Translating poetry: Rilke Shake

This workshop involved a two-part leap of faith: students who had never worked with Portuguese found themselves not only translating from it but translating poetry to boot – all in two hours, or less. We discussed what makes poetry poetry, and we established a ‘poetry translation toolkit’ to apply in all circumstances. Then we experimented with whole-group translation of a poem, ‘Rito de passagem’ from Brazilian poet Angelica Freitas’ collection Rilke Shake. Discussions included how we could translate Freitas’s queer politics and how Brazilian nosey parkers can be recreated in English. Finally, having gained confidence, students or pairs of students ventured their own translations of another of Freitas’ poems, ‘Fim’. The results are dazzling: already students are finding their voices as poets in translation.