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Work / related

Two outings in two days, both of them connected with work and both of them great fun!

On Tuesday evening we were at the Lit & Phil, for a panel discussion on translation. This was quite a coup for the Lit & Phil: from five books short-listed for the Duncan Lawrie International Dagger, three of the translators were present, two days before the winner is announced. The CWA gala dinner and awards ceremony is tonight, and then we’ll find out which of the books has won – exceptionally, this is a prize which recognises that a translation is collaboration between author and translator, and rewards both of them.

So Ros Schwarz, Stephen Sartarelli and Peter Millar are rivals for the prestige (not to mention the cash) which goes with the Dagger; but you wouldn’t have known to hear them speak. It was more like being allowed to eavesdrop on a conversation between fellow professionals who were enjoying comparing notes on their job, discovering which things they did alike and which they did completely differently. For Ann Cleeves (who, as a partisan of crime fiction in translation, did a fine job of chairing the session) , it was less a matter of getting her guests to speak and more of trying to hold them back when the conversation raced off in all directions! It was a lively and often very funny evening (and the only disappointment was that one of the publishers had failed to deliver copies of the books under discussion, so it wasn’t possible to buy them).

Then yesterday we headed south to Middlesbrough, to mima where Smokestack Books were launching two poetry collections from a USA we don’t often see: a radical, left-wing USA, a USA in which the colonised speak louder than the colonists. It was an unusual poetry reading in that two of the rpoets were reading from anthologies, not their own work (Jon Andersen, editor of Seeds of Fire, who told us that if you exclude a twenty minute detour across the Canadian border, this was his first trip outside the USA, and Ellen Phethean, publisher of The Ropes). The star performer was Martín Espada, who didn’t so much read his poems about Puerto Rico as sing them, and even dance them.

Unexpectedly, the two events turned out to be linked by yet another of our clients. One of the questions Ann Cleeves asked her panel was "Which book would you most like the chance to translate?" All of their responses sounded fascinated, but Ros Schwarz’s nomination of Le Message by Andrée Chedid rang a bell: Flambard Press had published a collection of Andrée Chedid’s short stories. Better still, Flambard Press, in the persons of Peter and Margaret Lewis, were present to say so.

Flambard Press were not in Middlesbrough yesterday – but one of their books was: another of the supporting readers was Maureen Almond. Her current book is Recollections, a collection of poems about pieces in the Museum of Antiquities, each poem accompanied by a photograph of its subject taken by Glyn Goodrick (and taken, Maureen explained to us, after he had read the poem). South Shields God (as posted in Maureen’s blog) is one of the poems she read.

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