Here at My Poetic Side we have recently heard the sad news that Sarah Maguire the poet and translator has passed away at the age of 60, another loss in the literary world.
Sarah Maguire, Poet and Translator RIP
Sarah Maguire who had been struggling with breast cancer died on 2nd November 2017. During her lifetime, she played a valuable role in the world of British poetry and also in the world of poetry translation, she travelled all over the world translating other people’s poems into English so that more people might enjoy them.
Born on 26th March 1957 in London to an Irish mother, Sarah was placed in an orphanage. She was adopted by the Maguire’s; both school teachers, who fell in love with her and had to adopt her after she smiled at her father. She was raised in West London and gained a scholarship to Notting Hill and Ealing high school. She didn’t however finish her schooling, she left early to pursue a career as the first female gardener with Ealing council. It was this early love of plants and nature that was later to be the inspiration for much of her poetry.
During the 1970’s her other interests began to come to the fore, with radical politics, mental health, feminism and poetry leading to a change in career. She became involved with Release, the drugs charity and began work as a mental health worker. It was during this time that she met many people she had an affinity with like the poet Ian Duhig, and once again a complete change of direction with her life began.
Sarah Maguire enrolled at the University of East Anglia and began a degree in English. Having gained a first she began studying for a D Phil at Cambridge, her chosen subject as the construction of femininity in the 18th century novel. She did not complete her D Phil but decided instead to concentrate on her poetry. Her first collection of poetry “Spilt Milk” was published in 1991 and was followed in 1997 by “Invisible Mender”.
In 1996, working for the British Council Sarah was sent to Palestine, she was the first writer to fulfil this role. This was the catalyst that led to her work as a poetry translator. Working with the poets themselves she began translating contemporary Arabic poetry into English. This was her passion for the next 20 years.
2004 saw the founding of the Poetry Translation Centre based at London University. The main aim of the centre was to introduce poets from around the world to new audiences by creating translations that allowed the translator to work with both the original poet and a literal translation of their work to create something that retained all of the character of the original whilst gaining a voice in English.
In 2007 Sarah Maguire published her third and final collection of poetry “The Pomegranates of Kandahar”.
During her career Maguire worked with many distinguished poets including Mahmoud Darwish the Palestinian poet, Al-Saddiq Al-Raddo from the Sudan, Afghan poet Naderi Partaw and Yama Yari with whom she not only translated Afghan poetry but also a novel.