Students meet literary expert ahead of poetry competition
A LITERARY expert was invited into King’s School to inspire its young wordsmiths.
To prepare their students to enter the prestigious Stephen Spender Prize for poetry in translation, King’s School staff invited one of the North’s leading literary experts, Barry Wood, to visit school and meet the students.
To enter the national competition, A-level students can choose any of the languages taught at King’s – such as French, German, Spanish and Japanese – or any other language, getting expert help to translate a poem from the original language into English from the King’s teaching team.
Professor Barry Wood, who writes, reviews and teaches modern poetry for the Centre for Continuing Education at the University of Manchester and is an honorary fellow in the Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University, was previously principal lecturer in English and creative writing at the University of Bolton.
He spoke to students about how talented translators give meaning to works of literature that make it clear for readers.
He said: “The American poet Robert Frost once wrote ‘Poetry is what gets lost in translation’. But there are many, myself included, who look on this as a negative viewpoint and believe that translation is the very lifeblood of literary development and achievement.
“As readers, most of us depend on translations for our knowledge of Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, the great 19th century Russian novelists, the plays of Ibsen and Brecht, and the extraordinary 20th century poets of Eastern Europe. And for writers it is often a way of learning and extending skills and of understanding the originality and difference of foreign texts.
“Translation, as another writer puts it, ‘is the most intimate act of reading’ and allows us an insight into all forms of literature.”
Sally Jones, King’s School’s head of Spanish, said: “This initiative is designed to inspire both our languages and literature students and reveal how the different levels of meaning and truthfulness to the poet’s intent can be achieved by the skilled sensitive translator.
“It is a way of enabling our most talented students to uncover in all their complexity the thoughts and feelings of some of the world’s greatest writers.”
Among the students to meet Barry were King’s former Cheshire champion for poetry recital Lauren Hayward, 17, and Robert Devon, 17.
Lauren, who is studying Spanish, English literature and psychology said: “Listening to Professor Wood gave us all a preview of university life and the complex challenges we will face if we want to succeed.”
King’s School students Lauren Hayward and Robert Devon meet literary expert Barry Wood