Translating a literary piece is always a daunting task for two reasons: first, it seeks to preserve its form and second it demands its aesthetical spirit to be preserved. Translating poetry, out of all genres of literature, is considered to be the most difficult job because to add or lose something during the process is inevitably. Whatever the case may be, it has not prevented the translators to stop their work because they believe that the translations not only bridge the gaps between peoples but also build solidarity and harmony amongst them.
To create dialogue with international audience and to celebrate the diversities, Highlight Arts collaborates with artists living in different countries and organises live events to explore alternative stories through direct interaction and shared experiences. It organised same activity in Lahore with collaboration of the British Council and brought eight poets together, four from Glasgow and four from Lahore, at a workshop for translation and collaborative poetry experiments titled `Glasgow to Lahore: New Poems in Translation`.
A Change in the Light, an anthology of poems, is the outcome of this activity which includes translations and poems by Jim Carruth, Vicki Husband, Kishwar Naheed, Afshan Sajjad, Gerry Cambridge, Dr. Khalid Javaid Jan, Ali Akbar Natiq and Kathrine Sowerby, and is published by Lahore's Sang-e-Meel Publications. These poets, neither fluent in each other’s language nor poetic tradition, spent time together. They spoke to each other, explained their poems and helped out to make other understand the context of their poems and all the words and phrases which have socio-cultural appeal for one society but devoid in another. These long discussions helped them to learn all those terms in order to retain the same spirit in the translated poems. They shed light on the poetic symbolism e.g., the desert is not a barren place but a rich stretch of hope and beauty. Another poet amongst them shared that why he, sometimes, feels like going out to the fields and scream. This in fact means that if you read both Urdu and English, you might notice some variances, some liberties. Their object wasn’t only to translate the words, but the emotions and feelings and their transformation into other language. Hence, they have tried their best in each one of the poem to be faithful to its spirit and to bring it out in a full-throated voice into another language.
There are different issues and themes in the poems included in this book. Domestic issues are prominent in Afshan Sajjad’s poems. The selection of Gerry Cambridge poems are more about natural elements, whereas there is much diversification in topics of Jim Carruth poems. Dr Khalid Javed Jan’s poems are more about social issues and injustice taking place in the society. In short, all these topics, in this small book of 127 pages add different flavour of reading poetry. It is an interesting book which fully engages the reader. The book is edited by Ryan Van Winkle, Ali Kamran and Daniel Gorman.
Such books and projects connect people of different region and bridge the gap between them. It also showcases the more diversified Pakistan in the UK and gives readers a chance to read Pakistani Literature. The finest quality of this masterpiece can be judged only by reading it.