On World Poetry Day, three translators celebrate poetry and linguistic diversity by sharing with us the poems of three beloved poets, in the original languages as well as their English translations: .Tess Lewis, Linn Mehta, Nandana Sen
Linn Cary Mehta has taught English and Comparative Literature at Columbia, Yale, Vassar, and currently at Barnard College and at NYU, and worked as a Program Officer in Education and Culture at the Ford Foundation. Having graduated from Yale (BA 1977) and Oxford (MA 1988), she received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2004 and, in 2015, published Poetry and Politics of Decolonization: Tagore, Yeats, Senghor, Césaire, and Neruda. A poet and translator, her teaching focuses on 19thand 20th-century poetry in English, Spanish, and French; her writing concerns the interaction of literature and politics, especially in the Americas, during the past century. Ongoing involvement with immigrant cultures in New York has led her to serve on the boards of Goddard-Riverside Community Center; the Center for Traditional Music and Dance (Vice-Chair); and ID Studio Theater Performance and Research Center (President), for which she has adapted and translated several plays from Spanish to English. She is particularly interested in Latina poetry, beginning with the work of Nobel Prize-winner Gabriela Mistral (1999-1957), and continuing through to contemporary Latin American poets, such as the Colombian poet Piedad Bonnett or Salvadoran-American poet Christine Sloan Stoddard.
Piedad Bonnett Vélez (Amalfi (Antioquia), 1951) studied philosophy and philology in Colombia and Madrid and has been a literature professor at the Universidad de los Andes since 1981. Bonnett is best known as a poet of clear language imbued by irony and deep feeling that explores the subjects of love and the harsh realities of life in Colombia. Starting with her award-winning first volume of poems, De círculo y ceniza (1989), she has written in almost every genre including for the theatre. Her poetry, screenwriting and prose have a profound link to her life experiences in a country torn by violence, inequality and conflict. In 2013, she published “Lo que no tiene nombre,” a personal testimony about the struggles of her son with mental illness. Linn’s translations are from Lo demás es silencio: Antologíapoética (The Rest is Silence: A Poetic Anthology, Hyperion, 2003). Website: http://amediavoz.com/bonnett.htm
Tess Lewis is a writer and translator from French and German. Her translations include works by Peter Handke, Walter Benjamin, Anselm Kiefer, Hans-Magnus Enzensberger, Philippe Jaccottet and Christine Angot. Her awards include the 2017 PEN Translation Award for her translation of Maja Haderlap’s novel Angel of Oblivion and a Guggenheim Fellowship. Her most recent translation, My Mother’s Tears, by Michel Layaz was just short-listed for the French-American Foundation Translation Prize. Her essays and reviews have appeared a number of journals and newspapers including The New Criterion, The Hudson Review, World Literature Today, The Wall Street Journal, The American Scholar, and Bookforum. She is an Advisory Editor for The Hudson Review and is co-curating the 2020 Festival Neue Literature, New York City’s annual festival of German language literature in English. www.tesslewis.org
Maja Haderlap is an Austrian-Slovene poet, novelist, and librettist. Her novel Angel of Oblivion, based on her family’s experiences fighting with the Partisans in World War II and the sustained discrimination they suffered after, won numerous awards throughout Europe and was adapted to the stage. Her collection of poetry extended transit will be published by Archipelago Books in 2021, translated by Tess Lewis.
Nandana Dev Sen is a writer, actor and child-rights activist. She has authored six children’s books (translated into 15 languages globally), and starred in 20 feature films from four continents. Nandana’s interactive storytellings have been boisterously loved by over 30,000 kids across the world. As an ambassador, Nandana has worked with RAHI, Operation Smile, UNICEF and Apne Aap International, to fight against child abuse. The winner of various Best Actress awards as well as the Last Girl Champion Award for her advocacy, Nandana has served on the jury of numerous child-protection committees, international film festivals, and literary awards, including the DSC Prize for Literature, 2019. After studying literature at Harvard and filmmaking at U.S.C., Nandana worked as a book editor, a screenwriter, a poetry translator, a script-doctor, and as Princess Jasmine in Disneyland.
Nabaneeta Dev Sen will remain one of the best-loved Bengali writers of all time. She published her first (and very successful) book of poems at the age of 18, and grew to be immensely popular in every genre, including novels, short stories, literary criticism, travelogues, plays, humor, narrative non-fiction, political columns, and children's literature. Educated in Presidency College and Jadavpur University in Kolkata, and then at Harvard, Berkeley and Indiana Universities, Dr. Dev Sen lived a parallel life as an equally acclaimed international scholar and feminist, and a Professor of Comparative Literature. Her many literary honors include the Padmashri, Sahitya Akademi Award, Bangla Academy Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Lifetime Achievement Award of the Publishers' and Booksellers' Guild. Dr. Dev Sen was a tireless mentor to innumerable students and young writers, and was the Founder and President of the Women Writers' Association, Soi.