Atlanten växer är en diktsamling om ett systerskap som skiljs åt av omgivningens blickar och samhällets tolkningar, ett hav som växer mellan dem.
Description of project
I suggested this book for translation to the publishing house Ramus, since I think its powerful, direct poetry adresses important issues of intimacy, society and racism in a unique way and form. The main challenge for me as translator – apart from the fact that it was my first translation of a complete work from Danish – was not so much about linguistics. It was rather to do with the translatability and un-translatability of racism and racist discourse. The poems take place in Denmark and Las Vegas, but they also discuss colonialism in Congo, and they address a racist discourse that might be considered specific for a Danish context, and specific memories of a Danish childhood. I needed to make sure that I did not move the book out of its Danish context – a context that has to do with everyday Danish language, in the 1980s and today, as well as 19th century Danish texts describing black people – and yet make it work in Swedish. One important consideration was how to translate the critique of a certain kind of "innocent" racist language that is more prevalent in Danish than in Swedish. The poems risked becoming an agent of this language, rather than the opposite – a harsh, insisting, questioning voice. To keep the "Danishness" as a form of particularity, to not fall for the temptation of universality, was vital to me. I needed the poems to work in Swedish, to make them into poetry in Swedish without making the poems Swedish. There was also the issue of translating intimacy – the intimacy within a family and its relation to the structures of society, and how this is expressed in a colloquial language. Julie Sten-Knudsen has translated two of my books into Danish, and she was working on a translation of my second book of poems, Kapitel ett, as I was doing Atlanten växer. As a consequence of this Julie and I have written and spoken publicly about the experience of translating each other. This has, for me, been a very interesting way of finding out more about the relationship between translating and writing poetry in my own practice, and also an opportunity to learn something about my work through Julie´s translating gaze. We have spoken a lot about a common concern – the intimacy of politics, the politics of intimacy, how the violent societal structures invade the private space – and language – and vice versa.
This is Julie Sten-Knudsens second book of poems, and the first one to be translated into Swedish.
Type of work
biological versus legal family