Transreading the Baltics

Transreading the Baltics

Opening up the under-recognised poetries of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia

‘We bind our ABCs in our own skins/ And bend own bones to build our cradles’, confesses the Latvian poet Kārlis Vērdiņ, translated into English by Ieva Lešinska. This confession allows us as its hearers to infer and ponder individual and collective stories shaped by the visceral circumstances – outer and inner – of writings in the Baltic states. To coincide with the presence of Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia as guests of honour at the 2018 London Book Fair, we will read recent poetry of these three countries to understand more about the shape of their cradles. We will expose our skins to the ABCs of the Baltics in order to bend our own poetic bones in the process of trans-reading – that is, acute reading of translations and turning these readings into our new poems. (No knowledge of Latvian, Lithuanian or Estonian is required.)

For our course we are teaming up with Arc Publications and the European Literature Network. We will read poems selected from three Arc anthologies: Six Latvian Poets, Six Lithuanian Poets and Six Estonian Poets as well as from individual collections. (The participants who wish to buy books from our reading list are offered 35% discount.) Our fifth and final poems will respond to The Baltic Riveter, the review journal published by the European Literature Network in connection with the London Book Fair to celebrate the best of contemporary Baltic writing. The poems, like ‘riveting reviews’, will feature on the ELN website.

5 fortnightly sessions over 10 weeks. No live chats. Suitable for UK & International students.

Transreading courses – co-curated with Elzbieta Wójcik-Leese – invite us to read poems brought to English by translation, English-language poems inhabiting other cultures, and multilingual poems whose English hosts other tongues. We translate texts and/or compose new poems in response to our readings; in this process of trans-reading and trans-writing we open our poetries to the multi-literate world.

More information about how all our online courses work can be found on the Online Courses page.

(Image credit: ‘Simon Blackley’)

About Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese View Profile

Elżbieta Wójcik-Leese writes with/in English, Polish and Danish; bearings|counterbearings, winner of the 2018 Cinnamon Press Debut Poetry Collection Prize, is due in summer 2019. Her multilingual texts have appeared in Other Countries: Contemporary Poets Rewiring History (2014), Metropoetica. Poetry and Urban Space: Women Writing Cities (2013) and such journals as Cordite Poetry Review, Envoi, Long Poem Magazine, Shearsman and Tears in the Fence. Her English translations of contemporary Polish poetry have featured in various anthologies, journals, and on the London Underground. Nothing More (Arc, 2013), which samples Krystyna Miłobędzka, has been shortlisted for the 2015 Popescu European Poetry Translation Prize. Cognitive Poetic Readings in Elizabeth Bishop: Portrait of a Mind Thinking (2010) is based on her research at the Elizabeth Bishop archives. She lives in Copenhagen.

‘I am a poet with a disabling health condition and coming to the Poetry School has helped me grab back my identity (which illnesses can try to steal away) and prioritise what is meaningful in my life. It has brought learning, confidence, courage and friendship.’

Autumn 2017 Survey response

Related Courses