15/03/2014, by CLAS

Blessed are the Translators: An Evening of Slovene Poetry

Final-year students Katie Harrison (English and Russian) and Christopher O’Rourke (Russian and Serbian/Croatian) were part of a translation workshop in Russian and Slavonic Studies this semester. Here are their thoughts on translating works by the award-winning Slovene poet Katja Perat.

Anyone who has ever been faced with the task of translating a piece of writing is most probably familiar with how difficult (yet rewarding/fulfilling) a job this can be. Whether it’s spending what seems like hours fiddling about with syntax, or working out whether an article is needed or not, an awful lot of time is spent trying to produce a translation which you are completely satisfied with.

Over the past month the six of us in our Slovene class, along with postgraduate student Olivia Hellewell, our teacher Matej Klemen and Dr Polly McMichael have been meeting on a Friday lunchtime in order to translate a selection of poems from Slovene poet Katja Perat’s debut collection of poetry Naboljši so padli (The Best Have Fallen). Having only studied Slovene for a semester, we perhaps found the challenge that lay ahead a little daunting. In fact, during the first of our meetings it took us twenty minutes just to translate a two-line poem! However, we soon picked up speed and managed to produce a selection of translations that we can all be proud of.

The Slovene poetry event on February 26 2014.

The Slovene poetry event on 26 February 2014.

The week following our final translation workshop we were fortunate enough to have the poet herself, Katja Perat, visit us here in Nottingham for a special poetry event on 26 February 2014. Katja recited several of her poems and the audience asked her questions about them, her creative processes and her thoughts on the translations. Luckily she has no qualms about her intellectual property being translated and views a translation of her work as a standalone piece. The evening was topped off with a glass or two of Slovenian wine – a well-earned reward for our hard work!


Blagor rudarjem.

Njim ni treba pisat pesmi.


Blessed are the miners.

They don’t need to write poems.

Translated by final-year Slovene translation workshop: Katie Harrison, Olivia Hellewell, Christopher Lycett, Benjamin Lowe, Christopher O’Rourke, Jonathan Rowson and Magdalena Wiercioch.

Posted in Russian and Slavonic Studies