Marieke Lucas Rijneveld has decided that she will not translate the work of Afro-American inauguration poet Amanda Gorman. The writer has decided to “give back” the assignment after a fuss started earlier this week when it became known that she had been chosen to do so, so she will let us know on social media on Friday.
On social media, many people asked themselves earlier this week why Rijneveld was chosen and not for an Afro-Dutch writer. The Booker Prize winner and publishing company Meulenhoff initially announced that the decision had been made in consultation with Gormans team and still to support it. Rijneveld has changed its mind now. “I am shocked by the fuss surrounding my involvement in spreading Amanda Gormans message and I understand the people who feel hurt by Meulenhoffs choice to ask me,” said the writer.
Rijneveld thought it was a “great and honorable assignment” to translate the poem Gorman recited during the inauguration of Joe Biden and her collection into Dutch. “What interests me is the richness of the language. I had lovingly deposited myself on Amandas work, seeing it as the greatest task to keep her strength, tone and style upright. However, I realize well that I am in a position to think and feel that way, where many are not. I wish that her thoughts reach as many readers as possible and open up multiple hearts.”
Meulenhoff announced on Twitter that he understands Rijnevelds decision. A new translator is still being searched.