European Literature Night is three years old; an event, which takes place simultaneously throughout many cities in Europe. 2012 was the first year that the event came to Scotland and I discoveredanotherliterary haven in Edinburgh. The Scottish Poetry Library is hidden down St Crichton’s Close on the Royal Mile and it is quite delightful.
I arrived early and had plenty of time to peruse the shelves. To my chagrin, I hadn’t heard of 99% of the poets on them. (Now you know why I signed up for Read More, Blog More Poetry challenge ….). Actually the whole evening seemed designed to make me feel ill-read. There wasn’t a single name on the programme that I recognised.
Nevertheless it was an evening of many surprises with multi-lingual poetry recitals, discussions on drama, Czech and Gallic literature. And what an eye-opener the latter subject proved to be. Would you believe that the Gallic Book Council has a policy of not allowing one of their books to be translated into English for at least 3 years? This is to allow Gallic to exist on its own outwith English as most Gallic writers speak better English than Gallic. The outcome of this is that the short story collection An Claigeann Aig Damien Hirst has a German edition Der Schädel von Damien Hirst but not an English one. Even more curious two of the stories in the collection were written by German authors, writing in Gallic, only to be translated back into German by someone else. Isn’t the world of literature amazing sometimes?
Peter MacKay is currently translating some women’s C18th highland poems into English. Why did the Highlands come under the dominion of the Wee Free Church? he asked Because they needed it, he replied. And when he read his translated version of a poem called Rogue Henry, you could see his point!
Less scurrilous were the poem from Romania, Slovenia and Spain. Thanks to the handout, you too can enjoy.