L ike all writers, my partner and I have a number of perpetual grouses about the writing world. One of ours is the scarcity of translation done in Canada, especially of poetry, and especially by poets. A casual perusal of the biographies of major poets worldwide will show that most have engaged in translation work. In Canada, not so much. By which I mean, hardly at all. Our poets, major or minor, have been reluctant to perform this valuable, though largely thankless, service.

Well, my partner, Priscila Uppal, is significantly more organized than I am so she decided to actually do something about it. The result is 20 Canadian Poets Take on the World from Exile Editions, an anthology Uppal edited and introduced of 20 Canuck versifiers (including her and myself, Ken Babstock, Christian Bök, Dionne Brand, Barry Callaghan, Rishma Dunlop, Steven Heighton, Sonnet L’Abbe, Erin Moure, Al Moritz, Paul Vermeersch, and Darren Wershler) translating 20 non-English poets from different millennia and from 15 languages. So far as I know (and I’m happy to be proven wrong), an anthology of this type has never been done in Canada. Hopefully it will showcase translation for what it is: an essential component of creative life, equally important as the production of new work from our poets.

The book will be launched with readings from several contributors in Toronto at the Dora Keogh Pub (141 Danforth Ave) on April 22, 2009, at 7 pm and in Montreal at the Green Room/Salon Vert (5386 St Laurent Blvd) on April 29, 2009, at 7 pm.

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