Louis Esterhuizen. Ritsos se dagboeke bekroon met vertaalprys

Archipelago Books het pas die blye nuus bekend gemaak dat een van hul publikasies, Yannis Ritsos se Diaries of Exile, wat deur Karen Emmerich en Edmund Keeley na Engels vertaal is, met die 2014 PEN Award for Poetry in Translation bekroon is.

Yannis Ritsos

Yannis Ritsos is natuurlik een van Griekeland se vernaamste digters; ‘n digter wie se lewensverhaal ten nouste verstrengel is met dié van sy geboorteland, soos dit dan ook duidelik blyk uit die drie dagboeke wat Ritsos in die jare 1948 tot 1950 gehou het en wat tans as Diaries of Exile gepubliseer is. Hierdie drie jaar is die tydperk kort na die Griekse burgeroorlog en dokumenteer Ritsos se jare as politieke gevangene in die berugte detensiekamp Makronisos op die eiland Limnos. Ten spyte van hierdie haglike omstandighede het Ritsos onverpoos voortgegaan met die daaglikse skryf van gedigte: “Ritsos dedicated his days to poetry, trusting in writing and art as collective endeavors capable of resisting oppression and bringing people together across distance and time. These poems offer glimpses into the daily routine of life in exile, the violence that Ritsos and his fellow prisoners endured, the fluctuations in the prisoners’ sense of solidarity, and the struggle to maintain their humanity through language,” aldus Archipelago Books se nuusbrief.

Stephanos Papadopoulos het in sy bespreking wat in die Los Angeles Review of Books verskyn het, die volgende te sê gehad: “”A beautiful translation…by Karen Emmerich and Edmund Keeley opens up this unique poetic memoir to an English audience. What is remarkable about these poems is that in spite of the critical situation, Ritsos managed to find moments of painfully accurate beauty in observation of his suffering, the mark of a true poet.” Inderdaad.

Nog ‘n treffende opmerking is deur David Ulin, eweneens in die Los Angeles Times: “Its power comes from the way it blends the diaristic with the poetic … There is no pity in the book, nor resignation, despite the circumstance.  That clarity … has to do with giving witness, with the idea of poetry as testimony. Again and again, Ritsos records the smallest moments, as if were he to leave out a single detail of his incarceration, the whole experience might disappear. This is what poetry can do: preserve the moments that would otherwise be forgotten, and in so doing, recreate the world.”

By wyse van lusmaker plaas ek graag die eerste strofes uit Yannis Ritsos se lang gedig wat as “Moonlight Sonata” deur Peter Green en Beverley Bardsley uit Grieks vertaal is. Die volledige gedig kan op Poetry International se webtuiste gelees word. Op YouTube kan daar geluister word na Lydia Koniordou se voordrag van dié besonderse vers.


Moonlight Sonata

A spring evening. A large room in an old house. A woman of a certain age, dressed in
black, is speaking to a young man. They have not turned on the lights. Through both
windows the moonlight shines relentlessly. I forgot to mention that the Woman in
Black has published two or three interesting volume of poetry with a religious flavor.
So, the Woman in Black is speaking to the Young Man:

Let me come with you. What a moon there is tonight!
The moon is kind – it won’t show
that my hair turned white. The moon
will turn my hair to gold again. You wouldn’t understand.
Let me come with you.

When there’s a moon the shadows in the house grow larger,
invisible hands draw the curtains,
a ghostly finger writes forgotten words in the dust
on the piano – I don’t want to hear them. Hush.

Let me come with you
a little farther down, as far as the brickyard wall,
to the point where the road turns and the city appears
concrete and airy, whitewashed with moonlight,
so indifferent and insubstantial
so positive, like metaphysics,
that finally you can believe you exist and do not exist,
that you never existed, that time with its destruction never existed.
Let me come with you.

(c) Yannis Ritsos (vertaal deur: Peter Green & Beverley Bardsley)

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