Tuesday, May 18

Banned the Catalan translator of Amanda Gorman


Wednesday, March 10, 2021 – 12:11

“I have been the victim of a new inquisition,” says Victor Obiols, who had already delivered the translation when the American publisher of the young star poet ruled him out for not fitting the desired profile.

Poet Amanda Gorman at the inauguration of Joe Biden who ...

Poet Amanda Gorman at Joe Biden’s inauguration that catapulted her to global fame.
ALEX WONG AFP

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Victor Obiols has been banned from translating into Catalan Amanda Gorman, the young poet who dazzled Joe Biden’s inauguration by reading the poem The Hill We Climb. Obiols, who had been contacted by the publisher Univers of the Catalan Enciclopdia group to translate Gorman, has been rejected by Viking Books, the North American label that publishes the work of the emerging African American star.

“Banned because, despite admiring my resume, they want a female, activist and preferably black translator“Obiols lamented yesterday on social networks, although later he deleted the tweets that made reference to the controversy. “I have been the victim of a new inquisition”, affirm.

Obiols, translator of Oscar Wilde and William Shakespeare and director between 2004 and 2009 of the Barcelona International Poetry Festival, was scheduled to translate The tur we climb and other poems and that these will reach bookstores on April 8 in a circulation of 5,000 copies. Univers is already looking for someone else to translate for Gorman. In Spanish, The hill that we ascend will go on sale in a bilingual edition in Spanish translated by the also poet, translator and writer Nuria Barrios and with a foreword by journalist Oprah Winfrey in Lumen.

Madrilenian Nuria Barrios has a PhD in Philosophy, Spanish translator of Irish novelist John Banville and of his heternimo Benjamin Black and has published numerous collections of poems and a handful of novels. His latest books are The light of the dnamo (Vandalia, 2017), Hermanos Machado Ibero-American Poetry Prize, the novel Everything burns (Alfaguara, 2020) and the collective book Tsunami. Feminist looks (Sixth Floor, 2019).

It is not the first controversy surrounding the translations of Amanda Gorman: a few weeks ago something similar happened in Holland, when activist Janice Deul openly criticized that the one chosen to translate Gorman into Dutch was the writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, 29, the youngest Booker Prize winner for The restlessness of the night (Today’s Topics), instead of an Afro-Dutch translator. The controversy grew in networks to the point that Rijneveld (who considers himself a non-binary person), overwhelmed by the situation created, she declined to undertake the translation.

Obiols, that I had already finished the translation, He explained yesterday on Rac 1 that the American publisher had sent an email to Univers stating that their profile did not match what they were looking for. The Catalan publisher will pay for the translation made to Obiols even if it is not published and also the new one, whose author is still unknown. In the United States, Gorman’s next three books are expected to reach a circulation of one million copies, given their enormous popularity.

The young poet, who just turned 23, became Biden’s investiture in one of the most visible voices of the Black Lives Matter movement that in the last year has shaken the streets and the politics of the country in defense of the rights of African American citizens. Just a few days ago, Gorman herself recounted on her Twitter account that a security guard addressed her when she was about to enter her house because he considered her “suspicious”, which he qualified as discrimination. He has also given his support in several tweets to Meghan Markle following the recent interview in which he accuses the British royal family of racism.

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