Mariscat Press, 2006 - £6.00
What a tremendous book! Into Glasgow captures vivid new translations of and variations on a wide range of classic poems—Apollinaire, Issa, Shakespeare—in the “idioms, inventiveness, and jack-in-the-box wisdom” of the Glaswegian tongue. There is no poem which is less than excellent, and many are superb:
Wan a these nights when ye’re auld an done,
Wi yir knittin needles gaun like stink,
Ye’ll open these poems bi the fire an think,
‘Ah musta been bewtiful when Ah wis young.’
Stephen Mulrine’s translation of Pierre de Ronsard’s sonnet only gets better, descending (or ascending, depending on the nature of your internal barometer) into recrimination and gall at the twisting ways of romance. The selections, grouped by translator rather than poet, provide a generous sense both of the possibilities of the genre and the range of the individual translator. Mulrine is dark and incisive in the French work, lighter and more folksy (but never maudlin) translating Wilhelm Busch. Each sequence is a delight, with at least one ‘keeper’ poem resonating long after the reading.
It is hard in so small a space to allow the work to speak for itself. The variety and the bite—from acid to perfect sweetness—move perfectly hand in hand. James McGonigal’s lucid translations of R. Gomez de la Serna’s ‘greguerias’, for instance, sit happily facing Tom Leonard’s cheeky puncturing of William Carlos Williams:
Special mention should be made of Adam McNaughtan’s Oor Wullie rendering of Hamlet, and Alan Spence’s ‘Issa’. But for me Stephen Mulrine’s ‘Sleepin In’ (Ronsard), justifies the book on its own—quite simply the best translation of anything I’ve ever read. Buy it.
James Roderick Burns
The Common Reader says of Into Glasgow: Being the commonest of readers I realised right away that I wasn’t really qualified to review Into Glasgow. There were notes but when I stopped going back and forth between poems and notes, worrying about what I didn’t know this collection became much more readable. ‘Brindisi’, ‘Jist Ti Let Yi No’ and ‘Agitprop’ were far too clever for me but I liked ‘Sleepin In’ and ‘Matt and Malkie: Fourth Terr’ and I thought the ending of ‘Oor Hamlet’ by Adam McNaughtan was pure dead brilliant:
Hamlet! Hamlet! A’ the gory!
Hamlet! Hamlet! End of story!
Hamlet! Hamlet! Ah’m away!
If you think this is borin’,
Ye should read the bloody play