Emilia Ivancu on her January residency

Emilia Ivancu on her January residency

My adventure with Welsh literature started with a map – by the time I first read R. S. Thomas’s poems, I had not seen Wales. I knew Bardsey Island (Enlli) only as a small dot on the map. At that time the poetry of R. S. Thomas seemed intangible, yet stirring.

On my first visit to Wales I bought my first book by R. S. Thomas. The world seemed a lot closer, the colours already had a sense and a meaning, but I felt awe when seeing the churches and the sheep, the trees and the sea.

Last year I benefited from a translation residency with Wales Literature Exchange for the first time. That is when I read Angharad Price’s book, O! Tyn y Gorchudd!. I looked at the mountains, I saw the sea, I saw the landscape of this book, and I met Angharad. I had made another step across. Then I met Angharad again, in Poland.

This January, I came to Tŷ Newydd with another perspective. I worked hard every day, I looked at the sea and the snowdrops every day, and every day I asked Diarmuid Johnson, the consulting translator, at least one question. The language and the culture of Welsh-speaking Wales unfolded with another page.  I felt meaning being carried across to me. Whilst participating in a translation workshop with Ned Thomas, I felt the awkwardness of R. S. Thomas’s poetry less strongly; I felt I was in a sense at home. When I saw Aberdaron again this year, I returned to where I had been before, I recognised the big red-greenish rock on the shore; it was not new anymore, but closer.

Today I am back in my home in Poland. The first draft of O! Tyn y Gorchudd! is lying on my desk. I feel the words in my translation have been carried across a long way. They start to feel at home.

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