Poetry in Translation

Russain Poet_students

World-renowned Russian poet Vera Pavlova, the author of 18 collections of poetry translated into 22 languages, visited Dickinson this week. She was joined by her translator and partner Steven Seymour, former translator and interpreter for the US Department of State. Both are longtime friends of the Dickinson Russian Department, having visited back in 2004 as part of the annual poetry festival Semana Poetica.


During their most recent visit to Carlisle, Vera and Steven worked with advanced Russian students Caitlin Moriarty, Alex North, and Maria Smirnova on the translation of a new cycle of Vera’s poetry. The workshop was part of the students’ senior seminar, “Workshop in Translation,” led by Prof. Alyssa DeBlasio. During the session with Vera and Steven, students discussed and worked through many of the difficulties of translating poems from Russian into English. Later this week, Vera will read a selection of her poetry to the Dickinson community at a public reading in the Biblio CafĂ© and the students, Caitlin, Alex, and Maria, will read their English translations in accompaniment.


For Maria Smirnova, a student from the Russian State University for the Humanities (Moscow), it was her first time translating from her native Russian into English. “Before the workshop I was very afraid and thought I would never be able to do it. Now I have changed my mind, as I understood that the most important fact for the translator of poetry is to make the translated poems sound natural, sound like they were originally written in English. It was a great experience.”


For more information on Vera and Steven’s first visit to Dickinson in 2004, see:


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