Poet’s Corner Hits The News/Amanda Gorman Translation Furore/Scottish Makar Selection – Poetry News Roundup March 12th

Our final poetry round-up of the week looks at the novel use for poets corner, the translator who is not suitable to translate Amanda Gorman, and the new Scots Makar.

Poets Corner in the News

On Wednesday, Poets corner at Westminster Abbey, resting place of great writers like Geoffrey Chaucer and Charles Dickens, became host to a vaccination centre for the first time. The Actor and presenter Stephen Fry was amongst the first people to be vaccinated in the historic Abbey in a move that the Abbey’s Dean described as the right thing to do; opening the doors that have been closed to the public for so long for such a worthy cause.

Catalan Translator Not Right Choice to Translate Amanda Gorman

Last week we brought you an article about the Dutch poet who had been dropped as the translator selected to translate a number of works by Amanda Gorman into Dutch because it was felt the work should be carried out by a black translator. Now we can report that the person who was selected to translate a number of Gorman’s poems into Catalan has also been dropped, despite completing the work.

Victor Obiols has been dropped from the project as he has been told he does not have the right “profile”. The publishers have decided that they need a translator who is “a woman, young, activist and preferably black”. This announcement follows a request that was made to the publishers by Viking Books, a US group.

Obiols is an experienced translator whose previous work includes translations of the works of Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare. The publishers have not questioned the ability of Obiols to complete the work and have agreed to pay him for the project. However, he is concerned.

In a statement, he said that if he is not able to translate the work of Gorman because she is a young Black woman, an American and living in the 21st century, how can he then translate the work of Homer, as he is not a Greek living in the 8th century BC, or Shakespeare as he is certainly not an Englishman in the 16th century.

There has been no announcement yet regarding a new translator to complete the work.

New Selection Process for Scottish Makar

An announcement is expected any day now as to who the new Scottish Makar will be, replacing Jackie Kay when as approaches the end of her five-year tenure.

This time, however, it has emerged that the selection process for the Makar will be different. The decision is usually made as a formal appointment by the First Minister and there is no need for it to go through the more formal decision process that other roles are subjected to.

The post of Makar carries a £10,000 stipend the is paid on behalf of the government in Scotland by Creative Scotland.

The decision process for selecting a new makar is made when a shortlist is presented to all of the First Ministers who are still living. This year that would mean Sturgeon and Salmond would need to meet and given the current circumstances, it seems that neither are keen to sit in a meeting together.

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