Dutch author Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, who won the International Booker Prize in 2020, has exited as a translator of Amanda Gorman’s poems. A furore earlier followed since the Dutch publisher Meulenhoff announced that The Discomfort of Evening author will be translating Gorman’s collection The Hill We Climb from English to Dutch. The point of contention being choosing a writer who was not Black.

A report in The Guardian quotes a piece by journalist and activist Janice Deul Janice Deul in the Dutch daily Volkskrant, “An incomprehensible choice, in my view and that of many others who expressed their pain, frustration, anger and disappointment via social media…Isn’t it – to say the least – a missed opportunity to [have hired] Marieke Lucas Rijneveld for this job? They are white, nonbinary, have no experience in this field, but according to Meulenhoff are still the ‘dream translator’?”

At the time of announcement Rijneveld was agreeable to the decision, taking to social media to express their sentiments. “At a time of increasing polarisation, Amanda Gorman shows in her young voice the power of Spoken word, the power of reconciliation, the power of someone who looks to the future instead of looking down. When I was asked to translate all I could do was say yes and get behind her.”

They, however, let out a statement withdrawing their role. Their statement, quoted by The Guardian reads, “I am shocked by the uproar surrounding my involvement in the spread of Amanda Gorman’s message and I understand the people who feel hurt by Meulenhoff’s choice to ask me. I had happily devoted myself to translating Amanda’s work, seeing it as the greatest task to keep her strength, tone and style. However, I realise that I am in a position to think and feel that way, where many are not. I still wish that her ideas reach as many readers as possible and open hearts.”

Meulenhoff later shared that choosing Rijneveld as the translator was Gorman’s decision. They, however, seek to learn from this episode. “We want to learn from this by talking and we will walk a different path with the new insights,” Maaike le Noble, general director of the publishing house was quoted as saying in the report. “We will be looking for a team to work with to bring Amanda’s words and message of hope and inspiration into translation as well as possible and in her spirit.”

Gorman, the 22-year-old poet, performed at Joe Biden and Kamala Harris’ inauguration. Her poem was hailed unanimously placing her firmly on literary landscape, causing a huge leap on her social media following, a Times cover, and being represented by the agency IMG Models. Her yellow Prada outfit and headgear from the event were also appreciated.

For more lifestyle news, follow us: Twitter: lifestyle_ie | FacebookIE Lifestyle | Instagram: ie_lifestyle