Monday, 23 May 2016


This poem is an English rendition of "Hinemoana" by the German poet Ulrike Almut Sandig (1979-), written as a companion piece to/for Hinemoana Baker, a poet from New Zealand. Almut Sandig participated in Modern Poetry in Translation magazine's 50 Year Workshop event at Queen's College, Oxford, earlier this month, and I was lucky enough to be present for the workshop with her and one of her English translators, Professor Karen Leeder. "Hinemoana", below, is a soundscape of contraries and contrasts, a conversation between the two poets across two hemispheres as it were, though we only hear one side of the conversation. The German poem can be read here along with Hinemoana Baker's English translation. This is Ulrike Almut Sandig's website, and this video is a little piece about the translation day (in which I have a small role).

My dear
The word is on the grapevine,
The word speaks of all that is here, of its opposite.

It was only yesterday I saw a second Ulrike
Caught laughing down the camera lens, though she seemed
Not at all alike, I barely knew her.
My dear, you and I and all that is:
We could be our opposites too. I could
Well have another name. What about Hinemoana?
Look, here: even when I put in roots at this very spot 
The globe still keeps turning
In endless circles. Who can truly say
That the Antarctic lies constantly
Down under? I never said it.
It was not Hinemoana - and you?
No, it was not you either. Far off, vulnerable,
The Antarctic surges upwards
Up, up, towards Bautzener Strasse
And now I must wrap this up, remaining
Your Hinemoana
PS. The grapevine alone finds no opposite
The grapevine is always the grapevine
Even here

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