Photo Caption: During the debate on Translation as Resistance
at the India International Centre in New Delhi
Dr Adrian Grima, who teaches literature in the Department of Maltese of the Faculty of Arts, was recently invited to Chandigarh, New Delhi and Mumbai to read his poetry, take part in literary translation workshops with other European and Indian writers writing in five major Indian languages, and to talk about Maltese literature at public events. The other European writers on the tour were Brane Mozetič from Slovenia and Yolanda Castaño from Galicia, in Spain.
His poems were published in his most recent collection, Klin u Kapriċċi Oħra (Klabb Kotba Maltin 2015) and translated into English by Dr Albert Gatt, an accomplished translator of Maltese literature into English and Director of the Institute of Linguistics at the University of Malta. These poems were translated into Hindi, Marathi, Bengali, and Punjabi by the leading Indian poets Monika Kumar, Surjit Patar, Anamika, Subhro Bandopadhyay, and Hemant Divate.
These major Indian languages, with centuries-old literary traditions that are major players in contemporary Indian literature, are among the most widely spoken languages in the world. Hindi is considered the fourth most widely spoken language in the world (after Mandarin, Spanish and English) with some 310 million speakers; Bengali, with some 205 million speakers, is seventh; Punjabi, with 100 million speakers, is tenth; and Marathi, right after French, is 19th, with 73 million speakers.
Adrian Grima was invited to India by Literature Across Frontiers as part of its project, Poetry Connections Europe India – Literary Europe Live 2016. This literary tour was supported by the LEuL platform project part-funded by the Creative Europe progamme of the European Union, and by the government of Galicia. The tour was coordinated by Alexandra Büchler, director of LAF, and Sampurna Chattarji, an established Indian English language poet and novelist.
The Maltese poems were read on stage in Maltese and English by Adrian Grima and by the writers who translated them into their Indian languages at the Chandigarh Literature Festival and Tata Literature Live | The Mumbai LitFest, two major international literary festivals, and at a popular joint in the heart of New Delhi called The Toddy Shop. Adrian Grima also read his translations into Maltese of poems written in the five Indian languages present in the workshops after discussing the poems at length with their authors.
One of the events in which Maltese literature was discussed at length was a public debate on "Translation as Resistance" held at the India International Centre in New Delhi. This was covered, among others, by EFE, the Spanish international news agency. The article referred to Adrian Grima's point during the debate about how literary translation can be an effective act of resistance against the culture of xenophobia and closure that is sweeping over many countries around the world.
At a multilingual poetry encounter for young people held at the National Centre for the Performing Arts, or NCPA, called Worlds Within Words as part of the Tata Literature Live | The Mumbai LitFest, Adrian Grima spoke about writing poetry in Maltese and the leading role played by Maltese language and literature in contemporary Malta, and about its greater visibility in the international sphere.
Both Adrian Grima's Maltese poetry translated into the various Indian languages and the poetry he translated from these languages into Maltese will be published in literary journals in the near future.