In the Translations Bundle
how the first sparks became visible, by Simone Atangana Bekono, translated from Dutch by David Colmer. Simone Atangana Bekono’s poems are vivid and arresting, with the feeling of letters or diary entries. In nine breath-taking streams of consciousness, the poet explore race, gender and sexuality, addressing the social stigmatization of race and gender and invoking empathy and human connection in a voice that is both confident and innovative.
“My silhouette opened her mouth and said
‘I exist because your body exists
Cronus devouring his children
as bloodthirsty as Goya painted him
a body become unrecognisable
greedy and chaotic
not rooted in the earth'”
Page count: 36 | Publication date: 21st January 2021 | Paperback ISBN: 9781912915552
Vivarium, by Maarja Pärtna, translated from Estonian by Jayde Will. Vivarium is a collection of poems about connection and alienation, belonging and place. Pärtna explores the uneasy co-existence of the past and the present, on a national and global scale, and looks ahead to the future with anxiety as well as hope. She reflects on the effects of Soviet rule on Estonian society and the national mindset, and on humanity’s treatment of natural habitats. Stories of personal trauma play out against a backdrop of major environmental changes, loss of biodiversity, and global warming.
“in a vivarium a root of thought
feels the shape of the future, discovers
its own strange side.”
Page count: 32 | Publication date: 20th February 2020 | Paperback ISBN: 9781912915422
The Secret Box: a trio of short stories, by Daina Tabūna, translated from Latvian by Jayde Will, with illustrations by Mark Andrew Webber. On the cusp of womanhood, Daina Tabūna’s heroines are constantly confronted with the unexpected. Adult life seems just around the corner, but so are the kinds of surprise encounter which might change everything. Two siblings realise they’re too old to be playing with paper dolls and begin to re-examine their close relationship. A girl who dreads visiting her religious grandmother develops her own fixation with Jesus. And a disaffected young woman, listlessly wandering the streets, stumbles into an awkward relationship with an office worker. The narrators of these three stories each try, in their own way, to make sense of how to behave in a world that doesn’t give any clear answers.
“When I started going to school, I prayed: ‘I promise to always study hard, God, and please make it so we don’t have to go to Baba’s place anymore.’ This was after another boring visit featuring rock-hard little spice cakes. Among other things, Baba had started fighting with my parents yet again. ‘You want to drive me into the grave! One day you’ll drive me into the grave!’ she slurred, upset. I didn’t understand what the argument was about, and nor did it interest me – all I wanted was for it to be over. Deals with God, which Baba had started me on, were turning against her.”
– from ‘Deals with God’ (‘Darījumi ar Dievu’)
Page count: 104 | Publication date: 5th October 2017 | Paperback ISBN: 9781910139905