Is attempting to translate poetry at the site where Apollo's priests used to translate Pythia's mutterings into equivocal verses, a good idea - or an affront to the God who led the Muses?
At any rate, we tried, and enjoyed it too: at the European Cultural Center of Delphi last week, a group of Greek poets (Socrates Kabouropoulos and Vassilis Manoussakis -the Workshop's co-organisers-, Krystalli Glyniadakis, Panayotis Ioannidis, Dimitra Kotoula, Aris Koutougkos, Angelos Parthenis, Kallia Papadaki, and Thanassis Polyzoidis) and translator Elena Stagkouraki, translated into Greek, poems by anglophone poets Moira Egan, Elaine Feinstein, Adrianne Kalfopoulou and Fiona Sampson - and were translated by them, as well as by translator Richard Pierce. Three days of hard work - and no kidding: at the rate of one poem per two hours, I felt ravenous at 14:00, despite a hearty breakfast at 9:00. (Blessed be "Bacchus"' divine cooking!) Then we revised in the afternoon (my swimming things remained unused, in the trunk of the car), before each evening's reading to the fading sound of the cicadas, and the waning evening light.
And on the fourth day, the fruit of our toil was presented -together with Greek translations of poems by Michael Symmons Roberts, who could not make it to Delphi, as well as work by other Greek poets, translated on previous years- in the packed garden of the always welcoming Athens Center, in collaboration with the British Council.
It was strange, and incredibly rewarding, to experience relationships growing through the traffic of shared words and working side by side; one can't help but wish for more.
[photo: p.i., 2006]