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As part of our Language Shift exhibition we are delighted to showcase work form the Talking Transformations project. Curated by Ricarda Vidal and Manuela Perteghella, Talking Transformations focuses on the idea of 'home' and 'migration' and exists as a series of poems which have been translated across languages. These poems have also been made into films to show part of the poems' journey through different parts of Europe: the UK, Romania, Poland, France and Spain. All of the films, poems and  further works from the project, are on display as part of the exhibition which runs until 23 September 2018.

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Ricarda Vidal and Manuela Perteghella write below in more detail about the project and its results.

To know the world in another language is to never know the world the same.
'Home', Deryn Rees-Jones

These two lines are taken from Deryn Rees-Jones’ poem 'Home', which was one of two poems to be commissioned for Talking Transformations: Home on the Move. For this project, Deryn’s 'Home' and Polish poet Rafał Gawin’s 'Dom. Konstrukcja w procesie sądowym' (Home. Structure on Trial) were sent on a journey around Europe visiting those countries most important to EU-migration into and out of the UK. 'Home' travelled via France to Spain before returning home and 'Dom…' travelled from Poland via Romania to Britain before returning home. In each country they visited the two poems were translated by a literary translator and a film artist. The results of their journeys are now on show at the National Poetry Library.

'Home' can be experienced in three English versions, in French and in Spanish, as well as in four artist films and a mixed-media artwork; 'Dom…' is available in two Polish, two English and one Romanian version as well as in the shape of three art films. Visitors, whether they speak another language or not, can compare the different versions and trace the changes each poem underwent with each stage of the journey. Showcasing the artists’ audio-visual interpretations of the poems, the film versions make the poems accessible on an additional, sensual level. The poems’ journeys were circular, but the poem that returns ‘home’ through back translation, is certainly not the same as when it set off. It has moved on, or away. There are subtle shifts and major breaks between the different versions. These differences may well feel familiar to those of us who move or travel between countries, cultures and languages for work, pleasure or love. Just as the language changes, so does home. It, too, is never the same.


Talking Transformations 1

Image Credit: 
Poems created during the initial Talking Transformations workshops in Britain in spring 2017

Talking Transformations began in 2016 with three community workshops in Hereford, London and Łódź. The British workshops were led by Deryn and the Polish one by Rafał and Joanna Kosmalska. All three used creative writing exercises and discursive methods to explore definitions and meanings of ‘home’. At the end of each workshop every participant had written a poem about ‘home’ and these poems formed the basis for Deryn and Rafał to compose 'Home' and 'Dom…'.

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Image Credit: 
Still from Heather Connelly & Belen Cerezo, 'HomeHome', 2018

Before coming to the National Poetry Library, the exhibition Home on the Move visited the Whitstable Biennale and the Ledbury Poetry Festival, where we also offered a programme of public events and retranslation workshops. We encouraged participants to embrace their own readings and interpretations and to take creative ownership of the translations they made. The poems produced during these workshops are collected in our Concertina Book of Home Poems, which is also on display at the library. We would like to invite visitors to the exhibition to send us their own translations, so we can add them to our book.

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Image Credit: 
Still from Kate McMillan, 'The Lost Places', 2017


Talking Transformations: Home on the Move is curated by Manuela Perteghella and Ricarda Vidal.

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The artists, poets and translators who collaborated with us are Teodor Ajder (RO), Elise Aru (FR), Heather Connelly (UK) in collaboration with Belén Cerezo (SP), Noèlia Díaz Vicedo (SP), Marta Dziurozs (PL), Rafał Gawin (PL),  Anna Hyde (PL), Zuzanna Janin (PL), Jozefina Komporaly (RO), Benoît Laffiché (FR), Domingo Martínez (SP), Timothy Mathews (UK), Kate McMillan (UK), Ghenadie Popescu (RO), Deryn Rees-Jones (UK), Silvia Terrón (SP), and Sally Waterman (UK). For generous support we would like to thank Arts Council England, King’s College London, the Polish Cultural Institute London, the Institut Français, the Ledbury Poetry Festival and the National Poetry Library.