The Art of Poetry & Other Poems
A Selection of Portuguese Poems by Eugénio de Andrade with English and Shetlandic versions
Hansel Cooperative Press has recently published a handsome tri-lingual poetry-art pamphlet with thirteen poems by the Portuguese poet Eugénio de Andrade with English versions by the celebrated translator Alexis Levitin and my versions in Shetlandic. The pamphlet includes drawings by John Cumming and is further enhanced by its design and typography.
Review in The New Shetlander, No 296, Yule 2021
The Art of Poetry and Other Poems: Poems & Drawings, Christine De Luca & John Cumming, Hansel Cooperative Press, £10.00
This is a translation into Shetland of 13 poems by the Portuguese poet, Eugenio de Andrade. It is a ‘slim volume’ but what talent and skill is packed into it – it is the work of two poets, a translator, an artist and a designer.
The typesetting ably demonstrates the skills of the designer, Gerry Cambridge – skills often forgotten now we can all ‘word process’ our own pages. On each double-page spread, we have the original poem and the English translation on the left-hand side, with the Shetland poem in pride of place on the right. Several poems – and the cover – are illustrated with fine ink drawings by John Cumming.
De Luca says she was drawn to de Andrade’s work as ‘many of his poems were earthy and resonated with my own upbringing in Shetland’. The poems, which span 1948-1995, are ‘elemental’ – full of weather, flowers, birds, landscape and the human body. I found the English translations somewhat flat but De Luca’s versions make them sing. She asks herself in the introduction, ‘should the balance be with the music or the meaning?’ For my part, she is spot on, bringing the meaning alive for us by translating the sense of the poem, not just the individual words:
Da clear gaet ahead blockit
aa I can do is wip tagidder da sun’s glansin akker
an wi da hentins closs i mi bosie
drittle trowe da reffel o masts i da dimriv.