The Translator and the Impossible — Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin


WHEN February 19, 2024
6-8 PM WHERE NYUAD Campus, Conference Center (A6), Room 001C WHO NYUAD Arts and Humanities, Literature and Creative Writing Open to the Public

Professor Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin will discuss her work on translation from the Irish, Latin, Italian, French, and Romanian, from the perspective of the poet-translator. She will be in conversation with Carmen Bugan. The impossibility of an exact match between the original and the translation of a poem is both a challenge and an opportunity for a poet as translator. A poet is used to treading invisible bridges and crossing the quaking bog by candlelight. Gender, cultural allusion, literary form, historical burdens, all have to be negotiated by the translator. Defining the audience, balancing the emphases, choosing where the surprise should be sprung, are decisions familiar to the poet. The challenge is to combine these skills so as to convince the reader that not only is the original worth translating but that the version is in some sense a true reflection.


Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin. Born 1942, Fellow emeritus of Trinity College Dublin. Her many translations of poetry include Dánta Antonella Anedda (translations from Italian into Irish), The Water Horse with Medbh McGuckian, from the Irish of Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Gallery Press (2000), 21 poems by Nuala Ní Dhomnaill, in Leabhar na hAthgabhála ed. Louis de Paor, Cló Iar-Chonachta (2016), ‘Song of the Woman of Beare’ in Maurice Riordan ed. The Finest Music: An Anthology of Early Irish Lyrics, London, Faber (2014), After the Raising of Lazarus, (2005), and the Legend of the Walled-Up Wife, Gallery Press (2011), both from the Romanian of Ileana Mălăncioiu. Ní Chuilleanáin won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award, the International Griffin Poetry Prize, and many others. In 2016, she was appointed Ireland Professor of Poetry by the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins. Her Collected Poems was published by Gallery Press in 2020. Her most recent collection of poems, The Map of the World (2023), was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

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