Anthony Fisher Photo Elizabeth Whycer
The idea for the project came to me when a friend translated the poem into Hebrew. I thought it would be interesting to have an exhibition of the poem in other languages, to celebrate the 300 languages spoken in London and the 350 that go to make up English. It was a celebration of the power of diversity and integration, of the individuality of those who live and work in London and the opportunities it offers. Five was the original target and it ended up with twenty-seven. There are now, with English thirty-three and I am aiming for forty and hope to mount the exhibition again next year.
As well as the posters, there were language notes and a jukebox that played recordings of all of the translations, as well as the English version spoken by readers from the UK and abroad. Anthony Shuster has beautifully recorded a version in Received English.
The jukebox will remain in the foyer.
Dr Maria Kampyli, who translated Londinium into Greek, said of the poem:
”Boudica’s ”victory” (‘bouda”) is the victory of a tortured body that had been deprived of its freedom. Maybe she is a symbol of the fight against any type of imperialism. Your poem resists the rehashed national stereotype about the British warrior (often identified with British Empire…). Your poem illuminates something completely different. It takes us back to the ancient hut…The hut is its basic theme; humility, tolerance, humanism are its themes. At least, this is how I have perceived it as a reader and translator.
Your very decision to translate it into so many languages (as well as your prologues helping the reader and visitor navigate through the history of each language) is another insightful way of illuminating the numberless shapes that this ancient hut has taken and keeps taking…”
and of the Exhibition:
“I find your project really interesting; it feels as if your poem is that “thin line of red burnt iron” “splitting” the rusty line of nationalism and melting back into the present vibrant multicultural world. This is the power of translation. The content of your poem is very powerful. I was very enthusiastic about its spiral structure…”
The exhibition ran from March 21st to April 15 at the Dugdale Centre, 39, London Road, Enfield, EN2 6DS 020 8807 6680 Admission was free