In this issue of MPT

The Dialect of the Tribe, Series 3 Number 16

Edited by David Constantine, Helen Constantine

The current issue of Modern Poetry in Translation (Third Series, Number 16) is called ‘The Dialect of the Tribe’. ISBN 978-0-9559064-8-0

A people’s self-identity springs in large measure from its language. For that reason when one people or nation annexes another, or wishes to homogenize itself, it will control or even seek to exterminate the languages within its frontiers by which difference and variety are signalled and asserted. Stop the language of a people, stop their voice. Without a voice, they are at your mercy.

In this issue of MPT more than 30 ‘dialects’ or minority languages are represented or discussed, some widespread, some very local, all vitally interesting in their poetic speech. The world’s stock of languages, like its stock of species, is diminishing fast and the human race altogether is diminished by those losses. As so often in MPT, we demonstrate humanity’s abundance and in so doing show just how much there is to lose. In equal measure, this issue celebrates and alerts.

The earth is vast and small, and in all its infinite variety there is much that for good and ill is the same and shared. A poem here in Yoruba bitterly laments what the oil industry has done to the Niger Delta; another in Nenets what it is doing to rivers and livelihoods in Western Siberia. But also here are poems of love, pity and solidarity from Gaelic, Filipino and Urdu. Love for native places is expressed in Romansh, Alsatian and Occitan. There are poems for children from Zapotec and Yiddish.

Karen McCarthy Woolf gives us her grandfather’s Hoxton voice in droll and poignant poems of her own. Philip Gross compassionately picks up the broken bits of language that surface when the mind cannot hold. David Morley tells of his Romani childhood in Blackpool and inducts us into the very lively dialect of his tribe.

MPT 3/16 has in addition essays on the translation of African-language poetry; on shifting between Danish, Polish and English; and on the important work of the Mercato Institute. And reviews of Indian poetry, the Turkish Avant-Garde, and much besides.


EXPLORE THIS ISSUE:   » Editorial   » Poems   » Reviews

Series 3 No.16 - The Dialect of the Tribe

Table of contents

In The Dialect of the Tribe

Poetry and Features

Editorial David and Helen Constantine

David Morley, Reforging the ‘Broken Language’ Romani Poetry

David Morley, ‘Ballad of the Moon, Moon’ (after Lorca)

Parraruru, two poems, translated, the first from the Yindjibarndi, the second from the Ngarluma by Shon Arieh-Lerer

Nancy Campbell, ‘The hunter teaches me to speak’

Ned Thomas, ‘From Minorities to Mosaic’

David Hart, ‘Seagulls’

Noel Romero del Prado, two poems, translated from the Tagalog by Jim Pascual Agustin

Jim Pascual Agustin, four poems, translated from the Filipino by the author

Luljeta Lleshanaku, two poems, translated from the Albanian by Henry Israeli and Shpresa Qatipi

Yorgos Soukoulis, ‘Rise’, translated from the Arvanitika by Peter Constantine

Afzal Ahmed Syed, five poems, translated from the Urdu by Nilanjan Hajra

Hubert Moore, ‘Whistling back’

Shamshad Abdullaev, ‘Voices’, translated from the Russian by Alex Cigale

Itzik Manger, four poems, translated from the Yiddish by Murray Citron

Norbert Hirschhorn, two Jump Rope Songs

Cameron Hawke Smith, three versions from Sorley MacLean’s Dàin do Eimhir

Peter Kayode Adegbie, ‘To the bones that weep’, translated into Yoruba by the author

Juri Vella, poems, translated from the Nenets by Katerina and Elena Zhuravleva

Saradha Soobrayen, ‘From Ilois to Chagossian’

Saradha Soobrayen, ‘Who/Whose am I?’

Karen McCarthy Woolf, ‘Hoxton Stories’

Kristiina Ehin, Estonian incantations from ‘Võisiku EVAncipation’, translated from the Estonian by Ilmar Lehtpere

Philip Gross, three sections from ‘Something Like The Sea’

Iain Galbraith, ‘God Tamangur’

Seán Ó Ríordáin, two poems, translated from the Irish by Gerry Byrne

Charles Cantalupo, ‘Translating African-language poetry: Is there enough?’

Víctor Terán, five poems, translated from the Zapotec by David Shook

Max Rouquette, three poems, translated from the Occitan by Teleri Williams

Claude Vigée, from Black Nettles Blaze in the Wind, translated from the Alsatian by Delphine Grass

Pier Paolo Pasolini, three poems translated from the Friulian by Marina Della Putta Johnston and Taije Silverman

Poems by Eaindra and Maung Thein Zaw, translated from the Burmese by ko ko thett and James Byrne

Sándor Reményik, ‘Funeral Oration for the Falling Leaves’, translated from the Hungarian by Peter V. Czipott and John M. Ridland

Tomas Venclova, three poems, translated from the Lithuanian by Rimas Uzgiris

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese, ‘Three Languages and Three Trees: Not So False Friends’

Baudelaire, from ‘The Poor Child’s Toy’, translated from the French by Michael Rosen

Thomas Rosenlöcher, Heiner Müller, Thomas Brasch, poems translated from the German by Ken Cockburn

Stuart Henson, Pushkin variations

Yang Jian, three poems, translated from the Chinese by Fiona Sze-Lorrain

Tristan Corbière, ‘Dead Men’s Casino’, translated from the French by Christopher Pilling


Alev Adil on the Turkish Avant-Garde

Shanta Acharya on Indian poetry in translation

Saradha Soobrayen, round-up

Website bonus 

Delphine Grass on translations of Rilke and Kaddour 

Christopher North on three Argentinian poets 

Marina Boroditskaya, two poems translated by Sasha Dugdale and Michael Rosen 

Issue highlights

  • Features more than 30 minority languages
  • David Morley on his Romani roots
  • Poems from severely endangered language Arvanitika
  • Karen McCarthy Woolf brings us Cockney
  • Filipino poetry from Jim Pascual Agustin
  • From Gaelic Sorley MacLean's 'Dàin do Eimhir'
  • Poems from the Forest Nenets of Western Siberia

Featured review

Ikinci Yeni : The Turkish Avant-Garde

Translated by George Messo
Reviewed by Alev Adil

Poetry has always been the dominant art form in Turkish culture but in the 20th century both Turkish politics and poetry were to be transformed in the crucible of a modernist revolution that strove to erase the past and rewrite the future. The Kemalist Turkish Republic in 1923 introduced a language revolution, which sought to streamline, simplify and ‘purify’ Turkish, to rid it of its Farsi and...

» Read more

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