Shipping Lines: Modern Poetry in Translation

By Alison Walters

One of the sessions at Shipping Lines that fascinated me the most was the session by David and Helen Constantine. They are the current editors of Modern Poetry in Translation. Being a linguist myself, I was truly engrossed with what they had to say from start to finish. Modern Poetry in Translation is published twice a year and always has a different theme and emphasis. When Ted Hughes and Daniel Weissbort founded MPT in 1966 they had two principal ambitions: to publish poetry that dealt truthfully with the real contemporary world, and to benefit writers and the reading public in Britain and America by confronting them with good work from abroad.

David and Helen both read a selection of poems from the journals and I was entranced by the diverse nature of the content of the magazine; they publish from all peoples, ethnicities and countries of the world. As well as those poets that are just starting, the magazine also publishes long-established poets and new translations of older works.

Modern Poetry in Translation’s aim is to publish translations, original poems and short essays that will address such characteristic signs of our times as exile, the movement of peoples, the search for asylum, the speaking of languages outside the native home. They also want to widen and diversify the very idea of translation, and in that spirit they invite very free transformations and metamorphoses of all kinds: down the ages, across the frontiers and cultures, from one genre to another.

I know for sure they have one new subscriber!

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David Constantine’s poetry and short fiction have been published in many issues of The Reader magazine  (most recently in The Reader 29 ‘Voices that Need to be Heard’). There will be more new poetry by David in The Reader published in the first issue of 2009 (The Reader 33, March 2009). You can subscribe here.

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