Monday, 30 September 2013

Translation Transformed conference report

Translation Transformed conference 20-22 Sept 2013
(l to r Richard Demarco, EU Citizen of the Year, Dr Ekaterina Genieva, director of the state Library for Foreign Literature and Evgeny Reznichenko, director of the Institute of Translation)

A galaxy of Russian literary stars – editors, authors and translators – descended on the historic spa town of Moffat in the south of Scotland for our conference on translation 20-22 Sept 2013.  The delegation included Evgeny Reznichenko,  director of the Institute of Translation in Moscow, Dr Ekaterina Genieva director of the Library for Foreign Literature Moscow, the  directors of four Russian ‘literary museums’: Dmitry Bak of the State Literary Museum in Moscow (also a member of the President’s committee for the arts); Antonina Klyuchareva and Nadezhda Pereverzava of Tolstoy’s Yasnaya Polyana; Tamara Melnikova of Lermontov’s ‘Tarkhanhy’ and Svetlana Melnikova of Vladimir-Suzdal, Natalya Ivanova editor in chief of the literary journal ‘Znamya’, Alexander Livergant chair and doyen of the Russian Translators Association, Alexei Varlamov biographer and novelist and a dozen more. The British speakers and contributors included Robyn Marsak of the Scottish Poetry Library who, through the good offices of Moffat Book Events is supervising new translations of Lermontov by contemporary Scottish poets to be published by Carcanet early in 2014; Dr Peter France formerly of Edinburgh University, Dr Oliver Ready, Research Fellow of St Anthony’s College Oxford and director of Russkiy Mir programme, Alan Riach professor of Scottish Literature University of Glasgow, Dr Tom Hubbard, poet, Dr Irina Kirillova, University of Cambridge and Richard Demarco EU Citizen of the Year 2013.  The conference was opened by Cabinet Secretary of State for Culture and External Affairs Fiona Hyslop MSP.  Chair of Moffat Book Events Professor Andrew Wheatcroft made a speech of welcome and I was the conference moderator.

Among many highlights of the conference were presentations by Alan Riach, reading his inspired translations from the Gaelic into Scots, Chris Brookmyre on  hilariously alarming exchanges with inept translators of his best-selling crime novels, Alexei Varlamov on his literary inspiration (based on a Soviet childhood), Natalya Ivanova on contemporary Russian fiction and three remarkable students of translation from Glasgow  - the list could go on.

The Russian delegation made flying visits on either side of the conference to Scottish literary destinations from their base at the elegant 18th century John Adams- designed Moffat House hotel, including to the Robert Burns Centre in Alloway,  and the Prince of Wales’s Dumfries House in Ayrshire; and to Abbotsford,  the magnificent newly -renovated Borders home of  Sir Walter Scott, to Kelvingrove in Glasgow and to Edinburgh.  Preparations were also made for a series of continuations during 2014 to mark the UK Year of Russian Culture and language, including an exhibition of photographs of Moffat people and places by Maria Buylova with interviews by Head of Exhibitions at the Library for Foreign Literature Tatyana Feoktistova to be opened in Moscow on Oct 22 2014, a conference on Lermontov in Moffat 26-28 Sept 2014 and a Russian strand in Dumfries and Galloway Arts Festival and at other Scottish literary festivals . An exhibition of the series of paintings by Richard Demarco of Scotland’s rural roads ‘The Road to Meikle Seggie’ will open in Moscow June 2014.

2014 is the bicentenary of the birth of Lermontov, whose Learmont ancestors came from Scotland. Artefacts and garments made from a bolt of Lermontov tartan were ordered from Moffat Mill, an outlet of the pan-British firm Edinburgh Woollen Mill for this year of celebration, to be sold at Lermontov museums and events in Russia and elsewhere.  Other Moffat products such as Moffat Toffee and Uncle Roy’s condiments, local cheese and smoked fish , pottery and other crafts will be in the exhibition which is intended to show Moffat as a microcosm of  rural Scotland today.

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