Transalation as MetamorphosisTranslation as Metamorphosis

This issue is now out and includes translations/versions from 7th century BC to the present day, with poems from Germany, Greece, France, Ireland, Italy, Kurdistan, Persia, Poland, Sicily, Spain, Russia, Tunisia and Turkey. There are also challenging essays, reviews and a general section. Featured in the Independent newspaper.


John Montague, Vol. 40 Nos 1-3, and to the Translation as Metamorphosis issue of Agenda, Vol. 40 No 4, Agenda Editions is bringing out, with the generous assistance of the Arts Council of Ireland, Dublin, two collections of translations by two very well-known Irish poets:

John Montague: A Smile Between The Stones, Translations of La Dernière Lande, by Claude Esteban (£7.99 pback)

Comments on this book include:

‘These translations, inspired to an extent by King Lear, flow with the apparent ease, subtly calculated by the craftsman he is, of his own poems. In fact, they seem an extension of his own poetry, and an enhancement. In this sequence, Montague serves triumphantly to further his own avowal “on the edge is best.”’ Patricia McCarthy

John Montague has captured the simplicity of language combined with seriousness of intent in a most deft fashion.’ Patrick Cotter

John Montague stands apart as a voice of translation….In Esteban, Montague has uncovered a voice at once sublime and tentative….Only a poet who had already published work of the power of Life Class and Mount Eagle with their delicate filigree lines and their meditative calm could have captured such an essence in Esteban. These poems are the best kind of translation in that they are events within the host tongue itself.’ Thomas McCarthy

Desmond O’Grady: Kurdish poems of Love and War, an important companion volume to O’Grady’s Seven Arab Odes, also published by Agenda Editions. (£9.99 pback)

Comments on this book include:

O’Grady is one of the senior figures in Irish Literary life, exemplary in the way he has committed himself over the decades to the vocation of poetry and has lived selflessly for the art.
In the area of translation he has proved himself first rate. Nobody has bettered his Raftery versions in A Limerick Rake, and his previous book in the Agenda Series, Seven Arab Odes, broadened the Anglophone horizons and opened windows on a poetic culture that we need to know more about – for artistic as well as other reasons.
His book of Kurdish poems completes the trilogy. The Kurdish tradition reaches back even longer than the native Irish one, and shares the same preoccupations. A romantic and heroic spirit pervades their poetry, and it has strong links to oral composition and to song. Given the passionate, lyric temper of his own ‘singing line’ in the translations from the Irish, Desmond O’Grady has produced a manuscript that is vigorous and substantial.’ Seamus Heaney

‘… The Kurdish poems continue and extend both branches of O’Grady’s important contribution. Apart from its inherent interest at this stage of the world’s history, O’Grady offers a poetry that will chime in the hearts of all Irish and English-speaking readers. The poems move between simple and heartwarming, personal love poetry, to cries of hurt and anguish as the lot of the Kurdish people. The translations themselves are to the usual high standard of O’Grady’s translations; there is the usual care, the accuracy, and the choice of work is profoundly visionary….’ John F. Deane

‘ His work of translation emanates from a powerful mid-century humanistic impulse – the insight that poets speak not only of their own nation but of the human condition….
His work in poetry embodies a sense of belonging seen only among seasoned Aid workers and UN peacekeepers; his loyalty is to the Babel of many tongues, those independent nations of language. He is the Irish poet who speaks most fearlessly for a poetry without frontiers. Like Dervla Murphy or Doris Lessing, his home is the world.’ Thomas McCarthy

Both the above poets reside in County Cork. These two books together speak culturally for the Irish Presidency of the EU and for Cork City, cultural capital of Europe 2004 and 2005.

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