English-language poetry transformed in the hands of postgraduate students at the University of Salerno

Correnti Incrociate, released in June, is a dual language publication of 49 poems in English alongside their Italian translations. The Indian poets Anuradha Bhattacharyya and Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy join counterparts from Kenya, France, Australia, America, Wales and England in this anthology.

 

Anuradha Bhattacharyya is an Associate Professor of English at a Government College in Chandigarh. Twice awarded with Chandigarh Sahitya Akademi for her novels One Word and Still She Cried, Bhattacharyya is an Indian writer of poetry and fiction in English. She has also been awarded Chandigarh’s State Award, Sahitya Shree, and Poiesis Award for Excellence in Literature. She has been an esteemed Jury member of The LIT Digital Awards for the years 2020 and 2021.

 

Padmaja Iyengar-Paddy is an Indian poet, writer and editor. She is an honorary literary advisor for the Cultural Centre of Vijayawada and Amaravati, India and an honorary advisor of the International Society for Intercultural Studies and Research in Kolkata, India.

 

In an exclusive interview with The Literary Mirror, the book co-editor John Eliot – whose involvement with the 2019 Salerno Literary Festival led to the companion chapbook Canzoni del Venerdi Sera – shares his insight and experience about this project.

 

1. What is Literary Translation and what is the purpose behind it?

 

John Eliot: The purpose behind translation of say, poetry, is simply to spread the enjoyment and appreciation of the writing beyond the countries and cultures of its origin to make the poetry accessible to, in this case, Italians. Also, the process of translation is fascinating. I have worked closely with students on my poetry. The insights that they have into my work, the understanding they give it, is incredible. I learn so much about myself and, perhaps surprisingly, my own poetry.

 

2. What makes Correnti Incrociate stand out among other anthologies?

 

John Eliot: Correnti Incrociate (‘Cross-currents’), the latest in the poetry series from Mosaïque Press, is a gem. I think it will delight lovers of language and artistic expression. Alongside the Italian interpretations of 49 English-language poems in this 150-page volume are the originals, line for line, to provide fascinating insights into the language itself.

 

3. How did Correnti Incrociate happen?

 

John Eliot: I was fortunate enough to be invited to the Salerno Literary Festival in 2019. Part of the festival involved working with four students, Alessia Calabrese, Sara Pallante, Alessandro Pinto and Mariagrazia Poppiti. That was the most remarkable experience of my writing life, ending with a wonderful reading in the old part of the town. I still have a strong contact with the four, Sara Pallante being involved in translation and proofing of Correnti Incrociate. Out of this experience is a collaboration with the University of Salerno’s Department of Humanities, in particular the postgraduate students studying literary translation with Prof. Linda Barone.

 

4. What was the idea behind the anthology?

 

John Eliot: I was interested in giving the students an experience of works that they might not normally come across. This is not simply a collection for Italian readers; the quality of the poetry is excellent and will be of great value to English readers.

 

5. What should the readers expect from Correnti Incrociate?

 

John Eliot: Here is an anthology that reflects excellence in poetry; an anthology with as many different styles as poets. The subject matter is equally broad and ranges from lamenting university degrees, – to babysitting in a crematorium, an appreciation of Brugel, navigating Kings Cross station, and speculating on Kalashnikov’s regrets. The list is quite endless.

 

6. What can you say about your journey and experience in the making of this anthology?

 

John Eliot: This whole exercise has been a pleasure from start to finish. I am grateful to all at Salerno University who were involved in the project and of course the poets without whom this would not have been possible. We have produced an anthology that we can be proud of. The poems are consistently entertaining and thought-provoking, and the great thing about the face-to-face format is you don’t need fluency in Italian to appreciate how they work in that language too.

 

Correnti Incrociate is published on 1 June by Mosaïque Press, priced at £6.99, and available through online retail bookshops and good bookshops.