Dutch translation of The Hill We Climb is welcomed, Frisian version to come

 premiere, stepped down, Volkskrant, Parool, Trouw., Friesch Dagblad, , Uitfestival

A screenshot from the television premier

The Dutch translation of The Hill We Climb, the spoken word poem author Amanda Gorman recited at US president Joe Biden’s inauguration, has been praised by critics at its publication on Tuesday.

The Dutch translation (not the translation into Dutch, a premiere for Flemish translator Katelijne De Vuyst) hit a snag when publisher Meulenhoff gave the job to Booker Prize winner Marieke Lucas Rijneveld.  Rijneveld, who had been apparently approved by Gorman, stepped down after questions were raised about her skills and cultural knowledge to do the job.

Meulenhoff then opted for Dutch Surinamese spoken word artist Zaïre Krieger. She has now come up with a translation which is ‘idiosyncratic’ in parts, the Volkskrant wrote. The Parool said Zaïre had focused on ‘accessibility and has done a good job’.

Krieger had to contend with her own difficulties during the process which she called ‘ a little bizarre at times’, with sensitivity readers, editors and Amanda Gorman’s American management all keeping an eye on her progress.

‘That made it quite hard. When America gave the green light I was as happy as can be. It was special and, at times, a little bit bizarre,’ she told Trouw. Her translation was presented on television on Tuesday evening.

Meanwhile a Frisian translation has been in the making by Frisian translator Friduwih Riemersma, who is not black. ‘Ik ha besocht om it agintskip dúdlik te meitsjen dat ik as Fries ek ûnderdiel útmeitsje fan in ‘indigenous’ minderheid,’ Riemersma told the Friesch Dagblad, pointing to her status as an ‘indigenous minority’.

The translation, which has not been published yet, will be recited at the upcoming Uitfestival in Workum.

Friesland provincial official Sietske Poepjes who gave the assignment to Riemersma said Gorman’s message chimed with the ‘new Friesland’ which is ‘not about where we come from but where we want to go together.’

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