TRANSLATION

With the generous support of Arts Council England, Yorkshire and the British Council, Antony has taken part in a number of international poetry tours. Most of these have been mutual translation projects involving small groups of British poets working together with groups of poets from countries including Hungary, China, Holland and Israel.

This is a small selection of Antony's translations - or versions - from those projects, some of which have already appeared in journals including Modern Poetry in Translation and Poetry London.

Download diaries (PDF):

Croatia Diary Converging Lines Hungary Converging Lines UK
Israel Diary  

THE TIME IS OVER
by Nidaa Khoury, translated from the Arabic by Antony Dunn
broadcast on BBC Radio 3ís The Verb, 22 Jun 2007

For more than thirty years
for every newscast
the newsreader has come on time,
at the same time, to the same screen,
and heís told me what has taken place
what they said and what they did and what they meant
and heís said itís all they know and they donít know more
and heís finished with a weather forecast Ė
dry and cloudy, gales and heat.

For more than thirty years
for every newscast
I have come on time,
at the same time, to the same screen
and told the newsreader I donít want to see what I see
I donít want to hear what I hear
neither to know what is taking place
nor what they say, nor what they do, nor what they mean
and the weather forecast
doesnít trouble me.

Today
the newsreader comes right on time,
at the same time, to the same screen,
and he tells me heís been coming here for thirty years
to teach me every day to forget the day gone by,
to make me faultlessly forgetful;
he says all I have to do is remember one key thing
exactly as he does
to repeat what they have said,
to do what they have done,
to accept what they have accepted,
to reject what they have rejected,
to eat what they have eaten,
live how they have lived
and so on and so on...
until his time is over and he forgets the weather forecast
and I, too, forget to tell him
that these people, in this country
every day
are dying.


AFTER A MOUSE
by Krisztina Tóth, translated from the Hungarian by Antony Dunn

In a book by a long-dead poet,
by the poem in which he fixes a woman
long-dead, is a flowerhead of mud
pressed flat; the foot-stamp of my cat.

Forever sniffing round, she was
transfixed by lurking-space between the pages,
and froze there, once, for the out-race of a mouse
(and now my cat, my pet, is long-gone, too).

And true enough, in the spine-dark deep
of the paper hidey-holes there’s something trapped:
we’re forever slipping this or that between the sheets
to keep a hold on all, our every accident.


FISHMONGER
by István László Géher, translated from the Hungarian by Antony Dunn

This is his day. On the crest of his hair,
like some military mock-up,
his cap lists; he weighs up the punters
by their quickest flickers, pulls out carp quick snap,
keeps his in-growing fingernail stinging
in fish water –
                     got to feel

the heads of the fish. The silvering eyes
only make sense to the man
with gut-knife in hand, in his gut his intent
to the cut; the man who does what he does
for us all, who does what he must, what is meant;
who knows the points at ankle, wrist,
to best hammer a nail in; who can fillet
a man easy as you’d ease open
one of these fish; who cuts the chat
to let his blade do the talking; tidy; fights when he hurts.
There’s no bark around his heart. I mean, picture a tree
nailed by lightning, the hanging flesh of it aflame.
                                                                  No, I meant
the fish aflame in his hands, its last supper, its mouthing
for water in the air.


MONSTER
by Xi Chuan, translated from the Chinese by Antony Dunn

I see it coming, panting with bad news,
ashamed of where it’s been and what it brings
and how it somehow can’t recall a thing.
It gathers us up, quietly, by ones, by twos,
avalanching into town – somewhere new
to find someone to get its teeth into –

Hell, I feel like a bird looking for a flock
in a field of scarecrows…

It hates me, for sure, from haircut to heart –
the mourning, the caution and all that broods
in the fakery of my lighter moods.
It’ll squeeze through this dead-locked door and start
to smash up me place from mirrors to blinds;
all the stuff to stuff a life behind –

Listen to me; I’m spouting guano here –
a sea of guano…

Let’s call a spade a spade to give ourselves
a handle on the thing – without a name
the monster’s fleshed and dressed in mist – and tame
the cloud of it until the dark resolves
to something we can get our heads around:
the dread of all we love gone underground –

Fuck, what if I’m the cock clawing his bloody life out
from under a pit of beaten friends…

Our monster will not have you turn its head
with all your bling – it couldn’t give a squib
for your ride, your chick, your million-dollar crib,
your politics, your place, your faith, your bed
of stinking roses – it’s locked onto that bit
that knows even a vacuum can turn to shit –

Oh, somebody, please, give me wings to put a thousand miles
between me and all this squawking about myself…

The poor creature wouldn’t know its own face
in a mirror shop. It follows you, lost
as a lover, then eats you for breakfast.
Over and over it wakes to the taste
of the bender, the binge it’s forgotten.
Hair of the dog. Sleep-walk. Again. Again –

Come on, you chicken – get some pavement blood in you.
Get on with it.


MAY ROSE
by Tang XiaoDu, translated from the Chinese by Antony Dunn

Of course, this is a secret –
how the trysting vines
have snatched the spring
from the armoured branches

but, not knowing how to undress it,
clutch it with a secret strength
this way, the winter through,
tense the vines of themselves to blue.

While snowdrops bloom, then the cherry,
in turn the peach, the apricot,
this fervour keeps, buried and buried
to the indifference of snow.

Slowly! It must come slowly.
Endurance eases the weight of endurance.
No true fragrance will be too late in this world.
Look at these little fists mobbing the wind –

my flower affair like a million bombs
bursting all at once, at once.


TWO SUNS
by Maria Barnas, translated from the Dutch by Antony Dunn

When I sink to bed the sea lies still downstairs
and the sun is as always ahead.

I’m fixing myself, a detail cut out
of dark water. And later I’ll be by the boats,

sails light as uplifted voices and almost,
among the laughter of gulls, light-hearted.

Yet in this ring of his I stand slanted
at a date. And I see how, that far off,

he’s rising with another sun. Slapdash. Again.
He called me Flower. Then Spring, Sexy, Sweetness,

Sweetest, Sweet, but lately more and more
RatherNot, NoLater, Please.


THE SCYTHE
by Maria Barnas, translated from the Dutch by Antony Dunn

The flatlands inhale. Roots scrat for a grasp
on thin air, a gasp against the window.
A train drags all the landscape in its wake.

A field is skinned like elastoplast from skin,
and all its boundaries are undone,
and in the pocket at his breast a scythe.

Bushes are turned out, the quickening grass
at the verge is frisked. Clouds lump a trembling sky
in his windpipe. And all the bends shriek.

But it’s not down to the hills that there is
this, nor to the charging lake, that there is
this drubbing of blood behind the temples.

The Scythe scores this out: I have lost the notes
and what will I do to make them out
in a land deaf as stones to itself?

He balls up the shade-barred Eden printed
on his bag; his fingers bleed a black bloom.
And all and every leaf a sharp demand.