Thursday, 19 May 2011

It Gives Us the Other - Nottingham Contemporary, April 28

The Nottingham Contemporary is a wonderful place, and despite having been open for 18 months or so this was my first visit. I read with Emily Hasler and Helene Fromen. The reading was the closing event of 'It Gives Us the Other,' a conference about poetry in translation. So I opened by reading my poem, 'At Her Grandmother's Table' which features a little Greek. This poem will also be featured in the forthcoming edition of 'Staple' magazine. Despite having arguably one of the most common English surnames, I'm actually Greek Cypriot, my full maiden name was Maria Dimitri Orthodoxou, I just married into Englishness. Anyhow, what a remarkable venue, having read at a great many open mic events at pubs and back rooms and so forth, this was a room where even the quietest whisper could travel to the furthest corners.
The event was hosted by Eireann Lorsung, who works tirelessly arranging such events for the Nottingham Poetry Series. After I read we heard Emily Hasler, who is a very striking young poet who read an excellent selection of work. Emily's poetry was really enjoyable, I was particularly taken with 'St. Jerome and the Chaffinch,' a delicately written piece. The main reader was Helene Fromen, who not surprisingly for such a day, read in French, with Eireann reading the English translation afterwards.

 Now, translating poetry is a notable skill. Not only must a translator cope with idioms and turns of phrase native to a particular language, but also produce something which still 'sings' in a different tongue. Translators have to be poets themselves. I have a copy of Cavafy's poems, Greek on one side and English on the other and it's fascinating to compare similarities and differences. Helene's work sounded fresh, alive and spontaneous, so someone did a great job there. I'm afraid I'm not sure who, but perhaps it was Eireann?
Afterwards a lovely meal and a chance to take a breath for a month before my next reading. Thank you ever so much the Nottingham Poetry Series. I should also add that Eireann produces the most wonderful posters for the NPS, (featured above), I framed mine, a thing of beauty is a joy forever, n'est c'est pas?


  1. A really good evening and the Nottingham Poetry Series is a terrific initiative. Well done you and all the readers - and well done Eireann.