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Looking Eastward - book cover


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Poetry from Eastern Europe, the Subcontinent, China, and Hughes

LOOKING EASTWARD
Edited by Daniel Weissbort
Poetry
ISBN 0-9533824-9-4 (paper) $16.95
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5½ x 8½
288 pages

Weissbort's intention was to end his tenure with the series Modern Poetry in Translation with an issue devoted, in part, to Eastern Europe, as the first book in the MPT series (1965) was largely devoted to this region or, more precisely, to the first post-War generation of poets, such as Zbigniew Herbert, Miroslav Holub, and Vasko Popa. In this most recent volume of MPT, Weissbort explores the changed landscape of the past thirty years, including interviews with writers of succeeding generations and a few survivors from the Herbert generation.

Other features of Looking Eastward include a broad selection of MPT co-founder Ted Hughes' unpublished translations from various languages and time periods.

One of these translations is a long poem by the Hungarian poet Ferenc Juhasz, “The Boy Changed into a Stag Cries out at the Gate of Secrets.” Hughes saw the poem, in a version by Kenneth McRobbie, in a 1963 anthology of Hungarian writing, introduced by W.H. Auden who described it as “one of the greatest poems written in my time.” Hughes produced his own version in the latter part of the Sixties while Weissbort was visiting him in Devon, perhaps to discuss a projected Hungarian issue of MPT, which was to be guest-edited by the Hungarian poet Janos Csokits, with whom Hughes later translated the poetry of Janos Pilinszky. It is appropriate that this poem should appear now, so many years later, in the series for which it was originally intended. What is intriguing about this translation, of course, is that Hughes felt able to rewrite or, as it were, to translate the English version, without reference to any source text, whereas in other circumstances, such as when faced by the poet himself or by the source text itself in a literal translation, he felt compelled to stay as close as possible to the wording and even syntax of the original.

European Voices - book cover


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European Voices in Translation

EUROPEAN VOICES
Edited by Daniel Weissbort
ISBN 0-9533824-4-3 (paper) $16.95
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5½ x 8½
278 pp

MPT performs a unique and invaluable service—extending the range of world-reading, and making all those who care about poetry feel grateful to be part of a larger community.
—Andrew Motion

At a time of frequent provincialism and narrowing, MPT has opened windows on landscapes of feeling, of insight otherwise inaccessible. Danny Weissbort's selections and editorship have been much more than a “literary” act. They have argued for freedom against despotism, for the paradox of hope in even the darkest of poetry. One need only visit some of the more difficult points on the horizon to know what MPT has meant to its contributors and readers.
—George Steiner

European Voices makes no attempt to represent the poetries of Europe today—how could it?—but gathers material that has come to us over a period of a year or so. Some 17 languages are represented, of Eastern, Central, Western, Southern and Northern Europe. On display are translations ranging from Classical Greek to quite recent poetry, as well as re-translations of major European poets (Goethe, Verlaine, Pasternak, Montale…).

The present issue also contains a feature on the American poet, teacher, historian, translator Peter Viereck. In his eighties, Viereck has always lived in that larger world of literature. The actual location of the writer is less important than a continuing commitment to language as such. Joseph Brodsky, who was a close friend of Viereck, once remarked that wherever he was, Leningrad, New York, South Hadley, Mass., the gesture he made as he reached for a dictionary was the same.

Translators include David Constantine, Robin Fulton, Michael Hamburger, and Marilyn Hacker.

Mother Tongues - book cover


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MOTHER TONGUES
Edited by Stephen Watts, Daniel Weissbort, and Norma Rinsler
ISBN 0-939010-65-8 (paper), $16.95
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5½ x 8½
304 pages

The series Modern Poetry in Translation was founded by Daniel Weissbort and Ted Hughes in 1965, and since that time has achieved an international reputation for the wide range of poets and translators that it presents, as well as for its serious and lively discussion of the art of translating poetry. Each volume of the series offers a themed special section in addition to a wide-ranging selection of poems from other times and places, plus essays on translation, reviews, an ongoing exchange of readers' and contributors' comments, and occasional features on individual translators.

Mother Tongues brings together the work of poets who are or were resident in the UK, writing in languages other than English, Welsh or Gaelic. The field is large, ranging from the old BBC contingent, to recent immigrants and political refugees. As well as translations of poetry, the collection contains seven or eight short essays by living poets, which from a linguistic and cultural point of view, look into the predicament of writing in a language, which is not that of the writer's larger environment. The experience of exile, marginalization, and issues such as that of artistic integrity will also be addressed in these pieces.

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