Poetry in Translation is a recent initiative, only a week old in fact, and its future will depend on you, poetry lovers, readers, translators and presenters who wish to get involved in its activities. The idea came to me to arrange a series of presentations of little known foreign poets at the Poetry Cafe, Betterton Street, and before going any further I would like to thanks the Poetry Society and the Poetry Cafe for making this excellent venue available at such a reasonable price. The first meeting took place on Wednesday 27 January (see Events Page) when John Dewey introduced us to the Russian poet Fyodor Tyutchev,  Sebastian Hayes, assisted by Melanie Bouffard, introduced us to the Belle Epoque French poet, Anna de Noailles and Sarah Lawson introduced us to the Mexican poet Manuel Ulacia who died in 2000. (Shortly, there will appear on this site articles by the presenters summarizing what they said and read to the public.)   All thanks incidentally  to Sarah Lawson and John Dewey for agreeing to appear at a time when I could not guarantee them an audience of more than half a dozen people! Thanks also to the Society of Authors and the Translators’ Association, also to Tirsta Selhous instigator of the members-ta e-mail group, without whom  I would not have met one of met one of the presenters, Sarah Lawson, and who also helped me to broadcast news of the event.

As it happened, the inaugural evening was very well attended, partly because of the presence of the Camden Mews Translators’ Group who will themselves be giving two presentations later this year, the first on May 26.

As to this website and the future of the group, it depends on what you see fit to make of it.  The website  can be used in all sorts of different ways, for example as a place to post extracts from works you are engaged on, to make known your own previous or forthcoming publications, to bring favourite foreign authors to the notice of others, to seek advice on technical matters, or, at the other end of the spectrum, to introduce  free discussion of more philosophic issues, such as, for example, whether all languages have a common substratum (Chomsky), whether a particular language embodies a ‘view of the world’ (Whorf, Sapir), whether it is a good thing that English seems to be the present and future international language and whether it is meaningful to call computer ‘languages’ by that name.

At present, it will be necessary to direct contributions  via myself myself,  Sebastian Hayes, preferably on Word file, e-mail sebastianhayes@tiscali.co.uk   (This is unfortunately an essential precaution to avoid being inundated by spam, and indeed though I welcome and encourage comments I retain the power to vet them for the same reason — the site had hardly existed for twenty-four hours before it received the unwelcome attention of firms  disguising their publicity  as ‘comments’.) Eventually, it should be possible to form an association and to distribute passwords so that each member has direct access to the site, but this is something for the future.

Anyone who wants to do a presentation should contact me : there are still some slots left for this year but already I am glad to say I have managed to persuade several known poets and translators to give presentations.   I have personally paid in advance for the entire series for this year and will reimburse myself from the entry fee which is set at £5/3 conc. per person. I am able to offer presenters travelling expenses and food and drink on the premises, but not a fee as such.

Hoping that this project will prove to be of much interest and benefit both to translators and to the general public, but for this to be so I count on your assistance and participation.

Sebastian Hayes   4/2/10