hall, New marine Lines, at 6.15 pm on September 27)