In the Netherlands, the choice of a white writer to translate the poem of a young African-American poet recited during the inauguration of Joe Biden is controversial. Critics say the work should have been translated by a black person.
At the inauguration of Joe Biden, a young African-American poet, Amanda Gorman, 22, recited her poem The Hill We Climb (The hill that we climb). A poem that received worldwide echo. In the Netherlands, the Meulenhoff publishing house decided to have its works translated and chose a white writer, Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, to transcribe them into Dutch as reported. The Guardian.
A controversial decision for some who felt that the translation should be entrusted to a black person. In a column published in the Dutch newspaper By Volkskrant, the black activist Janice Deul attacked the publishing house, believing that this translation should be entrusted to “an artist of spoken creation, young, woman and […] black ”in order to keep all the meaning of the American poet’s approach. And to abound: “[C’est]An incomprehensible choice, in my opinion and that of many others who have expressed their pain, frustration, anger and disappointment via social networks.”
I am shocked by the outcry surrounding my involvement
Faced with the controversy, the publishing house tried to defend itself considering that “the fact that Amanda Gorman and her team immediately responded positively to our proposal confirmed to us that we had found the ideal translator in Marieke Lucas Rijneveld.” The publishing house clarified that the translator was “attached to issues of gender equality and resilience”, praising her “passion and [sa] fight for an inclusive society ”.
The writer finally announced herself that she was pulling out of the project on February 26. “I am shocked by the outcry surrounding my involvement in spreading Amanda Gorman’s message and I understand people who feel hurt by the choice of Meulenhoff,” said the 29-year-old translator.
The publishing house is therefore looking for another translator, it has announced that a “new option would be chosen, with these precautions in mind“.