Victor Opiols, the Catalan translator who was translating from English the poem “The Hill We Climb”, was replaced by Amanda Gorman at President Joe Biden’s inauguration. He says he does not have the “right profile”.
“They told me that I am not qualified to translate the text,” Opoleus told AFP. They didn’t question my skills, but were looking for someone with a different profile, a woman, young woman, activist and preferably black.
Three weeks ago, Universe Barcelona publishing house commissioned the translator to convert the text into Catalan. Opulus said, after he had finished, he learned that “he was not the right person.” He doesn’t know if the rejection comes from the publisher or Gorman himself. Univers will pay Obiols for the work delivered.
“It’s a very complex issue that has to be dealt with meticulously,” Obiols says of the translation task. But if I cannot translate her poem because she is female, young, black, and American of the 21st century, I cannot translate Homer because I am not a Greek from the eighth century B.C. Or after that I couldn’t translate Shakespeare either, because I’m not a 16th-century British.
There has also been an argument closer to home. Dutch writer Marek Lucas Reinfeld translated Gorman’s poem into Dutch, but that turned into a publisher Mejulenhof’s PR nightmare. Gorman and her team supported Rijneveld’s choice, and sensitive readers with diverse backgrounds would critically review the Dutch translation. However, there was much criticism of a white author translating the work. In the end, Rijneveld withdrew himself and the text was translated through him Amsterdam poet Gershwin Bonifacia. Reinfeld himself responded to the controversy With a poem.
Watch Amanda Gorman recite the poem at the opening: