Paul Henry reflecting on a multilingual workshop

Paul Henry worked with Twm Morys, Cia Rinne and Anja Utler during the first week of October, at a multilingual workshop held at Tŷ Newydd. The workshop was facilitated by Wales Literature Exchange as part of the North Wales International Poetry Festival. The festival was created by Zoë Skoulding in partnership with Translators' House Wales, Bangor University and Poetry Wales. Here he reflects on his week at Tŷ Newydd. A recording was created during the workshop and will be available shortly in our media section.

"Out of an untranslatable darkness, four voices, under a skylight, inside the rain …

Neither Twm Morys nor I had realised we shared the same lyrical source. Each saw and heard himself in the other’s work. And this was revelatory. It raised a laugh, and the slight echo in Tŷ Newydd’s conservatory laughed along with us. Our translations will mark the beginning of further collaborations.

The inhalation of pain is the same in Welsh, German, Swedish and English and, in Anja Utler’s  ambitious ‘marsyas, umkreist’ (‘marsyas, encircled’) it is notated (and parenthesized) as  “(ff )”, “(tss)”, “(ch)”, “(tsh)”, “(pfch)”, “(ssh)”... .  Interceding dactyls and amphibrachs, this device cut to the quick of Marsyas’s fate when Anja read her poem. Anja’s seriousness and dedication emanated a sense of nobility in our art which I had not encountered since a week with Joseph Brodsky many years ago. She is translating five of my poems.

Helped by Anja, who had travelled from Regensburg at the Danube, Berlin-based Cia Rinne read ‘randeverbrechen’ - a poem with French, German and English voices which reminds us that the refrain line also has no borders. Cia and Anja read certain cadences simultaneously, bilingually, and in perfect time. The effect was unsettling and its carefully orchestrated montage, reminiscent of Beckett."