- The Catalan translator of Amanda Gorman’s poem said this week he’s been dropped from the project.
- Víctor Obiols said publishers told him they wanted someone who was a “woman…and preferably black.”
- A Dutch translator for the poem resigned last week after criticism that a Black writer hadn’t been chosen.
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The Catalan translator for Amanda Gorman’s poem “The Hill We Climb On” said Wednesday he’s been dropped from the project because publishers thought he had the wrong “profile.”
Víctor Obiols told AFP he had been asked by the Barcelona publishing company Univers several weeks ago to work on the Catalan translation of the poem, which Gorman famously read at President Joe Biden’s inauguration in January.
Obiols said he had already completed his work when publishers said they were removing him from the job because they were looking for another translator who is “a woman, young, activists and preferably black,” according to the BBC.
“They told me that I am not suitable to translate it,” Obiols said, according to the Guardian. “They did not question my abilities, but they were looking for a different profile.”
Obiols, whose previous work includes translations of Shakespeare and Oscar Wilde, said the publisher had promised to still pay him for his work. He added that he did not know whether the rejection came from the company or Gorman’s agent.
“It is a very complicated subject that cannot be treated with frivolity,” Obiols said, according to the BBC.
“But if I cannot translate a poet because she is a woman, young, black, an American of the 21st century, neither can I translate Homer because I am not a Greek of the eighth century BC. Or could not have translated Shakespeare because I am not a 16th-century Englishman.”
No new translator has been announced for the project.
This is the second time a translator for Gorman’s poem has been dropped from the project. This month, Dutch translator Marieke Lucas Rijneveld resigned from the job after the publishing company received criticism that a black writer had not been chosen.
“I’m 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,” Rijneveld said in a Twitter statement.
Rijneveld later wrote a poem in response to the backlash, saying they decided to step down because they were “able to grasp when it / isn’t your place.”
Gorman is 22 years old and is the first US National Youth Poet Laureate. She has recited her poems at numerous large events this year, including the inauguration and the Super Bowl.
Insider has reached out to both Gorman and Spanish publishing company Univers for comment.