Poet Marieke Lucas Rijneveld gives the assignment to translate a poem by the American Amanda Gorman back. It’s about the poem The Hill We Climb that Gorman presented during President Biden’s inauguration.
The young black Gorman made a big impression with the poem. There was interest in her and her work from all over the world. In the Netherlands, publishing house Meulenhoff acquired the rights to publish it and on Monday it was announced that Rijneveld had been chosen for the translation.
Why not a black translator?
According to the publisher, Rijneveld, winner of the Booker Prize and also young and with his own style and tone, was the right person to do so. Critics, especially from the black community, disagreed. They wondered why no good bilingual black poet had been found to translate the work. They received a lot of support, especially on social media.
Marieke Lucas Rijneveld has now announced on Twitter that she “loved” the “honorable assignment”, but that she understands the people who feel hurt and that she is therefore returning the assignment.