Three new poetry exhibits at Amuseum Naturalis feature French translations of poetry by St. Martin authors. The exhibits include poems from ten different poets. The translations were done by St. Martin translator Alex Richards.
“Poetry on St. Martin is a powerful expression of culture and identity,” said Jenn Yerkes, co-curator of Amuseum Naturalis. “And poetry translation is an art. We knew it would take a specialized translator from this island to capture the nuance and spirit of these poems, so we were delighted to partner with Alex Richards on this!”
Two of the exhibits feature selections from recently published books: Reflections by Ruby Bute and SOS: Season of Storms by Fabian Badejo. The third exhibit features poems from ten different St. Martin poets.
All of these exhibits are also displayed at the Amuseum in the original English. Since English has historically been the primary language on the island, almost all St. Martin poetry has been written in English. Often, authors use St. Martin English, which has its own unique words, phrases and grammar.
“St. Martin has a rich culture that is hundreds of years old,” explained co-curator Mark Yokoyama. “In recent decades, many people have immigrated here, including many French-speakers who struggle with the island’s main language, English. French translations of local poetry create a chance for them to experience part of St. Martin’s culture. This is one step on the path to integrating new residents into St. Martin society.”
The new exhibits are on permanent display in the poetry area in front of the Amuseum. Amuseum Naturalis is located at The Old House in French Quarter. It is always free to visit, and all displays are now outdoors. Guests are welcome to make a self-guided visit any time during daylight hours, any day of the week. For more information, visit amuseumnaturalis.com.
These exhibits and other projects were made possible by support from the Collectivité de Saint-Martin and the Agence nationale de la cohésion des territoires. The exhibits were also made possible by the poets who generously gave permission for their work to be translated and exhibited.