Dryad Press is delighted to announce the publication of, The Coroner’s Wife, a selection of the poems of Joan Hambidge in translation.
With translations by well-known poets Charl JF Cilliers, Johann de Lange, Jo Nel and Douglas Reid Skinner, this selection offers English readers a unique opportunity to experience a renowned poet in their own language. Visit our News page for details of the launch.
“Tonight I read from a borrowed book
about the lives of my friends, my father
and everyone who has crossed my path.
About a life taken from the library of the Dead.”
– Joan Hambidge, ‘Istanbul, a Meditation’,
translation by Charl JF Cilliers
Read The Coroner’s Wife or the Coroner’s Report? – Ian van Rooyen
The semantic rich title of Joan Hambidge’s translated collection of poetry, The Coroner’s Wife is simple yet complex. It immediately captivates the reader, for already there are so many unanswered questions. Is there a literary intertext? Who is the coroner? Who is the wife and more importantly, what is her role?
An intricate web of roles and relationships are exposed when the reader discovers that the volume of poetry is not about the coroner’s wife, but instead about city life, love and family life, ars poetica and time and eternity. The mechanism of metaphor offers reprieve from the disconnect between the declarative information in the title and actual content. Encyclopaedic knowledge of the person associated with the source domain coroner is an individual that not only certifies death, but also becomes the mouthpiece of the lifeless body as particulars surrounding the cause of death and the corpse’s identity are being investigated. By extension the coroner’s report fulfils the function of illumination.
By the same token, encyclopaedic knowledge of the concept wife bears reference to a person, that stereotypically fulfils the role of helper, confidant and lover. The concept furthermore incorporates the notion of relational and biological completion, the latter leading to reproduction.
Through conceptual metaphor, we are able to understand a number of target domains in terms of the abovementioned source domains. We grasp the indelible bond between the coroner (the poet) and his wife (the translator-poets) through the original Afrikaans text (the scrutinised corpse) and the translation (the coroner’s report). The volume of poetry manifests synergy between poet and translator which culminates in poetic reproduction.
The mystery surrounding the title embedded within an equally perplexing and unnamed John Buckland Wright artwork on the dust-jacket is crucial to the volume of poetry’s success. The reader is coaxed to engage with the work and hence elevated to coroner, deriving meaning from the resultant opacity as poems are read individually and interpreted interconnectedly.
The poems are familiar, however its skilfully translated English alter ego transform the reader’s role to that of co-traveller revisiting landmarks on a previously travelled journey. The landscape has changed, yet the core elements of the initial attraction has been maintained.
While the English translation opens the text to a broader audience and hence making it more accessible, the lexical scope of the original at times highlight the complexity of works in translation. In “Los Angeles, a Meditation” the speaker is described as a word sleuth. The reader of the Coroner’s wife becomes a word sleuth too in search of meaning. The Afrikaans translation “woordsnyer” communicates the same and more. In relation to the speaker it renders the interpretation word sleuth. In relation to the author it has the added dimension of word breaker/ word disseminator.
As a whole, the Coroner’s Wife is one of Joan Hambidge’s most engaging works of literature to date, not because it is better than previously published offerings, but because it is a distillation of an oeuvre that begs revisiting.
Ian van Rooyen is a lecturer in the department of Afrikaans & Dutch at the University of Cape Town’s School and Languages and Literature.
Dryad Press is proud to announce the publication of Tony Ullyatt’s debut poetry collection, An Unobtrusive Vice
This collection is the third in the Dryad Press Living Poets Series
“Crouched among the last surviving pieces
of my life’s wreck, I seek a chemistry,
some wizard’s formula which releases
the wayward life from its grim history.”
– Tony Ullyatt, ‘Like Icarus’
Dryad Press is delighted to announce the publication of Beverly Rycroft’s long awaited second collection, A Private Audience.
This collection is the second in the Dryad Press Living Poets Series.
“He caught a fish on Christmas Day
and brought it to my house to say
what he could not, of love. And hate.”
– Beverly Rycroft, ‘The wonderful, magic fortune-telling fish’
DRYAD PRESS IS PROUD TO ANNOUNCE THE PUBLICATION of UNEARTHED
Edited by Joan Hambidge and Michèle Betty, Unearthed features a selection of the best poems published in 2016 and features the work of Isobel Dixon, Johann de Lange, Sindiswa Busuku-Mathese, Juanita Louw, Colleen Crawford Cousins, Hilda Smits, Stephen Symons, Ilse Van Staden, Marike Beyers, Martjie Bosman and Helen Moffett.
Announcing the first poet in the Dryad Press Living Poets Series: Metaphysical Balm by Michèle Betty
Dryad Press (Pty) Ltd is proud to announce the publication of its first poetry publication of 2017: Metaphysical Balm by Michèle Betty. “Michele Betty’s collection with its protagonist Owl, breaks open the doors that keep life’s mysteries hidden from view. Mystical and yet deeply grounded in the human(e) these are the sorts of poems which flood heart and brain with a brilliant, bloody light” (Meg Vandermerwe).
“ Owl rests in the shadows
of the cedar tree,
wraps herself in its warmth,
to survey the complexities of life,
surprising in their sharp agonies,
memento, homo, quia pulvis es,
dust unto dust,
a vita peracta –
redolent truths, rediscovered amongst
the scent and sturdiness
of the cedarwood.”
– Michèle Betty, Ancestral Karma