Bucharest in Spring & the Joys of Translation

On a drizzly spring day I’m looking ahead to next week in Bucharest teaching Literature Translation Masterclasses at The University of Bucharest.

I’ve been involved with the translation programme there since 2009 when I worked on polishing the English translations for some of the poems in the anthology “It Might Take Me Years” [Mi-ar trebui un sir de ani]. Then I worked on some of Dan Verona’s poems for the online publication of his selected poems in English, published in 2011 by Contemporary Literature Press. http://editura.mttlc.ro/

Three of my more recent poems, translated by Ana Maria Tone, were broadcast on Romanian Cultural Radio in 2015.

This will be my first visit to Romania. As I prepare to teach translation workshops I’m reminded of the lovely experience of Raincheck Renewed being translated into Romanian by Patricia Neculae, then a student at the MA Programme for the Translation of the Contemporary Literary Text (MTTLC) at the University of Bucharest. Not being able to speak a word of Romanian, I was no help, of course.

Here’s the link to the translation: http://revista.mttlc.ro/116/index.html

[If you are fluent in Romanian, do email and tell me how it reads/sounds in your language.]

And here’s an interview that Patricia conducted with me after she’d translated the book. She totally got it, that’s all I can say!

Alina Popa, another MTTLC student, also translated a few poems from Raincheck Renewed for the magazine Regatul Cuvantului in February 2012. I haven’t compared the translations. You can see Alina’s translations here.

Raincheck Renewed Cover

I look forward to meeting the dedicated students (I already know they all are ) of the 2018 masterclasses. The really interesting feature of this year’s project is that we’re helping to polish translations of short stories by young contemporary Romanian writers.

I’ll post details in a day or so about the new English-Romanian anthology of work by the visiting delegates (that’s me and my fellow writers) and the launch events planned for our week in Bucharest.

But first, my thanks to all these institutions and people for making our visit possible:

Prof. Dr. Lidia Vianu, Director, MTTLC and Contemporary Literature Press
Anne Stewart, http://www.poetrypf.co.uk/poetrypro.html
National Museum of Romanian Literature, https://mnlr.ro/
University of Bucharest, http://en.unibuc.ro/
Romanian Cultural Institute, http://www.icr-london.co.uk/; http://www.icr.ro/
British Council In Romaniahttps://www.britishcouncil.ro/en

100 Great Indian Poems

// how many paise for each brown glass bottle, how much for each tin can //

I’m delighted that my poem Kabariwala features in “100 Great Indian Poems”, now available to order. This anthology is unique for its selected translations of Indian poetry in 27 languages spanning 3000 years of literature.

Kabariwala is one of the few poems written originally in English.

The book is edited by Abhay K and published by Bloomsbury India.

Order 100 Great Indian Poems.

Kabariwala and a few other poems from the book can be read at Asia Literary Review here.

You can read an extremely well-researched and well-written review of the book at DesiBlitz. The article includes an interview with me about the story behind this poem: https://www.desiblitz.com/content/100-great-indian-poems-poetic-feat-feast.


One of the ‘firsts’ for me this year was the commercial installation of my short poem Optimism.
It has had the most amazing reactions. That’s made me look at the poem in a new light and read it to boost myself after disappointments. Considering I’d ignored this poem since it was first published in Raincheck Renewed in 2004, this installation has provided a new beginning in many ways.

An example of the response I’ve had:
A few days after the installation a neighbour knocked on my door. ‘Your poem!’ she exclaimed.
‘What?’ I wasn’t sure what she meant.
It transpired she’s been to the hairdresser to have her highlights done. ‘There I was, sitting at the shampoo basin, when I look up at the wall in front of me. Your poem! There. I read it – it was wonderful’.

Yes, my poem had ambushed her.

A view from the basin

Kavita with Thomas

This was the brilliant idea of the owner of the hair salon, Thomas Gaughan, who selected this poem as artwork for his wall. Thomas said he’d wanted something inspirational. He’s really pleased with the effect and says that his clients love it. “Great words from Kavita that lift you up when you need it most.’

I’m proud too, because as my first commercial poem installation, it’s sited where you least expect it. Where the words come to you when you’re not in a ‘reading’ frame of mind. The context is surprising, just the way I like things to be!
I’m really glad that so many people are having their spirits lifted at the shampoo basin.

Pictures are of the installation at the William Thomas Gaughan hairdresser in London.

Graphic design by Tim Barnes of Chicken Print Design
Installation by Danillo Cooper
Vinyl cut wall transfer produced by Omni Colour

And a note about the project in the shape of a happy tweet or ‘life-sentence’ published in Mslexia December 2017:

From Mslexia Issue 76, December 2017

FAUCET – My Poem for National Poetry Day 2017

Theme this year: Freedom

Breaking News: Women in Saudi Arabia will be allowed to drive in 2018.

Here’s a poem I published back in 2013 that referenced this struggle, among other things.


A woman
may buy a tool-kit and know how to use it
may change the washer, adjust the stopcock
swap the ball bearings
fix the leaky spigot with a spanner.

A woman may suggest to Nature
that for the next millennia
men become pregnant
a facetious fractious suggestion;
the woman knows her pleas
are just venting, as ineffectual
as hammering water.

A woman may not drive in Saudi Arabia
may not bike unless in a ladies’ only park
may not be seen in public without a male protector.
A woman must also be fertile
dribbling out male heirs;
she may spout songs in private
and dance in full Dior, smeared with make up
for her mirror and other ladies to see.

A village panchayat in Punjab declares
that mobile phones given to girls
leads them to pre-marital sex;
boys can have cell phones and call for help
when they’re in trouble, but females,
young things, must take it on the chin,
remaining on the drip-drip of advancement.

A woman there thinks: what if instead of aborting
female foetuses, the nozzle was turned off
as if by a spell, a sorcery; no babies were born
to the women of this village, then the new elders
all men, would die out without replacement
and further afield too the taps would be fixed just so
by the women who knew how.

(After ‘Woman’ by Arun Kolatkar)

First published: ‘Feminist Times’ | November 2013

Love Across A Broken Map eBook Release

The many permutations of love from girl-crushes to gigolos, spanning Manchester to Mumbai.

Get Your Free Download This Weekend: September 16 and 17.  

Kindle Edition
(available in the UK, US, India, and worldwide)

The Whole Kahani’s anthology was published one year ago in June 2016.

Love Across A Broken Map has had great reviews, some of them wonderfully detailed, and the ‘The Whole Kahani’ collective has been invited to read and hold workshops at several literary festivals.

To celebrate one year of success, Dahlia Publishing has now released an eBook edition.

If you haven’t yet read this “engaging volume that eschews stereotypical stories about the experience of the South Asian diaspora in Britain”* then now is the time to download it.

Love Across A Broken Map is available for free downloads this month:
on September 16 and 17, 2017.

Write to me with your comments on the book, it’s always good to hear your views.

More on The Whole Kahani here: http://www.thewholekahani.com/

Reviews of the anthology:
The Short Story
Byte The Book
Desi Lekh
The Book Review India
Confluence Magazine

Read a Group Interview with members of The Whole Kahani at:

*from James Holden’s review in The Short Story


Lovely to welcome to @roBritish this evening 6 uk poets and 40 young Romanian translators for an evening of poetry, discussion and wine. Thank you to Lidia Vianu from University of Bucharest for organising this great project


#Bucharest in Spring & the Joys of #Translation. Details about next week's 'Poetry p f' delegation to Romania to run Literature Translation Masterclasses here:

Hello to @TheWholeKahani. Arrived on Twitter. Late to the party, but always FUN. Follow and RT, please. We are working on a new anthology, working title: "May We Borrow Your Country?" 😉

And if you want to read the poems in #Portuguese, here's a link:

Great to receive the print copy of this is the post. Beautiful design and production. Thanks @BloomsburyIndia @theabhayk #100GreatIndianPoems

More Noise Pollution for 2.2 million Londoners? Sure. More toxic air. Sure. More traffic congestion? Bring it on. And let's hide the facts until we're forced to hand them over. https://t.co/OJ1AjLZ5zJ

“Art Borrows & Steals”. The @Soc_of_Authors tells us how to stay within the law @LondonBookFair. Useful. Especially as I mention politicians in passing in my novel.

Just getting started on this intriguing gift I received in the post. Love the opening poem 'London' by Triska Hamid. Belated thanks to @SaqiBooks for my copy of this collection edited by @SabrinaMahfouz.

"Poetry is when an emotion has found its thought and the thought has found words." #PoetryDay

It's #WorldPoetryDay ! Today it is mandatory to visit your local bookshop politely ask where their poetry section is, then loudly comment "it's not big enough"

Pls RT: Announcing the shortlist of the 3K Brunel International African Poetry Prize. Now in its sixth year. https://t.co/WKVanCwI23

Happy International Women's Day -- image by 7-year-old Barbary #IWD2018


#poem 'Among Barmaids' by Paula Bohince - 2nd Prize winner in the #NationalPoetryCompetition 2013.

There was a metal door that took both hands
of a strong man to open

but we did it daily.


Independent publishers' sales grew in 2017 by 2.7%, compared to a total market increase of 0.2% https://t.co/rBUKZOGghd

'We wish we could be celebrating with you on this day, but we are not free to do so': a woman on hunger strike on Yarls Wood wrote this statement for our #AllWomenCount lobby of Parliament #IWD2018 https://t.co/mxzGzRRxzr

To celebrate International Women's Day, we're giving you the chance to #win a copy of 'The Things I Would Tell You: British Muslim Women Write'.
This spellbinding selection of writings was a Guardian Best Book of the Year 2017.
Simply RT & follow to enter. #IWD2018

My snow boots on London pavements - doesn’t happen often. #SnowInLondon

See you at Bloomsbury Blizzard Book Launch @EyewearBooks. My friend's book is being launched! And other lovely poets too...

#TheAlephReview issue 2. With 53 authors and fabulous art, comprising fiction, poetry, non-fiction, translations, interviews, a stunning poet rediscovered in the Archives section and a graphic story, you don’t want to miss this. In stores soon!

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