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“The more we see others, the more clearly we can see ourselves and that’s what the impossible act of translation offers us: a glimpse out of our language, land, and moment, a way to see a wider world, a way to help our own world hold more, a way to see ourselves grow.”
– Alana Marie Levinson-LaBrosse, Kashkul, American University in Slemani
Since March 2020, a team of translators supported by academics and the offices of Manchester and Slemani UNESCO Cities of Literature have been busy translating historical and contemporary poetry from English into Kurdish Sorani and vice versa. For the vast majority of the poets included, this anthology marks the first time they have been translated into Kurdish or English.
This British Council-funded project wanted to build up knowledge and learning about translation between these two languages. For those interested in translation or just curious about the process, a video of the translators discussing the project will be available to watch shortly.
For readers, whether in Kurdish or English, the anthology will offer an informative glimpse into the respective cities. English readers will be introduced to the Classical Kurdish poets of the 19th century including Nali, Mahwi, and Mawlawi and read of the evolution of mysticism, nationalism, and the strange continuity of displacement Kurds have endured for the past two hundred years.
The selection of historical poetry from Manchester looks at very particular moments in the 19th and 20th century with a focus on the struggle for rights, freedoms and free expression. And many of the contemporary Manchester poets continue these earlier traditions of fighting for equality and social justice. We are very grateful to the stellar line-up of contemporary Manchester poets who agreed to take part in this project: Michael Symmons Roberts, Shamshad Khan, Katherine Horrex, Gerry Potter, Louise Wallwein, Hafsah Aneela Bashir, Adam O’Riordan, Keisha Thompson, John Ash, Diké Omeje and Rosie Garland.
The anthology My Body Is Not Yours is available to download below.
Manchester City of Literature would like to offer a huge thanks to The British Council, John McAuliffe at the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester and Becky Swain at Manchester Poetry Library at Manchester Metropolitan University for supporting this project so enthusiastically.
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