10 Women Poets in Translation You Don’t Want to Miss

photo for WITMonth post Credit Josef.stuefer

We’re celebrating WITMonth here at the Two Lines Pres blog! Here’s our own Emily Wolahan on some astonishing poets you need to read this month!

In his poem “The Day Lady Died,” one of the stops in Frank O’Hara’s day before he sees the headline that Billie Holiday has died is to pick up an “ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what the poets / in Ghana are doing these days.” I think of O’Hara’s lines often when I read poets in translation. Immersed in our North American poetry world, ensconced in our English, it’s easy to ignore the imagination and perspective of other languages.

Thank goodness the equivalents to O’Hara’s NEW WORLD WRITING (not to be confused with the current journal that holds that title) are not ugly and are available both in print and online. These ten women poets in translation are contemporary poets we hope to see more work from in English.

Athena Farrokhzad: SWEDISH

Farrokhzad’s reputation proceeds her in many ways. We had the chance to publish part of “White Blight” in Two Lines 23.

Julia Fiedorczuk: POLISH

The July/August issue of Poetry Magazine was half translation, half an incredible folio on Pacific Islander poetry. Fiedorczuk is just one of several translated poets in the issue.

Hiromi Ito: JAPANESE

A leader in Japanese poetry, Ito doesn’t get nearly enough attention in the U.S. We published Ito in Issue 13: Masks.

Leslie Kaplan: FRENCH

These poems from Leslie Kaplan were written in the 1990s, but are only now reaching the US in these great translations. Kaplan writes in a prosaic, immersive style and explores factory labor and feminism in L’excès-l’usine.

Kim Yiduem: KOREAN

If you already like Kim Hyesoon (check out her poems translated by Don Mee Choi in our upcoming issue of Two Lines by subscribing here), you will adore Kim Yiduem. She’s a star in Korea and soon to appear as widely as Kim H.

Galina Rymbu: RUSSIAN

Rymbu is a political poet mired in the turbulent world of today, but her poems are not heavy because of it. Her ability to make her voice seem very personal, while clearly tightly wrought, might have something to do with it. Also check out the current issue of n+1, which contains a portfolio of new Russian political poets.

Ulrike Almut Sandig: GERMAN

A compelling, musical voice, Sandig’s poems and prose understand doom, sadness and childhood in a way that is honest and hopeful. Our upcoming 25th issue of Two Lines features a story by Sandig titled “Against Disappearance”—subscribe here to read it.

Thi Mar Win: BURMESE

Eleven Eleven is a journal to keep your eye on. This issue features three Burmese poets, but Thi Mar Win is the stand out. Her lyricism is haunting.

Uljana Wolf: GERMAN

Deeply interested in the workings of language, Wolf writes in a space Music & Literature describes as “inter-lingual.” Wolf lives in New York and teaches there, making her everyday linguistic existence also a space from which she writes.

Zhai Yongming: CHINESE

A feminist in a culture where that’s a mixed bag, Zhai served a sentence of hard labor for two years during the Cultural Revolution. She is a voice from China you need to hear.

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