Besides a few well-known exceptions, such as Adam Zagajewski, Wislawa Szymborska, and Bei Dao, it is difficult to find the work of contemporary non-American poets translated into English. Too often, poetry arrives in English beyond the poet’s grave, packaged as an oeuvre and weighted in irrefutable historical contexts.
The vast amount of poetry being written outside U. S. borders is now accessible to English speakers online thanks to Poetry International Web. Poets featured on the site come from countries as numerous and distant as Zimbabwe, Iceland, India, Slovenia, Portugal, Morocco, and Albania, just to list a few.
Although Poetry International Web was launched in 2002, it began in 1998 with the proposal of an international poetry magazine. In the summer of 2000, several poetry editors from around the world convened to shape the idea, discussing the website’s desired content, form and organization. After the parameters were set, an advisory committee set out to appoint editors in charge of each featured country’s domain.
Together, the editors have compiled a rich and diverse site, which is updated monthly and can be found at www.poetryinternational.org. Visitors can select a particular country to find a brief, insightful introduction to that locale’s current poetry climate and a handful of poets in translation with short biographies and examples of their work. More than a series of keyholes into the living world of poetry, this project demonstrates that poets working all around the globe are relevant, inventive, and borderless.