An award-winning author has pulled out of translating inauguration poet Amanda Gorman’s work into Dutch — because of a furious uproar that a black writer was not chosen instead.
Gorman, 22, personally chose Marieke Lucas Rijneveld, the youngest winner of the International Booker prize, to translate her collection, “The Hill We Climb,” according to her Dutch publisher, Meulenhoff.
But the choice sparked intense outrage, with journalist and activist Janice Deul writing in Volkskrant that the translator should be a “spoken-word artist, young, female and unapologetically Black.”
Deul called Rijneveld, 29, an “incomprehensible choice” whose hiring was a “missed opportunity.”
“They are white, nonbinary, have no experience in this field, but according to Meulenhoff are still the ‘dream translator’?” Deul wrote, using Rijneveld’s preferred pronouns.
Rijneveld announced their decision to pull out of the project amid the attacks.
“I am shocked by the uproar surrounding my involvement in the spread of Amanda Gorman’s message and I understand the people who feel hurt by Meulenhoff’s choice to ask me,” Rijneveld wrote.
“I had happily devoted myself to translating Amanda’s work, seeing it as the greatest task to keep her strength, tone and style,” Rijneveld’s statement said.
“However, I realize that I am in a position to think and feel that way, where many are not. I still wish that her ideas reach as many readers as possible and open hearts,” the award-winning author wrote.
Meulenhoff insisted it was Rijneveld’s decision to resign, and reiterated that it had been Gorman’s choice — while still bowing down to the uproar.
“We want to learn from this by talking and we will walk a different path with the new insights,” the publishing house’s general director Maaike le Noble said in a statement.
“We will be looking for a team to work with to bring Amanda’s words and message of hope and inspiration into translation as well as possible and in her spirit.”
Deul acknowledged it with a tweet saying, “Thank you for this decision.”
Gorman — who found fame after her emotional reading of “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s January inauguration — has not yet commented publicly on Rijneveld’s decision to quit.
Rijneveld on Monday said that their “heart and mind are still filled with the events” and promised to express it in an upcoming poem.
With Post wires
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