Multilingual poetry

On Sunday I attended an evening of multilingual poetry in Bangor that feature poets from Wales and India who read poems in Welsh, English, Bengali, Malayalam and Manipuri. It was part of a project to build links between Wales and India which involved the Welsh poets translating poems by the Indian poets into Welsh, and vice versa. They also translated their poems into English. A similar event will be taking place in Ultracomida in Aberystwyth tomorrow.

I could understand the poems in Welsh quite well, and while I didn’t understand any of the poems in the languages of India, it was fascinating just to hear these three very different languages, each of which belongs to a different language family – Bengali is Indo-Aryan, Malayalam is Dravidian and Manipuri is Tibeto-Burman. Unfortunately I didn’t get any recordings of them so I can’t share them with you.

Understanding poetry in foreign languages can be quite challenging, even if you speak them well. Poetic language can differ from every day language in various ways, but I find it worth the effort to try to read and appreciate poems in their original languages rather than just relying on translations.

3 thoughts on “Multilingual poetry

  1. They didn’t – the Welsh poems were translated into English by the Welsh poets, then the Indian poets translated them into their languages.

  2. Regarding Welsh speaking Asians, I remember years ago there used to be featured quite frequently on S4C a South Wales businessman by the name of Sirajul Islam originally from Bangladesh who’d learnt Welsh. S4C even made a documentary about him filming his journey back to his village in Bangladesh called ‘Nôl i Fangladesh’ (Back to Bangladesh) which won an award, I think? So Indian, Asian Welsh speaker did exist and the children of any ethic minorities in Wales will have some schooling in Welsh so their numbers in the future should be on the increase.

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