This powerful issue includes a selection of “Brecht on the South Bank”, part of this autumn’s Poetry International, which marks the fiftieth anniversary of the death of the most important dramatist of the twentieth century. Here are translations and poems ‘After Brecht’ from leading poets ranging from Lavinia Greenlaw to Adrian Mitchell.
The editors’ call for ‘after-images’ conjured up a wealth of submissions, in their words: “poems after photos and pictures; ghostings and re-incarnations by other writers; conversions of ancient and foreign forms; memories one would be loath to lose, memories one might wish to erase.”
Their theme was taken up, to name only a few, by Mimi Khalvati who writes about “englishing the Ghazal”; Pascale Petit inspired by Magritte’s Reckless Sleeper; and there is a fascinating account of a workshop with ten translators working on the poetry of Dutch master Gerrit Kouwenaar.
At home, the greatest Welsh-language poet of the twentieth century, Waldo Williams, is translated by Damian Walford Davies, and Tom Cheesman explains Owain Glyndŵr to an Algerian Asylum Seeker.
This is an inspiring issue which amply justifies Fiona Sampson’s praise for the magazine: “Essential reading, MPT, with its sustained intelligence about how poetries work across cultures, has transformed the British landscape since its inception in 1966.”