Why Do We Read in English?

Stichting Perdu - 2023_12_07_engels_email-1
25 Jan at 20:00 | Doors open at 19:30. Tickets: Regular €15, Student €12.50, Livestream €6. Language: Dutch.

What role does the language of literature play in your reading experience? Does it matter whether you read in Dutch, English or another language? Why is it important for readers to have access to literary works from languages they may know, but in Dutch? And what factors influence how translators interpret and transpose a text into another language?

As part of Poetry Week, SLAA and Perdu present an evening on Thursday 25 January around the importance of literary translation. In Why do we read in English, we explore together with poets, writers and translators why is it important to be able to read English-language literature in Dutch. We also explore the possibilities of multilingualism in poetry.

Guests include Pelumi Adejumo, Nikki Dekker, Jenny Mijnhijmer and Fannah Palmer. The programme will be moderated by Elte Rauch.

Nikki Dekker shares her thoughts on the importance of reading English-language literature, whether in Dutch translation or not. Together with Nikki, we explore the influence of multilingualism in our imagination.

By using glossolalia, playing with confusion and multilingualism, Pelumi Adejumo opens up contradictory and rhythmic possibilities in language. In this programme, Pelumi takes us beyond English or Dutch to the possibilities of a multilingual imagination in poetry and literature.

With translators Jenny Mijnhijmer and Fannah Palmer, we take a look behind the scenes of literary translation. Independently and without consulting each other, they are asked to translate the same poem. In this ‘translation slam’, they enter into conversation with each other and share their choices and emotions surrounding the poem. What processes do they go through while translating a literary text? They consider a poem by June Jordan, one of the most published and acclaimed Jamaican-American writers of her generation, which has never before been translated into Dutch.

About the guest speakers

Pelumi Adejumo is a Nigerian-Dutch writer, poet and singer. She studied Creative Writing at ArteZ Hogeschool and has published in several literary journals. She recently made an album together with a collective of writers and musicians. Adejumo is editor of Read My World and Girls Like Us Magazine. She has written essays on visual art, language and artists’ books for Mister Motley and Metropolis M.

Nikki Dekker is a writer and radio producer. Her debut novel diepdiepblauw (De Bezige Bij, 2022) was critically acclaimed, nominated for the Bronzen Uil (shortlist) and De Boon (longlist) and awarded the CCS Crone Stipendium. De Volkskrant proclaimed her literary talent of 2023. Previously, Nikki published essays and poetry in her chapbook an object still alive (Wintertuin, 2018) and a variety of journals. She made radio documentaries for NTR and VPRO, and wrote the scenario for fiction podcast series De Brandstapel (BNNVARA 2022). Nikki is on the editorial board of literary magazine Tirade and is currently working on her second book.

Jenny Mijnhijmer was born in Suriname, but moved to the Netherlands at the age of one. She grew up in Dutch culture, but always cherished her Surinamese roots. She started writing short stories and plays at the age of five. She worked extensively in theatre and television. Her work was widely praised and she won international awards with her short film You 2. In 2020, she ventured into translating literature for the first time: she translated Sister Outsider by Audre Lorde. Since then, she has also translated Jambalaya by Luisah Teish and Constructing a Nervous System by Margo Jefferson. Jenny is Secretary for Theatre at the Performing Arts Fund.

Fannah Palmer works as a literary translator and editor in Amsterdam. After studying English at the UvA, she completed a master’s degree in Writing, Editing and Mediating at the University of Groningen. Fannah translates both fiction and non-fiction titles. She is also an editor at publisher HetMoet.

Elte Rauch is a writer and founder of publishing house HetMoet. She grew up in Zeeuws-Vlaanderen and left for England when she was eighteen. At the University of Bristol, she obtained her master’s degree in Philosophy and Social Sciences. She studied Theology at the University of Utrecht and successively worked at the ggz, as literary assistant to Huub Oosterhuis and as a programmer for literary and cultural venues. Elte lives on a boat, alternating between the Netherlands and England. Her fiction debut Een vrouw met mooie borsten – het dagboek van Veere Wachter was published by Cossee publishers in May 2023.