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A New Divan is a Gingko project that will celebrate the 200th anniversary of Goethe’s West-Eastern Divan (1819). This ambitious anthology brings together new poems by twenty-four leading poets – 12 from the ‘East’ and 12 from the ‘West’ – in a truly international poetic dialogue inspired by the culture of the Other. The poets come from across the East (from Morocco to Turkey, Syria to Afghanistan) and from across the West (from Germany to Mexico, Estonia to Brazil). The new poems respond to the titles of the twelve books of Goethe’s original Divan, including ‘The Poet’, ‘Love’, ‘Ill-humour’, ‘The Cup-Bearer’, ‘The Tyrant’ and ‘Paradise’, and draw on the distinctive poetic forms of the cultures of the poets taking part. Twenty-two English-language poets have created English versions of the poems not originally written in English, either by direct translation or by working with a literal translation.
A New Divan are accompanied by six essays exploring the differences and similarities between Eastern and Western poetry and discussing the challenges of literary and cultural translation. The essays enhance and complement the poems, mirroring Goethe’s original notes and commentary. Contributors are Robyn Creswell, Narguess Farzad, Rajmohan Gandhi, Kadhim Jihad Hassan, Stefan Weidner and Sibylle Wentker.
The commissioned poets included in A New Divan were chosen with the help of two principal advisors: the Mexican-British poet Michael Schmidt, director of Carcanet Press, and the German poet Joachim Sartorius, formerly overall director of the Goethe Institut. We have also been greatly helped by Samuel Shimon and Margaret Obank of Banipal (the magazine of modern Arab literature), Narguess Farzad of SOAS and Alexandra Dugdale, former editor of Modern Poetry in Translation.
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