Translating Tony Harrison into French
I have translated two volumes of Tony Harrison’s poetry into French, which seems quite modest when compared with the poet’s own impressive creativity. And yet it has been a great adventure which has brought me into contact with many people who have supported my projects and shared my enthusiasm. The poet himself has been an unfailing guide throughout, and I am immensely grateful for his trust, friendship, and encouragements. Little could I have imagined when I started my doctoral research that it would lead me to Strasbourg where I had the honour of receiving a Translation Prize for Cracheur de feu alongside Tony, who had been awarded the 2010 European Prize for Literature.
I had always enjoyed translation as an academic subject and I had already been grappling with a few sonnets on the quiet, thinking it was a pleasant distraction from my ‘proper’ academic research, when my tutor, Professor Régis Ritz, mentioned translating. I was further encouraged by Jacques Darras whom I went to meet in Paris as he was one of the rare French academics who could claim knowledge of Harrison’s poetry in the early 2000s. A poet and translator of poetry who had already translated v.. We had a long conversation about English poetry in general, and Tony Harrison’s in particular, one June afternoon, outside a café. On my way back to the station, we stopped at his little flat which seemed to be furnished exclusively with books. He very generously gave me several of them to take back. They were French translations of English poets: Geoffrey Hill, David Jones, ...
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