Migration, Otherwhereness and Translation. An Introduction
University of Santiago de Compostela
As we move through the world, we carry our home-bodies with us, ever so contingently… and we provisionally inhabit other spaces, other countries, although home and country may be too heavy burdens for our persevering, yet vulnerable, bodies, as this anthology will illustrate. In María do Cebreiro’s words, countries are “bodies for rent”.1 The poems in this collection trace the steps of migrants from north and south, male and female, of lighter and darker complexion, young and old, because to exist is to move forward, as the etymology of the verb “exist” implies.2
Migrant Shores brings together writers from three Atlantic countries, Morocco, Galicia and Ireland, aware as they are of the shared ordeal of migration and exile at different times of history.3 In her poem “Daughters of Colony” the Irish poet Eavan Boland identifies the otherwhereness of the colonial subject and writes about the loss of an ideal national identity and the exploration of a painfully hybrid one.4 This feeling of dislocation is no doubt common to the people of Ireland, Morocco and Galicia, both due to their colonial background ― notwithstanding its different manifestations ― and because of their chronic experience of migration whether to neighbouring European countries or to more distant lands.
Though apparently universal, migration and the discourses about it are gendered. For this reason, this anthology aims at a notable representation of female voices that may examine the way gender and mobility affect each other, so as to retrieve women’s disregarded diaspora.5 Many poems in this compilation consider the predicament of the migrant woman: her body, hopes, fears and frustrations, her national and ethnic (dis)affection and, in sum, her otherwhereness.
I have asked seven poets from Morocco and another seven from Galicia to provide a poem on the topic of migration and exile, and then asked fourteen Irish poets to both translate the Moroccan and Galician poems into English and to write a response poem ― a good number of poems have been written expressly for this anthology. This project has a gratifying precedent in the anthology To the Winds Our Sails: Irish Writers Translate Galician Poetry, which Mary O’Donnell proposed we co-edited back in 2010 and which was beautifully produced by Salmon Poetry.6 Migrant Shores attests to the rich variety of poetry in the three communities by including writers from different generations, male and female, many of whom enjoy the recognition of their consolidated writing careers, but this anthology also features new poets with their audacious proposals........