Rediscovering poetry across linguistic boundaries

An opportunity to immerse in poetry whose essence transcends language barriers, is very exciting. Poets Translating Poets is a  novel  project initiated by Goethe-Institut-Mumbai in collaboration with Literaturwerkstatt Berlin. The initiative launched in 2015 with the assistance of Deutsche UNESCO, provides a platform to  poets from Germany and South Asia to translate each other’s work.Over 50 renowned poets from Germany, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, with works across 20 languages were selected for this project.

Goethe InstitutBringing together 51 poets including 17 German poets from across 20 languages through literary encounters in several South Asian locations, this project promises to stimulate new literary networks and open new avenues for trans-cultural understanding. The project culminates in the the Poets translating poets festival in Mumbai in the month of November 2016. The festival will present around 60 events over three days in a variety of formats, such as readings, performances and workshops.

Over the past months, several encounters and workshops were held across India, South Asia and Germany. The languages in the project in the different encounters included Marathi and Gujarati (Mumbai encounter), Bengali (Dhaka encounter) , Kashmiri and Hindi (New Delhi) , Sindhi and Urdu (Karachi), Tamil and Sinhala (Colombo), Malayalam, Tamil and Kannada (Chennai and Trivandrum encounters), Odia and Bengali (Kolkata), Telugu, Urdu and English (Hyderabad), Nepali and Mizo (Gangtok/Sikkim), German.

Chennai-Trivandrum Encounter (Photo Credit - Goethe Institut_ROY SINAI)

Chennai-Trivandrum Encounter (Photo Credit – Goethe Institut , Roy Sinai) The Chennai encounter was later shifted to Trivandrum and it was in the beautiful western coast of India that 9 poets met, to recreate  some beautiful verses.


Mumbai Encounter (Photo Credit - Goethe Institut_ANDREA FERNANDES)

Mumbai Encounter (Photo Credit – Goethe Institut, Andreaa Fernandes) 6 poets with works in 3 languages collaborated at the Mumbai Encounter.



Karachi-Encounter ( Photo credit Goethe-Institut, Madiha Aijaz). In the bustle of people, cars and rickshaws, 6 poets in 3 languages found orderly disorder as they collaborated.


Gangtok Encounter (Photo Credit - Goethe Institut_YAWAN RAI)

Gangtok Encounter (Photo Credit – Goethe Institut,Yawan Rai). The small town in the Himalayas came alive with the sound of syllables from four languages.


Dhaka Encounter (Photo Credit - Goethe Institut_MUNEM WASIF)

Dhaka Encounter (Photo Credit – Goethe Institut, Munem Wasif) An Indologist, a professor and a poet walk into a bar. Well, a library actually, but the outcome is no less fun.


Delhi Encounter (Photo Credit - Goethe Institut_ ANDREA FERNANDES)

Delhi Encounter (Photo Credit – Goethe Institut, Andrea Fernandes)


Colombo Encounter (Photo Credit -Goethe Institut_NATALIE SOYSA)

Colombo Encounter (Photo Credit -Goethe Institut_Natalie Soysa). The encounter held in Colombo also saw a game of Dominos played, as a new poem was found in translation.

The poetry encounters and collaborations have led to translation of poems in diverse languages while preserving the  poetic essence intact. It has given poetry connoisseurs a chance to discover literature and poetry in foreign languages, breaking the language barriers.

The project  website   gives compete detail about the poets, poems, essays, photographs, calendars and chronicles of this program.