To celebrate 50 years of Modern Poetry in Translation, Bloodaxe have just published an anthology – Centres of Cataclysm – edited by Sasha Dugdale and David and Helen Constantine. Below are three poems from the anthology, which launches at King’s on 5 May 2016 with readings from contributors including Frances Leviston, Paul Batchelor and Ruth Fainlight.
See these lines on my upturned palm. They are the rivers of tears that have washed my face. They are the rivers of blood that have washed my land. Flowing first in trickles, then streams, then in torrents: they are the swell of voices that have cried out our shame. They lie etched on my skin, coursing through the creases and ridges to pool into stories and tales, I shall tell of these for the generations to come. See these hands all twisted and bent. These are the scars I bear instead of children. O Motherland, look not to me for your warrior.
By Shash Trevett
Once upon a time I saw: hope climbing jagged crags, while our eyes were lowered to its reality. Our life was a garden longing for footsteps, a short journey in unhitched sleeping-cars. Once upon a time I saw: the doorstep moving to meet the weary body of the traveller, a hand lowered to the clothes on the chair, a bird landing on the dust on the lampshade seeking attention. A hope was climbing towards the roof of the house and no one woke to throw a stone at it.
By Nikola Madzirov. Translated from the Macedonian by Peggy and Graham Reid.
2nd March: Al Rabweh
The poet’s earth is everywhere beneath the dry autumn grass around the tombstone upright on its hill A man-sized pyramid of glass contains flowers mementoes some sprigs of green wheat sheltered from the pressing sky Facing the palace of culture flags threadbare by the wind at the top of their mast declare nothing Further off an armed guard carries out his chores and some dogs search for food on a garbage dump The hum of motors the call of solitary birds the hubbub of the town drifts over the hill Here lie the son’s bones washed by the tears of mothers Here once the sun has set light glows from the rocks
By Yves Berger. Translated from the French by John Berger.