The Christopher Nicholson Prize
The school’s annual poetry in translation event concluded with a virtual visit from Booker Prize-longlisted literary translator Sophie Hughes. Sophie judged a shortlist of eight brilliant translations by our DG (Year 12) students. The source languages the pupils translated from reflected both their diversity and their language teachers’ efforts. School languages like German, French and Spanish were represented, but so were Russian, Igbo and Malayalam.
After speaking to the students about the life of a literary translator, and discussing each poem in a detailed way, it was time for Sophie’s choices. Highly commended entries included Charlie’s version of ‘Dormeur du Val’ by Rimbaud, and a rendering of Rilke’s ‘Der Leser’ by Zara.
However Sophie picked Hannah’s wonderful version of a Tamil poem by Rajathi Salma as her winner. Sophie picked out several features of Hannah’s translation, including the very inventive English title, ‘pov’. and commented: ‘It was a real pleasure and honour to talk to such a bright young cohort. I was very impressed by ‘pov’. It took me a few readings myself to realise just how much thought had gone into the translation, and I was impressed by what she was able to draw from the original. The best translators are the best readers, I think!’
Hannah’s work is printed below.
கோணம் – Rajathi Salma
தலைகீழாகத் தலைவாரிக் கொண்டிருப்பதை
தலைகீழாக அமர்ந்து குழைந்தைக்குப்
தலைக்கீழாக ப் புத்தகம் வாசிப்பதை
அச்சத்துடன் வியந்து பார்த்தபடியிருக்கிறது
eat upside down,
I cook upside down,
I stand upside down,
I comb my hair upside down,
I nurse the baby at my breast upside down.
I even read my book upside down.
Hanging upside down in the garden,
Warming on a sunny tree,
Peering intently back at me,
Eyes filled with dread and
Wonder, is a