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Wrong skin color: Even a Catalan translator is not allowed to translate a poem

BARCELONA. Once again, a translator of the poem that the American writer Amanda Gorman read at the inauguration of US President Joe Biden has been relieved of his duties. The Catalan writer Victor Obiols said he was pulled from the job because he had the wrong "profile", reports the AFP news agency.

“I was told that I was not suitable for the translation,” said the 60-year-old, who has translated works by William Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde into Catalan, among others. “They did not question my qualifications, they were looking for someone with a different profile, a young activist, ideally black.” He would have received the original assignment three weeks ago and even carried it out.

Obiols does not yet know whether the rejection of his person came from the publisher or from Gorman's agents. “But if I can't translate a poet because she's a woman, young, black, an American of the 21st century, then I can't translate Homer either, because I'm not a Greek from the eighth century BC. Or I can't translate Shakespeare because I'm not a 16th century Englishman."

Dutch translator resigns from task
The Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld had previously resigned from the task. She had responded to criticism from social media that only a black interpreter could translate the work, but not a white woman.

The 23-year-old Gorman recited the poem "The Hill We Climb" at the swearing in of US President Joe Biden in January. She was the youngest poet ever to appear at the inauguration of a US president. In her lecture, the black writer also addressed her descent from slaves.

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