TG meets Enemies

‘kälte’ to ‘cold’, film to spoken word

Workshop at International Translation Day, 26 September 2014, British Library, London
led by Ricarda Vidal and Steven J. Fowler


This workshop built on ‘p.o.w’ at the Poetry Library in March 2014 and ‘from Image to Text’ at the TCCE conference in June 2014, though this time we worked with professional translators and interpreters.
While a group of German specialists translated Ricarda’s German version of Paul Brown’s ‘cold’ back into English after having watched Anna Cady’s filmic translation of the poem, the rest of the participants split into three groups and translated the film itself back into poetry. In one case this resulted in a multilingual spoken-word performance, which was delivered to roaring applause…
With every translation game we play I become more and more convinced that there really is an essence to every text and that it is possible to capture it and preserve it, no matter how far removed the target language is from the source.
Many thanks to the Free Word Centre for inviting us to take part in International Translation Day!

Click here for a more detailed write-up of the session by Sam Sedgman from the Free Word Centre.

Paul Brown’s ‘cold’ (click image to enlarge)

Paul Brown, "cold", P.O.W. 2013

 Ricarda’s German translation of ‘cold’ (click to enlarge)




Translation from the German by Martin Cassell, Aubrey Botsford, Jana Behrendt and Shaun Whiteside (click image to enlarge)

cold translated from German


Anna Cady’s filmic translation of ‘cold’

The translation of Anna’s film into spoken word


Margaret Jull Costa’s translation of Anna’s film:

cold to the bone
cold in the bone
a pulse
a heartbeat
cold dreams of warm fires
heartbeat hearthbeat
cold sea foam shifting shivering
memories of warmth

Group translation of Anna’s film


buh-dum. buh-dum. buh-dum. buh-dum. buh-dum.
Tentative flickering eye in the winter light,
crackling black fire dissolving, consuming
the clinical green ice.

Shivering foam in the whistling wind
Bubbles blurring,
obscuring bright Truth.

Fleeting glimpses of strange structures
tantalising suggestions