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Kathryn Gray in Santiniketan, West Bengal
'Translation is not simply rendering words, of course. Translation is mood, personality, the ghostings of all that has gone into the shaping of those words in the first place.'
Kathryn Gray writes on her return from a translation workshop in Santiniketan, popularly known today as a university town, a hundred miles to the north of Kolkata. Santiniketan was originally an ashram built by Debendranath Tagore, where anyone, irrespective of caste and creed, could come and spend time meditating on the one Supreme God. Debendranath, father of the Nobel Prize winner, Rabindranath Tagore, was a leading figure of the Indian Renaissance.
I step off a plane at Kolkata airport. It is morning, and it is hot, and the weather comes as a delightful shock; in London snow was still on the ground. I’m here to participate in ten days of bridge translation, culminating in a group performance at Kolkata Lit Meet, a young but – I’ve been told – vibrant festival. I have to join my colleagues – Doris Kareva, Sampurna Chattarji, Mamta Sagar, Nilanjan Banerjee and Binayak Bandyopadhyay, together with workshop leader Akshay Pathak – at Howrah Station to take a train to Santiniketan, once home to Tagore and a rural haven for creatives. We’ll stay there, in the peace of the West Bengal countryside, to write, rehearse and discover, as it turns out, that we all have a great deal in common. Read the full story here
Kathryn Gray was invited by Wales Literature Exchange to participate in a literary translation workshop in Santiniketan and Kolkata, West Bengal in January 2013. The project was organised by Literature Across Frontiers in partnership with Kolkata Literary Meet.