Hello Paris!

Bonjour Paris ! by Corinne Albaut now available in English

Corinne Albaut is an absolute legend in France and I was proud to be given the opportunity to translate her poems about Paris and its surroundings. Not that long ago when my children were in primary school, they illustrated her poems and recited them – first at home as practice and then in front of their classes and teachers.

Hello Paris! is a book for the young and not-so-young that takes us around some of the Parisian monuments you may already know quite well, as well as parts of Paris and the surrounding area that may be less well known to tourists. I hope you’ll enjoy (re)discovering the culture, art, romance, and some dark history – it’s all here. And in rhyme!

Eva Roussel’s artwork complements the poems beautifully and the team at Les Éditions du Sabot Rouge did a fine job putting this together despite the lockdown (dare I suggest we’re all feeling a little like Marie Antoinette as she gazed out from the Conciergerie…)

I’m delighted to see this great children’s book finally available in English. Available for purchase here.

WARNING: this ebook may provoke a serious case of wanting to visit Paris 🙂

Translating poetry

Le Visage Perdu

Last week I found myself contemplating a short poem by Yolaine Maillet and attempting to translate it from French to English for Spontaneity.org in collaboration with poet Eleanor Hooker and writer/editor Ruth McKee.

Read the concept behind Spontaneity here.

We spent a few days pinging suggestions back and forth, translating the words but losing or changing the meaning, paraphrasing, but losing the poetry of the original. It felt exciting to be part of a project like this.

“Translation is like a women: if she is faithful, she is not beautiful; if she is beautiful, she is not faithful.” Russian Proverb.


We ended up with about ten different versions, none saying quite the same thing. We consulted the poet to try to gauge what she really meant, why she chose certain words. Finally we agreed on a version that captured the intended meaning and stuck as close to the language of the original as possible. Then we decided that it would be a nice touch to add an audio version of the poem. See the poem, the translation and the audio version here.

 “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in a rather scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.” Lewis Carroll.