Just-A One Sonetto, Give It to Me, We like the Welsh Poetry

Western Mail (Cardiff, Wales), March 12, 2007 | Go to article overview

Just-A One Sonetto, Give It to Me, We like the Welsh Poetry


Byline: By Rhodri Clark Western Mail

For centuries Italy has enriched literature across Europe, and is famed for its opera and gondoliers reciting romantic verse. But now the country of Virgil and Dante is snapping up books by Wales' finest writers. Ties between the countries were strengthened through the migration of many Italians to Wales in the 20th century.

There are other cultural affinities, with both nations famed for their love of poetry and singing.

Italian readers looking for something different have struck a gold mine with their discovery of Wales' back catalogue.

The venture is proving so successful that the main translators involved have even created a brand name, Parole dal Galles, for Welsh books.

And a literary magazine from the University of Venice has set up a special section for books from Wales.

In the past nine years at least 18 novels, poetry collections and stories by Welsh or Wales-based authors have been published in Italian.

The latest to go on sale are translations of The Canals of Mars - a collection of poetry by Patrick McGuinness - and of Y Pla (The Plague), a novel by William Owen Roberts. Mr Roberts will tour Italian cities next week to launch the book.

Already three other books are in the pipeline, having been awarded grants to cover the translation work involved. They are a poetry collection by Robert Minhinnick, an anthology of contemporary Welsh poetry, and The Prince of Wales, a novel by John Williams about modern Cardiff.

And that's not all. Discussions are in progress over the translation of further works into Italian, by the poets Gillian Clarke and John Barnie, and of the classic novel Un Nos Ola Leuad (One Moonlit Night) by Caradog Prichard.

Much of the translating work has been done by Andrea Bianchi and Silvana Siviero of Turin, who are now translating their 11th book from Wales.

Ms Siviero was born in Caerphilly and lived in Wales for 13 years until her family returned to Italy.

'Many of my friends who, like me, have returned to Italy, are glad to read Welsh literature in Italian,' she said yesterday.

'People knew about Wales only for its rugby in the past. Now they even know something about the country too.'

She and her husband have given their series of translations a name - Parole dal Galles/Geiriau O Gymru.

'Whenever we organise book launches, people do come and show interest and buy the books we present,' she said. …

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