Enriching, democratic and mobbed: the Leipziger Buchmesse, which takes place in March in Leipzig’s spectacular glass and steel Messehalle, is not to be missed. I travelled there with a group that included translators from England, Finland, Iceland, Ireland, the Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Sweden. Our first appointment was at LesArt, a seemingly unique facility that uses innovative tools to interest children in reading. As LesArt’s director, Sabine Mähne, told us about overnight reading parties, trips to Berlin landmarks that feature in novels and reading groups that were so much fun they endured beyond childhood, I think we all wished we’d lived in LesArt’s catchment area when we were children.
The discussion quickly turned to the translation of books for children and young people. If the amount of literature translated into English is low overall – estimates suggest that only 3% of new titles released annually in Britain are translated works – it’s even lower in the children’s market, and the share going to German books is pitiful.
Publishers put up all kinds of obstacles apparently, citing cultural differences even when it comes to the drawings that appeal to young children. It seems a great shame to miss the opportunity to introduce children … Read More »
Review of ‘Outside the Narrative’ by Tom Leonard: Etruscan Books/Word Power Books
I vividly recall the first time I read a Tom Leonard poem. It was Yon Night and it was yon man (my dad) who showed it to me. The poem tells of a bitter-sweet confluence of emotions: joy at seeing Celtic cuff Leeds at Hampden and the misery of unrequited love: “ana wuz thaht happy/ana wuz thaht fed up/ hoffa mi wuz greetnaboot Celtic/anhoffa mi wuz greetnabout hur”. It’s funny, poignant and has the pitch perfection that is Leonard’s hallmark, but what drew me to it was the langwij in which it was written. Reading it was like watching the first episode of Taggart. Glasgow flashed past and suddenly I saw: excitement (glamorous cop shows, modern poetry) wasn’t something that happened elsewhere. Excitement could be mine.
The days when printers refused to print Leonard’s poems and they were banned in schools are long gone, but he continues to rail against the dominant narrative and to poke fun
Outside the Narrative, a selection of poems from 1965 to 2009, is dedicated to all those excluded from the excitement. The title poem, a triptych that ends with a white rectangle obscuring the words, … Read More »