Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld steps down from assignment to translate Amanda Gorman’s work

Rijneveld won the International Booker Prize with ‘The Discomfort of Evening’

Clémence Michallon
New York City
Friday 26 February 2021 21:00
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman’s amazing ceremony reading

Dutch writer Marieke Lucas Rijneveld has stepped down from an assignment to translate Amanda Gorman’s work.

Rijneveld, who won the International Booker Prize in 2020 with their novel The Discomfort of Evening, shared their decision on Friday on social media.

Earlier this week, the writer – both a poet and a novelist – had announced their upcoming translation of Gorman’s poems.

Gorman read “The Hill We Climb” during Joe Biden’s presidential inauguration in January to widespread acclaim. Rijneveld was to translate both “The Hill We Climb” and Gorman’s first collection of poetry, with each translation being released on 30 March and 21 August respectively.

“I am shocked by the uproar around my involvement in the dissemination of Amanda Gorman’s message, and I understand people who feel hurt by the choice of [publishing house] Meulenhoff to ask me,” Rijneveld wrote in a statement on Friday.

Maaike le Noble, the general director of Meulenhoff, said in a statement published by The Associated Press that the publisher will look for a new team to take on the project.

Read more: Amanda Gorman’s poem ‘The Hill We Climb’ in full

“We are going to look for a team to cooperate with to translate Amanda’s words and message of hope and inspiration as well as possible and in her spirit,” le Noble said.

Gorman had retweeted Rijneveld’s initial post announcing the two upcoming translations. The Independent has contacted Gorman’s team for further comment.

Among those who criticised Meulenhoff for picking Rijneveld as a translator was writer Janice Deul, who deemed the choice “incomprehensible” in an opinion piece for the Dutch daily newspaper de Volkskrant.

“Nothing to the detriment of Rijneveld’s qualities, but why not opt ​​for a writer who – just like Gorman – is a spoken word artist , young, female, and unapologetically Black?” Deul wrote in part.

Deul has publicly thanked Rijneveld for stepping down and Meulenhoff for announcing new translators would be found.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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