Continuing our series of interviews with editors/translators of Rosalía de Castro’s Galician and Spanish poetry, I include here an interview with John Howard Reid, the editor/translator of two anthologies of Rosalía’s Spanish poetry.
John Howard Reid (also known as Tom Howard) is based in
. He self publishes with
Lulu.com. He has published numerous titles on cinema, a series of
mystery/suspense novels based on the character Merryll Manning, new
translations of the Gospels, poetry, advice on writing, and translations from
Spanish of poetry. Australia
These translations include Rosalia de Castro: Selected poems rendered into English verse and Rosalia de Castro: Margarita & other poems in Spanish & English. A third volume of Rosalía’s Galician poems, based on Mauro Armiño’s Spanish translation, is planned.
What made you want to translate Rosalía de Castro’s poetry?
I’ve always loved Rosalia’s work since reading ‘The Bells’ many years ago at college.
What were the main criteria you used in your selection?
I had none. I simply translated the poems I particularly admired. But there were so many de Castro creations in this category, one book could not contain all my favorites. So I followed Rosalia de Castro Selected Poems rendered into English verse with Margarita & Other Poems in Spanish & English.
Why were none of Rosalía’s Galician poems included in your selection?
I can’t read Galician, but now that they have been translated into Spanish, I am working on English translations for publication later this year.
Did you receive any input from the publisher – did they comment on the translation or did they limit themselves to publishing the book?
The publisher had no input whatever. In fact, they didn’t even publicize the book to any great extent.
What kind of reception has the book received? How well has it been distributed?
Reviewers have been most encouraging, but despite their praises, the publisher, the wholesaler and book retailers generally have been totally unimpressed. Amazon is the only noteworthy exception.
You have translated other poets and also parts of the Bible. How do you approach a translation? Do you approach all translations in the same way?
To some extent, the answer is yes. My first question is: ‘What are the authors actually telling us in this particular passage or sentence?’ My second question: ‘How can that particular notion/thought/statement/idea be best rendered into English?’ In other words, it is the meaning rather than the form that I home in on, but I do try to preserve a poetic structure, even if that structure is not actually a mirror image of the original.
You have written poetry, crime fiction, advice on writing, and also been involved for many years in the publishing industry. How do you combine such varied activities?
I transferred from the newspaper industry to the publishing industry because I wanted to broaden my horizons. I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life writing a newspaper column. Who remembers newspaper columnists – even famous ones? Is Will Rogers still thought of as a newspaper columnist? In fact I’d be surprised if anyone would make this connection today.