Interview _ Dominique Cox – Ambrose Musiyiwa
In this interview, Dominique talks about medicine, poetry and Journeys in Translation.
How would you describe the work that you do?
I work as a Paediatrician, focused primarily on high-risk populations in Argentina, immersed in the socio-political context that this entails. Alongside clinical work, with a co-worker, we developed TRA-Doctor, a firm specializing in translations within the medical field.
In spite of always being an avid reader, it was only through my experience as a doctor that I fully discovered the value of words. I realized that words could dramatically change the meaning and the impact of whatever it was I might be trying to convey, as well as my patients´ reactions. Sometimes language was the only barrier to be broken to ensure treatment adherence, reassure distraught parents or bring comfort to a suffering child.
Who or what has had the most influence on you especially as a reader, a writer and a translator?
People, our humanness, have always fascinated me. Books have been the means by which I was allowed, from as far as I can remember, to enter the lives of people from different times, geographical locations, religions, etc. With a simple turning of a page I could find myself immersed in someone’s life, thoughts and experiences. I read whatever book I came across, undiscriminating.
To my understanding, books and an open-minded family upbringing have been the tools that enabled me to develop an ability to step out of my own reality into someone else’s without a second thought. A skill I have found essential as a physician.
Carol Leeming’s “Song for Guests”, Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) p.92. Translated into Spanish by Dominique Cox.
How did you get involved with Journeys in Translation?
I was invited to participate in this project by Laura Chalar, a very passionate Uruguayan lawyer, writer, translator and mother, who also happens to be family. We have always shared our passion for books, and in many ways she has been a link to the literary life that sometimes seems forgotten in the midst of work and motherhood.
Up until now, I had never attempted translations outside the medical field, so in a sense this has been my most significant challenge, having stepped out of my comfort zone.
Which were the easiest aspects of the work you put into the project? And, which were the most challenging?
I was not sure I was up for the challenge. In spite of being truly motivated, I had never attempted to translate poetry before, and my medical translation plus reader experience somehow seemed lacking. I wanted to be as faithful as possible to the original versions, whilst adapting to the Spanish grammatical structure. The effort to do so was fully rewarding.
As a reader I felt it was easy to empathise with what was being conveyed by each poem, and thereafter immerse myself in the writer’s mind-set, speculating about their particular choice of words.
Kathleen Bell’s “Waiting”, Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) p.62. Translated into Spanish by Dominique Cox.
What would you say is the value of initiatives like Journeys in Translation?
There is great value in the power of words as a means to break barriers, yet language is sometimes the only hurdle. This initiative exponentially multiplies each poem’s effect by means of translation, broadening their possibility to reach out to as many people as possible.
Journeys in Translation aims to facilitate cross- and inter-cultural conversations around the themes of home, belonging and refuge.
The project encourages people who are bilingual or multilingual to have a go at translating 13 of the 101 poems from Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for those seeking refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) from English into other languages and to share the translations, and reflections on the exercise on blogs, in letters and emails to family and friends, and on social media.
So far, the 13 poems that are being used as part of the project have been translated into languages that include Italian, German, Shona, Spanish, Bengali, British Sign Language, Farsi, Finnish, French, Turkish and Welsh. Currently, over 20 people from all over the world are working on the translations. More translations and more languages are on the way.
In Leicester, Journeys in Translation will culminate in an event that is going to be held on September 30 as part of Everybody’s Reading 2017. During the event the original poems and translations will be read, discussed and displayed.
Over Land, Over Sea: Poems for Those Seeking Refuge (Five Leaves Publications, 2015) was edited by Kathleen Bell, Emma Lee and Siobhan Logan and is being sold to raise funds for Doctors Without Borders/ Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), Leicester City of Sanctuary and the Nottingham and Nottinghamshire Refugee Forum.
Copies of the anthology are available from Five Leaves Bookshop (Nottingham).
More information on how Over Land, Over Sea came about is available here.