I am thrilled to be able to feature the work of two talented guest translators, Philip R. Davies and David Miranda-Barreiro, who very generously gave us the gift of the following translations into Galician, and into English of the poem glaw by the Welsh poet Ifor ap Glyn. They also included some audio files, which are essential to enjoy the impressive musicality, and rhythm, of both the original and of their translation, especially for those of us who are not familiar with these fascinating languages. Before reading (and listening to) these texts, here are some enlightening preliminary notes added by the translators. They include a brief introduction about Ifor ap Glyn, as well as some very interesting information about Galician, about their translation, and its reception.
Our Guest Translators
David Miranda-Barreiro is a Lecturer in Hispanic Studies at Bangor University. He works on national/translational identities, travel writing, mobility and emigration. At the moment, he is especially interested in the Galician exile and emigration to New York.
My warmest thanks to Philip and David for contributing to Transferre and for keeping Galician alive!
Ifor ap Glyn is a well-established Welsh poet and TV producer. He won the National Eisteddfod Crown (the prize awarded to the best collection of poetry written in free verse) on two occasions, in 1999 and 2013. In 2013 the poet used the topic set by the Eisteddfod adjudicators (namely ‘Terfysg’ in Welsh or ‘turbulence’, ‘tumult’, ‘upheaval, ‘riot’, or ‘insurrection’ in English – depending on the context) to express his emotional reaction to the results of the 2011 census, a census which showed a decrease in the number of Welsh speakers from 21% in 2001 to 19%.
We translated ‘Tersfyg’ for the Galician literary journal Dorna, which features a section devoted to non-Galician poets called ‘Voces de Fóra’ (‘Voices from the Outside’). One of the reasons why we chose Ifor’s collection was because we thought that it would be especially relevant for a Galician readership. Indeed, a survey published in Galicia in 2014 revealed similarly discouraging figures to the Welsh census: whereas before 2001, 57% of the Galician population spoke Galician as their first language, in the period 2001-2011 this number fell to 44%. And if we look at the main Galician cities (with the exception of its capital, Santiago de Compostela), the percentage of Galicians who speak their language habitually is not higher than 16%.
After publishing the translation, we collected a series of responses from Galician readers that confirmed our initial suspicions: they identified very closely with Ifor’s poems, recognised the socio-linguistic situation they depict, the emotions they convey, and the act of resistance they represent. ‘Glaw’ was one of the poems to which the readers felt closest. The opening verses, ‘The first music of our country/was the pitter-patter of rain in the woods’ could very well have been written by a Galician poet…